When an ethnic stab is done, however, cheaply and for pure exploitative intentions, I do take offense. When I first moved to America, I was received with statements likes "Oh my God, your English is so good." Or, "You grew up in Hong Kong, so you must speak Japanese." In some ways, these kinds of statements can almost be forgiven. They're largely based on ignorance. But, when I saw this newspaper - tabloid, really - piece a couple of weeks back, my Offended Asian Radar - my OAR, if you will - took notice and I wanted to hit the tabloid's editor upside the head with it. The Canadian speedster, of Chinese heritage, is a criminal and should be punished for his twenty-four minute race through Manhattan. However, to use the headline they did, the editors and writers of that tabloid should be ashamed of themselves. Scandal and offense sell as much as sex do but this was such a blatant stab at the stereotypical trait that Asians are unable to say the letter R, instead replacing it with a L. It is true that some Asians have this, for lack of a better word, affliction but that's simply due to accents and second languages. I've encountered many a native English speaker get defensive and downright offensive when their mistakes when attempting to speak a language foreign to them are pointed out. I suspect that the editors and writers of this piece may be among them. This headline, however, is such an offensive cheap shot.
I'm writing this post purely on my immediate gut reaction when I saw this headline. Like I said, it was two weeks ago. I gave it time to simmer and/or die down. Unfortunately - perhaps, fortunately - it has simmered and not died down. I can't even recall which New York tabloid it came from. I rarely read them but I was at the barber shop and picked it up as my son was getting his haircut. As I write this, a scary thought just popped into my head. I didn't check to see who the writer of the article is and who the tabloid's editors are. What's scary and, hopefully not the case, is the chance that either party is Asian or Asian American.
The bottom line, for me anyway, is that the writer's attempt at a pun was poorly executed. The tabloid has basically printed, in bold letters no less, a racial slur. The perpetrator's careless and reckless speeding had nothing to do with his ethnicity. So why bring it up? This wasn't a hate crime based on prejudice. It was a stupid man's attempt to do something he thought was cool. He could just as easily been white, black, brown or something in between.
Like I said, I don't even know which New York tabloid it was that published that headline. I also said I rarely read them as it is. Well, I am less likely to do so again.