Doing what we think is right with Killingly

They have spoken in Killingly. "They" as in all the adults with agendas that suit, service, reinforce and intensify their audience's predispositions and prejudices. "They" who contribute to the cacophony of carnival barkers shouting damnation at one another.

Certainly not the "they" who did all the research and work to remove the nickname "Redmen." "They" would be the students of Killingly High, who methodically and earnestly made their argument and decided their school should be rid of the racial insensitivity surrounding "Redmen," the same a derogatory term to Native Americans that "mick" would be to the Irish.

Alas, they weren't the Red Hawks for long. Politcos in town quickly sustained satirist Dorothy Parker's timeless line, "Their ignorance was like the Empire State Building: You have to admire it for its size."

The politicos in town — one of whom once had ties to what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a "general hate group" — just spit in the eye of all the kids and all their work. The "Redmen" are back. Happy days are there again, apparently.

And the kids? They ought to march to the next Board of Education meeting in all their Red Hawks garb and chant "Let's Go Red Hawks" (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap) until they become a nuisance. It's a better use of their time than trying to learn anything taught in the school system. Because the politicos just told them they don't matter.

What matters to the politicos reflects what our society is becoming. A bunch of blatherers less interested in fact and solely interested in being right — whatever that entails. It's a giant chorus of YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.

Think about it: The kids, rationally and earnestly, did the work and reasoned that "Redmen" has no place in their school. They did it together. The politicos? They called each other "racists" and "liberal communists" right there in public — in front of the kids at the Board of Education meeting — embarrassing themselves to exponential levels.

It remains bewildering that some folks — in and out of Killingly — just can't comprehend that the term "Redmen" is offensive. Their argument unfailingly rests on "tradition," as if "tradition" trumps decades of ignorance.

Ah, but remember: WE CAN'T TELL YOU WHAT TO DO.

We here at The Day, theday.com and GameDay, though, believe the Killingly kids matter. Greatly. Hence, we will refer to Killingly as merely "Killingly" in the newspaper, theday.com and on all GameDay webcasts. No more "Redmen."

"When the Killingly Board of Education decided to table a motion on returning the school nickname from Red Hawks back to Redmen last month, the media was asked to refer to its athletic teams simply as 'Killingly' until a final decision was made," Day sports editor Chuck Banning (who has been doing this for over 30 years) said. "The Day was fine with that. Now that the board has voted to return to 'Redmen' as the school's nickname, The Day has decided to continue to refer to the school's athletic programs simply as 'Killingly.'

"The board's decision was based on politics, not the athletes and coaches involved in the games we cover. We know students voted for, and highly endorsed, using the nickname 'Red Hawks.' The Day believes this is the right thing to do for them."

Indeed. Which is why we are all proud to work here.

Killingly isn't in our coverage area. But we cover Killingly because of its ties to the Eastern Connecticut Conference and at least three programs — football, wrestling and golf — that command attention at state levels. The Killingly kids handled themselves with dignity and decency in the wake of their recent state championship game loss to Weston in football. But we've come to expect no less from coach Chad Neal's program.

Straight up: Neal is a good dude who, with the rest of the athletic department, embraces the idea of working with all cultures and races. Neal has been the target of many negative comments on social media because of this issue. All he does is win and win the right way. The Killingly folk should be proud. But then, YOU CAN'T TELL THEM WHAT TO DO. I'll leave it here: My son would play for Chad Neal any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

As for the rest of that town: Your ignorance really is the Empire State Building. We admire it for its size.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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