November 23, 2015

Labor Dept. Hosts Tailgate; Redskins Logo Unwelcome

The event was hosted by, ironically enough, the agency’s Center for Civil Rights.

With a 4-6 record, the NFL’s Washington Redskins are experiencing another lackluster season. Nevertheless, the team’s record is downright stellar compared to the scorecard of the other major team in town: government. According to The Washington Times, which was tipped off by a disgruntled employee with the U.S. Labor Department, the agency’s Center for Civil Rights hosted a tailgate party last Friday. The email invite, which the Labor Department says is authentic, encouraged participants to “wear your favorite sports or club theme gear and come and enjoy tailgating favorites like dips, chili, chicken wings, nachos and more game-day grub.” Assuming they don’t wear “offensive” attire, of course. The email went on to say, “It has been respectfully requested that employees voluntarily refrain from wearing clothing or other sports memorabilia that promote Washington D.C.‘s professional football team, the Redskins, or other teams that use names, characters, etc. that may portray American Indians or other cultures in a derogatory manner.”

According to an unidentified officer manager, “While I recognize the varying opinions surrounding the name of the Washington D.C. football team, as a civil rights office, I ask us all to be particularly sensitive to names, symbols, etc., that may be considered offensive based on race, ethnicity, sex, etc.” Anyone find it ironic that a civil rights office wants to censor the free speech rights of its employees, which may include wearing a T-shirt with a Redskins emblem? To be fair, the email does specify that the gesture is voluntary. And spokesman Stephen G. Barr clarified, “The Civil Rights Center is a small office, and the food was paid for by the managers, out of their pockets. There is no DOL policy on sports teams.” But that’s all entirely beside the point. What’s truly offensive is a federal agency trying to stifle free speech — which in this case isn’t derogatory, by the way — when it should be defending it. The government is like the player who intercepts a football and runs it into their own end zone. You’re doing it wrong.

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