A comment on a Bottom Line Communications piece about the Pitch’s interview with Star columnist Kent Babb noted the Star’s policy in most cases prohibits the use of the word “Redskin” when referring to the football team from our nation’s capital. Babb is leaving KC to join the Washington Post.
Here’s how reader representative Derek Donovan put it:
I remain unconvinced by every argument I’ve ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple. …
But I see no compelling reason for any publisher to reprint an egregiously offensive term as a casual matter of course. As brighter minds than mine have noted, nobody would be surprised if a newspaper or website decided not to name a team that used any other racial slur. I don’t understand why this should be any different.
It’s an interesting discussion, especially in a town that roots for the Chiefs (though the team was evidently named after Mayor Harold “Chief” Bartle).
Donovan makes a solid point: when else would a newspaper publish a racial epithet? Most papers won’t publish the N-word. But I can think of times when, in the course of covering news, a quote with an offensive word might be published. But other than sports, when would a news organization refer to Native Americans as “redskins”?
My alma mater, Miami University, did away with the Redskins moniker years ago, and only recently began removing the Redskin logo from campus. Much discussion has surrounded the North Dakota Fighting Sioux name, and the cartoonish Chief Wahoo mascot of the Cleveland Indians. The Star makes a bold choice here.
But it leads to some awkward writing, when everyone knows the Chiefs played the Redskins.
In 2009, Babb wrote about the Chiefs’ victory over the Redskins:
“The postgame meeting and a different kind of news conference behind him, Haley took a breath and absorbed what it meant to get his first victory as Kansas City’s head coach, a 14-6 win Sunday against Washington.” He refers to the team as Washington throughout.
According to The Star’s archives, and Google searches, the Redskins rule isn’t always followed. A few examples:
- Dec. 7, 2011: “Suspended Redskins apologize to teammates”
- Sept. 21, 2012, “The Fantasy Fool: Week 3 starters & benchwarmers” Wondering whether or not to start Arian Foster and Calvin Johnson, or to bench Tim Tebow and Steve Breaston? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 3 of the 2012 season. Watch ‘em roll Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals at Redskins.
- Sept. 11, 2012: “Twitter Tuesday: Mellinger on Chiefs panic and more” @xXDanteHicksXx Am I naive for not hitting the panic button 1 WEEK into the regular season? #ChiefsNo. I’m with you. I thought 9-7 before the game, and I think 9-7 now. They go on the road this weekend, but Buffalo looked as bad as the Chiefs. Maybe you can get one there. After that, the Chiefs play in New Orleans, where the Redskinsjust won (with a much better quarterback, obviously).
- Aug. 8, 2012: “Gracie Hunt, daughter of Chiefs owner, helps kick off NFL campaign.” She appears alongside friends Tiffanie and Brittanie Snyder, whose parents own the Washington Redskins.