ABC apologizes for 'Kimmel' joke

Updated: 2013-10-29 08:18

By CHEN JIA in San Francisco (China Daily)

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ABC is apologizing for a skit broadcast on its Jimmy Kimmel Live show in which a young boy joked about killing all the Chinese people rather than pay back the money the US owes that country.

According to the AP, the apology came in response to a complaint from a group called 80-20 Initiative, a self-described pan-Asian-American advocacy organization.

S.B. Woo, the president of 80-20 Initiative and a former Lt Governor of Deleware, told China Daily late Monday that they had accepted the apology, which they had posted on their website and emailed to 350,000 Asian families in the US.

The apology arrived via fax on Disney-ABC Television Group stationary and read in part, "we're writing again to offer our sincere apology. We would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large. Our objective is to entertain".

The letter said ABC had taken "swift action to minimize distribution of the skit by removing it from all platforms and editingit out of any future airings of the show", and is signed by two ABC vice-presidents.

The boy's unscripted comment came during a comedy bit in which four children parodied a news panel discussing world affairs moderated by Jimmy Kimmel, and set off a firestorm in the Asian American community.

A petition circulating on a White House website asked the Obama administration to look into investigating the Jimmy Kimmel Kid's Table Government Shutdown Show in ABC.

Drafted by someone with the initials H.Z. and a Texas address, the Oct 19 petition on the We the People section of the official site, asked the administration to "immediately cut the show and issue a formal apology".

"I was very disturbed by Jimmy Kimmel's 'Kids Table' show. It was aired on ABC recently and talked about killing all the Chinese so that the states do not need to pay back their debts to China," it read.

"The kids might not know anything better. However, Jimmy Kimmel and ABC's management are adults. They had a choice not to air this racist program, which promotes racial hatred," the petition continued.

More than 59,600 people had "signed" the electronic petition as of 6 pm on Monday, after around 200 people participated in a peaceful protest in San Francisco urging ABC's formal apology on Monday at noon.

The parade started at Justin Herman Plaza and went through the financial district, stopping at ABC's building on Fremont Street.

"We have a lot of people here today and we all have different attitudes," said Roger S Dong, executive director of the Veterans Success Center of American Legion District 8. "But we have to remember that this is America. America does not stand for racism and nobody should be tolerated — certainly not in open press like ABC or any national media — to declare individual groups of people should be killed.

"That's absolutely wrong, that is immoral, and all of us who've served our country are against any kind of racism, especially extreme types of racism where we talk about eliminating an entire race," he said. "That is not what America stands for, that is not the America that I defended!"

"The media, like ABC, need to show a higher level of accountability by denouncing the thinking that led to horrific events of racial genocide in history like the holocaust," Lena Tam, a councilmember of Alameda City, told China Daily. "It is wrong to let our children think that violence and killing is appropriate."

"I am very sad, upset and angered by ABC and Jimmy Kimmel's promotion of hatred and genocide against the Chinese," said Carl Chan, a member of Asian Americans for Political Advancement (AAPA).

"Our parents taught us the responsibility to educate our next generation for a better world with peace and harmony. ABC and Jimmy Kimmel are doing just the opposite in poisoning the young minds of our innocent kids to resolve problems by killing people as a solution," he said.

We all have a good sense of humor, but not to the extent of "killing all children", he added.

"A total of nine Chinese colleagues in our company decided to ask for a day of leave to drive here to attend the march together," said Chen Hailin, a Chinese software engineer based in San Jose. "We are very angry about it and want a formal apology."

One commentator on the website said that ABC "should be punished for their attitude because it hurt the feelings of all Chinese people".

Wan Li contributed to this report.

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