A response to Red·skin n. Dated, Offensive, Taboo:
>> I am not suggesting that this changes anything, but in the interests of historical thoroughness I thought you might be interested in an example where a Native American baseball team apparently named itself the "Red Skins" <<
There are many examples of Native teams naming themselves "Redskins." You're right...it doesn't change anything, although it makes the situation more complex.
Minorities have the right to appropriate offensive names and turn them into something they consider positive. A source of pride, perhaps. "Nigger" as used by blacks is the most obvious example of this.
But that doesn't change the offensive nature of a word as applied by others. When non-Indians use the word "redskin," it remains a slur or vulgarism. Context—who's using the word, how, and why—is everything.
This is true of every profane or vulgar word, really. Consider the word "bitch," for example. When a person applies it to a dog, it's harmless. When a woman applies it to herself—e.g., "I can be a bitch sometimes"—it may be shocking, but it's probably not offensive to most people. But when a man applies it to a woman—e.g., "You can be a bitch sometimes"—it becomes an attack or insult.
The discussion continues....
>> All true, but when "we" use whichever term, that to some extent undercuts both its pejorative force, and "our" right to object when "they" use it in way that "we" object to. <<
Yes, well, the parallels between "nigger" and "redskin" continue. That urban blacks are reclaiming the word "nigger" does undercut the ugliness and shock value of the word. But it's still offensive to the vast majority of people. If 90% are offended rather than 100%, well, that's still 90%. It's still a higher percentage than for other things we condemn as rude and unacceptable.
Again, context is everything. In most contexts, if not all, people consider these words offensive.
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