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Indian Summer

chief wahooThe Cleveland Indians this week finally decided they had enough of the Professional Outrage Brigade.  With plenty of encouragement from cucked MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, the Tribe (Whoops!  Can I say that any more?) decided to ditch the Chief Wahoo logo that had been synonymous with their team since 1950.  That was two years after their last World Series title.  Draw your own conclusions.


Of course the mascot has been under attack for years. Yes, Native American groups have weighed in; but most of the complaints I’ve seen were from palefaces.


I am bright enough to realize that what constitutes something being offensive is *entirely* in the eye of the beholder.  This applies to more than just sports mascots. ***cough** (Confederate Flag) ***cough***  but can’t we all just let some stuff slide?


Symbolic interaction is emotionally-based.  Your reaction to a symbol is formed in your subconscious.  Your reaction to a symbol is formed by a million life experiences—juxtaposed against your very soul.  It takes a fair amount of left-brained willpower to be willing to look beyond that symbolic interpretation to see things through others’ eyes.


In my never-ending quest to be a nice guy I worked VERY hard to understand people who say particular images are offensive.  As a result, I have been forced to realize that, yes indeed, the overriding perception of the Confederate Flag has been successfully hijacked by bad people.  I don’t like that.  People should be able to discern the symbolic difference between a Confederate flag at a Klan rally and one that sits over the table at the meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  But again, I have conceded that a lot of honorable people hold an extremely negative opinion of the flag, regardless of context.  And I have changed my stance on public display of the Confederate Flag.


That having been said, why can’t the same courtesy be extended by those who are taking offense at otherwise-innocuous sports mascots.  I mean seriously.  I have always viewed Indian-based nicknames as a source of local/regional pride; as well as an excellent opportunity to learn more about the tribes.  How many people would know the Seminole Nation even existed if not for Florida State University?  Ditto the Illini and Illinois, the Fighting Sioux and North Dakota.


The mania has gotten to where even words not directly associated with Indian culture have been targeted.  “Tribe” and “Warriors” are NOT the exclusive province of Native Americans!  But Marquette was forced to ditch “Warriors” several years ago for Golden…something or other.


Now that the Professional Outrage Brigade has made successful forays into the Indian Mascot Universe, they’re moving on to their next target.  Oh, you didn’t think it was going to stop with Indians did you?  Silly person!  Reliably-mediocre ESPN host Max Kellerman today targeted the University of Notre Dame, whose athletic teams are known as the Fighting Irish.


“Many Irish-Americans are not offended, but many are. And should that also change? The answer is yes, unequivocally yes,”


Max Kellerman is a liar.  You can likely count the number of people offended by the Fighting Irish mascot on two hands.  Seriously.  The Irish don’t care.  That’s because they haven’t been conditioned to think they are perpetual victims that need Knights in Shining Armor to fight their battles for them.  I think Kellerman is looking for attention.  That’s cute.  My kids used to say outlandish things to get my attention.  They grew out of it.


And we need to get away from the mindset that being offended over something gives you super powers—that it gives you some extra-large soapbox upon which to speak.  We have turned offense into a cudgel and are granting de facto Sainthood to those who claim victimization about anything.  This is counter-productive in that it makes it harder to identify REAL victims.  It also makes us much less willing to acknowledge them.


I know in the great scheme of things sports mascots are not that big of a deal. But this is about language…and our ability to control it.  George Carlin put it best. We think in language. When we process thoughts, concepts and ideas; our brain utilizes language to make it happen. It is NOT a stretch to claim that if someone can control your speech, they can (in effect) control your thoughts. I will ALWAYS oppose such efforts.

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