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'Words Become Actions'

Austinites protest Jimmy Kimmel Show’s hate speech

By Manzhi Wu, 10:45AM, Tue. Nov. 12, 2013

Protesters march in response to
Protesters march in response to "Jimmy Kimmell Show" skit
photo by Pei Zheng

Last Saturday morning, more than 200 protesters rallied at the Capitol, in protest of ABC-TV and its late-night “Jimmy Kimmel Show,” after a “Kids Table” skit suggested that it might be a good idea to “Kill everyone in China.”

The rally was part of a national action, during which protesters in more than 20 cities around the U.S. called on ABC to make an official apology, and to fire or sanction Jimmy Kimmel.

On Oct. 16, during Kimmel’s late-night show (taped, not live), he asked a roundtable of children what the U.S. should do about the “debt” owed to China (via international borrowing). “Shoot cannons all the way over and kill everyone in China!” one boy suggested. “Kill everyone in China?,” replied Kimmel. “Ok, that’s an interesting idea,” and continued, “should we allow the Chinese to live?” Kimmel did not attempt to suggest to the children, or his audience, that mass slaughter might not be a good idea.

At the rally, Yongxia Xia of Texas State University* spoke on the theme, “Teach our children to love not to hate.” Xia said ABC was in effect “poisoning American minds by telling us that the Chinese are the source of all the problems in this country.”

“A sort of cultural Jim Crow has loomed over the Chinese American community like a poisonous cloud,” she continued. “We have been the scapegoats again and again whenever the economy is in decline. Jimmy Kimmel’s orchestration of those children saying the killing of all Chinese would solve the debt problem is just one more example of the perpetuation of prejudice and hatred against the Chinese. … The laws of this great country protect everyone from being discriminated against, based on race and national origin. And we are part of that everyone.”

Irene Xie, a Chinese mother whose child attends an Austin primary school in Austin, pointed out that “It will be treated very seriously if a six-year-old child said those words in school. If a kid says ‘kill a classmate,’ he or she may be [expelled]. This is serious, not funny. And it’s certainly not only Kimmel’s personal behavior – it’s also ABC’s, the company’s behavior.”

The three-hour rally began at the Capitol and proceeded to City Hall. Along the way, demonstrators displayed signs reading “Teach kids to love, not to kill,” “Hate speech is no joke.” The protest was attended by seniors, students, parents with children of all ages, and office clerks who have been working in Austin for years.

Protesters remained unsatisfied with Kimmel’s “apology” made subsequently outside his Hollywood studio. They demanded ABC’s actual sanction of Jimmy Kimmel, and a formal corporate apology. People are also waiting for the Obama Administration to comment, because a petition calling for an investigation of the TV episode has collected more than the 100,000 signatures required to warrant a White House response.

Yijun Xu, one of demonstrators, quoted an ancient Chinese philosopher: “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions…” He added, “This protest is a good opportunity to show that we have zero tolerance for racism.”

Editor’s note: Manzhi Wu is a graduate student in the journalism school at UT-Austin. She offered the Chronicle Newsdesk this report on Saturday’s Capitol rally. The photo is by Pei Zheng, also a student in the J-School graduate program.

*Yongxia Xia wishes to make it clear that she is speaking for herself and not on behalf of Texas State University.

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