Language is a group of thousands of words which evolve, come, and go. Some words go extinct for important reasons. Others gradually fade away into the literary dustbin of history. And some are "wokely" canceled for the better; some are canceled for the worse.
We are all aware that the Washington Redskins are no more. Many non-indigenous well-meaning people thought it was best to remove the name, due to its blatant racist overtones (or undertones, or both. . .or neither). Ironically, I don't think most Native peoples are calling this a crisis. Yes, I don't think most of them who should care, really do care.
Where's the evidence? In the Washington Post, which is no stranger to progressive viewpoints, we read in a 2016 article, ". . .a Washington Post survey indicates few Indians (Natives) support forcing the NFL team to change its moniker." And in nbcsports.com we find that 90% of native people are not offended by the name Redskins. To be quite blunt, my friends, this whole issue might be another case of a solution, waiting for crisis -- in the name of having a "better, more perfect society." Alas, we must not go down this slippery "social justice" slope, though I fear we may. How far, I do not know. Although the following lists of possible triggers may cause the slope to get "slippery-er", perhaps it can also show the pettiness and potential social damage of such cultural micro-fixes.
And so, here are some teams, brands, words, etc., which may be on the "cancel board" choppin' block, coming to a town near you soon. Some entries need an explanation, whereas others are self-explanatory. Please note, my aim is to temper this topic with both a serious and a comedic tone.
Indeed, I don't wish to intentionally offend anybody as I compile these lists to the best of my brainstorming ability. If readers think of other ideas and are willing to share, please use the comment section below this article.
NY Giants (possible height-shaming)
Kansas City Chiefs
Arizona Diamondbacks: (reference to blood, sweat, and tears of the diamond trade)
Dallas Cowboys (not inclusive to cowgirls...or other animals)
New England Patriots (may offend those who are not a fan of the country)
Cleveland Indians (poor Cleveland folks)
New Orleans Saints (may offend one who does not want to comingle sports with religion)
Boston Red Sox
Philadelphia 76'ers (may offend those who think the US began in 1619, or who simple hate the country)
Las Vegas Raiders (just sounds scary)
New Orleans Saints (mixing religion and sports may offend)
The Detroit Pistons (trigger for fans sensitive to things requiring fossil fuels)
White. . .Out
White Out (typing correction fluid)
The White House
"I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"
Red, White, and Blue (even in our national colors!)
Walter White (of Breaking Bad)
White Rain shampoo
whitehead (face pimple)
master bedroom (As you read this, real estate agents are actually considering axing this.)
What about Black?
"in the black"
Black and Decker (hardware tools)
Jack Black (who is ironically white)
Brands and Other Stuff (in no particular order)
Aunt Jemima (Hold up! She was a real person whose family is very AGAINST "cancelling" her!)
Spic n' Span
the Dutch tilt (cinematography technique)
"a fat chance"
"slim to none"
"paint the town red"
Europe (did song "Final Countdown", and their name, in 2020, just screams "trigger")
Black Sabbath (band, whose members are not black, nor to my knowledge, observe the Sabbath)
Asia (band, whose members are not Asian)
a dead ringer (offensive to the deceased)
"Walk Like an Egyptian" (80's song)
"Material Girl" (song generalizing females as money and material-hungry folks)
"I Think I'm Turning Japanese" (song)
"Immigrant Song" (somehow, the woke millennials might find a problem with this)
"Sweet Home Alabama" (song)
"Georgia on My Mind" (song, suggesting, "What exactly about Georgia's HISTORY...is on his mind??")
"Africa" (song by band whose members are not from Africa)
"Play that Funky Music White Boy" (actually says in song to have the white boy play "until he dies")
"Holiday in Cambodia" (song)
"Back in Black" (song by AC/DC, whose members are not black)
"Purple Rain" (still working on this one)
ICE machines (possible trigger for undocumented immigrants?)
ICE Cube (same)
the country of Iceland (say what??)
Jolly Green Giant
Little Boy Blue
Little Red Riding Hood
Blue Angels (part of US air force, some folks may be offended by including religion in name)
Die Hard (car battery, which sounds "triggering" somehow)
"Paw Patrol" (cartoon depicting dogs as police...big no-no)
"He-Man" (cartoon, may trigger feminist groups)
In closing, please consider this: Change for change-sake is NOT always good. (And yes, sometimes it is, of course.)
Conservation is not always a bad thing. Imagine "revising" Mozart's 41st Symphony or taking down the Taj Mahal to replace it with a more "woke" structure. Furthermore, a great Canadian band, Rush, once said, "If you choose not to decide. . .you still have made a choice." In other words, I'm using that line to infer that sometimes "leaving it alone" is "action through inaction." It takes a only few minutes to "tear it down," but that “it" may have taken years, even centuries to create.
Let's tread very carefully as we take to social canceling. Let's fight not to be a linguistically reckless society.
Perhaps we can #cancel some of our #cancelculture.
(Kevin Suscavage worked as staff with the CA Assembly, originated the "Butterfly Bill," and has pieces found in CityWatch, North Valley Reporter, CA Political Review, and the Jewish Journal. He's written about socio-political issues on both sides of the aisle.) Photo: Anne Wenikoff for CalMatters. Image source: Warner Bros. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.