Some have wondered why, being unhappy with New York Times reporter Charles Blow’s tweeted mockery of Mitt Romney’s religion, I wrote (and encouraged others to write) to the “public editor” of the Times, Arthur Brisbane.
Was I trying to get Mr. Blow fired?
No, not at all.
Somebody was suspended or fired from ESPN last week, I understand, for writing a headline about New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, a Chinese-American, containing the phrase “chink in the armor.”
I think that was probably an overreaction, and certainly so if the offensiveness of the headline was inadvertent. (Whether the phrase represented an intentional and rather tasteless pun or was merely sheer blundering bad luck, I have no idea.)
And I thought it perfectly ridiculous, a year or two ago, when the word niggardly became radioactive because of its supposed racial overtones. (It has absolutely nothing to do with race. Nothing.)
I’m not a fan of hypertrophied political correctness, nor of carefully cultivated victimhood as a tool for manipulation.
So, again, no. I was not trying to get Charles Blow fired.
Nor does Arthur Brisbane have the authority to fire Charles Blow. He isn’t Mr. Blow’s “boss.”
As I understand it, the “public editor” at the Times is essentially the paper’s ombudsman. He’s there to deal with readers’ concerns about the paper and people connected with it:
He is the person to whom other journalists (e.g., this one) were pointing and appealing as the fellow at the Times who deals with such issues.
What I did and do see, though, is a double standard that tends to overlook and downplay conscious mockery of Mormonism (for example) but is sensitive to the point of ludicrousness when perceived racial insensitivity is involved, and that — surely nobody can seriously doubt this — would have responded with volcanic fury if, say, instead of Mormon garments, Mr. Blow had tweeted about a Jewish public figure’s “magic beanie.”
Probably my most absurd (and certainly my most implacably obsessed) critic is now publicly (but, as always, anonymously) insinuating that the fact that Charles Blow is black played a role in my (non-existent) effort to get Mr. Blow fired. But I didn’t even know that Charles Blow is black.