Writers Beware: The Collateral Damage of Linsanity

Now that Jeremy Lin has come down to earth, and the Knicks have shown themselves to be nothing more than playoff hopefuls this year, there remain two  lessons to be learned by student and professional writers alike.

With the rise of Jeremy Lin, who could ignore the pun frenzy in the media: "Linsanity"; "The Lin Dynasty"; "Lin-Diesel"; a virtual smorgasbord of puns! A headline writer's dream.

Until it became careless, unprofessional, and irresponsible. An ESPN writer was terminated for writing and publishing the headline "Chink in the Armor" on the network's mobile site, while an ESPN anchor was suspended for using the same line during a broadcast.

I don't think these people are racists: I just think they were stupid for not pausing to edit themselves and recognize that "chink" is an offensive term on the same level as the n-word, or any other ethnic or racial slur. Because they were too busy trying to come up with the day's snazziest headline, they forgot to apply simple common sense. So it cost one person his job, and another a few paychecks.

What drew more attention was boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr.'s tweet about Lin: "Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise."

Mayweather was slammed for this, but why? Isn't some of what he is saying true? All things being equal, would Lin have gotten nearly as much attention from the media if he were Black or Latino or white? No. Would I be writing this blog if Jeremy Lin was not Taiwanese, or if I was not Taiwanese? No.

But it's not what you say; it's how and where you say it. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a millionaire athlete. Controversy works in his favor: the more people who like, or dislike him, the more people watch him fight, the more money he makes.

This is not the equation that applies to ordinary people. So I hope our students remember to keep their filters on at all times. You say or write something irresponsible because you didn't take the time to think it through, you lose your job.

Remember: your Facebook page is public; what you say via Twitter is public. Your personal blog is public. And employers are the first people who will go online digging for information. If they don't like what they find, you may not even get that job to begin with.

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