On July 12, KTVU TV station anchor Tori Campbell told viewers that the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board had confirmed the names of the pilots involved in the July 6 Asiana Airline crash at San Francisco Airport. She proceeded to name the “pilots” as:
Sum Ting Wong (Some thing wrong)
Wi Tu Lo (We’re too low)
Ho Lee F** (Holy F***)
Bang Ding Ow
Of course this was a very inappropriate joke allegedly created by an intern, to make Tori Campbell look like someone out of the movie Anchorman. From the official NTSB News Release:
The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.
Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.
The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today’s incident.
The KTVU anchor apologized later that evening, but the television station is refusing to divulge where they received the names. They allege that in their rush to call NTSB, they did not get the name of the intern and are “not sure” how they conveyed the names to NTSB for the confirmation.
Bottom line for me is that this was a very sick joke. One would assume that the anchor, while reading the names, would have realized immediately what was happening. This was a tragic event and while I do not want to capitulate any racial clash that may occur, I do want to ensure that things like this should never happen again. To take something as serious as a plane crash and turn it into an on-air joke was sick indeed.
Ironically, what I’m hearing from some of my Asian friends is that when they heard this, they thought it was funny and said I should not rehash it because of all the “race cards” being played in America. However for me, this is not about race but more of an actuality of taking a culture and conveying it in a manner that is laughing in the eyes of a tragedy.
The very un-funny fact is that three people–including two little girls–died as a result of the crash; we are very lucky those were the only casualties and I don’t see anything “funny” about any of it.
I’m proud to stand up for who I am. I’m fine with good jokes and I’m not afraid to laugh at myself and my culture–but when someone is jabbing you with a knife, let’s call it what it is and not demean ourselves by going along with it.
For now, it seems the Asian-American community wants to distance themselves from all things race-related; however I hope Asian-Americans will take some time to remember what it took to get where we are.
The saddest part about this sick, unfortunate incident is that three people are dead, many maimed, and yet the pilots will be remembered forever as jokes. Shame on the intern who did this, and shame on anyone who doesn’t speak up for the victims.