On the bright side, at least the purveyors of this ethnic slur are not trying to hide behind the First Amendment. Be it noted, Eng has the First Amendment right to express his low opinion of black people. As San Francisco State journalism professor Yumi Wilson explained over the phone, bloggers post this sort of racist rhetoric every day.
But it's also important to note that AsianWeek has the First Amendment right to refuse to print Eng's copy, as well as a responsibility not to print fact-free racist rants. If the Eng column were not a collection of ignorant generalizations without qualifiers, Wilson noted, if it had been based on research and interviews, if Eng had addressed how some Asians feel about some blacks, that would be "a whole different story." Instead, Eng treated readers to sweeping and inaccurate stereotypes -- even as he bemoaned what he perceived as unacceptable Asian stereotypes.
"Blacks hate us," Eng wrote. "Every Asian who has ever come across them knows that they take almost every opportunity to hurl racist remarks at us." Wilson, who noted that Eng "did touch a chord with some Asian-Americans," also remarked on how inaccurate that unqualified statement about hatred was. She knows: Her father is African-American and her late mother, Japanese-American.
News organizations have a responsibility to print copy that withstands vetting. As for Eng's work, Wilson noted, "It's not journalism, and it's not acceptable."