Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Crash Headline Called “Racist” and “In Bad Taste”

This weekend, tragedy struck. Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco. Over 180 people are injured, and two are dead. Nineteen passengers are still hospitalized, with six still in critical condition. Two thirds of the passengers were Asian, which is why the Chicago Sun-Times's headline is angering some online.

There is, of course, a long tradition of mocking Asians—especially Chinese as well as Japanese—by not differentiating between "L" and "R" sounds in English. Case in point: the "fried rice" scene in Lethal Weapon 4.  For many, the headline appeared to perpetuate the stereotypical Asian accent.

"First, its pretty sick to use a play on words in a headline for a tragedy," wrote AsAmNews. "Secondly, this one’s pretty racist."

Some commenters on AsAmNews agreed that it was racist, with one even calling it a "sick joke". Others seemed to think it was simply in poor taste and unintentionally showed bad judgment while covering the crash. It felt oddly reminiscent of ESPN's "Chink in the Armor" headline.

Sun-Times Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Jim Kirk told the Asian American Journalist Association that his staff didn't even think about how the headline could be perceived as insensitive.

"There was nothing intentional on our part to play off any stereotypes. ...If anybody was offended by that, we are sorry," Kirk told AAJA. "We were trying to convey the obviously frightening situation of that landing."


All jokes are risky these days


Anonymous said...

I don't think it was intended as a joke at all. It was a linguistic coincidence. In this case, the headline is a two-word story that both conveyed the intended meaning and fit the layout space available.

I've written for newspapers before and it can be tough to consider every possible meaning in order to avoid "offending" someone. Its a wonder papers get published at all these days.

Anonymous said...

Once again, PC run amok.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am dense. I had to read the story 3 times before I "got" the alleged "joke." Since I didn't see the Lethal Weapon movie It didn't make any sense to me.
Substituting Fright for Flight made sense to me. If I had been on the plane, I would have been plenty frightened.
Build a bridge and get over it people.

stinky said...

The people complaining are the same ones who advocate discrimination against Asians in university admissions, and think that it's just peachy-keen fair to do so, right?

Anonymous said...

As usual, the people who obscess about race are the ones offended.

Anonymous said...

Today it is impossible to speak at all without "offending" SOMEBODY! Pathetic!

Personally i took the headline as meaning there was fright as in something scary not an intended insult to asians.

People today have very thin skins. Except whites and christens and conservative who are constantly told to "deal with it, it was a joke!"

"The populist authoritarianism that is the downside of political correctness means that anyone, sometimes it seems like everyone, can proclaim their grief and have it acknowledged.

The victim culture, every sufferer grasping for their own Holocaust, ensures that anyone who feels offended can call for moderation, for dilution, and in the end, as is all too often the case, for censorship. And censorship, that by-product of fear - stemming as it does not from some positive agenda, but from the desire to escape our own terrors and superstitions by imposing them on others - must surely be resisted."

-Jonathon Green

Anonymous said...