Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Political Correctness Soars To New Heights

For those of you who have been incommunicado (i.e living in a cave, stranded on a desert aisle, or just coming out of a coma) for the last month or so you may have missed the "scandal" resulting from a headline run by ESPN for a story regarding The New York Knicks and their superstar Jeremy Lin (an American-Asian).

Here's the story in a nutshell. ESPN editor Anthony Federico wrote an article featuring the headline
"Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin's 9 turnovers cost Knicks..."

The headline, which ran on the mobile version of ESPN's website, was yanked after 35 minutes, and ESPN  fired Federico immediately thereafter. The sports news giant also doled out a 30-day suspension to anchor Max Bretos, who had used the same racially insensitive phrase. Federico apologized on the air for his "honest mistake," saying he wasn't trying to be "cute or punny," and had used the same phrase "at least 100 times"  previously in headlines, and simply didn't notice that "chink" is a racial slur for Chinese people. In fact a review of past ESPN shows the phrase being used over 3000 times by different individuals in different circumstances! Lin accepted the apology.

Was it a honest mistake or intentional? Who knows, either way it is over with Federico now out of a job and Lin having received an apology.  Unfortunately, that does not end the issue for some who feel the need to address it by determining what the "politically correct" guidelines are when airing or publishing any media regarding individuals of Asian descent. Remember, most of us are simply too stupid or possibly just too ignorant to know how to conduct ourselves in public, so thankfully  the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) has drawn up guidelines for the media to follow. Here you go, straight from the AAJA.....
(by the way, the comments in RED are mine, )

1. Jeremy Lin is Asian American, not Asian (more specifically, Taiwanese American). It's an important distinction and one that should be considered before any references to former NBA players such as Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi, who were Chinese. Lin's experiences were fundamentally different than people who immigrated to play in the NBA. Lin progressed through the ranks of American basketball from high school to college to the NBA, and to characterize him as a foreigner is both inaccurate and insulting.
 The message here is clearly that before referring to anyone's heritage make sure you have them "categorized correctly", right down to their subset. This way you will avoid any confusion. Although I have to ask....Would it not just be easier to refer to him as American? After is he not a citizen of the United States. 

2. Lin's path to Madison Square Garden: More than 300 division schools passed on him. Harvard University has had only three other graduates go on to the NBA, the most recent one being in the 1950s. No NBA team wanted Lin in the draft after he graduated from Harvard.
This one confuses me, does this have anything whatsoever to do with  persons heritage?

3. Journalists don't assume that African American players identify with NBA players who emigrated from Africa. The same principle applies with Asian Americans. It's fair to ask Lin whether he looked up to or took pride in the accomplishments of Asian players. He may have. It's unfair and poor journalism to assume he did.
Is this not contradictory? The very act of a person categorizing themselves as "African American" pretty much states that they do identify with Africans.

4. Lin is not the first Asian American to play in the National Basketball Association. Raymond Townsend, who's of Filipino descent, was a first-round choice of the Golden State Warriors in the 1970s. Rex Walters, who is of Japanese descent, was a first-round draft pick by the New Jersey Nets out of the University of Kansas in 1993 and played seven seasons in the NBA; Walters is now the coach at University of San Francisco. Wat Misaka is believed to have been the first Asian American to play professional basketball in the United States. Misaka, who's of Japanese descent, appeared in three games for the New York Knicks in the 1947-48 season when the Knicks were part of the Basketball Association of America, which merged with the NBA after the 1948-49 season.
In the above paragraph I note that the AAJA has broken each of these individuals into a subset (as per Point 1 above)  based on their ancestors races. This will certainly help to ensure that all individuals are treated as equal and never judged by race or heritage.
"CHINK": Pejorative; do not use in a context involving an Asian person on someone who is Asian American. Extreme care is needed if using the well-trod phrase "chink in the armor"; be mindful that the context does not involve Asia, Asians or Asian Americans. (The appearance of this phrase with regard to Lin led AAJA MediaWatch to issue statement to ESPN, which subsequently disciplined its employees.)
Although not Asian related I would also suggest that the following terms be removed or changed in society so as not to offend any group of individuals
-"Black Out" should never be used when referring to power outages in areas where African Americans may reside. This phrase could be misconstrued as laying the blame for a power outage on African Americans.
- "Dark Side of the Force" should be removed from all Star Wars movies starring Samuel L Jackson as a Jedi.  The term obviously is a suggestion that things of a dark nature or colour are evil, my apologies to Sam, and any African Americans who have viewed these films.
- Any phrases using the word "Red" should not be used in any form when discussing Aboriginal (First Nations?) people who in the past have been referred to as the "Red Man". Think about the damage that individuals of these heritages could suffer by the callous use of phrase such as "cut thru the red tape" or something as equally cruel as suggesting it is a "red letter day", oh the inhumanity!
- Burger King should immediately change the name of the (dare I say it) "Whopper" to something less prejudicial to individuals who are Italian Italian American
- "A Little White Lie", if used with a person of Caucasian ancestry does this not insinuate that people commonly referred to as "white" are dishonest?

DRIVING: This is part of the sport of basketball, but resist the temptation to refer to an "Asian who knows how to drive."
What can I say, seriously this is really stretching the point that the AAJA is attempting to make, they must have been given a minimum word count for these guidelines and stuck this one in for fill.

EYE SHAPE: This is irrelevant. Do not make such references if discussing Lin's vision.
Although, for the life of me I can not imagine why anyone would refer to an individuals eyes when reporting on basketball, I guess that just shows my lack of knowledge about the game. On the other hand, being a member of a minority group myself (the vertically challenged) I would hope that less attention be focused by the media on the height of NBA players as doing so simply highlights my groups "short" comings.

Is there a compelling reason to draw a connection between Lin and fortune cookies, takeout boxes or similar imagery? In the majority of news coverage, the answer will be no.
On this one, what can I possibly say?

MARTIAL ARTS: You're writing about a basketball player. Don't conflate his skills with judo, karate, tae kwon do, etc. Do not refer to Lin as "Grasshopper" or similar names associated with martial-arts stereotypes.
Holy Time Warp Batman, a reference directly from the 70's! (another stretch by the AAJA)
"Grasshopper, Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand" (Kung-Fu starring David Carradine) Here's a bit of trivia on Kung-Fu (the series), David Carradine the star was a non Asian playing the role of a Chinese monk in a series that was conceived by Bruce Lee (a Chinese American) who was passed over for the role because he was considered  by the network as "too Chinese" for American audiences at the time. Wow, that one actually hurt my head!

"ME LOVE YOU LIN TIME": Avoid. This is a lazy pun on the athlete's name and alludes to the broken English of ?a Hollywood caricature from the 1980s.
Enough already AAJA, now you are really digging, how far back in time do you keep going or are you simply slipping this one in for comedic purposes?

"YELLOW MAMBA": This nickname that some have used for Lin plays off the "Black Mamba" nickname used by NBA star Kobe Bryant. It should be avoided. Asian immigrants in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries were subjected to discriminatory treatment resulting from a fear of a "Yellow Peril" that was touted in the media, which led to legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Well, all I can say is that I was premature in my last comment to ask "how far back in time can  you keep going" as this guideline takes us back 200 years or so.


  1. Geez, Perhaps the AAJA should be considered guilty of "Yellow Journalism".

  2. Anon,
    The only comment I have on that one is add it to the list.


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