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Redskins radio license challenged, team name called 'profanity,' 'hate crime'

The Washington Redskins team radio station is being challenged in a new fight over the team name. AP Photo

One of Washington's top litigators with a record of cowing Big Tobacco and Washington's Cosmos Club has filed a petition with the FCC challenging the license of a radio station owned by the Washington Redskins, a name he dubbed “profanity,” and a “hate crime.”

John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor at George Washington University, said that the license of station WWXX-FM (ESPN 980) should not be renewed because it repeatedly uses the "ethnic slur" "Redskins," the type of "profanity" the agency has blocked in the past.

The key opening paragraph in his petition to the Federal Communications Commission:

“Petitioner John F. Banzhaf III, a listener to station WWXX-FM, respectfully requests on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, and who are like himself adversely affected or aggrieved, that the agency deny the renewal of this station’s license and any other requests because it deliberately, repeatedly, and unnecessarily broadcasts the word ‘R*dskins’ during most of its broadcasting day, and especially in prime time where its well documented adverse impact on impressionable young Indian as well as non-Indian children is greatest, and also because, through its licensee and controlling owner Dan Snyder, also actively encourages or indeed forces many other broadcasters to likewise broadcast a derogatory racial and ethnic slur contrary to the public interest.”

Banzhaf said that he expects the FCC to hold a hearing on his petition, which he has threatened to expand to the six other Red Zebra stations Snyder owns. He provided his legal documents to Secrets Wednesday.

He said that the name, which most in a new poll support, “constitutes profanity,” “constitutes hate speech,” and is akin to the “N-word.”

The Redskins have vowed to fight any push to change their name and have recently begun their own public relations campaign to show that it is supported by Native American tribes.

A statement issued by Banzhaf said that his goal is to use economics to pressure team owner Snyder to change the NFL team’s name. “Moral suasion — even coming from the president, half of the Senate, many members of the House, virtually every major Indian organizations, many major civil rights organizations, and a variety of governmental entities — is not likely to change Snyder's mind. But economic pressure can,” it said.

Banzhaf has the type of win-loss record the Redskins should be worried about. In the past, he has won several lawsuits against smoking and others such as one forcing Washington's Cosmos Club to admit women.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.