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ESPN's Lin headline sparks racial fury

  • Asian-American journalist says intentions matter
  • Rights group demands prominent apology on ESPN air

A little Linsanity crossed the line this weekend when ESPN fired a journalist and suspended another for a disparaging headline referring to the popular New York Knicks guard.

Jeremy Lin, whose rise to stardom has lifted not only the New York Knicks but also the NBA, has become attached to a racial controversy after the sports network’s website published a story with an offensive headline about him.

In a statement released Sunday the network apologized for the "offensive and inappropriate comments" and announced that it had removed the headline and dismissed the writer; a TV anchor who used the phrase was suspended for 30 days.

News outlets reported Sunday that Lin, an American-born player of Taiwanese heritage, told reporters that he had accepted the apology and he had moved on.

"Have to learn to forgive, and I don't even think that was intentional," he was quoted as saying. "Or hopefully not.”

But the ball continued to bounce: ESPN anchor Max Bretos was suspended 30 days for uttering the phrase on air. Later he apologized on Twitter. “My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community,” Bretos said. “Despite intention, phrase was inappropriate in this context.”

But not everyone was offended. Journalist Palash R. Ghosh at the International Business Times had a different take on the Lin flap, saying: “Although I am neither Chinese nor Taiwanese, I am an Asian-American, and I am not the least bit 'offended' by what ESPN did. We need to make a distinction between intentional, malicious racial hatred and something like this – they are light years apart.”

“The worst aspect to ESPN's actions is that it disguises and trivializes acts of real, authentic racism against Asian-Americans and others,” he said.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, in a statement posted its website, has called for ESPN to apologize on prominently air for the “racist and inexcusable” headline so that “it is clear to all viewers that this racist language is unacceptable.”

HLN readers, let your voice be heard. Was the ESPN headline totally out of line - intentional or not? Or is there a bit of an overreaction?

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