The FCC has decided to let Daniel Snyder be.
Via the Washington Post, the agency responsible for regulating the public airwaves has dismissed a petition against one of the radio stations owned by the owner of the Washington franchise based on the frequent use by said station of the team’s nickname.
“Licensees have broad discretion — based on their right to free speech — to choose, in good faith, the programming they believe serves the needs and interests of their communities,” the FCC concluded. “This holds true even if the material broadcast is insulting to a particular minority or ethnic group in a station’s community.”
An attorney for the station predictably crowed about the outcome.
“The FCC’s written opinion makes crystal clear that use of the word Redskins on the airwaves does not violate any FCC rules, is not obscenity, profanity, or hate speech and is fully protected by the First Amendment,” Andrew McBride said, via the Post.
The conclusion hardly ends the simmering debate regarding whether the name should be changed. While dormant for much of the 2014 regular season, the debate will linger until the name changes — and it will linger for years after the name changes.
In some respects, the team’s struggles (and other significant off-field issues for the NFL) have helped keep the debate out of the spotlight. If/when (if) the team ever becomes a contender that plays deep into January and/or into the first Sunday in February, the debate will perhaps reach critical mass.
Until then, the periodic legal attacks on the name will continue. Thursday’s ruling means only that the FCC won’t provide the silver bullet. Another legal strategy, like the pending attack on the team’s trademark rights, could. Even without the law forcing change, change could come from business realities or internal pressure from other NFL owners.So, for now, the American government hasn’t deemed the term to be offensive. Fortunately for Snyder, the North Korean government hasn’t, either.