Sorry John Curtas, but use of the racial slur ‘Jap’ is not acceptable, even as an abbreviation

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LOS ANGELES — When are people going to learn tha(t) slurs, epithets and otherwise derogatory language targeting any group based on their ethnicity, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation are unacceptable?

Just as important, when are people going to understand that there is no difference between them, other than the group the term targets?

Sadly, the use of slurs was launched back in the spotlight this week when it was learned that Food Network personality Paula Deen used the “N” word in the past (not necessarily the recent past) to refer to African Americans.

She has since apologized, but the controversy has certainly landed her in some very hot water, but that is not what this post is about.

In reaction to Deen, John Curtas, a renowned reviewer of Las Vegas restaurants, criticized Deen in a post on Twitter, saying, “She thinks colored people are swell.”
But Curtas himself, albeit in nothing near the same context, has also used racial slurs, in his case, the Japanese and Japanese American communities were involved.

On August 8, 2012, Curtas used “Jap” as an abbreviation on Twitter, saying, “The best Jap-German collaboration since 1941…Takeo Ischi – New Bib Hendl 2011,” in reference to a video on YouTube.

Curtas had no intention of offending anyone, but at the time, he ignored cordial tweets informing him that “Jap” was a derogatory term and not acceptable, even as an abbreviation, and that the accepted abbreviation for “Japan” or “Japanese” has long been “Jpn.”

Fast forward to the present…upon reading Curtas’ tweet criticizing Deen, even using the racial slur “colored” in a satirical fashion, I tweeted that he might want to think twice, given his own history, stating on Twitter, “You shouldn’t be critical after tweeting the racial slur ‘Jap’ awhile back.”

To my chagrin, Curtas fired back on Twitter, saying, “you’re being both stupid and wrong: “Jap” as an abbreviation is hardly the same as the “N” word.”

After once again informing him that the accepted abbreviation is “Jpn,” Curtas, who was obviously quite angry, tweeted, “and you might want to keep your sniveling, totalitarian, language policing to yourself.”

Again, there is no evidence that Curtas is a blatant racist, or that he harbors ill will towards any individual or group. However, his attitude and belief that is it acceptable to use a racial slur with the justification that is an abbreviation is unacceptable, especially since he is fully aware that an acceptable alternative is available.

The fact that he chooses to use “Jap” instead of the accepted “Jpn” shines a bright light on the double standard so many have in their minds. Indeed, to so many, it is completely acceptable to use slurs, epithets and derogatory language to refer to some groups, such as using “gay” to refer to something bad, or that someone doesn’t like, or, as in this case, using “Jap.” But when referring to some other groups, they would never even think of using such words to describe them, as if they should be respected more than the rest.

Sorry, but equal respect goes hand-in-hand with equal opportunity, equal rights, and all the rest.

In Curtas’ case, if the “N” word was used as an abbreviation, you can bet that, as a public figure, there is no way he would even come close to using it.

Of course, this post will bring out those who rail against so-called “political correctness.” Sadly, these people are part of the problem, advocating, whether they realize it or not, for continued disrespect of others, and yes, even continued discrimination and racism—it’s a cop-out argument. But that’s for another blog post, some other time.

As a public figure who also appears regularly on KNPR (Nevada Public Radio), 88.9 FM television and KLAS-TV(CBS Channel 8), both in Las Vegas, not to mention that he is a contributor to several web sites and magazines, Curtas needs to issue a public apology and cease and desist from the use of slurs, epithets or derogatory language targeting any group.

Nothing less is acceptable.

Hours after this was published, Curtas responded with two rather angry posts on Twitter (see above).

Gann Matsuda is a member of the Manzanar Committee (for identification purposes only). Matsuda initially commented on John Curtas’ twitter through the Manzanar Committee’s blog. Matsuda, rather than the Manzanar Committee posted the tweets to Twitter. He writes from Culver City, CA The views expressed in the previous commentary are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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