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Slate will no longer call Washington football team ‘Redskins’

August 12, 2013

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Here’s a quick thought experiment,” Slate Editor David Plotz writes. “Would any team, naming itself today, choose ‘Redskins’ or adopt the team’s Indian-head logo? Of course it wouldn’t.”

The team’s nickname is “not an open-and-shut outrage like the still-used nickname ‘Savages,’” Plotz writes, but “it’s extremely tacky and dated—like an old aunt who still talks about ‘colored people’ or limps her wrist to suggest someone’s gay.”

To be clear, though we’re striking the word from our vocabulary, we will not bowdlerize quotes—if a public official utters the nickname in a newsworthy speech, we will not strike the word Redskins.

As Plotz points out, other media outlets shun the name. The Washington City Paper — where I used to work and which Redskins owner Dan Snyder once sued over an article he hadn’t read — announced last October it would call the team the “Pigskins.” DCist gave it up in February.

Beyond the period at the end of this sentence, I intend never to use the word redskin again,” The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham wrote in January. The Kansas City Star “doesn’t normally” use the name: “I remain unconvinced by every argument I’ve ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple,” the paper’s public editor, Derek Donovan wrote last September.

After Slate’s piece went out, The New Republic announced it, too, would change its stylebook and stop referring to the team by its official nickname.

Snyder has said the team will never change its name, suggesting reporters could “use caps” on the word ‘never.’”

Coming up with alternate names for the team is something of a tradition among D.C.-area types: Plotz suggests the Washington Griffins, which would pay tribute both to the team’s quarterback and “allow the team to keep the feathers and the ferocity.” Read more at Poynter.

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