As the world seems to be aware, the New York Knicks have a new star player named Jeremy Lin. Not since Patrick Ewing, my fellow Hoya, joined the team have I seen such excitement over a Knickerbocker. [Full disclosure: I grew up in NY and I am a Knicks fan.]
Over the weekend, an ESPN writer used the phrase “chink in the armor” for a headline, and Max Bretos used the phrase in a broadcast, both about Jeremy Lin. It turns out that Jeremy Lin is Asian, and some found this offensive . The headline writer was fired and Bretos suspended. Bretos, against good judgment, has apologized.
No apology was necessary or should have been forthcoming from Bretos.
It is a race neutral phrase. Bretos has used it before. Bretos did not appear to have any racist intent (and the headline writer also denies racism). The only racists are the ones condemning him. If you punish someone for speech that is race neutral, yet you find it somehow offensive because of the subject’s race, you are the racist, not the speaker. ESPN owes Bretos an apology. So much for judging people on their merits; we are encouraged to judge them on race. That’s offensive. If Lin is a chink in the Knicks’ armor, or there is a chink in Lin’s armor, we should be free to say it.