Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guest post by our air crash correspondent Shirley U. Jest

I think we've all heard by now that a TV station, KTVU channel 2, broadcast fake names of the pilots in the recent Asiana plane crash.

The fake names were:

Sum Ting Wong
Wi Tu Lo
Ho Lee Fuk
Bang Ding Ow

The names were apparently 'verified' with the NTSB - by a summer intern, who I gather is unlikely to be offered a permanent job.

There's been much debate on whether this is racist, or unfeeling, or both: For what it's worth, I think it's always funny to hear someone being pranked into saying something dumb. Years of hearing Moe yell, "I need Amanda Huggenkiss!" and Bart chuckling in the background, or any other of the giant list.  I've even made prank phone calls myself. (In my defense, I was twelve at the time.)

Even Language Log got into the act, debating mostly whether the words making up the names could possibly exist in Korean. (The answer, as pretty much everyone who knows any Koreans can tell, is no.)

Apparently Asiana plans to sue the TV company - a daft move, I think, as they did 'fact check' in their own little way. I personally feel that if Asiana want people to respect their pilots, the pictures of a crashed plane with gaping holes and fire damage all over it didn't help at all. Giggling over someone punk'd into saying Ho Lee Fuk on TV isn't the worst thing that's happened in this incident.

However, interestingly enough, the same TV station was caught by what seems to be a similar prank before. In July 2008, the station interviewed local area man Mike Litoris.  The video has been taken down now, but there's a screenshot here, and a write up by SF Gate here.

No one's been able to prove Mike doesn't exist, so if you're reading this Mike, no offence!

Edit to add: Looks like KTVU is sending in DMCAs to have the video taken off YouTube - the first copy that I had here disappeared within a couple of hours. I've put another copy in the post. If it goes away again, let me know in comments and I'll find another one. I have it saved to my hard drive if they manage to chase it off YouTube entirely. May I remind KTVU about the Streisand Effect

Edit on 07/23 - more DMCA takedowns. Boing boing has picked this up, as has techdirt

Techdirt notes that the reasons given have nothing to do with copyright, so it's a misuse of the DMCA. 
First things first. If you're not taking it down for copyright reasons, then why the hell are you using the DMCA takedown system? Noah H. Webster, it's got "COPYRIGHT" right in the frickin' name! Wouldn't a polite note to the YouTube account holders stating the above accomplish the same thing (i.e., a minimal level of compliance)? 
As for the arguing it should be removed because "most people have seen it," I don't even know where to go with that. Continuing to show the video isn't "offensive." Only the original act is. Pretending this has something to do with making amends for an earlier error is just kind of sad, especially when the station manager tries to drag viewers into his Shame Circle with "thoughtless repetition of the video by others." 

 I do still have a copy of the video on my hard drive, obvs, and can put it up as necessary.

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