Assembly moves to save Indians
Assembly moves to save Indians
More offensive things to worry aboutWaukesha Freeman Page A6 Opinion October 17, 2013
We’re getting closer to saving the Mukwonago Indians. The state Assembly voted on Tuesday to change the law that allows the Department of Public Instruction to decide on the basis of one complaint that a school’s team mascot and nickname are “offensive.”
The law would require at least a petition with a number of signatures equal to 10 percent of the school district’s student population before forcing a school to change the mascot and team nickname. Instead of the liberaldominated Department of Public Instruction making the decision, the state’s Department of Administration would handle the complaint instead.
It’s a common-sense change because it allows a process where the truly offensive names can be forced to change with broader community input. The threshold is not so big as to prevent any complaints when a reasonable standard of decency is being violated. The 10 percent requirement does prevent situations where someone with a political agenda to find offense in everything can override common sense.
The other common-sense change in the proposed law is changing the burden of proof. Instead of the school being assumed guilty of having an offensive mascot name, the burden now falls upon the accusers, as it should be.
The bill faced an interesting hurdle in the Assembly. Inside sources told me that some in the Republican leadership did not want to take up the cause of saving Native American nicknames and mascots in the schools. They were hoping to keep Indian gaming money out of the next legislative cycle.
Democrats, of course, are not missing the opportunity to complain of racism and insensitivity to minorities. When they controlled the Legislature, they passed the law that would essentially strip Wisconsin schools of any mention However, the case of Mukwonago High School and its Indians team name illustrated how silly the current law is.
Unfortunately for the school’s students and parents, the state Senate recessed without taking up the bill, leaving the school district in legal limbo longer. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald promises to take up the bill next month, but there was no excuse for putting this off.
The debate in Wisconsin comes at the same time a debate is going on nationally about the name of the Washington Redskins professional football team. Despite a team name that most of us would recognize as relatively offensive, owner Dan Snyder is adamant the team name won’t change.
This prompted a hysterical response from MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell comparing Snyder to George Wallace. Apparently Snyder is about to institute separate but equal seating for minorities at Redskins stadium and is going to turn the fire hose on his critics. Political correctness has no sense of historical proportion.
A little more measured but still absurd comment came from sports broadcaster Bob Costas, who declared the Redskins name has always been offensive. This is one of those supposedly brave comments that liberals love to make. Gee, Costas dared to criticize an NFL team at halftime of a Sunday Night Football game.
If Costas really wanted to be brave, and stick to sports journalism, perhaps he could comment on how NFL players are sacrificing their health smashing into each other violently just for our amusement? Or how Costas’ broadcast network is spending millions of dollars to promote the violent destruction of human bodies regardless of the logos they wear.
That would actually take some risk on Costas’ part and not derive the self-satisfied smugness of being politically correct. Instead of feeling better, even superior, to NFL fans of one team, Costas would have to admit his complicity in a much worse immoral calculus of money and human lives.
Likewise if Wisconsin’s Native American tribes were really concerned about protecting minorities from offensive speech, perhaps they could prevail upon the Potawatomi tribe to ask their allies at Enough Already to stop smearing the Menominee and Seminole tribes as corrupt and dishonest. The hypocritical media campaign is doing far more damage to the tribes than any local high school nickname.
As for Wisconsin’s Democrats, if they are truly concerned about offensive speech, they should police themselves and their allies who casually toss charges of racism into nearly every single disagreement. That’s truly offensive.
Of course, if the Democrats did behave themselves, they might be left with nothing to say.