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Given everything going on in the world, I cannot phantom how and why these cruel and offensive names still exist. Yet, they do. I wrote the first version of this post in 2014! Unbelievable it is even more relevant now…

The righteous drum continues to beat louder, calling for the termination of the Washington Redskins nickname, which got a huge assist when the United States Patent Office rescinded trademark rights for the moniker, deeming it offensive to Native Americans. Recently, the above commercial ran during the NBA playoffs.

The name is offensive. Period.

Anyone who believes otherwise, consider if the Redskins played a game against a team called the Seattle Slant Eyes or Miami Wetbacks. Why we took so long coming to this painfully obvious conclusion is the only issue worth debating.

Perhaps the biggest grotesque is that Washington DC is literally where, once upon a time, the orders were given to marginalize, if not wipe out, Native Americans. Naming one’s biggest sporting franchise after a people our forefathers nearly crushed out of existence is sick.

And yet the team’s owner, Dan Snyder is steadfast in fighting the injunction and any other measures demanding the team change its name. Claiming the term Redskins is a “badge of honor,” Snyder is not backing down.

Dan+Snyder
Dan, here’s an idea for a name.

I know the bar stool defense. Old timers rail at political correctness. They bellow: Where does it end? The Fighting Irish? Chief Wahoo? Maybe those do go away. So what? The University of Illinois got rid of their mascot, Chief Illiniwek in 2007, deeming it “hostile and abusive.” The games are still packed with fans. Life went on.

chief-wahoo-racist-offensive_0
Chief Wahoo. Ouch.

Fighting-Irish
Piss off!

Not long ago, Jacksonville named their NFL team the Jaguars –an animal that is all but extinct in Florida. I think that’s kind of gross. Yet, I hadn’t thought about it until now. Maybe they don’t change the name but a dollar for every ticket goes to helping this endangered animal? New thinking comes from new ideas, even bad ones. New ideas rile people up. And that’s good.

But let’s get off the soapbox and into the boardroom.

Snyder is a businessman. Does he not see the huge financial upside in making a name change? All new jerseys symbolizing doing the right thing: like those wouldn’t sell. Please. As for all that old merch it would immediately become collectible. Moreover, can he not picture the marketing potential such a move would engender? Social media was made for an “event” like this. Fans could be solicited to help create a new moniker, or vote on one. Even if the selection process were contentious the freaking proverbial “conversation” would be radioactive.

I know a thing or two about popular culture and the influence young people have on it. New fans are not beholden to tradition, even when they should be. You can’t tell me the multitudes of young people, who voted for a black president (twice) and adore and follow the multicultural mainstream wouldn’t embrace a new look Washington football team.

Look around you, Mr. Snyder. Athletes are coming out of the closet. Pot is legal. More and more so is gay marriage. The world is moving on. Evolving. Adaptation is sound strategy. Making a name change transcends political correctness; it’s just good business.

is

In my last job, I was asked by a colleague to take down a Facebook post because it apparently offended someone in the office. I had offered a less than politically correct view on the hot button issue regarding race relations (or lack of) in America.

Reluctantly, I removed the post. Not because I rethought my position and came to the conclusion I was wrong. Nor was I upset that my post offended someone. For what it’s worth, many people were supportive of my opinion. It’s not about that. Rather, I took it down because I concluded my role as an officer of the company took precedent over my personal opinions. Said another way, I put my professional reputation and currency ahead of my social reputation and currency. It would not be the first time. Rightly or wrongly, I usually put work ahead of personal matters.

Yet, the event has continued to bother me. Partly because of the post’s emotional weight (which I won’t go into here) but also because I feel like a coward for removing it. After all, it was on my personal Facebook page. While hardy benign, the post was not racist or classist or sexist or, in my view, “ist” in any way. It was merely a provocative take on current events, which I feel is totally valid on social media. I did not (and would not) post the piece on LinkedIn or on any professional forum.

Still, I realize work and personal life have converged like never before. People as well as companies have become like one thing. If a CEO Tweets something inappropriate her company takes it on the chin. People will judge the firm as they judge the person.

Back in the day, the artist and his art existed separately. For example, T.S. Eliot was an “on again, off again” anti-Semite but people (even Jews) appreciated and studied his poetry. There are countless such examples, historical and modern. Recall director, Lars Von Trier’s recent controversial comments at Cannes and the subsequent toll it took to his career. He did not stand down and he paid dearly for it.

eliot.jpg

TS Eliot: Poet. Hater.

I know my controversial Facebook post was not hateful. However, I do not doubt someone who disagreed with it might interpret it (and me) as hateful. Therefore, I took it down. I did not want to bring negative attention to my company.

We are all learning (and struggling) with this. Some play it safer than others. And while I think playing it safe is often the equivalent of being dull as a bag of dirt I did not want to risk my company’s reputation and my place in it. Would you?

I have always worn many hats: husband, father, brother, son, citizen, officer, employee, Christian, Jew, drinker, non-drinker, author and so on. In the age of social media, knowing which hat to wear and when is increasingly difficult.

gapkids-hed-2016

Her shirt says “love” not “hate.”

Apparently, this seemingly benign ad for GapKids elicited a shit storm on social media, critics from hither and yon claiming it racist on account of a white girl leaning on a black child’s head.

That scores of people expressed their displeasure over the image shouldn’t surprise any of us. The world is very, very sensitive right now. Putin. Trump. Obama. Black Lives Matter. The Occupy Movement. The Big Short. Domestic Abuse. Radical Islam. Terrorism. Right Wing. Left Wing. Police brutality. Syria. Refugees. I could free associate reasons on why we’ve become so mercurial and still be just scratching the surface.

But this uproar? Come on, people. That ad is about as racist as your average 11-year-old girl, which is to say, not at all. The kids were posing for a photograph. You put my daughters on a stage with a big time photographer they’ll do the same thing.

And to overblow the matter even more, Gap issued an apology. So unwarranted. If ever a client was respectful to multiculturalism, it’s this one. Gap and Gap Kids have long been vanguards when it comes to diversity in their casting. At least that’s been my observation.

Why isn’t the interpretation that the white child is leaning on a friend? As opposed to something foul like demeaning a black girl? Methinks latent racism exists in the eyes of the beholder. They see evil because they want to see evil.

Why stop at racism? The two other girl’s poses are –gasp- sexual. Are they not? Legs spread wide like that – for shame! And what about the exploitation of children in general? Shouldn’t these kids be in school? And where were those inappropriately tight-fitting clothes made – a sweat shop in China?

Enough is enough.Does racism exist in the world. Absolutely. In this ad? Absolutely not. Moralizing the crap out of a silly photograph like this goes too far.

Update: On top of everything else the two children in question are adopted sisters! http://www.fastcocreate.com/3058611/gap-apologizes-for-kids-ad-controversy-swaps-image

black-lives-matter

A punch line on Comedy Central…

Over the years, I have been criticized –often justifiably- for being tone deaf to politically correct behavior. At times, I go to far with a “witty” observation. I don’t know when to stop a rant, diatribe or whatever best describes these sorts of things. I’m not pleading ignorance, necessarily; rather I just can’t stop playing with nasty, fun thoughts. If something is genuinely funny I have a hard time deeming it genuinely inappropriate. For me, going too far just means passing beyond the mainstream. Too soon means fresh. I could go on but you get the idea.

Regardless of your point of view, the ‘normal’ world is rapidly becoming more open-minded to bawdiness. Ungodly levels of it. Credit transparent yet anonymous social media as well as rampant competition for your entertainment dollars as two of the many reasons for the “ribaldification” of society.

So, are there lines we should never cross? Taboos? Not if you base your opinion on Comedy Central’s insanely over-the-top Roast of Justin Bieber.

Comedy-Central-Roast-logo-300x225

Race. Sex. Age. Politics. Religion. 9/11. Isis. No stone was left unturned in this 2-hour orgy of insults, hurled by a motley crew of rappers, ballers and comedians. Women were sluts and whores. Black men were pimps and gangsters. Latinos were gardeners and valets. The N-word was dropped dozens of times. As was “retard” and other slang even I won’t print. Said of guest, Martha Stewart: “She hasn’t been with so many black people since she was in prison.” Or that her “pussy was 50 shades of grey.” Behemoth ex-Laker, Shaquille O’Neal’s “dick is so big he uses it as a selfie-stick.”

I think these jokes are freaking hilarious. And so did plenty of you. Bieber’s roast, like all the CC Roasts, got tremendous ratings.

Given the immense popularity of such bacchanalia, I can’t help but wonder about political correctness in general. Is there a time and place for such things or is it hypocritical to think so? I get confused sometimes, which is why I’m called tone deaf. Yet, one cannot tell me that saying the “N-word” is okay here but never anywhere else. Or that anal rape jokes are fine directed at Justin Bieber but unacceptable toward anyone else.

Comedy Central Roast Of Justin Bieber - Show

Justin Bieber. Portrait of a young man as douche bag…

The best argument for such ethics compartmentalization is that it’s fine if we have a choice in the matter. Therefore, racial and sexually demeaning jokes are okay on a cable TV show but not in the workplace.

Justify it all you want but this is a double standard.

And the more work and home converge the grayer this all becomes. For example, if I want to re-tell one of the above-mentioned Comedy Central jokes at work the next day does that mean I am crossing a line? Or worse yet make me a racist-misogynist? A short time ago I was asked by someone at work to take down a Facebook post I’d made regarding the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Too sensitive a topic, I was told. People at work might be offended. Yet it was fair game on Comedy Central, a show these same people likely all watched. What gives?

Final note: Advertising tries desperately to ride the bleeding edge. But generally it is found chasing madly after it. Some of you may remember how Madison Avenue loved exploiting characters from SNL almost as fast as the show cranked them out. In terms of truly avant-garde, advertising is still bound by the typically conservative conventions of its many clients as well as antiquated ethics and suitability laws created for TV networks in the 20th century.

The righteous drum continues to beat louder, calling for the termination of the Washington Redskins nickname, which got a huge assist when the United States Patent Office rescinded trademark rights for the moniker, deeming it offensive to Native Americans. Recently, the above commercial ran during the NBA playoffs.

The name is offensive. Period.

Anyone who believes otherwise, consider if the Redskins played a game against a team called the Seattle Slant Eyes or Miami Wetbacks. Why we took so long coming to this painfully obvious conclusion is the only issue worth debating.

Perhaps the biggest grotesque is that Washington DC is literally where, once upon a time, the orders were given to marginalize, if not wipe out, Native Americans. Naming one’s biggest sporting franchise after a people our forefathers nearly crushed out of existence is sick.

And yet the team’s owner, Dan Snyder is steadfast in fighting the injunction and any other measures demanding the team change its name. Claiming the term Redskins is a “badge of honor,” Snyder is not backing down.

Dan+Snyder
Dan, here’s an idea for a name.

Eerie the similarities to what’s going on with the embattled, soon-to-be former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Holding on to old ideas like these have no place in the modern era.

I know the bar stool defense. Old timers rail at political correctness. They bellow: Where does it end? The Fighting Irish? Chief Wahoo? Maybe those do go away. So what? The University of Illinois got rid of their mascot, Chief Illiniwek in 2007, deeming it “hostile and abusive.” The games are still packed with fans. Life went on.

chief-wahoo-racist-offensive_0
Chief Wahoo. Ouch.

Fighting-Irish
Piss off!

Not long ago, Jacksonville named their NFL team the Jaguars –an animal that is all but extinct in Florida. I think that’s kind of gross. Yet, I hadn’t thought about it until now. Maybe they don’t change the name but a dollar for every ticket goes to helping this endangered animal? New thinking comes from new ideas, even bad ones. New ideas rile people up. And that’s good.

But let’s get off the soapbox and into the boardroom.

Snyder is a businessman. Does he not see the huge financial upside in making a name change? All new jerseys symbolizing doing the right thing: like those wouldn’t sell. Please. As for all that old merch it would immediately become collectible. Moreover, can he not picture the marketing potential such a move would engender? Social media was made for an “event” like this. Fans could be solicited to help create a new moniker, or vote on one. Even if the selection process were contentious the freaking proverbial “conversation” would be radioactive.

I know a thing or two about popular culture and the influence young people have on it. New fans are not beholden to tradition, even when they should be. You can’t tell me the multitudes of young people, who voted for a black president (twice) and adore and follow the multicultural mainstream wouldn’t embrace a new look Washington football team.

Look around you, Mr. Snyder. Athletes are coming out of the closet. Pot is legal. More and more so is gay marriage. The world is moving on. Evolving. Adaptation is sound strategy. Making a name change transcends political correctness; it’s just good business.