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On Offensive Headgear

Yesterday the Major League of Baseball released its 2013 Batting Practice Caps. And while the the news was generally greeted by the grateful tears of sorely underhatted and overfunded fans, it must be admitted that there was a small, sullen minority who felt some modicum of dissatisfaction at one particular logo, that of the storied Atlanta Braves:

As a responsible and thorough pseudo-journalist, I delved into the minds of the casual baseball fan; i.e., I read some internet comments sections. After the resulting chest pains and consumption of cheap whiskey, I can hesitantly lay out the following assessments:

1. That there will always be, in any society, a sense of conflict between people with disparate beliefs and values, and that in such circumstances the act of offending other people is, inevitably, unavoidable.

2. That there will always be people who feel fatigue at such a prospect, and turn to the universality that any feeling of being offended is at best a sign of weakness, and at worst a passive-aggressive attempt to wrest control over the presumed aggressor.

3. That we as a nation are no more settled on the question of political correctness, or even the nature of what makes something offensive to other people, than we were when we were creating Jeremy Piven Animal House ripoffs in the early nineties.

Perhaps this is strange, but I always found the Screaming Indian with his screaming far more jarring than the cartoonish, caricatured Chief Wahoo. Make no mistake — I detest both, and if the universe were at my mercy I’d eliminate traces of both mascots from the rolls. But in the current context of mascots, and a line of headwear featuring not one, but two men whose heads are shaped like oversized baseballs, the wrinkles on the brave’s brow throw me off.

Defenders of the logo seem to center on the idea that the Brave is a celebration, rather than a mockery, of America’s (and Atlanta’s, via Milwaukee and Boston?) past. To me, the confusion seems to rest in the mascot. The idea of the mascot, and what they’re actually supposed to represent, is probably a post in itself. The San Diego Padres do not, so far as I know, enlist any men who have taken the orders, and the only Mariners among Seattle’s roster are the ones who might sit and drink in a yacht on Lake Union in the summer. But it seems that if there’s any confusion as to whether a culture’s heritage is being celebrated or stereotyped, that’s something you have to consider discussing. Because while there may always be conflict and offense, not acknowledging that people are offended kind of makes someone look like a jerk.

But rather than continue with this aimless litany, I’ll complete this article with a Fun Game for You to Play. Each of the following hats is new and available for sale on the People’s Internet (click the hat to travel to its native proprietor). If you don’t find the Braves BP hat offensive, scroll down and decide whether these hats eventually do cross the line, and consider where the threshold might lie. If you already do find the first hat offensive: cringe.

Thus concludes this sloppy philosophical inquiry into the nature of interpersonal relations, and compilation of ugly hats. Thank you for reading.