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Friday, October 21, 2005

"Building Stereotypes" and multiple standards for discrimination

I really liked Hebah M. Ismail's editorial "Building Stereotypes" that was published yesterday in the Crimson. It brings up the interesting question of, as she puts it, "the double standard that exists regarding discrimination," and how making fun of some groups of people is more socially acceptable than making fun of others. This came up last year also a few times--one particular incident involved the "The Jersey Guys" radio show (101.5FM in NJ), on which racial jokes were made about Asian Americans, in response to Jun Choi running for Mayor of Edison, NJ. (more in extended post)

Here's an excerpt (transcript here):
Craig Carton: I'm using Jun Choi [said in fast-paced, high-pitched, squeaky voice] as an example of a larger problem.
Ray Rossi: and you know.
Carton: We're forgetting the fact that we're Americans.
Rossi: You know that he's going to get the. whatever that vote is
Carton: And here's the bottom line... no specific minority group or foreign group should ever ever dictate the outcome of an American election. I don't care if the Chinese population in Edison has quadrupled in the last year, Chinese should never dictate the outcome of an election, Americans should.
An apology was slow in emerging after this incident, in spite of the outcry from Asian Americans, and the radio station defended the skit as being just a joke. Whether it's useful to compare experiences is another issue, but I definitely think there are insidious attitudes about what it's more acceptable to make fun of that perpetuate discrimination.

On the other hand, sometimes things really are just funny. Like Russell Peters (I can't find the full video...), whose jokes are really largely racial-stereotype-based, but I find him really amusing. Where's that line drawn? Is it just that it's meant in jest that makes it okay? Thoughts?

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