What is a slur? Redskins case forces us to decide

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Something is happening just beneath the fight over the name of a certain Washington, D.C., pro football team: America is working through the process of determining what is — or is not — racially offensive.

What is a slur, and who gets to decide? How many people must be offended to tip the scales? Why should some be forced to sacrifice their traditions out of respect for others?

We are a long way from consensus on these questions, judging by the response to a federal ruling that the "Redskins" team name is disparaging and its trademarks should be canceled.

The team is appealing the decision, and even if it loses its trademark, it can still use the name. But this latest development highlights the limitations of how America wrestles with certain racial statements, and our struggle to balance free speech and social good.

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