I think of this because of what TNC said this week:
I know there's been a bit of a row over whether people should stop saying the word retarded or not. My basic position is simple--if a name I've been using to describe a broad group, offends that group, I'll stop using it. I think self-naming is sacred.What I don't get, really, is the opposing view. Really; I'm completely baffled by it. I think that's because for me, this isn't a question of politics. Instead, it's a question of etiquette. Every person deserves to be treated politely. If James asks you not to call him Jimmy, then you don't call him Jimmy. If he doesn't care, then you do call him Jimmy, if you want. End of story.
Yes, I've met some people who are a bit precise about it: not Jimmy, not Jim, certainly not Jimbo -- James. And if they throw too many of those at me, I'll wind up a bit annoyed...it might factor in to whether I want to hang out with the guy or not. But I'm not going to call him Jimbo.
And so if a group doesn't want to be called Redskins, I'm not going to argue about it. I'm not going to point out to them that I only mean it with the greatest respect...the greatest respect, obviously, is respecting their wishes. I'm certainly not going to call a sports team after the name they don't like.
Now, in the event, these things can be hard to actually carry out. From what I understand, the group in question here are split about whether they are American Indians or Native Americans or tribal peoples or a few other things, or perhaps they're a bunch of different groups who aren't comfortable with any overall name. I'll try to listen, and try not to insult them by ignoring their preferences, but I may fail. Hey -- my understanding is that Mormons are Mormons again, after they spent a decade or so as LDS but definitely not Mormons. Fine; I'll adjust. If I can handle adjusting to the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels, I can handle that. It's also going to be the case, with groups, that some group members may consider an honor to have a team named after them, and others may consider it an insult...so, again, actually carrying these things out can be tricky. But the motivation here isn't tricky at all: be polite to others. Because when you're not polite to people, you're not treating them as human beings. And you don't want to do that, do you?