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Saturday, February 18, 2012

ESPN apologizes for offensive headline on mobile sites for Jeremy Lin story

ESPN has apologized for using a racial slur in a headline for a story on Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin.

ESPN ran the headline “Chink in the Armor” after Lin had nine turnovers in New York’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night on its mobile website that could be seen on phones and tablet computers.

Lin is the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He has captivated sports fans with unexpected dominance on the court that sparked a seven-game winning streak.

ESPN says in a statement Saturday it removed the headline 35 minutes after it was posted. The cable network says it is “conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.”

The story was first reported by Outsports.com.

Fat Al Posted: February 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM | 203 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: February 18, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4064139)
I'm guessing some nameless staffer is going to walk the plank for this.
   2. The District Attorney Posted: February 18, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4064146)
I'm guessing some nameless staffer is going to walk the plank for this.
anti-pirateite
   3. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 18, 2012 at 06:52 PM (#4064152)
I thought this headline was borderline but ultimately ok and mildly clever (would have been better as "Amasian-American"). But "Chink in the Armor"...Jesus Christ, ESPN.
   4. Lassus Posted: February 18, 2012 at 06:56 PM (#4064156)
Not baseball, arrrrrrrgggggggh.
   5. Bruce Markusen Posted: February 18, 2012 at 07:07 PM (#4064160)
If I were a betting man, I'd guess this mistake was made by a young staffer who didn't realize that "chink" is also a slur. But it does make you wonder what the senior editors at ESPN are doing, if they let this sort of thing get by.
   6. Justin T is going to crush some tacos Thursday Posted: February 18, 2012 at 07:10 PM (#4064163)
If I were a betting man, I'd guess this mistake was made by a young staffer who didn't realize that "chink" is also a slur.

I'll veer very close to a 'no way' on that. Sports web site headline writing is all about puns, onomatopoeia, and all that. Very unlikely this was a random accident.
   7. tfbg9 Posted: February 18, 2012 at 07:20 PM (#4064165)
Spot the irony in post #3?
   8. base ball chick Posted: February 18, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4064166)
this national obsession with jeremy lin - including the fact that stuff about him keeps getting posted on a BASEBALL board - this must be what fernandomania was like
   9. jayjay Posted: February 18, 2012 at 07:24 PM (#4064168)
Forget a headline by anonymous staffer; an ESPN anchor actually said it on-air earlier in the week: YouTube.
   10. The District Attorney Posted: February 18, 2012 at 07:31 PM (#4064171)
Saying it aloud makes a lot more sense to me. It is, after all, an actual English saying (and not one that has died out like "jew you down" or something). I can see it popping out of somebody who doesn't make the connection. The amazing part is not then realizing that there's an issue with what just popped out.

We do normally make an extremely half-assed effort to pretend that non-baseball discussions are related to baseball. I won't b---- about that issue at this point, since it seems like Jim is trying to come up with solutions that will make things more logical and manageable.
   11. bookbook Posted: February 18, 2012 at 07:49 PM (#4064179)
I honestly didn't know hat's where the phrase originated. I thought that just meant "chip" (to the extent that I thought about it at all). The 22 year old intern probably didn't know either.
   12. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: February 18, 2012 at 08:17 PM (#4064186)
This was discussed in the nba thread... I'll add that the same headline was used by Espn.com for a us/prc Olympic match several years back.
   13. The District Attorney Posted: February 18, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4064190)
Ken Jennings:
When a white NBA player has 9 TOs, he has a The Gap in his armor.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 18, 2012 at 08:53 PM (#4064192)
I never thought "chink in the armor" was supposed to be offensive, just the term "chink" on its own. Am I wrong?
   15. The District Attorney Posted: February 18, 2012 at 09:03 PM (#4064194)
I never thought "chink in the armor" was supposed to be offensive, just the term "chink" on its own. Am I wrong?
Well, the very fact that headlines usually are puns creates the implication that the "chink" in question is Lin. If headlines weren't generally written that way, it might be a different story, but that's not the case.
   16. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 18, 2012 at 09:09 PM (#4064197)
I never thought "chink in the armor" was supposed to be offensive, just the term "chink" on its own. Am I wrong?

No, but I'm with #3. Given that sports headline writing is all about puns it's hard to believe nobody at ESPN even considered that it would be read that way. I'm not saying it's impossible that this was an honest mistake, or that someone needs to be fired over this. ESPN can investigate and make their own decision.

I'm more understanding of the anchor who used the comment on the air--it is a common phrase, he clearly wasn't looking for a chuckle in that context, and really, is anyone going to make a racist comment to Walt Clyde Frazier? Also, in that context, he was asking about a "chink" in Lin's armor, whereas the headline can be read to imply that Lin is a "chink" in the Knicks' armor.
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: February 18, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4064200)

Young people are blissfully unaware of lots of slurs these days. I'll wait for more details.

   18. Walt Davis Posted: February 18, 2012 at 09:41 PM (#4064208)
You try beating out a bloop single wearing armor!
   19. Something Other Posted: February 18, 2012 at 09:48 PM (#4064209)
this national obsession with jeremy lin - including the fact that stuff about him keeps getting posted on a BASEBALL board - this must be what fernandomania was like



Ferntastic!

O-mazing!

FernandOH!



You get the idea.

Oh, and at contract time? FernanDOUGH!
   20. PreservedFish Posted: February 18, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4064211)
Does this remind anyone else of the "niggardly" controversy from years ago?
   21. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 18, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4064215)
What was the "niggardly" controversy? Was it a punning headline to a news story about a black person?

Speaking of which, here's something ENTIRELY accidental.
   22. PreservedFish Posted: February 18, 2012 at 10:15 PM (#4064218)
Was it a punning headline to a news story about a black person?


No, no. It was a government fellow that (IIRC) lost his job after using the word in conversation with a black colleague.

I see a similarity because in each case, the word/phrase itself has absolutely no racist content ... but you'd probably still be smart not to use it in certain situations.

edit > replaced the word "equivalence" with "similarity" because I'm not trying to start some sort of flamewar here, and while it seemed clear that the "niggardly" user was totally innocent, ESPN may not be.
   23. Morty Causa Posted: February 18, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4064219)
Did he say "chink" or "kink"?

   24. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 18, 2012 at 10:25 PM (#4064220)
Yeah, I didn't see any problem with the guy who used the word "niggardly", from what I remember of the story off the top of my head. That was an unfortunate situation.
   25. Bruce Markusen Posted: February 18, 2012 at 10:47 PM (#4064226)
I agree with Howie. Young people are not aware of all of the slurs that we (when I say we, I'm talking about people in their forties) commonly heard in the seventies and eighties. Similarly, a lot of younger people are not aware that it was once acceptable to refer to blacks as "Negroes" or "colored."

They'll learn; just give them time.
   26. ptodd Posted: February 18, 2012 at 10:57 PM (#4064228)
I can see where it could be considered offensive, but when I first saw it I did not make the association with the racial slur.

What the intent of whomever wrote the headline was I don't know. Probably was not an accident, but who knows.
   27. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: February 18, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4064231)
I see a similarity because in each case, the word/phrase itself has absolutely no racist content ... but you'd probably still be smart not to use it in certain situations.

As others have pointed out, the Lin headline was an obvious pun using both an acceptable phrase (chink in the armor) and a racial slur (chink). I'll give the bureaucrat who used "niggardly" in a conversation the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't using the word as a racial double entendre, although he did show a remarkable lack of common sense. I'm also more inclined to cut someone a break who uses a potentially offensive word in conversation rather than print, which gives you time to reconsider the usage.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: February 18, 2012 at 11:07 PM (#4064233)
27 ... mostly agreed. I do think it's possible that the ESPN gaffe was totally innocent, but, I'm just saying that as a way of admitting that I have no idea what they were thinking. Someone on another thread suggested that the racial pun might have been put in as a placeholder title, or as a joke not intended to be seen by the public, and that the change to a more appropriate phrase was mistakenly never made. Seems possible.
   29. Morty Causa Posted: February 18, 2012 at 11:12 PM (#4064235)
Similarly, a lot of younger people are not aware that it was once acceptable to refer to blacks as "Negroes" or "colored."
Wasn't that the way blacks wanted to be referred to at one time?
   30. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 18, 2012 at 11:48 PM (#4064242)
Sure, depending on the alternatives.
   31. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 12:13 AM (#4064247)
I'll give the bureaucrat who used "niggardly" in a conversation the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't using the word as a racial double entendre, although he did show a remarkable lack of common sense.

This was an interesting situation where the bureaucrat himself agrees with you, but the NAACP disagrees:

From Wikipedia:

On January 15, 1999, David Howard, a white aide to Anthony A. Williams, the black mayor of Washington, D.C., used "niggardly" in reference to a budget. This apparently upset one of his black colleagues (identified by Howard as Marshall Brown), who interpreted it as a racial slur and lodged a complaint. As a result, on January 25 Howard tendered his resignation, and Williams accepted it.[1] However, after pressure from the gay community (of which Howard was a member) an internal review into the matter was brought about, and the mayor offered Howard the chance to return to his position as Office of the Public Advocate on February 4. Howard refused but accepted another position with the mayor instead, insisting that he did not feel victimized by the incident. On the contrary, Howard felt that he had learned from the situation. "I used to think it would be great if we could all be colorblind. That's naïve, especially for a white person, because a white person can afford to be colorblind. They don't have to think about race every day. An African American does."

...

The Howard incident led to a national debate in the U.S., in the context of racial sensitivity and political correctness, on whether use of niggardly should be avoided. Some observers noted however that the "national debate" was made up almost entirely of commentators defending use of the word. As James Poniewozik wrote in Salon, the controversy was "an issue that opinion-makers right, left and center could universally agree on." He wrote that "the defenders of the dictionary" were "legion, and still queued up six abreast."[3] Julian Bond, then chairman of the NAACP, deplored the offense that had been taken at Howard's use of the word. "You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people's lack of understanding", he said. "David Howard should not have quit. Mayor Williams should bring him back — and order dictionaries issued to all staff who need them."[4]

Bond also said, "Seems to me the mayor has been niggardly in his judgment on the issue" and as a nation we have a "hair-trigger sensibility" on race that can be tripped by both real and false grievances.[5]
   32. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 12:26 AM (#4064249)

No, but I'm with #3. Given that sports headline writing is all about puns it's hard to believe nobody at ESPN even considered that it would be read that way. I'm not saying it's impossible that this was an honest mistake, or that someone needs to be fired over this. ESPN can investigate and make their own decision.


No, I agree the headline is offensive, but I thought #10 was implying "chink in the armor" was supposed to be the slur, rather than just "chink." I was wondering if perhaps there was some slur I wasn't aware of.
   33. Blastin Posted: February 19, 2012 at 12:43 AM (#4064254)
I think someone thought they were being subtle and clever but were being neither. And that's how you lose your job.

SNL just missed a major opportunity to have him on the show...

(Man, why am I home watching this? I'm gettin' old...)
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: February 19, 2012 at 01:01 AM (#4064258)
"Young people are not aware of all of the slurs that we (when I say we, I'm talking about people in their forties) commonly heard in the seventies and eighties."

I used to work alongside a young Ivy League graduate who had a Jamaican father and an Irish mother. This was 7-8 years ago, she might be 30 now. She seemed to have little to no grasp of how controversial "interracial" marriages were, not so long before she could remember.

I was surprised. And kind of pleased, actually.

If you're 50, when you were born the South still had "white" and "colored" drinking fountains in the public square, and no service for African-Americans at many hotels and restaurants (and not just in the south) and no 'white college' options in some states, either.

If you're 25, that era was 100 years ago. Just ask them.


   35. Tripon Posted: February 19, 2012 at 01:07 AM (#4064259)
Speaking as somebody who is a bit younger that most around here(27), racism, and racist words seems like a shortcut to provoke somebody, instead of a genuine feeling about another person.

Although I do remember how pissed off I was as a 8 year old kid being called a chink while two older boys were throwing rocks at me.
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: February 19, 2012 at 01:18 AM (#4064261)
That is the other part of the equation - just because some of these wrongs aren't as intense and common, doesn't mean that it has all disappeared.

Sorry to hear that.

Geesh, a lot of kids are still ########.

   37. Paul D(uda) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 01:31 AM (#4064262)

I have never heard of the expression "chink in the armor".
   38. Blastin Posted: February 19, 2012 at 01:49 AM (#4064268)
As a young guy (25) I think I might not be aware of it, but my dad grew up during the Jim Crow south so you best believe I learned.
   39. tshipman Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:07 AM (#4064276)
chink in the armor


The phrase and the epithet are actually related to each other. Chink's original meaning was a narrow opening. The racial epithet is a reference to Asian peoples' eyes, while the idiom refers to a small gap in the armor.

Not really a niggardly situation, in that the words are the same. An obvious intentional "pun" though. Some one probably put it on a mock-up list as a joke with three possible headlines and somehow it got picked.
   40. formerly dp Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:52 AM (#4064283)
Does Dan apologize for being a huge ####### when he deleted the Castro thread? Sort of OT, but since we're discussing ESPN and apologies, I thought maybe Dan could come here and apologize for erasing a 7000 post thread just to appease his masters at ESPN.
   41. Perry Posted: February 19, 2012 at 03:31 AM (#4064286)
I have never heard of the expression "chink in the armor".


How is that possible? I must have heard or read it 500 times in my life, at least. It's a very common expression.

Remember when Howard Cosell caught all kinds of flak for referring to a black football player as a "tough little monkey"? That was a common expression in Cosell's generation and had nothing to do with race, but he was pilloried.

   42. Tripon Posted: February 19, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4064296)
ESPN Fires Headline Writer, Suspends Anchor For Offensive Jeremy Lin Puns
http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2012/2/19/2809841/espn-apology-jeremy-lin-puns

   43. spike Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4064304)
The racial epithet is a reference to Asian peoples' eyes, while the idiom refers to a small gap in the armor.

Never seen that etymology before - I've only seen "chink" represented as a just a slangy, defamatory truncation of "Chinese".
   44. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4064306)
The racial epithet is a reference to Asian peoples' eyes, while the idiom refers to a small gap in the armor.

you're thinking of slant
   45. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4064308)

No, I agree the headline is offensive, but I thought #10 was implying "chink in the armor" was supposed to be the slur, rather than just "chink." I was wondering if perhaps there was some slur I wasn't aware of.


I became aware of an incident at work not long ago where an Asian American colleague took offense at the use of "chink in the armor" in an otherwise innocuous context -- that is, the phrase was used simply (and correctly) to describe a weakness in a particular program, having nothing to do with Asian people. I thought this person's umbrage was bizarre.
   46. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4064313)
Sports web site headline writing is all about puns, onomatopoeia, and all that.


Not just on websites (now one word, according to AP). Back in the '90s, the executive editor of the Little Rock daily directed the sports guys to stop running headlines involving plays on players' or coaches' names. I don't think they stopped doing so for a single day, though.

Of course, knowing that sports staff, & especially their toadlike idiot of an editor, there's every good chance they weren't able to comprehend what he was talking about.
   47. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4064316)
I became aware of an incident at work not long ago where an Asian American colleague took offense at the use of "chink in the armor" in an otherwise innocuous context -- that is, the phrase was used simply (and correctly) to describe a weakness in a particular program, having nothing to do with Asian people. I thought this person's umbrage was bizarre.


I imagine if you've been called that word a few times in your life, just hearing it in any context is going to sting at least a little bit. Without know how your colleague reacted, I don't think it's unreasonable for him to respectfully request that the word not be used at all.
   48. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4064317)

The racial epithet is a reference to Asian peoples' eyes, while the idiom refers to a small gap in the armor.

Perhaps. I was looking at this online yesterday and there is not widespread agreement as to the etymology of the slur, or when it was first used.
   49. Scientist guy Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4064319)
I agree with most here that the phrase itself is not offensive but in a sports context - it was meant as a pun. This would probably be OK among a bunch of friends or colleagues at a sports pub which is probably why it passed the normal filters.

However, because there appears to be a racial element in Lin's career and in the analysis of his belated rise to stardom - it really should not have been used - at best insensitive - at worst truly racist.

And just to make it clear about the effect of these terms for the younger people here and for those who have never experienced it. No matter how comfortable and accepted one feels in today's world, when you hear those things said, you get that old feeling in the pit of your stomach, a rise in the blood pressure, that flash of anger and sadness as you are for a moment transported back to that childhood playground. That never really leaves you and it doesn't help that those stereotypes and prejudices still exist, though we are more polite and joke about them.

Not complaining - just explaining..
   50. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4064320)
I find it pretty remarkable that they suspended the anchor, Max Bretos. I think that was unnecessary, given there was no indication he was trying to use the phrase as a pun, and especially in light of his subsequent tweets which sound apologetic and earnest (or at least, as earnest as a *tweet* can sound). From the link in #42:

Wanted 2 apologize 2 all those I have upset. Not done with any racial reference. Despite intention,phrase was inappropriate in this context.

— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) February 19, 2012

My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community.

— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) February 19, 2012

I have learned from this will make every effort to avoid something similar happening again.

— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) February 19, 2012
   51. tshipman Posted: February 19, 2012 at 03:01 PM (#4064323)
Perhaps. I was looking at this online yesterday and there is not widespread agreement as to the etymology of the slur, or when it was first used.


This is a fair point. Slurs are weird, etymologically speaking.


I find it pretty remarkable that they suspended the anchor, Max Bretos. I think that was unnecessary, given there was no indication he was trying to use the phrase as a pun, and especially in light of his subsequent tweets which sound apologetic and earnest (or at least, as earnest as a *tweet* can sound). From the link in #42:


CYA corporate policy. They had to fire the idiot who put up the mobile headline. This gives them cover for that firing. Most likely there would be no suspension without the mobile headline.

And really, isn't the takeaway from this that making lame puns off Lin's ethnic heritage is dumb and bad?
   52. McCoy Posted: February 19, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4064344)
I don't think it's unreasonable for him to respectfully request that the word not be used at all.

I'd say F'em. Well, I'd put it more politely than that but that is what I would be thinking.
   53. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:11 PM (#4064354)
I admit it bothers me that the off-air person got fired and the on-air one got suspended. Should be the same penalty for both.
   54. Daunte Vicknabbit! Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM (#4064357)
As a 24-year-old from the not really south (wealthy suburban South Florida) I know all about racism. White, middle-class raised Jewish, constantly encountered terrible rednecks with confederate flag bumper stickers the moment they got their first truck. Even have been guilty of making some racist statements myself in the past; kids say stupid ####, and when you grow up surrounded by the sort of passive racism that pervades through many suburban white neighborhoods you don't realize what's right and wrong unless you choose to find out for yourself. These days I'd say I'm very sensitive to race issues, and when my friends tell me "you're so white" when I talk about hip-hop or other aspects of urban culture I just smirk and laugh.
   55. tshipman Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4064363)
I admit it bothers me that the off-air person got fired and the on-air one got suspended. Should be the same penalty for both.


This, I really don't agree with. There's a difference between using what is essentially an innocuous phrase in the context of a brief extemporaneous statement, and using it in a different context, a headline, where it appears that the phrase is being used as a pun.

There's nothing inherently offensive with the statement: "Excessive turnovers appear to be the chink in Jeremy Lin's armor." It's a well understood statement that is unfortunately phrased. The anchor spoke carelessly, but not maliciously.

Using the headline: "Chink in the armor" to headline a game story for the Knicks' loss is not just unfortunate phrasing. It's a racist pun.

There's a big difference between the two statements.
   56. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:45 PM (#4064369)
I don't think it's unreasonable for him to respectfully request that the word not be used at all.

I'd say F'em. Well, I'd put it more politely than that but that is what I would be thinking.


So would I. By all means, work towards having people not referred to with slurs. Change the way people actually think for the better. But taking away otherwise cromulent and inoffensive words doesn't solve anything. Censoring language is just retarded.
   57. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4064374)
So if a Japanese player ever enters the slam dunk contest, we won't be able to say "There's a nip in the air"?
   58. McCoy Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4064375)
The earliest use of "chink in the armor" that I could find in Google Books is from 1839 from the New Yorker and other publications. While the slur "chink" I found in 1893 and becomes a lot more common from there.
   59. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4064378)
There's nothing inherently offensive with the statement: "Excessive turnovers appear to be the chink in Jeremy Lin's armor." It's a well understood statement that is unfortunately phrased. The anchor spoke carelessly, but not maliciously.

Using the headline: "Chink in the armor" to headline a game story for the Knicks' loss is not just unfortunate phrasing. It's a racist pun.

There's a big difference between the two statements.


We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. You're claiming to know intent on both parts, and I can't determine the intent in either case. I don't watch enough ESPN News to know if "chink in the armor" is a regular term used by Bretos. Nor do I know if the headline writer used it because he heard Bretos say it and decided it was both funny and catchy.

In either case, I don't think the penalty should be different for each. Personally, I think suspension would have been appropriate for both, unless there are circumstances we don't know about (a previous disciplinary action against the headline writer).
   60. McCoy Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4064382)
That guy is going to have an interesting talk when he goes for a job interview.
   61. tshipman Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4064383)
The earliest use of "chink in the armor" that I could find in Google Books is from 1839 from the New Yorker and other publications. While the slur "chink" I found in 1893 and becomes a lot more common from there.


"chink in the armor" substantially predates 1839. Various online dictionaries list the phrase as being approx. 600 years old. "Chink" in the sense of meaning a small gap predates Chaucer, who uses it in Canterbury tales, as does John Milton, Jonathan Swift and other notable authors.

The words, as indicated above, might have different origins, but "Chink" in the sense of small gap is from Middle English.

We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.


Fair enough. I do believe that an obvious racist pun is grounds for termination, though. That demonstrates a colossal lapse in judgment.
   62. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:19 PM (#4064390)
But taking away otherwise cromulent and inoffensive words doesn't solve anything. Censoring language is just retarded.


I see what you did there.

Or so I hope.
   63. Flynn Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM (#4064397)
FWIW, I have interacted with Max Bretos a bit - he used to present Championship Rugby on Fox Sports World, now Fox Soccer Channel, and would regularly come to USA games in San Francisco - and he's a really nice guy.

I also watched the Youtube of him saying it, and you would really have to be reaching to be offended by that. It seems clear to me that he was using an idiom without any backhanded intention.
   64. Dale Sams Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4064403)
And yet...

8/25/11 If there is any bitterness left over from Thome's departure nearly a decade ago, when he left Cleveland for Philadelphia after receiving a mammoth contract offer, Antonetti hopes Indians fans can find a way to bury the hatchet. When Thome settles into the batter's box at Progressive Field again, Antonetti wishes for one thing and one thing only.



4/8/11 Nightmare on Niehaus Street….Indians scalp Mariners 12-3


non. stop. And if Lin were American Indian? "Lin scalps Lakers!!" I assure you. And the outrage would be 1/100th of this.
   65. JuanGone..except1game Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4064406)
I imagine if you've been called that word a few times in your life, just hearing it in any context is going to sting at least a little bit. Without know how your colleague reacted, I don't think it's unreasonable for him to respectfully request that the word not be used at all.


Remember when Howard Cosell caught all kinds of flak for referring to a black football player as a "tough little monkey"?


It's funny who this plays out. I'm African-American and on a 8 month assignment in Melbourne, Australia and while Aussies speak English there is a different phrasing that goes on. One of those different things is that they will call each other a monkey similar to the Howard Cosell statement, and one day a good friend of mine here made a monkey reference directly to me. I've actually had some good discussions with this same guy about race and the differences between AU and the US, and so I knew that he meant nothing personal about. But.. I won't lie and say that it didn't sting when it was said and I'm not particularly the sensitive type. I was able to put aside my feeling about the words, and realize the intent was completely harmless and didn't even mention it to the guy, but that's not always as easy as it seem. My point is that despite what some may think, minorities don't go in looking to feel aggrieved but sometimes you can't help but to feel a little sensitive about some of these issues whether you want to or not.
   66. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4064410)
And if Lin were American Indian? "Lin scalps Lakers!!" I assure you.


I've never seen anything like that with Ellsbury or Joba.

I don't deny the insensitivy about thing such as "Indians scalp" but I don't think it would be prominent with actual Native American ballplayers, as opposed to cases where Native American terms have been used as mascots/team names.

   67. Urkel's Boner Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4064411)
Those aren't specifically racial epithets though, like "chink". A better analogy would be if there were a professional sports team called the "Redskins" or something. Oh, wait....
   68. Joe Kehoskie Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4064412)
It's hard to have an opinion about the headline writer without knowing the person's personality and job history, but the Bretos suspension seems unjust.*

I always find it interesting how the Thought Police don't practice what they preach. A lot of the same people who claim it's better for a hundred guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be convicted seem to use the opposite approach with thought and speech crimes, where the accused are guilty until proven innocent.


(* Obviously, as with the headline writer, Bretos could have some sort of history that impacted the decision here. But on the surface, we seem to be down the rabbit hole when a minority broadcaster with an Asian wife is suspended for 30 days because of an extemporaneous comment that had no apparent malicious intent and for which Bretos immediately apologized.)
   69. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:23 PM (#4064419)
Chinks in the Knicks' armor, 21st century, top of the head:

1. Eddy Curry
2. Jerome James
3. Shandon Anderson
4. Howard Eisley
5. Stephon Marbury
   70. Dale Sams Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:23 PM (#4064420)
You might be right SOSH. I just think a full-blooded, very talented American Indian coming out of nowhere in the NBA would be similar to the Linsanity. And it's been my experience on the sensitivity scale Indians rank pretty low. Admittedly, Asian-Americans are right down there as well.*


*I can totally see Whitlock saying, "I know someone gettin crunk on the firewater tonight!"
   71. Something Other Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4064421)
Yes, if this thread has been about anything, it's been about nonexistent Thought Police screaming for blood.

   72. Joe Kehoskie Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:30 PM (#4064423)
Yes, if this thread has been about anything, it's been about nonexistent Thought Police screaming for blood.

My comment in #68 was a general comment about the controversy, not about you or anyone else in this thread. Not every comment is about or directed at you.

Interesting to note that while these nameless bloviators draw your wrath you're oddly silent in the case of, you know, actual censorship in your own backyard.

There was nothing resembling "wrath" in #68. But anyway, to what are you referring?
   73. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4064425)
I was able to put aside my feeling about the words, and realize the intent was completely harmless and didn't even mention it to the guy, but that's not always as easy as it seem. My point is that despite what some may think, minorities don't go in looking to feel aggrieved but sometimes you can't help but to feel a little sensitive about some of these issues whether you want to or not.

This is a really good point (at least from my perspective). I find that often this kind of thing can be pretty annoying, but as long as I put it in my head that the other person isn't purposefully being offensive, I can generally quash it fairly well. (interesting sidenote: I lived in Sydney for about a year when I was a kid and I found that, when it came to Indians, Australian children are substantially more aware than Americans regarding race and unintentional racism, so I wonder how much of this is access to different races and cultures).

Although I do remember how pissed off I was as a 8 year old kid being called a chink while two older boys were throwing rocks at me.

I went through a lot of similar stuff when I was a kid (though it used to really confuse me that people would make racist comments about Arabs towards me, considering that I'm, y'know, not Arab). Children can be pretty bad about this kind of thing. One grows used to it fairly fast, I find, though.

EDIT: don't really like to get involved in this kind of discussion here normally, due to how heated it tends to get, but Australia came up, so... :p
   74. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:55 PM (#4064435)
So now everyone's talking about ESPN, a company in the attention business. Plus they get to look influential and important, thus ratifying and perpetuating their endless and preposterous self-regard.

And "concerned," too -- so it's a win-win-win.

They're a bunch of arrested-development chuckleheads who do a crappy job covering sports.(**) Sports. Nothing more. Stop acting like it matters what some guy on one of their most obscure broadcasts says.

(**) Does Jeff Van Gundy ever shut up?

   75. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:03 PM (#4064438)
But on the surface, we seem to be down the rabbit hole when a minority broadcaster with an Asian wife is suspended for 30 days because of an extemporaneous comment that had no apparent malicious intent and for which Bretos immediately apologized.


30 days? Missed that on the first go round. Wow. I was thinking it was a ceremonial one-day kind of thing.

Many years ago my wife worked for the Wall Street Journal in Europe and approved a headline that read along the lines of "Investors Spooked on MLK Day Eve." She didn't write it, but saw it and passed it on or something. Someone else caught it before it ran and had to explain to her why it wouldn't fly.
   76. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:22 PM (#4064441)

Many years ago my wife worked for the Wall Street Journal in Europe and approved a headline that read along the lines of "Investors Spooked on MLK Day Eve." She didn't write it, but saw it and passed it on or something. Someone else caught it before it ran and had to explain to her why it wouldn't fly.


And yet if it had been Halloween? No problem! Life is strange.
   77. tshipman Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:38 PM (#4064445)
I always find it interesting how the Thought Police don't practice what they preach. A lot of the same people who claim it's better for a hundred guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be convicted seem to use the opposite approach with thought and speech crimes, where the accused are guilty until proven innocent.


I guess I missed the arrests.

Look, I think the headline guy should have been fired. The best case scenario is that whoever it was is so unaware of history that they inadvertently made an egregious error. I think that it's likely that because someone came to that conclusion, someone else decided that for consistency's sake, action had to be taken against the on-air guy. I think that's a shame, because I don't think the on-air guy did anything out of malice (just used slightly unfortunate phrasing). I don't see anyone getting mad at Bretos in this thread, though. I think the headline guy did a very stupid thing that resulted in his deserved termination.

I just don't see where the Thought Police came into things.
   78. Random Transaction Generator Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4064449)
I just don't see where the Thought Police came into things.

That's because you might not be a die-hard conservative/right-winger. For them, the "Thought Police" and the "PC thugs" are always around and ready to attack the defenceless people who say something "silly" or "funny" about someone of a different race/gender/ethnicity/religion.

It's like they wear a warped version of the glasses from "They Live", and instead of aliens (and alien messages), they see "Thought Police" and "PC thuggery" everywhere.
   79. Joe Kehoskie Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:50 PM (#4064450)
I don't see anyone getting mad at Bretos in this thread, though. I think the headline guy did a very stupid thing that resulted in his deserved termination.

I just don't see where the Thought Police came into things.

Once again, #68 was a general comment and not specifically about you or anyone else in the thread. Seems like some people here either have a guilty conscience or a persecution complex.

The Thought Police "came into things" when a guy got suspended for 30 days for an extemporaneous comment that had no apparent malicious intent and for which he immediately apologized. Sacrificing that guy on the altar of political correctness is every bit as wrong as firing the headline writer might be right.

On the face of things, I have no problem with the headline writer being fired, but it's another case of a liberal double standard. If the headline writer was a teacher, he or she assuredly would remain on the payroll for months or even years while an appeal process played out. (Note: This is not an attempt to dredge up the Castro thread conflagration; just a simple statement of fact.)
   80. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:57 PM (#4064451)
As an Asian-American, I'm more offended by the lazy sports puns than the slur.

Rather than see firings, I'd much rather want to know why these people decided to use these slurs. I'm guessing its ignorance, which I suppose isn't entirely a defense, but it makes it makes it a bit more understandable.

I think I mentioned this once, but I grew up in a pretty white Evangelical community, then moved to a high school in a different part of town that had more Jewish students. I was pretty naive and once used a term I had heard often as a kid "to Jew someone down" to one of my new friends at high school. Turned out he was Jewish. He was cool about it, but did educate me that it was an offensive term which frankly, I should have known, but didn't.


*I can totally see Whitlock saying, "I know someone gettin crunk on the firewater tonight!"


I really liked SNL's take in their cold open last night.
   81. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:59 PM (#4064454)
Sacrificing that guy on the altar of political correctness is every bit as wrong as firing the headline writer might be right.


He was sacrificed on the alter of commerce.(*) Do you really think an ESPN personnel action is the third most important current sports story in the world? Well, it's third on ESPN.com's headlines. A nonentity, a throwaway remark, 2:30 in the morning.

It gives ESPN a chance to look influential and concerned, and to garner attention.

(*) And since it's about commerce, who cares? It's right up there with Wal-Mart adding a penny to the price of tighty-whities on the proper area of concern chart.
   82. Randomly Fluctuating Defensive Metric Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:03 PM (#4064455)
Knights are taking way too much #### these days in contemporary culture. It's time we bring honor back to armor.
   83. Joe Kehoskie Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:05 PM (#4064458)
It gives ESPN a chance to look influential and concerned, and to garner attention.

ESPN already had that with the headline writer. Barring a prior history of which I'm unaware, there was no reason to suspend Bretos.
   84. tshipman Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4064459)
Sacrificing that guy on the altar of political correctness


Again, it seems likely that he was sacrificed on the altar of HR concerns. If the headline writer wanted to sue for wrongful termination, and they did not punish the anchor, it might have weakened ESPN's case.
   85. Joe Kehoskie Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:14 PM (#4064461)
Again, it seems likely that he was sacrificed on the altar of HR concerns. If the headline writer wanted to sue for wrongful termination, and they did not punish the anchor, it might have weakened ESPN's case.

Still ludicrous. Punishing potentially innocent Person A to bolster a case against Person B is a joke. I can't believe self-described liberals would be OK with such a thing.
   86. CFiJ Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4064462)
This reminds me of the time on an ESPN broadcast that that one of the announcers (Sutcliffe, perhaps?) was talking about the Yankees bullpen perhaps being a "chink in their armor". Unfortunately, as he was saying "chink" the camera was on Hideki Matsui. The announcer faltered for just a half-second, during which you could almost hear him mentally shout, "FU*K!"

I don't think Bretos should have been suspended, all things considered. But I suspect his situation was a white bear moment. In trying to be sensitive and not make any reference to Lin's race or ethnicity, his mind pulled up an uncommonly used phrase that probably was not ideal.
   87. tshipman Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4064464)
Still ludicrous. Punishing potentially innocent Person A to bolster a case against Person B is a joke. I can't believe self-described liberals would be OK with such a thing.


I'm not thrilled with it, but it's not really my business. In a perfect world, no one would have gotten fired. The headline guy should definitely have been taken off writing headlines, though.

It's ultimately ESPN's choice. I don't think people getting suspended over saying something unfortunate is a big enough issue to pass legislation over. I'm not quite sure what you're looking for here.
   88. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:28 PM (#4064466)
Punishing potentially innocent Person A to bolster a case against Person B is a joke. I can't believe self-described liberals would be OK with such a thing.
Obviously, ObamaCare is to blame.
   89. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:30 PM (#4064467)
As a vehicle of perpetuating racial stereotypes, Simmons's bullshit during the lockout about how uneducated (and angry, really) the black NBA players are was orders of magnitude worse than this contretemps. Not a thing happened to him.
   90. Something Other Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:38 PM (#4064474)
Are black NBA players uneducated as compared to white players? Was that the claim?
   91. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:42 PM (#4064477)
The players side, unlike the owners and agents, was "saddled with limited intellectual capital."

I think that was his initial salvo; he then doubled and maybe tripled down. This from a guy who can't see why everyone isn't jumping at his ideas -- a pre-playoff play-in including every team, three or four teams contracted, a second team in Chicago, etc.

   92. Joe Kehoskie Posted: February 19, 2012 at 09:09 PM (#4064484)
It's ultimately ESPN's choice. I don't think people getting suspended over saying something unfortunate is a big enough issue to pass legislation over. I'm not quite sure what you're looking for here.

I'm not looking for legislation. I was just pointing out what I see to be odd and unfair double standards. It seems odd that speech is often punished more harshly than actions. It's also odd that media people apparently have a lot less margin for error than teachers.

It seems like we need to ratchet down the moral indignation a few notches if we've reached the point where people can get suspended for a month for using the wrong phrase accidentally.
   93. tshipman Posted: February 19, 2012 at 10:20 PM (#4064499)
Just re-read the community issues thread. I will not be commenting in this thread any more as it seems that it will be likely deleted.
Sorry, Joe. If you're interested in continuing the conversation, we can do so by site mail.

This is a baseball site. There will be no more political threads until the site updates are complete and we have a method for safely quarantining political threads so the 99.9999% of people who want to talk about baseball aren’t constantly hijacked by the 0.0001% of self-righteous trolls.
   94. Howie Menckel Posted: February 19, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4064505)

Yankees announcer John Sterling likes to use dopey catch-phrases for Yankees who homer.
So Mark Teixeira often gets a, "And Mark sends a 'teix' message!' after the preliminary call, for example.

Sterling also likes to do "It's an A-bomb for A-Rod!"

A couple of years back, he mixed up his players, and said, iirc, "It's an A-bomb for Matsui!"

I don't recall any disciplinary action being taken - or called for by the media.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/sports/John-Sterling-Confuses-Hideki-Matsui-for-A-Rod.html

   95. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:30 PM (#4064529)
It seems like we need to ratchet down the moral indignation a few notches if we've reached the point where people can get suspended for a month for using the wrong phrase accidentally.


But it's their job not to use the wrong phrase, even accidentally. That's the whole point - he was too dumb to know it might be a problem. That's really why he might be suspended. People accidentally say incredibly dumb #### all the time at work, and there are consequences. That's how life goes.
   96. Joe Kehoskie Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM (#4064532)
But it's their job not to use the wrong phrase, even accidentally. That's the whole point - he was too dumb to know it might be a problem. That's really why he might be suspended.

It seems like an awfully tough standard to say that any slip of the tongue, even one that's immediately corrected, is enough to subject one to a 30-day suspension (or worse).
   97. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM (#4064535)
It seems like an awfully tough standard to say that any slip of the tongue, even one that's immediately corrected, is enough to subject one to a 30-day suspension (or worse).


When your job is to communicate your company's message and brand to millions of people and not have a slip of the tongue - that's when you get suspended. Maybe it's a tough standard, but it's at the core of your job not to draw heat to your employer.
   98. Paul D(uda) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4064539)
How is that possible? I must have heard or read it 500 times in my life, at least. It's a very common expression.

I thought the expression was "kink" in the armour, but this thread shows me to be wrong.
   99. Tripon Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM (#4064542)
I always thought 'kink' meant weird, or out of place.
   100. Sunday silence Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:36 AM (#4064549)
HOw is there any way to say, objectively, that this is the "wrong phrase?" Imean for one thing, language is fluid and often a bit fuzzy (by design?). And the English language is changing so much and if there is anything this thread shows is that people from many different demographics, and cultures, and internet niches or whatever you want to call these....have many different understandings of words that are not in common use.

This is the same thing I got into a game website when discussing niggardly in relation to Setters of Catan (and its trading system if you must know). I took the opinion that if people percieve it to be a slur then it's a slur regardless of its progeny (someone had referenced the O.E.D. that the word was Danish in origin). But having said that, I wish to hell people would not get so FREANIN HUNG UP ON WORDS. WHat the hell is wrong with people anyhow?

So sure it's a slur. But what the hell is the pt. of free speech anyhow?

And then the thread got locked down which pisssed me off to no end as well. so go figure...
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