Friday, August 23, 2013

Pang Laowai shot by policeman

Wishes at a small temple in Tainan.

I put a peaceful image above, to calm my readers before they encountered this stupid story...

I suppose it is too much to expect professionalism from a Taiwanese news organizations, but this Apple Daily report really angered many of us in the foreign community. The story behind the video is a common enough. A drunken man on a scooter is flagged down by the cops, an altercation ensues. The cops shoot the man, unusual, but not unknown. Note that there is no need to mention the nationality or origin of the man; it has nothing do with his behavior. Drunken male stupidity is universal, alas.

But the Apple report calls him, several times, laowai. And not just laowai. pang laowai (fat laowai) -- I highlighted it in the screen capture above. At 0:21 they call him a "more than 100 kilos fat laowai". The references to foreignness are there simply to Other him, to place him Outside. Totally unprofessional. The references to his size might be there to explain why the cop felt threatened, but the term "fat" can only be there to insult.

Normally I do not object to the term laowai. The prefix lao- (old) is used in a number of phrases that to me confer inside-ness on those so termed, like "old friend" and "old man" (= Dad). In my experience the term waiguoren is the nasty one that immediately Others you, it's most commonly applied by kids. That Othering experienced by its target is infuriating. But here Apply Daily is needlessly applying the term as an totally unprofessional insult to Other the alleged criminal. His large size might conceivably be an issue, his place of origin is not.

For those you who are wondering, the man should make a full recovery. He is filled with remorse for his actions, which, by the way, is the proper mode of behavior should you find yourself in a similarly stupid situation.
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Anonymous said...

I think waiguowen外國人 is a neutral, descriptive term. If I go abroad, I am a foreigner to the locals, simple as that.

a Taiwanese pro legal truth said...

The real bias hidden in Apple Daily report is assuming that Caucasian man is a foreigner without further checking. Actually most Taiwanese assume that every pale and dark skinned person is a foreigner. Exiled Chinese government (aka Republic of China) planted that bias through brain-washing machinery in order that their own foreign status in Formosa would be disguised.

a Taiwanese pro legal truth said...

Chinese Nationalists already called westerners with many insulting names in their good old days in China. When they escaped to Formosa, they took their emotional baggage with them.

Then they used many derogatory names to call Formosans as well. Supposedly this would cover their guilt for the murders they have done to Formosans. A recent one, popularized by the 'litte S'(小S) and Tsai Kang-Yong (蔡康永) in their TV show, is 'Tai-Ke' 台客, which literally means visitor of Taiwan but actually looks down Taiwanese as gipsy.

FYI, when Apple Daily opened business in Taiwan, they recruited almost the entire body of editors and managers from China Times. So it's not surprising to see derogatory and phobic bias toward the world in their report, except when reporting their own elites, such as the Chiangs and Ma the Bumbler.

Popsfu said...

First off the Apple Daily is the equivalent of like high school kids telling the news. All their stories are told in a very immature way, so this story is no exception to the way they normally explain the news. Plus, one thing I've learned about East Asia is that the idea of ethnicity and nationality is the same thing. They just don't understand the western view that someone can move to another country and become that nationality, because to them, it's physically impossible.

Anonymous said...

If you've ever heard Chinese in the US talking about Americans (or Chinese in the UK talking about Brits), you'll often hear the Chinese call them "外國人" or "老外", even though *they're* the foreigners.

John Scott said...

Of course Apple had to have "lao wai" in their headline and caption, because that was the only unusual and "newsworthy" aspect to the story.

Can you imagine the reaction if a Canadian or Australian paper printed a similar headline, like "Police arrest fat black shoplifter", or "Police shoot fat Asian guy".

For Taiwanese (regardless of "green" or "blue"), "lao wai" does not only mean "foreigner", but is is also a racial descriptor meaning any person with European ancestry, regardless of nationality.

So Mr. Anonymous, regardless of the dictionary definition, they way that words like "lao wai" or "wai guo ren" are typically used is not to describe nationality or place of origin, but rather as racial descriptors.

Taiwanese would not use "lao wai" to refer to people with physical features they associated with Africa, Indonesia, The Philippines, Vietnam, Arabic regions, India, Pakistan, Inuit, etc. Those people are called "wai guo ren" (or worse).

True, you hear little kids say to their parents, "你看,有外國人!" That's probably because they are observant enough to see that someone is different, but they don't yet have the vocabulary to use all of the words that adults use to distinguish between different kinds of "others" (or people who are not like them culturally or ethnically).

What about black people? Would the black guy from New Jersey who teaches their kids English at the bushiban be "lao wai" (because he is American)? Would a trade delegation from Nigeria be "lao wai" or "wai guo ren"?

Anonymous said...

I am originally from taiwan, but have been living in the US in the past 16 years. i am also perplexed by the blogger's "anger" towards being called "lao wai," or foreigner it's a very common term with no derogatory connotation. i know from experience my very sensitive french-american coworker hated to be called "guai-lao" in cantonese which is the ghost-person due to their pale skin. that, to me, is a derogatory term.
i didn't read the original article carefully to detect an alternative term instead of lao wai which the blogger might prefer.
could it be:
(1) bai ren (white person)
(2) xi fang ren (westerner)
(3) lao mei (american)- but nationality probaby should not be mentioned at all, or without being verified.
i am making myself laugh because none of these could work but i am sure usage of any of the above terms would infuriate the foreigners even more being called that! oops, i did it again...

Michael Turton said...

i am also perplexed by the blogger's "anger" towards being called "lao wai," or foreigner it's a very common term with no derogatory connotatio

Hard to imagine why this isn't clear. Apple used laowai to Other the foreigner, to set him outside.

Also, next time read the article carefully. It clearly states that ordinarily I don't have a problem with laowai. The issue isn't what word you use, but how and why you use it.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the foreign community raised money to pay his legal bills. I know this guy, he IS a CRIMINAL, he resisted arrest and he got shot in the process; he got less than what he deserved as the cop only shot him in the leg. I'd contribute to a fund to get him deported to make the rest of us foreigners safer. He's a bully and he'd be an asset to his country if he were in Afghanistan as a tunnel rat, but in a peace-loving country like Taiwan, why anyone would defend an unsavory individual as him is beyond me.