Friday, April 20, 2007

Anatomy of an Inaccuracy III

Poor Wayne Chiang...he is at least one of the people of Chinese descent misidentified as the Virginia Tech killer. In Wayne's own words, he does indeed meet some of the criteria of the descriptions of the killer that were circulating the day of the massacre: he's Asian, he recently broke up with his girlfriend, he's got a connection to Virginia Tech, and he's a gun collector. Considering these things, it's no wonder that he was a person of interest to the police. What's disturbing is how media reports seemed to lead to his immediate public conviction.

Amazingly, even after Wayne did interviews on national television to correct the mistaken information, he's still being misidentified; Wayne's photograph is included in a Canadian Television report's montage of the Korean killer's media package photos. Amongst the now all-too-familiar images of Cho's gun poses, two images of Wayne appear. The first image is of him carrying dozens of rifles slung over his shoulder; the second is a shot looking up at him as he aims what appears to be a machine gun down into the left-hand corner of the frame. (Go to and search for Wayne Chiang. The CTV report is currently the third one on the page.)

As the comments on You Tube suggest, it appears that CTV finds it difficult to accurately identify Asians. But even more importantly, shouldn't they have double-checked the source of those images?

One thing that still befuddles me about the case: Wayne Chiang is obviously not the mysterious individual of Chinese nationality mentioned in the original Sun-Times story. That person was identified as a foreign student who'd obtained a student visa out of Shanghai and came to the States last August. Who is that mystery subject? Hmmmm...the Melon will try to find out...

In semi-related developments, an old friend of Korean background who immigrated to the States expresses great shame and fear of reprisal over the Blacksburg tragedy. She's lived in NYC for nearly ten years now, and despite my assurances that retribution isn't likely to happen there and that one individual's actions couldn't possible reflect on a whole ethnicity, she feels both.

Also: I was quoted in a prominent Chinese newspaper, Southern Weekend, in a story entitled "From Anxiety to Breathing a Sigh of Relief," about Chinese relief that the killer was not Chinese nor of Chinese ethnicity. Bizarrely, the article said that I had lived in Virginia -- I've never lived in Virginia and never said that I had. Luckily, the quote is accurate though.

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