Warning: I Don’t Follow Basketball

Nor do I ever have an opinion about it (except that as awesome as Yao Ming might be, he’s really not that attractive…sorry. Girl thoughts.), but this Jeremy Lin thing is kinda relevant for the moment, don’t you think? I feel kind of awkward just jumping in with an opinion on something sports-based when I don’t give a crap at any other time, but I thought it needed to be pointed out..

Jeremy Lin “Chink in the Armor” Culprits Fired, Suspended; Did Punishments Fit Crimes?

Submitted by Alex Groberman on Feb 20, 2012

This past weekend, two ESPN employees who managed to use the phrase “chink in the armor” to describe Jeremy Lin were swiftly punished for the offenses.

The question on everyone’s mind now is: did the punishments fit the crimes?

Anthony Federico, 28, made the far more stupid gaffe of the two on Saturday night when he posted the following headline on ESPN’s mobile website: “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-Snapping Loss to Hornets.” The headline was posted at 2:30 in the morning, and then removed slightly more than a half an hour later when someone (finally) realized that it may be construed as an offensive remark.

A couple things.

  1. “Chink in armor” is a commonly used idiom, meaning “a vulnerable area”.
  2. Apparently (I don’t really know for sure) Federico uses the phrase quite often when describing a player who has a moment of weakness
  3. Mildly irrelevant, but Jeremy Lin said himself that he doubts ESPN meant it
  4. While some of the Asian community do consider the term to be incredibly offensive, there have also been moves to “reduce the shock value” of the word by making it more commonplace, and more widely accepted as a term with a positive connotation. Awesome singer (and perfect specimen of person in general) Wang Leehom uses it in this form:

Then, I coined the term chinked-out. Derived from the historically derogatory racial slur chink, used to put-down Chinese people, chinked-out reclaims the word, turns its negative connotations upside-down, and uses them as material to fuel the new sound of this music. The term describes an effort to create a sound that is international, and at the same time, Chinese. In this album, I decided to implement some of China’s most precious and untapped resources, the musics of its shaoshu minzu [少數民族], or ethnic minorities, concentrating on the regions of Yunnan, Shangri-La, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Mongolia. This is not one of those world music CDs. It’s an R&B/hip hop album that creates a new vibe the whole world can identify as being Chinese.

That being said, of course, I do understand why people made such a big fuss – the way I see it, respect is a huge part of Chinese culture, and most of the community (or those who are offended by the word, in any case) don’t believe that authorities take it as seriously as they should (as opposed to the use of the n-word, for example).

I suppose it’s the same thing, isn’t it? It’s alright for a person of African American descent to use the n-word casually (in music, in movies, etc, no stereotypes intended, please excuse my lack of knowledge on the subject), but it’s a whole other story when someone of a different ethnicity does it. I suppose I don’t care much when Wang Leehom spews the word, since he’s one of us, but maybe if I was walking around on campus and someone hollered that at me from across the lawn, I’d be just as insulted too. Of course, that never happens, since…well, since…haven’t we gotten past that by now? Or maybe it’s just because I’m technically American that I see it their way…

Maybe it’s just because I learned Leehom’s opinion on the word first (I didn’t even know it was derogatory before he came around), but isn’t it better to have one less insulting word, to make it so that the word “chink” is associated more with a good thing than with a racial slur of Asians?

While I do believe that this news story just took a huge step in the wrong direction for doing just that, I will have to say that ESPN was just careless in this case – why run the risk of upsetting so many fans (especially when JLin is so huge right now) when you could’ve just as easily bypassed the racial debate and used something like “JLin’s Achilles Heel” or something?

I’m sure the Greeks won’t mind.

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