The PC police are at it again. A news story this morning says that Ben and Jerry’s , the iconic Vermont ice cream company, is modifying one of its products “Taste the Lin-sanity” . The concoction was originally vanilla frozen yoghurt with a honey swirl and pieces of fortune cookie ; in the new version , the fortune cookie pieces have been replaced with a waffle cookie ,on the side for dipping. ” Taste the Lin-Sanity ” was to be available for a limited time and only at the Harvard Square location, a nod to Lin being a Harvard graduate.
Ben and Jerry’s GM , Ryan Midden , said that while there was a certain amount of backlash claiming that the product offended Chinese sensibilities , the primary reason for the switch was that the fortune cookie pieces got soggy. While that may have been true , there seems to be little doubt that the backlash and claims of racial profiling had a lot to do with the change . It is a pity that Ben and Jerry’s caved in to the complaints of a few , humorless , hypersensitive idiots because it should have been clear to all that the company was not trying to offend. Ben and Jerry’s has a well deserved reputation as a fun-loving company , famous for its wacky products and their humorous names . Cherry Garcia , Chubby Hubby , Chunky Monkey and Chocolate Therapy are some of their current flavors ; some of their discontinued flavors include Economic Crunch , Concession Obsession and Schweddy Balls. For some people to make a connection between ” Taste the Lin-Sanity ” and the hate crime murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 is , well … just plain insanity, another example of the PC police gone mad.
As an Asian – American myself , ( though not Chinese – American) , I can understand the abhorrence of cultural stereotypes. Definitely , the taunts that Lin heard from the stands during his Harvard career ( ” Go Back to China ” ,” Open your Eyes Wide ” , ” Duck Soup”) should be condemned in the strongest possible terms . I can also understand penalizing the newswriter who came up with the headline ” Chink in the Armor” after a sub-par performance by Lin , though I do think that the punishment was too harsh. Suspending him for thirty days without pay would have been enough to get the message across . The guy wasn’t malicious ; he was just trying to be funny, though he should have realized that the word ” Chink ‘ is just as offensive to Asian – Americans as the N- word is to African – Americans.
The problem with too much political correctness is that it makes us think twice about our most innocent utterances , stifles our sense of humor and ultimately causes resentment , exactly the opposite of what is intended. Some terms and references ( we all know what they are) are racially insensitive and perpetuate racial stereotypes and , of course , they should be objected to . However , there are others which are not meant to be offensive and I would have thought that we know what those are too.Some years ago , there was a hue and cry about how some of the names of pro teams were racially offensive and how they should be changed. Among the examples given were the Atlanta Braves , the Washington Redskins , the Cleveland Indians all of which were deemed offensive to Indians , sorry Native Americans. The protesters did not stop to think “Why on earth would anyone name their team after somebody they despised ?”. I am glad that all the teams named stood firm though the Stanford Indians capitulated and became the Stanford Cardinals in 1972. However, I am glad that the Atlanta Braves discontinued their method of celebrating a homer by a Braves player. Until 1986 , when an Atlanta Braves player hit an HR during a home game , the Braves mascot , Chief Noc A Homa ( ” Knock A Homer” ) would emerge from his tepee beyond the right field fence and do a little ” war dance” complete with whoops . My dislike of the practice had nothing to do with race ; I just found it silly and repetitive .
To get back to ” Taste the Lin-Sanity” : I was happy to see that most of those who responded to the Yahoo news story did not find the product name hurtful. In a victory for commonsense , several Chinese Americans wrote in to say that they were not find offended by the name . Some of the other responses were funny . One chap asked whether , as a white – American , he should object to Plain Vanilla .Another gentleman , who admitted to being portly , demanded that all containers of ” Chubby Hubby ” should immediately be confiscated and sent to him. There were some other very funny responses but I won’t repeat them here for fear the PC Police will get after me . You can read them for yourself on the Yahoo website if you want to.