Jeremy Lin “Chink in the Armor” Culprits Fired, Suspended; Did Punishments Fit Crimes?

This past weekend, two ESPN employees who managed to use the phrase “chink in the armor” to describe Jeremy Lin were swiftly punished for the offenses.

The question on everyone’s mind now is: did the punishments fit the crimes?

Anthony Federico, 28, made the far more stupid gaffe of the two on Saturday night when he posted the following headline on ESPN’s mobile website: "Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin's 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-Snapping Loss to Hornets." The headline was posted at 2:30 in the morning, and then removed slightly more than a half an hour later when someone (finally) realized that it may be construed as an offensive remark.

(via The Big Lead)

By Sunday afternoon, Federico was no longer an employee of ESPN.

The World Wide Leader’s other major Lin-related gaffe came a few days earlier, when Max Bretos, a well known ESPN television personality, posed the following question live on the air:

"If there is a chink in the armor, where can he improve his game?" he asked.

As punishment for his mistake, Bretos was handed a 30-day suspension.

Over the weekend, he tweeted this apology:

Wanted 2 apologize 2 all those I have upset. Not done with any racial reference. Despite intention,phrase was inappropriate in this context.

My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community.

All things considered, it’s clear why Bretos’ punishment wound up being much lighter than Federico’s. Whereas the latter had ample time to work up a good headline, think about it, review the phrase and then run it past someone prior to posting it on the website – Bretos was working on live TV. Working on live TV means you have less time to think about your phrases, their double meanings and the potential consequences of what you say.

There is even a case to be made that Bretos’ punishment was too harsh given the seemingly innocent nature of his crime.

Federico’s situation is different. His firing, really, is justifiable on two counts. If he purposely posted that headline to be funny or mean-spirited figuring that he could hide behind how common the phrase he used is, then his termination was deserved and then some. If, however, he simply missed what the headline meant -- be it because of the hour it was posted or for any other reason -- then he quite simply didn’t do his job and deserved to get fired anyway.

In a later interview, Federico seemed genuinely repentant about what he had done.

"This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny," he told the Daily News. "I'm so sorry that I offended people. I'm so sorry if I offended Jeremy.

"My faith is my life," he said. "I'd love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake."

The question that many are struggling with now is: are folks being oversensitive in regards Lin and the phrases used to describe him? Particularly in Bretos’ case, where there was really no way for the ESPN personality to review his comments and their impact prior to saying them – is a 30-day suspension too much?

Regardless of where you stand on the topic of these guys' punishments, it’s safe to say that we can no longer pretend like Lin’s race has nothing to do with the way he’s being covered. Even though that’s a popular saying among folks who are either blind to the realities of the situation or willingly choose to ignore them – Lin’s race does matter. It matters in the grand scheme of why his story is such a great one, it matters in the way people view him as a player, and it matters in the way that the media has to cover him.

And if you don’t think it matters, pose the question to Federico and Bretos and see what they say.

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Dear Leader said the time of the racially offended was supposed to have ended in 2008 when he brought harmony to the whole world.

There seems to be no outcry about Lintastic, or Lin-this or Lin-that and the other puns that are flying about New York City. No one got upset when MSNBC reported that Lin made a huge impact on MSG (How can we be sure they meant Madison Square Garden?)

California Representative Chu's feigned outrage in comparing the "C" word to the "N" word is as well founded as Ms. Jackson-Lee's outrage at the proper use of the word niggardly. Both statements are a massive indictment of our public education system.

When it comes to women making these complaints, I totally got the intended meaning of the "C" word all wrong.

Thanks for adding your totally irrelevant and asinine remarks to the conversation. You have dazzled us with your wit and wisdom. I look forward to seeing more pearls of wisdom dripping out of your as..keyboard.

I think you're a dumb ass good ol' boy. Please take this remark in the non-racist manner in which it was intended.

First google result for, "chink".

'nuff said.

we all use inappropriate language . down right racist sumtimes .. but the difference dont use it professionally or in a professional setting .. he knew what he meant at chink in the armour .. he meant the chinese guy is the weakness in the team point blank ... racist scum bag .. and jus because the reporter has a asian wife doesnt mean he doesnt see ppl in. racist eye .. he should be fired too

The term 'chink in the armor' comes from an old english term 'chine in the armor' meaning a crack. Any reasonable person knows it has nothing to do with Chinese people. Also wouldn't the derogative term be spelled 'chinc'.. I realize political correctness has nothing to do with real life and that even the slight perception of offending a minority is considered total racism and grounds for dismissal from any job.

Attempting to explain this as PC run amok and educating us on the meaning of the phrase is B.S. We all know what the general use of the phrase means. But it's obvious the use here was as a double entendre.

Mr. Federico makes his living communicating with words. To suggest he was not aware of the pejorative nature of using "chink" in reference to Mr. Lin is disingenuous.

>>The headline was posted at 2:30 a.m. in the morning,

Admittedly this is simply a pet peeve of mine, but is there another 2:30 a.m. which is not in the morning? A 2:30 a.m. in the afternoon posting would be very odd indeed.

If this person is too stupid to see the potential racial slur, they are too stupid to be a publicly facing representative of ESPN. If though this appears to be accidental, it represents a serious lapse in judgment.

I agree. When you have to deal with someone of another race, the first thing you need to do is to learn all the different racist words that could be used against him -- lest you innocently make a mistake of this nature.

But what source can we turn to, to make sure we've learned them all? "All in the Family" has been off the air for too long to rely on that show for this kind of information.

I would think "chink" is a very well-known racial slur.

There are some slurs that are regional. For example, on the left coast and south west, "beaner" is a negative term for a Mexican - whether legal or illegal. In Michigan where I live, a chain of coffee shops chose the unfortunate name "Beaners." It wasn't until they started looking nationally that someone told the owners the name wouldn't fly. They are now called "Bigby" -> Pronounced "Big Bee". A much less offensive name on a national level.

I could forgive something that was unknown. However, "chink" has been around a very long time as a racial slur.

The urban dictionary has all kinds of racial slurs and their definitions: