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