We're thirty years behind George Orwell's vision of a totalitarian state that prosecutes for thoughtcrimes and legislates language, but the political correctionism of the NFL has sailed onto the shores of vocabulary monitoring and particularly those of African-Americans. While Redskins will remain a perfectly acceptable nickname for D.C.'s NFL franchise in the foreseeable future, next week 32 Caucasian NFL owners will vote on prohibiting the N-word's use on the field, following the proposal suggested by John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance in December.
If the proposal is passed, use of the N-word or a slew of other racial or homophobic slurs which will be discussed at the owner's meetings would become 15 yard penalties.
"I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we're trying to do," Wooten said, according to CBSSports.com.
"We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room. Secretaries, PR people, whoever, we want it eliminated completely and want it policed everywhere."
Wooten's goal is a noble pursuit, however, the NFL is treading on dangerous ground. Issuing 15 yard penalties for a word, no matter how contoversial, that is uttered by African-American players is harsh punishment for a non-football play. The other concern which has to be addressed is how exactly would officials determine where the N-word came from when there are 22 other players on the field in a stadium where most people can barely hear themselves think?
They already have enough of a problem with the bloated rulebook as it without throwing language policing onto their plate. Richie Incognito and Riley Cooper brought attention to this issue last year, but those took place away from the scope of NFL officials on Sundays. If it does get implemented, this rule could be a significant source of controversy next season..
@nfl expand the purview of the taunting rule to include all hate speech, do not single out that one word
— Keith Clinkscales (@KTClinkscales) February 23, 2014