Friday, April 9, 2010

From "chink" to "gap" and back

Here's an e-mail I got last night from my good friend A.

Dear All:

I am writing to inform you of a racist pun appearing in an April 5th New York Times article entitled "Researchers Trace Data Theft to Intruders in China."

I wrote one of the authors (David Barboza) the day the article appeared and he apologized for the problem and said the offending word was removed (which it in fact was: the word CHINK in the article was changed to GAP). The problem is the word CHINK is now back in the article. Please see the excerpt cut and pasted below, along with hyperlink and entire article.

I believe this problem needs to receive publicity, the New York Times needs to apologize for a double mistake, and the authors should be fired. The US media has a real problem punning on words such as "NIP" and "CHINK" whenever there are stories related to Asians or Asian Americans. It is an absolutely intentional and racist wisecrack. I pointed out this issue in the "Comments" section of the article (I cut and pasted the passage into the comments section and wrote: "This statement is racist"), before emailing the author. My comment never even appeared online.

Because the New York Times and David Barboza have both censored and ignored my complaint, I am writing to you for help in publicizing this issue.

Thanks, xxx

"The intruders even stole documents related to the travel of NATO forces in Afghanistan, illustrating that even though the Indian government was the primary target of the attacks, one chink in computer security can leave many nations exposed."


I had made a screenshot of the original article when it first came out but did not think about doing the same for the edited / "gap" article. Fortunately, a quick search using google yielded a number of sites that featured transcriptions of the article containing "gap":


If I recall correctly, the edited online version of the NYT article had an extra (I'm tempted to say gap) space between the word "gap" and the phrase "in computer security." The extra space is reproduced in the Tech News Daily version.

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