Thank You, Thought Catalog, For Publishing Racist Satire

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I’ve been reading articles here since your founding in 2010. During this time we’ve had our ups and downs. Between incisive topical pieces and relatable musings, there have also been lists for lists’ sake and directionless babblings. Ultimately, however, I’ve found your encouragement of voice and expression admirable.

So imagine not only my shock but also my disappointment upon reading Anne Gus’s “Asian Women Need to Stop Dating White Men.” This offensive, insensitive and ignorant article had been published and disseminated via a media outlet I previously viewed as progressive and innovative. This is not what I come here for.

I’m not saying that by publishing Gus’ article, her viewpoints—whether genuine or a case of poorly (RE: abysmally) executed “satire” are in any way representative of Thought Catalog. Indeed, I thank you for subsequently issuing Macy Sto. Domingo’s razor-sharp rebuttal. In my response, I address a question that Domingo raises briefly: “Why on earth would Thought Catalog publish something like this?”

Thought Catalog at its best possesses the ability to lurch between the intellectual and the entertaining — at its utter, utter bestest, it eradicates the distinction between the two. With this in mind, I urge you to revisit your decision to publish Gus’s article, vis-à-vis your “Ideals” as listed on the “About” page:

Thought Catalog content should be fun, smart, and creative, i.e., entertaining, journalistic, and literary.

From the jarring #ValleyGirl tone to inconsistent capitalization (self-confessed grammar hound here), Gus’s article is far from “smart” or “creative”, and is at best a precarious stab at “fun” with a blunt knife and blind eyes. I’ll give Anne the benefit of the doubt and say that she sought to entertain via satire. She unfortunately crossed the line. Regarding “journalistic” and “literary”, please enlighten me with your definitions, because I’m not sure I see either with any degree of worth here.

We want to help shape culture by empowering you to share your ideas and stories with the world.

Is Gus empowered to shape culture through this article?

Do I feel empowered in reading it? Does she even have any ideas or stories to present?

If we’re going to talk about empowerment, let’s talk power play. I’m quite frankly dismayed by commenters suggesting that people offended by the article are “too self-conscious about… [their] own racial insecurities”. And by the way, I don’t care if it was supposed to be funny. We’re talking centuries of racism, colonialism and cultural imperialism. We’re talking 2 million Chinese addicted to opium, little-known famines that claimed up to 29 million Indian lives, the arbitrary division of the Korean nation in the name of Cold War politics. This is so much more than one silly girl’s Internet ravings. This is history, memory, and experience.

 Yeah, or maybe it’s just because I’m so insecure.

The site should be beautiful and clutter-free.

There is nothing beautiful about racism. Gus’ article = clutter.

We believe all thinking is relevant and strive for a value-neutral editorial policy governed by openness. The more worldviews and rhetorical styles on the site, the better. We want to tell all sides of the story.

I found this point difficult to grapple with. One the one hand, there’s the preservation and support of freedom of expression, but on the other, my own very personal response to this particular article.

It’s a balancing act of whose prerogative you choose to privilege: do you allow the writer to express views that will offend, OR do you silence that writer to avoid said offense?

If you had chosen not to publish Gus’s article, the kinds of racist views she conveys would have found expression elsewhere.

Racism exists but it shouldn’t exist here.

You have a responsibility not to act as a platform to such hateful opinions. (And perhaps more discernment in what you publish would see fewer submissions containing racist drivel masquerading as satire, i.e. more writers who are actually funny.)

It is oft said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. At time of writing, Gus’s article has prompted 1,783 comments, 15,300 Facebook shares, and 297 Tweets. Kudos, Thought Catalog, you just generated a huge onslaught of readership through controversy and affront.

I doubt your motives to be so pure as the belief that “all thinking is relevant”.

You further coin the tagline that “a thought can’t be thoughtless”, but neglect to consider that a thought can be mindless. So tell me, what’s the big difference between your “experimental media” and inane sensationalism? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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