A Boston radio host has been suspended from his job after he made a joke thatsome have called an "ethnic slur."
On Wednesday's episode of "The Greg Hill Show," a local Boston sports talk show on WEEI, executive producer and host Chris Curtis and others began listing their top-five "nips." In the context of their discussion, the word "nips" was not an anatomical reference but a slang term for mini liquor bottles. The topic is of current interest in Boston, where city council members are considering banning the sale of nips within the city limits.
However, the word has also been used to refer to Japanese people, as Nippon is an alternative name for the country Americans call Japan. So when Curtis joked that ESPN NFL analyst Mina Kimes was on his list of top five nips, some listeners took offense. A clip of the segment was then shared on social media, and within hours, an outrage mob had formed against Curtis.
Kimes' colleague at ESPN, Sarah Spain, got wind of the joke and soon afterward accused Curtis of using "an ethnic slur" and not even using it well since Kimes is of Korean ancestry, not Japanese.
ESPN likewise released a statement, condemning Curtis' "hateful" joke. "There is no place for these type of hateful comments, which were uncalled for and extremely offensive," the statement said.
On Thursday's episode, Curtis went on "The Greg Hill Show" briefly to announce that he had been suspended for a week and to apologize to Kimes for his "stupid, lame attempt at a joke." He also said that he had actually intended to say the name of actress Mila Kunis, who is of Ukrainian Jewish descent.
"We were discussing the potential ban of nips in Boston," Curtis explained, "and we got into which ones were the best or our favorite, and in a pathetic failed attempt at a one-liner, I attempted to bring up Mila Kunis, which was not really that funny. [It's] sophomoric and sexist. But for reasons I don't understand, I said Mina Kimes."
After that apology, Kimes briefly changed her Twitter avatar to a picture of Kunis, who has not commented on the controversy.
"That was never the intention for me to say her name," Curtis continued. "It had nothing to do with the subject matter, and it dragged her into a controversy through no fault of her own."
Greg Hill likewise apologized on behalf of the show. "All of us apologize to those that were offended by it," Hill said. The Boston City Council has also amended the language of the mini liquor bottle measure to remove the word "nips."
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