Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Confession


Sometimes in life, you just have to admit that you’re a terrible person. This is one of those times. I’ve been in Atlanta the past couple of days on business, so I was out of my morning routine and consequently missed this story. In the aftermath of the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214, a San Francisco television news anchor broadcast the names of the four Korean pilots of the ill fated plane. The names had been confirmed by none other than the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington. She read the names on the air:

     Captain: Sum Ting Wong

     Wi Tu Lo

     Ho Lee Fuk

     Bang Ding Ow

Apparently, a “summer intern” at the NTSB had come up with these names as a prank and the folks at KTVU in San Francisco fell for it hook, line and sinker. The info-babe read the names on the air without batting an eye. See for yourself: http://youtu.be/BFDwgJa7JOI.

Was this prank insensitive, racist and juvenile? Yes, yes, and yes. Then, why did I laugh so hard, I nearly wet my pants? Judge me all you want, but if you can watch that clip without at least smiling, then, well… you’re a better person than I am.

This, on the heels of the Chicago Sun Times issuing an apology for their headline announcing the crash: “Fright 214”, seen by many as an insensitive jab at Asian-American pronunciation. Let’s just say, it was a busy week for the politically correct language police.

On some level it bothers me that this sort of thing is funny to me. I blame it all on Mel Brooks, and his influence on me at a young age, but tasteless jokes have always made me laugh. Although I can sit for hours reading Shakespeare, Hemingway, Dostoevsky, and C.S. Lewis, I still find a well timed fart hilarious. I am confident that I harbor no animus towards Asian Americans; in fact, I have never known one who wasn’t fairly awesome, but when I heard that the Captain of flight 214 was someone named, Sum Ting Wong, well my first thought was, that summer intern at the NTSB has a bright future at the Onion!