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Correspondence

Sizing Up the Feline Uproar

We all have our perspectives.  In London recently, I found that many of the locals had stayed up until the early hours of a wet Monday morning to watch Super Bowl 50 on television, and judging from the T-shirts being paraded around town there seems to be a particular groundswell of support among British youth for the 49ers, the Cowboys, and the Redskins, names all richly evocative of the American frontier experience.

But for the folks at my local paper, the Seattle Times, that last sobriquet is off limits.  In June 2014, the Times let it be known that it was banning the name of Washington’s NFL team from its pages because it was “disparaging of Native Americans.”  Meanwhile, across town in Seattle’s well-staffed Office for Civil Rights (SOCR), a fiat has emerged denouncing the term “brown bag” for its association with the “brown-bag test” popular in the 1920’s; if your flesh tone was darker than the bag you were apparently “stigmatized” and “ostracized,” although somehow this lamentable episode of American history seems to have eluded most local people, of whatever hue, until the researchers at SOCR helpfully brought it to light.  From now on we must all resign ourselves to sitting down on a bench to enjoy a “portable lunch” on those all too rare sunny Seattle days, although we’ll do so with our fellow...

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