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ESPN’s Racist Jeremy Lin Comment Gets Writer Fired

Submitted by on February 20, 2012 – 4:06 pm13 Comments

We can all admit that the constant Jeremy Lin puns and plays-on-words have worn out their welcome. However, we still continue to see them splashed across headlines. Occasionally we grimace at the latest “Lin-sanity” or “All he does is Lin-Lin-Lin” quips, but one headline in particular had us cringing for a much different reason. Rather than being a fun and exhausting play on words, ESPN posted a headline on Saturday morning that was downright offensive and racially insensitive.

“Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets”

The headline sat on ESPN.com’s mobile page for roughly half an hour Saturday before someone had that Ron Burgandy in Anchorman moment. (Will Ferrell says, “Go f*ck yourself San Diego,” and proceedes to walk off set as if nothing happened, until he realizes the irreversible damage he committed in front of a national audience.) Surely there were quite a few at ESPN that drove their hands into their foreheads when they saw the headline. How exactly does that happen?

Sadly, there are still some sensitivity issues towards Asian Americans that haven’t completely been hashed out. African American and Mexican American athletes haven’t had to worry much about seeing a racial slur make it to the front page of the world’s largest sporting news outlet. Nobody would even consider using that terminology on a LeBron James or a Juan Manuel Marquez. But for Asians, the rules are unfortunately a little bit different. For some reason, some people don’t seriously consider slander against Asian Americans as wrong. Floyd Mayweather once said about Manny Pacquiao, “Once I stomp the midget, I’ll make that mother f*cker make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.” People winced, but things went along as normal a few weeks later.

Using the word “chink” on ESPN is utterly unacceptable and has led to the network releasing a statement apologizing for the remark while terminating the writer who penned the slur. Lin, being the bigger man, took the apology in stride and didn’t necessarily see it as malicious; although somebody else might.

“I don’t think it was on purpose or whatever, but they have apologized and so from my end I don’t care anymore,” Lin said in a televised interview after leading the Knicks to a 104- 97 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. “Have to learn to forgive and I don’t even think that was intentional. Or hopefully not.”

It may not have been “intentional,” but it certainly was reckless and reprehensible. Although Jeremy Lin accepted their apology, this shouldn’t be swept under the rug. Yes, ESPN disciplined the responsible parties but we, as a country, have to make sure these things don’t happen again.

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  • Austxjr says:

    If it was intentional then it was a terrible attempt at a racist pun and reprehensible, but it easily could have been utterly unintentional (where was his editor and shouldn’t he/she be fired too.) After all, isn’t “a chink in the armor” a valid phrase? This is as absurd as firing someone for referring to “Woman is the nigger of the world” or Kinky Friedman’s “They ain’t making jews like jesus anymore” which includes almost every despicable racist phrase you can think of. Both are NOT racist or discriminatory, but use the words to make statements about racism and discrimination. If we outlaw words without knowing they have many meanings and uses we are impoverishing the language. I ddon’t know the journalist, but if Lin forgave him, then I think the restof us should and he should get a suspension at the worst.

  • rich says:

    Oh, COME ON. Chink in the armor is a decent pun. When did Chink suddenly jump to n* ?

    It’s not! Its a joke of a slur and is rarely negative. Elementary school kids use it as the term. Like Ropee for Europeans. Or Hadji for Indians.

    Lighten up

  • edwinraburn says:

    I really don’t know why people get overly jealous if an Asians like us dominate in some event that they think ruled mostly by the caucasians?? Can we not just be happy that somehow we don’t just see the same color or race playing on the same field!Please RESPECT!

  • Chad says:

    It is a bit sad to see that the author of this article has jumped to the conclusion that the Sports-writer used a racist comment. Granted he/she does back him/herself up with the fact that the puns on Mr. Lin’s name are getting old. In that frame of reference I can see the disrespect shown, although not necessarily intentional. The author of this article states “Nobody would even consider using that terminology on a LeBron James or a Juan Manuel Marquez”, and this is where I would disagree. It has been used in describing a hole in performance of players who have been doing exceptionally well, and in other areas as well. It is a phrase that is used in the book THE HOBBIT, by J.R.R. Tolkien to show where Smaug the dragon was vulnerable. I mean no disrespect by saying this, and can understand that it was a poor choice of wording, but we also are disrespectful if we automatically assume that the sports-writer is racist for the way he wrote the article. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Just my thoughts

  • sunrise says:

    The firing of the ESPN employee was just. This type of behavior from a professional on a professional site should not be tolerated. This was as defamatory as if he had said the “N” word toward an African American.

  • sunrise says:

    The firing of the ESPN employee was just. This type of behavior from a professional on a professional site should not be tolerated. This was as defamatory as if he had said the “N” word toward an African American. When that becomes acceptable, this will too!!!

  • Amber says:

    If he is a writer with a half a brain, then that sports writer knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he used it as a headline in a story about the much hyped first Asian NBA star.

    Let’s not all be naive here. It is a valid phrase, yes. But he knew what he was doing. He probably thought it was a clever play on words, not realizing the backlash would result in a his firing, but he knew what he was doing.

    If it were a Latino basketball player’s winning streak on the same team, would it be okay to use the headline: “Knick’s Winning Streak Remains Spic and Span!” Oh, HELLLLLLLL no. It’s racially charged and racially insensitive. And that headline would have never NEVER made it onto the website in the first place.

    That guy was fired with good reason. If not for his racial insensitivity, then for his sheer stupidity. ESPN can surely find smarter writers, I’m sure. And I hope better editors. Because who ever let “Chink in the Armor” slide is the real chink in the armor in this case.

  • Andy says:

    I agree w/ some of the others have said about how the editor should be held responsible too. The writer wasn’t very smart to write it in the first place, but how could the editor be foolish enough to let it go through?

  • [...] And that, ESPN, is how you make it through an article without any racist undertones. [...]

  • Jon says:

    This PC bullshit is getting tired. People need to stop being so damn sensitive and get some thicker skin. Anthony Federico is a good person and did not even make a mistake. “Chink In the Armor” is a common metaphor for a weakness. People and orginzations (like ESPN) need to start making a stand in situations like this an say, “Look, this is a good person than meant no disrespect by his headline. We support him.”

  • J says:

    This is ridiculous. The use of a saying that inherently has nothing to do with race, is acceptable under any circumstances. You realize chink is a word that exists outside of the racial slur? Do you really think he was going to risk his job by sliding that title in there, to further some sort of “racist” agenda? Come on… the author is married to an asian woman. I hate our media.

  • Antojitos says:

    As someone who is all too faiaimlr with your situation, this is an unfortunately common occurrence today as many of us struggle to find footing for the next step .I’m completely aware that you may not want to post this comment and, rest assured, that I understand why. It seems you may have too much reliance on God. For example, when things work out nicely, it was God’ plan all along. When things go wrong, it’s all part of God’s bigger plan. When things continue to go wrong, it’s part of God’s even larger plan. When things fail, it’s part of God’s really bigger larger plan.Instead of asking for resolution and questioning divine intentions, I would recommend living in the moment and not questioning your ability to empower each other. All of this mental anguish that is spent questioning the intentions of God is wasted time and wasted moments of happiness. Your wife is qualified and if she gets another job, it’s because of her qualifications and the value she brings to the table.You clearly care a great deal about your wife and it is truly commendable how you expressed it above. I wanted to provide an alternative viewpoint for consideration. I realize that you, most likely, will not agree with my viewpoint. In any case, I truly wish your wife luck in finding a job and you with the answers you seek.

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