The headline “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets” appeared on ESPN’s mobile web site last week, and it was quickly removed. ESPN apologized, then fired the over-night headline writer who thought it would be cute to make a racially-offensive play on words between the derogatory slur for a person of Chinese descent, and the old, respectable, and the completely non-racial phrase meaning “a flaw or weak point.”
ESPN’s response to the tasteless headline was appropriate.
But it wasn’t enough for ESPN, which was under a full barrage from the political correctness police and race bullies as well as Jeremy Lin fanatics. So the station also decided to make a victim of innocent anchor Max Bretos, suspending him for 30 days because he used the expression Wednesday when he asked New York Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier on air about Lin.
“If there is a chink in the armor, where can he improve his game?” Bretos asked.
Nobody has seriously suggested that Bretos intended the same racist play on words as the juvenile ex-headline writer. The fact that he used the phrase without thinking about the double-meaning shows that he is the opposite of racist, that Lin’s Asian heritage wasn’t on his mind at all and that he was thinking of him as just a basketball player, as he should. Bretos’s wife is Asian; he is an unlikely suspect for anti-Asian attitudes, and there is virtually no chance that this was his intent.
So how can ESPN’s suspension be justified?
- Bretos’s question to Frasier was clear and non-racial in content.
- The phrase ” a chink in the armor” is completely legitimate and inoffensive idiom except to the ignorant, the intentionally offended, and when deliberately used to invoke the racial slur meaning of “chink.”
- Had the idiotic headline never run, Bretos would never have been targeted or punished. Because it did, ESPN decided to make him a scapegoat and brand him as a racist that had to suffer even though it must know that he is not.
- Tapes show that Bretos has used the phrase on the air before, in a context that couldn’t possibly be interpreted as relating to Asians.
- Lin shrugged off the incident and accepted the network’s apology as settling the matter, even suggesting that the headline wasn’t intentional.
- It is unfair to punish an employee who did nothing wrong, when you know he did nothing wrong, because someone else did something wrong.
- It violates the First Niggardly Principle, which is discussed here.
So, in order to satisfy the offended, ESPN decided that it had to humiliate and dock the salary of a completely innocent, unbiased, responsible employee, while encouraging the absurd conversion of a 500-year old, useful, non-offensive idiom into a societal taboo. This is the Washington, D.C. government punishing an employee for using the word “niggardly” because the vocabulary-deficient thought the word was offensive. This is the Golf Channel suspending another color-blind announcer, Kelly Tighman, for innocently using the term “lynch” while talking about Tiger Woods.
And this is why Americans may never get to a point where, as Martin Luther King dreamed, a man is not judged by the color of his skin…because it is dangerous in America to forget about the color of a man’s skin. The race bullies won’t let us forget, and organizations like ESPN don’t have the integrity or the loyalty to stand up to screams for sacrifices on the altar of political correctness and self-censorship.
That’s the chink in their armor.
Update: Apparently Knicks broadcaster Spero Dede also used the “chink in the armor” idiom, also legitimately and innocently (a Knicks broadcaster is going to make a racial slur against a home town favorite?), and like Bretos is getting criticized for it. Sports commentator Larry Brown writes, absurdly, “Hopefully the multiple incidents over the past few days have taught people to avoid making racist statements in all forums.” Except it isn’t a racist statement, because words and phrases don’t magically change their meanings according to whom they are applied to! In the cases of both Dede and Bretos, their meaning was unambiguous and clear, and self-appointed censors still decided to tar them with a racist label when absolutely nobody believes they are racist. “It’s a problem when it’s said about an Asian player. What is so difficult about that to comprehend?”, Brown asks a commenter. It’s difficult to comprehend, Larry, because it’s unreasonable and stupid. We don’t use different language according to race and nationality in the US. If something can be said about a non-Asian player and not be taken as offensive, it can be said about an Asian player. To argue otherwise, you have to believe that the otherwise harmless phrase actually means something different in that context, and in the cases of both Bretos and Dede, everyone knows it didn’t. Their “crime” is that their speech was colorblind, and the race-obsessed are condemning them. Amazing, and nauseating.
This is political correctness at its most divisive and irresponsible.