Zero authority to comment on Ayjhin menu

One person’s taking the piss can be another person’s racism. I get that.

But I also think that while anyone has the right to complain about something they think is racist no one has any authority to tell me I have no authority to comment on a topic in the news and in public discussion. ‘You can’t comment on that because you’re not…’ is an increasingly common way of trying to shut down or sanitise discussion.

I may or may not be a target of a claim I have zero authority to comment on this story: Asian fusion, with a side of racism

By Anny Ma *

Opinion – It pains me greatly that in 2018 this even needs to be said, but mocking another culture (or group) for your own amusement is not funny – it’s degrading.

I am constantly reminded that my heritage is actually just a punchline, despite descending from one of the oldest civilisations of the world with an incredibly rich history and culture.

Bamboozle restaurant in my ‘not that racist’ hometown of Christchurch has further proved this, by creating a menu where Asian Fusion dishes are named by childishly butchering words through phonetically writing them out “how an Asian would speak”.

This far too common trope is based on degrading stereotypes, and while some Asians may have thicker accents as they (very admirably) learn another language to help them assimilate into Western culture, making fun of them for this is completely unnecessary.

The small-minded may be amused by this for three seconds, but the people on the receiving end of this ‘joke’ will remember the incredible discomfort, embarrassment, and self-loathing you made them feel for much, much longer.

Since the menu was posted online, there’s been a lot of commentary provided by those with zero authority on the topic. If you are not Asian, this is not the time to tell us we can’t be offended, or to “lighten up” as 59 percent of voters in a Stuff poll thought.

Even the Human Rights Commission has had a say – perhaps because they are critical they don’t have zero authority?

Ma:

There have also been comments by people like Professor James Liu of Massey University, who found the menu insensitive but said he believed there was no malicious intent so didn’t go as far as labelling it racist.

Unfortunately, ‘Racism’ is a word that causes more shock than the behaviour itself. Being a minority, I completely understand being in a situation where you don’t want to upset the status quo for fear of negative consequences.

‘Racist’ has quite varied meanings and perceptions – it’s different things to different people.

When “people on the receiving end of this ‘joke’ will remember the incredible discomfort, embarrassment, and self-loathing you made them feel for much, much longer” there could be a genuine problem, but it is impossible to never be offensive to anyone.

It’s not just racism that can hurt, as anyone who is very overweight can probably attest to, as can those who are naturally blond or naturally red headed, those who are unusually short or tall – anyone who bears the brunt of jokes or taunts because they are ‘different’.

How many Irish people are offended by Irish jokes?

There’s a range of views on the Asian restaurant thing at at Reddit: Asian Fusion with a side of racism.

Included is this comment and image:

Am Chinese, would go with the Professor saying it’s culturally insensitive, but I don’t think it’s racist, just mildly offended.

Its just like how I refuse to give business to White and Wong’s in Auckland purely because of the name, but I’m not going to go on a public outcry to get them to stop. Some people will enjoy the play on words. Some people will enjoy the humour in that menu. It’s just like how I still laugh at this sometimes…

…how is this any different to that menu?

And how is that different to this KIWI-ESE “Introductory Guide To The Language”

What You Hear, What It Means
A MEDGEN: Visualise, Conjure up mentally, also John Lenon’s first solo Album “Imagine”
BETTING: “Betting Gloves” are worn by “Betsmen” in “Crucket”
BRIST: Part of the human anatomy between the “Nick” and the “Billy”
RUST: Part of the human anatomy between the “Fingers” and the “Elbow”
BUGGER: As in “My dad’s bugger then yours”
FUSHEN CHUPS: What good Catholics eat each Friday.
CHULLY BUN: “Chilly Bin” also known as an Esky or Cold Box
COME YOUSE: Controversial captain of the Australian Cricket team resigned tearfully in favour of Allan Border. “Come” insisted thut all deliveries be over arm. Full Name: Kimberley John Hughes.
DIMMER KRETZ: Those who believe in Democracy.
ERROR BUCK: Language spoken in countries like “Surria”, “E-Jupp” &”Libernon”
EKKA DYMOCKS: University Staff
GUESS: Flammable vapour used in stoves
CHICK OUT CHUCKS: Supermarket point of sale operators.
SENDLES: Sandles, thongs & open shoes.
COLOUR” Terminator, violent forecloser of human life, murderer
CUSS: Kiss
DUCK HID: Term of abuse directed mainly at males.
PHAR LAP: NZ’s famous horse christened “Phillip” but wasincorrectly written down as “Phar Lap” by an Australian Racing official who was not well versed in KIWIESE
DUNNESTY: US Television soap opera starred Joan Collins as Elixirs Kerrungton
ERROR ROUTE: Arnott’s famous oval shaped “mulk error route buskets”
FITTER CHENEY: A type of long flat pasta, not to be confused with “Rugger Tony” or “Tellya, Tilly”.

I think that’s quite clever and funny, but if I worked in Australia and had that sort of thing thrown at me over and over perhaps I’d get a bit annoyed.

PoppyOP:

As a Chinese person, I’m pretty annoyed by it. I get enough shit from drunks yelling at me to “go back to my country” and saying shit like “HERROOOO”.

Intentional personal abuse is crap. But is a joke menu really in the same vein?

Perhaps someone would be offended by the name ‘Frog and Kiwi Restaurant’ – and if so would that be a French person or a New Zealander?Someone may be offended if I say it is located in Mungify.

It is “a small family run French restaurant in the village of Mangawhai, New Zealand”, with no frog legs nor kiwi wings on the menu.

Language in a multicultural society with veins of intolerance interlaced with strands of piss taking can be a tricky thing.

If anyone takes offence at this post you are free to state your views, if they are not too unreasonable or offensive.

This site has been called a number of things – I think Yawnz is one of the funnier plays on words. But should i be offended? I’m in a tiny minority of people who participate here, so perhaps I have some authority on that.

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32 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  January 19, 2018

    “Yawnz”
    *Laffs.

  2. Pickled Possum

     /  January 19, 2018

    Who didn’t laugh at Billy and his jokes esp his learning Japanese video.
    Will all these gems have to be taken down now? I don’t think so.

  3. Corky

     /  January 19, 2018

    No real answer to this dilemma. It’s a little like working in retail. 90% of your customers will be reasonable people, yet it’s the arsholes who leave a lasting impression. That can colour your worldview in an unbalanced way.

    Racism aimed at me, and in general, used to really annoy me when I was younger. Life experience has now taught me an attitude of equanimity towards racism is the best way to go. It doesn’t matter your race, everybody is going to be on the receiving end of racism sometime during their lifetime.. either in thought or deed, commission or omission.

    • NOEL

       /  January 19, 2018

      Gee I agree with Corky.
      I remember when Maori was sufficient to deny a rental property.
      I do smile why I see some new ethnic group complaining of racism.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 19, 2018

        Where did Maori people who didn’t own houses live, then ?

  4. Blazer

     /  January 19, 2018

    ‘Just splay…and..walkaway’…no ploblem.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 19, 2018

      Except that the man in the ad actually says ‘Spray and walk away.’ Walkaway isn’t a word.

  5. Auto_Immune

     /  January 19, 2018

    I’m Speaking as someone whose great-great-grandfather immigrated to NZ, but I also look asian (to certain people)…

    I consider the menu a racist joke. But it isn’t being malicious, we are *expected* to laugh *with it*, so I classify at the same level as comedians making racist jokes.
    Except many comedian jokes tend to be funny – unlike the menu – and most comedians I’ve encountered tend to have a point/punchline over and above “they can’t pronouce words!”.

    Having experienced similar jokes made *at me* maliciously, I can understand where other people are coming from with their complaints. FWIW, I personally don’t care if the menu stays up or not. Though I’d like to think it’ll eventually be seen as tacky by many.

    Last thought for people here: If you, as (probably) a white person, feel annoyed / marginalised / angry / sad / frustrated when people say you can’t comment on something because you’re white? Then guess what, that is racism too! Now, take how you feel and think that this may be how others at the receiving end of ‘non-malicous’ racism feel.

    And you feel indifferent, then there’ll be some who feel that way too. Just don’t expect people to think the same way.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 19, 2018

      Irish jokes are racist and often highly insulting and I find them as unamusing as any racist joke. It seems that Irish jokes are considered by many people to be acceptable. They are not. They are just as insulting as any other racist joke, especially when the teller puts on what they are stupid enough to think is an Irish accent.

      • Corky

         /  January 19, 2018

        Being of Irish Jew descent Kitty, do you sometimes feel doubly marginalised? I mean if I told you the joke about the Irishman who was asked to check if a cars indicator lights were working, and replied: yes,no,yes.no. Would that really offend you?

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 19, 2018

          It’s so old that it has a long white beard. But as it is intended to show that the Irishman is stupid. I would say something to anyone who told it when I was there. There’s an Irish saying that the Irish were saints and scholars when the English were running around on all fours and eating each other. A slight exaggeration, of course. But consider how many great writers of English were Irish.

          The joke is too feeble to really offend-and, like many such, it says more about the teller than the subject.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 20, 2018

          I am such a white racist that I had a Maori bridesmaid and a Chinese one, Corks. We were friendly with a local Black Power family who lived near us once. My first kiss was with a Maori man (swoons at memory) And so on…

  6. Kitty Catkin

     /  January 19, 2018

    I couldn’t believe that some Kiwi woman took it on herself to tell the Malaysian PM to change the uniforms of the national airline because-wait for it-when one of the hostesses bent down, the Kiwi could (blushes at having to say this in mixed company) see….the top of the other woman’s breasts. She was very offended by this sight.The uniform skirts are knee length and the tops have not very low v-necks. The busybody said that in the airport, a hostess bent down and her undies showed.

    • Blazer

       /  January 19, 2018

      I can’t believe it either…especially as Malaysia is a muslim ..nation.Sounds like..b/s.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 19, 2018

        No, it’s not. She was a Dr someone. I have seen the letter. It made the news.

        • Blazer

           /  January 19, 2018

          get some facts…she wrote a letter to the Malaysian P.M…and Air Asia is NOT the National airline.Typical…of you.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 19, 2018

            Oh, bugger off, go and boil your head and then fry your face, you sour old curmudgeon. She did write to the PM. Go and find some nits to pick. Fous le camp, espece de cul. Je m’en fous de toi.

            • Blazer

               /  January 19, 2018

              you said…’ some Kiwi woman took it on herself to tell the Malaysian PM to change the uniforms of the national airline’…complete b/s..you nitpick and this serves to show you….how easy it is..to..do.and btw…just as we don’t use the term first lady ,gentleman,baby here in NZ,neither do we use the french terms you have…posted.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 19, 2018

              I doubt if you know what they mean.

              French is spelt with a capital.

              Aroint thee, rump-fed ronyon.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 19, 2018

        Dr June Robertson.

        She must be very easily offended,

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 20, 2018

            She must be eaily offended & a real prude if she finds the tiny glimpse of a breast disgusting. I wonder if she’s a GP ! I hope that she doesn’t go to the beach.

            • Gezza

               /  January 20, 2018

              Just a small point though – the article says she wrote to some Malaysian senator who insists that Malaysian female cabin crew should dress in accordance with Shariah Law. Not to the Malaysian PM.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 20, 2018

              The article I saw said the PM. It was on MSN, so may not have been 100% accurate. I think that it said it was the national airline-I saw that somewhere-which is why she wrote to the PM. Sighhhhh,,,

            • Gezza

               /  January 20, 2018

              These things happen. Sometimes Blazer is right.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 20, 2018

              The story now is quite different to the first one that I read.

            • Gezza

               /  January 20, 2018

              Unluckily for you Blazer read the second one.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 20, 2018

              It’ll make his week and he will never let it drop,

            • Gezza

               /  January 20, 2018

              Oh well. Some people are just like that.
              One can always ignore them.
              Works for Corky sometimes.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 20, 2018

              Sometimes.

              I wonder what Corks will say when he reads that this white racist had a Maori bridesmaid, was friendly with Black Power members (I still see one of the family occasionally) and had my first snog with one of the bestlooking men I have ever met-a Maori army band leader. Fond memories, but I don’t imagine that he remembers it. Oh, well.