Patterico's Pontifications


Patent and Trademark Office: The Term “Redskins” Is Offensive

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 am

None of their business? No, it is their business. That’s what they say:

The heated debate over the Washington Redskins name has now moved beyond living rooms and corporate offices to the U.S. government itself, with one agency making an unequivocal ruling that the term “Redskins” is offensive slang.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected an application to trademark the name “Redskins Hog Rind,” writing that the term “Redskins” is “a derogatory slang term that refers to, and is considered offensive by, American Indians.”

They haven’t applied the reasoning to the football team. Yet:

To determine what crosses the line, the agency looks at two questions: 1) the term’s likely meaning and use in the product’s context and 2) whether the phrase disparages a specific group of people.

Thus, many words have been approved in some circumstances and rejected in others.

The term “squaw,” for example, was ruled offensive when used for clothing and general retail but was approved for use with skiing equipment associated with “Squaw Valley.” And the PTO rejected the use of “Khoran” for a brand of alcohol, something that the Islamic holy book, the Quran, considers sinful. Actor Damon Wayans’ application for a clothing line called “Nigga” was rejected, as have been several applications to use even the phrase “the N word.” But a group protesting the phrase was allowed to trademark “Abolish the ‘N’ word.”

Likewise, the agency has permitted the term “redskin” when applied to potatoes or when directly applied to the football team, as in “The Redskins Broadcast Network.”

This is ripe for a study, submitting various trademark applications that are identical except for ideology. If only we could get, er, government funding for such a study! (Because everyone knows you need government money to study anything.) Oh, government doesn’t want to pay for that? Never mind then.

Rep. Justin Amash Explains All His Votes on Facebook

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:09 am

Maybe you already knew about this, but I learned about it for the first time over the holidays, and want to share it with you here. Rep. Justin Amash, a Tea Party fellow from Michigan, explains all his votes on Facebook. Every single one.

Here is an excerpt from Amash’s entry on the Ryan/Murray budget deal:

Instead of real compromise to reform the biggest budget items contributing to our $17 trillion debt—Social Security, military spending, and Medicare—the bill increases federal spending for special interests by tens of billions of dollars and pays for it by raising taxes on millions of Americans. It unwinds the bipartisan agreement from 2011 that capped spending at lower levels, blowing a $45 billion hole in the cap for 2014 and a nearly $20 billion hole for 2015. To help pay for it, you can expect to spend more on airline tickets, and younger military retirees can expect to see smaller cost of living adjustments, among other things.

Here’s another way to think about this budget deal: Imagine that you and your wife have a couple teenage kids and a big spending problem. You love buying stuff for your car, and she loves buying shoes. But you’re headed for bankruptcy, and the kids hope you’ll save up some money to help pay for college. You and your wife promise the kids you’ll compromise with each other. The two of you strike a deal: You won’t cut back on car stuff, and she won’t cut back on shoes (but you both promise that one day you will cut back). You shake hands and tell the kids the good news. Responsible parents, huh? That’s the compromise that happens every time in Washington, and that’s what we got with this budget deal.

It passed 332-94.

OK, that’s a solid explanation of a vote that everybody is familiar with. But what I think is even more interesting are Amash’s explanations of his votes on bills you never heard of. For example:

I voted no on the motion to suspend the rules and pass H R 1204, Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2013. The bill permanently codifies in statute an already existing federal advisory committee known as the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC). ASAC, which has been in existence off and on since 1989, has a charter instructing it to “examine areas of civil aviation security and develop recommendations for the improvement of civil aviation security methods, equipment, and procedures.” ASAC has been meeting semiannually since it was last re-established in mid-2011.

ASAC as it currently exists was established in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which formalized a process for establishing, operating, overseeing, and terminating advisory committees. Under FACA, advisory committees are intended to be established only when they are deemed essential and are to be terminated when they are no longer carrying out the purpose for which they were established. I see little benefit in permanently establishing this advisory committee in statute when it’s already performing its intended purpose. I support limited government; therefore, I favor allowing these types of federal advisory committees to dissolve when they begin to outlive their usefulness. The bill passed 411-3.

This kind of transparency not only helps fight the power of money in politics, by ensuring that votes have actual reasoning behind them, but it also gives voters a real insight into the day to day business of Congress. What are these bills they are constantly drafting and voting on? If you keep up with Amash’s Facebook page, you’ll know. Not only that, it looks to me like every post has a comment from Amash listing the roll call for the voting on the bill he just explained. For example, here is the vote on the Ryan/Murray budget deal. Want to see how your Congressman voted on a particular bill? Amash makes it easy.

I am going to do my level best to keep up with Amash’s Facebook page. He has explained well over 2000 votes. He says he makes it to every vote and explains every one. And he says he writes every entry. That is a laudable (if time consuming) thing to do. If you’re interested, keep up with Amash at this link:

P.S. If you’re a Facebook person, you can always follow Patterico here. I hope to be more active on the Facebook thing if time permits.

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