By David Li, bostonese.com
In an article titled Malden Man, Others Arrested Stealing Apples published on October 18, 2012 on Malden Patch, names, addresses and pictures of five Asian suspects arrested earlier that week in New Hampshire were made public on patch.com. This report as you may expect immediately received multiple anti-minority and anti-immigrant comments, and some vicious comments had to be removed.
According to the report, five Massachusetts residents, including one living in Malden, were charged with theft after attempting to steal apples from an orchard in Londonderry, NH. They were freed on bail, and was scheduled to appear in Derry District Court on November 5.
||There are many serious questions asked by Asian residents in the greater Boston area about such report. Is there more serious crime to cover in Malden than something like apple-stealing that happened out of state? What is the public interest of publishing names, addresses and pictures of these suspects, preventing them stealing more apples in Malden? What about innocent until proven guilty? What if these suspects are cleared by the court, and who will be responsible for the damaged reputation of these five suspects? What if the suspects are Caucasians, will their pictures be published?|
Without clear answers to these questions, Malden Patch and other main stream media raised suspicion of racist bias toward Asian people mentioned in that report. They may have names and looks different than you used to cover, but they are still entitled to the due process. The crime they are accused of doesn’t deserve the public humiliation of names, addresses and pictures being published.
In an email response to this report, editor Chris Caesar wrote: “I post mugshots all the time; all news outlets do. Am I racist against whites, blacks, latinos etc. as well? Some departments make them easily available; some do not. Our reporter in Londonderry sent that to me, and the Londonderry PD released the photos, so I ran them. Here is another local paper doing the same thing: http://www.derrynews.com/londonderry/x674150596/Four-Mass-residents-arrested-for-apple-theft. It’s not as though I am sitting in my office, going through mug shots and picking out only the Asians ones to embarrass.”
Let me be clear. I’m not saying anyone is racist here. But all the factors leading to the addresses and pictures of these five apple theft suspects being published on Malden Patch are the result of racist bias that has been here for many years in the society.
I wrote this article only because many people felt this way and brought up this issue to me. I read all the comments. But, this doesn’t change the fact that many Asians felt they were singled out in this apple theft story on Malden Patch. It might be hard to understand for those who have never been yelled at “go back to China” on the streets of Boston.
You’re nuts, but I’ll take a crack at each of your idiotic questions:
Is there more serious crime to cover in Malden than something like apple-stealing that happened out of state?
No. Not so much serious crime that there isn’t room for an article on petty theft. It’s Malden, not exactly L.A. or D.C.
What is the public interest of publishing names, addresses and pictures of these suspects, preventing them stealing more apples in Malden?
Preventing them from stealing more apples anywhere if they stole, preventing Malden residents from buying stolen property, preventing other people considering apple theft from trying it, notifying those with apple orchards to be on the lookout for thieves…should I keep going?
What about innocent until proven guilty?
The article doesn’t say, “These people stole apples.” It says they were charged with theft. That’s your “innocent until proven guilty.” The article convicts no one. If you or anyone else decides to believe that they’re guilty, that’s a presumption that’s your fault, and not one that Chris can control.
What if these suspects are cleared by the court, and who will be responsible for the damaged reputation of these five suspects?
If they are cleared, then that’s a story as well. I have no doubt that if Chris finds out they’ve been cleared, he’ll run a story on that.
What if the suspects are Caucasians, will their pictures be published?
Yes. If you doubt me, go through the Malden Patch “Police And Fire” archives and you’ll see tons of white faces staring back at you.
I hear you on the “public shame” aspect of your concern vis-a-vis other Asian people (“Many Asian folks felt they got embarrassed seeing the mugshots of these suspects for a minor offense”) but I also think that that your, and their, concern is stupid and paranoid. The only people who would look at a picture of some people who happen to be Asian and think “all Asians are apple thieves” or “Asian people should be ashamed of themselves” are really, really racist.
As someone from the Midwest, I’ve had plenty of exposure to white people’s stupid stereotypes, and I can tell you, people may make jokes about Asian drivers, but no one thinks, “those apple-thieving Asians! Always up to their apple-stealing tricks,” nor does the image of people of Asian descent as apple thieves fit neatly into the racist caricatures I know of.
While it’s understandable to worry about racism in general, it’s totally idiotic to think that the actions of someone of your same race somehow reflect on you in a way that you should be ashamed of. I’m not embarrassed that the Unabomber was white, I’m upset that he killed people. Are you ashamed that the Virginia Tech shooter was Asian? I should hope not. It makes no sense to feel shame because of someone you have no control over. And why would you or anyone else even be ashamed of the alleged apple thieves at all, when they haven’t been convicted yet? Where’s your own belief in “innocent until proven guilty?”
Yes, it does suck that a racist person might look at the picture of Asian people accused of a crime and make some dumb quip about Asians. But racist people don’t need excuses to be racist, they do it anyways. Chris shouldn’t stop the news because a small minority has stupid opinions, and it’s unreasonable for you to expect him to do so. It sucks that you or other people feel shame, but since that’s a completely stupid decision to feel that way, anyone who does should change their attitude.
You should also apologize to Chris for posting this drivel and wasting his time. If you want to change the way Asians are represented in the media, go after fictional programs that choose to stereotype, or a news article that somehow suggests being Asian means you steal. This is not that article. Back off.
There is racism here, but it isn’t by Malden Patch.
Sure, you can add WCVB to the list. Picking up a minor offense that happened out of state and sensationalizing it with mugshots is bad journalism. In both cases, the suspects got severely punished before they can defend themselves in court.
Wow, this is insane David. As Chris stated, mugshots and police reports are released all the time…are you asking that Asian suspects receive special treatment? And if so, on what grounds?
Also, I’m not a fancy big city journalist, but your writing appears to be fairly sloppy. Not good journalism, not good at all.
I understand you post mugshots all the time, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do in this case given its circumstance. Many Asian folks felt they got embarrassed seeing the mugshots of these suspects for a minor offense. Reporting by convenience is not journalism.
Has anyone from Malden Patch contacted any of the five suspects to get their side of story before putting up their personal information?
So crimes are okay to report if they’re not committed by Asian people?
I’m white, if you delete my comment you’re a racist. Let it be known!
This article makes the discrimination standpoint of Malden Patch clearly enough. Now it’s time to see how does Malden Patch response, if it dares.
Well done, David!
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