The Supreme Court ruled unanimously the other day that the right to offend someone with your words is a natural right protected by the U.S. Constitution. Thank goodness.
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that a law denying federal trademark protection to names that are deemed disparaging is unconstitutional. “It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the unanimous decision (though the justices were split on the exact reasoning).
While many observers saw the case as a potential win for the Washington Redskins — who have sought to keep their trademarks in the face of claims that the team name is a racial slur — the decision actually concerned the Slants, a small Asian-American band from Oregon that describes its style as “Chinatown dance rock.”
When this case made it to the Supreme Court I was concerned given the current climate of speech in the country. With “safe spaces” and the anti-“cultural appropriation” crowd it’s getting harder and harder to just speak your mind for fear you’ll be mobbed by some person or group that has taken offense.
I’d like to point out that my family and TV station here in Chicago was way ahead of its time using the name “The Slant”.
Maybe we’re not doomed yet.