"Mail order bride."
That's what one racist reader wrote in the comments' section of the leading story last night on Philly.com. The story – written by the Inquirer's Eagles beat writer Zach Berman - announced the weekend wedding of Eagles owner Jeff Lurie and Philadelphia resident Tina Lai, who happens to be of Vietnamese heritage.
"Mail order bride" is also what three teenage punks said to me and my Japanese-born wife (then girlfriend) when we were holding hands in the concourse at a Flyers game seven years ago.
So much for a post-racial America.
Before Philly.com decided to pull the plug on comments about 7:30 p.m. last night, a few other choice slurs came out. For those that remember 2 Live Crew's song "Me So Horny," one reader wrote, "She had him at 'me love you long time.'"
There were other inappropriate remarks that were posted – most of which were low-class, gold-digging comments.
At least in this case Philly.com had the good sense to disable commenting. Other news web sites and blogs, including Crossing Broad and Bleeding Green Nation published some pretty awful comments, some implying that Vietnamese eat dogs and others mentioning "happy endings."
I guess it's okay to say someone's wife is a whore as long as you're cloaked behind a pseudonym on the Internet. When I grew up, I learned in the schoolyard sandbox that you don't call people names without repercussions.
If you think this is about political correctness, it couldn't be further from the truth. I make fun of my wife all the time, as she does of me. I even do stand-up comedy from time to time on the topic of our mixed marriage.
But we do it between each other, with friends, or at comedy nights. We don't do it in inappropriate settings – like a newspaper's web site.
My wife – like many other Asian women living in Philadelphia – has creeps on the street that scream out the Chinese phrase, "Ni hao ma (how are you)," just looking for attention. She has strangers that just meet her ask, "Are you Chinese?"
I still don't understand why people ask that question. If she says, "No," what are they going to use as a follow up – "What are you?"
In the rare instances in which she tells them she's Japanese, they'll all-too-often reply, "I love sushi."
"I love sushi?"
Perhaps we need to look back to the schoolyard days for how to reply to these unwise comments.
And perhaps newspaper web sites and blogs should no longer permit anonymous or pseudonymous postings.
I can assure you that most people will behave quite differently when their real names are associated with their comments.