Welcome to the new America where the powers that be, eschew the law in favor of the whims of those in power, a land where political correctness trumps due process.
Yesterday, the U.S. Patent office revoked the trademark of the Washington Redskins because it has decided that the name is "disparaging to Native Americans." I must have missed something here, but that trademark is part of the intellectual property of the Washington organization, and I wonder how the patent office could take this action without due process.
Whether or not you consider the Redskins' name a racial slur as many do, we have something bigger at stake, our First Amendment rights as well as our Fifth Amendment rights. This action on the part of the patent office may infringe upon First Amendment Rights because an organization should have the right to call itself whatever it pleases without input from the government. Let the marketplace sort it out. If an organization chooses a truly objectionable name, people won't join it or patronize it. If enough people objected to the Redskins' name, they wouldn't go to the games or buy their products. Few would want to sport a t-shirt or wear a cap with an objectionable name emblazoned upon it, and the team would lose money. That scenario would force them to reconsider their name.
And while we're talking about names, let's consider that the names of the Cleveland Indians, or the Atlanta Braves might offend some sensibilities. Then of course think about the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I haven't heard our African-American sisters and brothers referred to as "colored" in a very long time. Can anyone do something about that?
If the patent office has this power, then we can see the possibility of another arm of the federal government shutting down an organization entirely because they deem it inappropriate, a definite infringement of the First Amendment.
That brings us to consider the Fifth Amendment which while it guarantees us freedom from self-incrimination, also guarantees us the right to private property ownership, including intellectual property, copyrights, trademarks, and work products, among other things. The government cannot confiscate property, of whatever kind, without due process, and that's exactly what the patent office has done here.
Again, extrapolate a little. If the patent office can do this, we have no protection from the government if they decide your bookstore, your restaurant, your home can be utilized in a better way or get more tax dollars from it. Yes, a government entity can and often does purchase personal property legally for hospitals, schools, and other public works, under eminent domain. The law provides for that and the government must compensate the property owners appropriately. However, in recent years, we've seen too many cases where the government has purchased personal property well below market value and transferred the deed to a large commercial operation in anticipation of many more tax dollars, completely throwing the protections of eminent domain to the winds.
Granted, perhaps Washington Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder should reconsider his stance on the name. Perhaps he should talk with those who view the Redskins name as objectionable and maybe come to some understanding. But for the government to take this action is way beyond the pale and portends no good for the rest of us.