WASHINGTON, DC -- Time to get serious about this whole Washington Redskins thing, if you'll pardon my use of their "patently" offensive team name.
Certifiably offensive, it is, after the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday canceled the team's trademark registration. No more logo or name protections, and "open season" on counterfeit souvenirs!
In a 99-page decision issued by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, after deliberating the 'Skins case (that's what we call them around these parts) for well over a year, their edict came down.
"No mo' 'Skins!"
Here and around the nation's capital, especially after Robert Griffin, III (or "RG3") was drafted to flesh out our quarterback slot (more about how that's turning out on the sports pages), it's been "Go 'Skins!" this and "How about them 'Skins?" that. Now what are we going to do?
Well, it's in dispute how many Native Americans... or "First Nations" folk, as they're more properly termed... give a hoot much less a holler about our Washington football team's moniker.
Some polls say as many as 18 percent are uncomfortable with it, suggesting 82 percent either are OK with it, or have other things to care about. The "thought police" and "PC patrols" are up in arms about it, though.
Given the neglect and mishandling of "Indian Affairs" by Uncle Sam and just about everyone else since General Custer, (well, it didn't turn out well for George, but some say he brought it on himself; sad about his cavalrymen, though), many true American Indian people are focusing on their high rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
OK, some are running their tribes' casinos, but it's the up side of their not "really" being in America, after some of those 19th Century treaties they signed, before anybody had ever heard of oil. Or uranium.
However, in Washington, DC, where Congress and the DC government have everything well under control, we have entire bureaucratic offices dedicated to worrying about such matters, and no shortage of law makers eager to weigh in, either.
Indeed, we even had the "Non-Disparagement of American Indians Act of 2013," co-sponsored by DC's ever-vigilant delegate to the U. S. House of Representatives, The Hon. Eleanor Holmes Norton, introduced not long after the 'Skins' case was heard by the trademark court.
The bill didn't pass, but that was never the point.
The point was it gave renewed opportunity to bash Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who's wealthy and white and so is fair game, and who has steadfastly refused to buckle under to calls for a name change of his team.
Dan even set up a charity to benefit Native American causes, but that didn't satisfy Eleanor, who's not even an Indian, anyway. See how tangled up this can get?
Hey! It's football! It's a game!
Lots of cool guys, black and white (OK, so not many Indians) like to play it, make some money if they're really good at it, and don't seem to have a problem being "Redskins" for a day or so once a week.
Back to Dan Snyder, the Redskins' owner.
Emphasis on "his" team. He owns it. Bought and paid for it, pays his players among the best in the biz and is concentrating on figuring out how to win football games, preferably the Super Bowl again. As noted, for details see the sports pages.
What Delegate Norton has yet to do is offer an alternative name for Washington's pigskin pastime, so we are opening yet another contest, this one for Cape and Island readers to try and untangle this Gordian Knot of a conundrum.
(Sorry, but if I use any words or metaphors unfamiliar to readers or Twitter users, please Google them.)
I'll start. Here's my suggestion, given that my wife is a graduate wildlife scientist and I hail from West Virginia, which is still "Wild and Wonderful," if not quite "Almost Heaven" as our pal, the late John Denver, called it
The Washington Redskins should consider being called... (wait for it)... the Washington Raccoons!
Those furry little mammals come to your house in the night and take stuff you leave outside. Like Congress, in a manner of speaking.
Heck, raccoons wear a mask, and they already come with a black eye.
So the occasional infantile millionaire "ex-college athlete" pro footballer doesn't have to make the headlines for an after-hours party altercation or go into rehab just to generate publicity.
Not if he's a Washington Raccoon! He can be a "bad dude" if he wants to, just by showing up for practice.
Raccoons, despite being pesky and sometimes messy, are cuddly and cute.
What football player doesn't want to be seen by his fans as cuddly and cute?
Bears are cuddly and cute, too, but Chicago took that one.
Lions, Cardinals, Bruins (OK, those are bears, too), Penguins, Dolphins. But you get the point.
Native Americans... or First Nations people... or even "Redskins," if you'll pardon the alleged pejorative... would understand using an animal as a team totem, where the critters' attributes are honored by folks.
So, let's hear it again for the Washington Raccoons!
There are practical considerations and benefits for Dan Snyder to adopt our suggested name.
First, "Redskins" and "Raccoons" have the same number of letters. Count 'em if you don't believe me. I'll wait.
And the first and last letters are the same, too. Thus, we have to change only six letters on our shirts. Six!
So team regalia and the big gold "R" on some of our hats could stay pretty much the same, just put a few different letters on the garments, banners and stickers and: "Voila!" It's game time!
Just imagine how many cuddly stuffed raccoons will be sold, and how cute the new team mascot will be in his big furry head and mask, running around pestering the other team's Lion or Bear or a guy in a bird suit.
What's not to like?
Raccoons don't have any "animal rights" extremists campaigning or fundraising for them, or against any slights or ill treatment, other than maybe their all-too-frequent status as road kill on our highways.
Heck, the Washington team could even make that a warm and fuzzy "raccoon rights campaign," urging motorists not to text and drive, especially at night, lest they flatten a cute critter unjustly in their reckless haste.
It's settled, then?
OK, let's give a big cheer for our new team in the nation's capital, the Washington Raccoons!
Here we go, all together now, instead of "Go... go... go... 'Skins!"
It's now going to be: "Let's go 'Coo..."
Oh, wait. Uh, oh. That's never going to work.
Never mind. We'd better go with the Washington Roadkills!
Almost the same number of letters. Same "R" and "s."
And we'll stay out of Patent Court, too.