it.gen.nz

Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Friday, September 21, 2007

She has a name

Qian Xun Xue has had her mother murdered and been abandoned by her father in a foreign country. My heart goes out to her, and to her grandparents as they arrange to come here from China to take her home. Why do I think that? Because she’s a human being who doesn’t deserve the terrible way she’s been treated.

That’s right. She’s a person – and people have names. That’s how we know each other. Hers is Qian Xun Xue. If you can’t manage that, saying Chee-ahn is pretty close. Recognisable, at least, and it shows you think she’s a person with a name. Not a vegetable, as many of our media have been calling her ever since her plight hit the headlines.

I’ve heard TV1 and TV3 (which is still doing it tonight) call her “Pumpkin”. The Dominion Post called her that in screaming headlines today. The Press was doing so as well. Not only is this not OK, it’s insulting and casts her as, at best, some kind of doll, a prop for a news story. She’s not a toy – Qian is a person like you and me and just as deserving of a name.

I know when she first was reported as abandoned to the Australian Police they didn’t know her name. If they needed to give her a name, why couldn’t they have given a human one like Jane Doe as the Americans do for unidentified girls and women? Is it somehow OK to call her a vegetable because (let’s whisper it) she’s Chinese?

posted by colin at 6:44 pm  

1 Comment

  1. Good on you, Colin! I was a bit miffed that they were continuing to call her Pumpkin once they knew her name. I put it down to people not being able to / bothering to try to say her name. Mind you, they manage to struggle along with names of foreign leaders, and other ‘important’ people.

    When they first called her Pumpkin though — I’m not sure I agree with your last paragraph. Remember that Pumpkin can be a term of endearment as well as the name of a vegetable.

    Comment by Miraz Jordan — 22 September 2007 @ 7:22 am

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