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  • “TALK A LOT” textbook (EFL Press) has a rotten caricature of a “strange foreigner” for an English lesson

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on November 9th, 2008

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Hi Blog. Here’s a little something from a friend in Saitama.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ======================================

    Hi Debito. This comes from the book Talk a Lot: Book One. Second Edition.
    (c) 2003 David Martin


    Published by EFL Press
    1-10-19 Kita
    Okegawa City
    Saitama 363-0011
    (048) 772-7724

    email: eflpress@gol.com

    http://www.eflpress.com

    Feedback also to to:

    http://www.eflpress.com/efl_press_support.html

    I guess this is supposed to be funny, but it’s not. I don’t know what country this foreigner is supposed to be from, but I don’t know of any where a lot of what he is doing would be alowed at school, let alone in a STRICT Japanese one. What really makes me angry though is the damn katakana Japanese. Of course, no non-Japanese can speak Japanese well, so anytime a foreigner speaks, it ALWAYS has to be written in katakana. Also, gaijin are all very scary.

    A little more background. At my high school, we get a lot of free books sent to us by publishers. One of my co-workers was looking through one a saw that page and showed it to the rest of the NJ staff. I took it and sent it to you. It’s hard to believe that the author is, I believe, from Hawaii.

    On another page of the same book textbook, there is a list of adjectives for people with drawings to go with them. The people look European or Asian with words like skinny, tall, etc…. Out of all of them (there are 20 or so) there is one dark skined person and the word underneath is “black”. That’s a bit odd. I can scan the page on Monday if you’re interested.

    Greg in Saitama

    UPDATE

    Debito,

    Here is the scan of the page I mentioned earlier.  I do think it’s a bit strange that “black” is the only adjective used to describe skin colour.  There is no “white” or “brown” or what have you.  Greg

    ================================
    FEEDBACK FROM THE AUTHOR:

    From: eflp @hawaii.rr.com
    Date: November 10, 2008 2:53:49 PM JST
    To: debito@debito.org
    Cc: eflpress@gol.com
    Subject: Re: Fwd: SUPPORT FORM
    Mr. Debito,

    Thank you for your email regarding the “stereotype” in Talk a Lot,
    Book 1. I have had a look at your website and read the comments.
    I want to explain this, not to defend myself or my actions but
    just so you know. First of all, it’s NOT meant to be a stereotype
    in any way whatsoever. Foreigners who live in Japan are not like this,
    and everyone knows it. It’s done comically like this and is a gross
    overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally
    dull grammar points.

    For your information, very few people, students nor teachers have been
    offended by this. Yes, if you think too hard and are too critical, it may
    offend someone. Please relax, enjoy life and stop thinking too much.
    Look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset. Also, keep in
    mind that I, myself, am a foreigner and am poking fun at myself so
    why would it be offensive. Offensive to whom?

    By the way, what does it matter where I live now? It seems that you are
    trying to stir up trouble for no reason. I do not live in Hawaii, by the way,
    so your information is wrong.

    Thank you and I hope I have not offended you but I am a bit upset at
    your brusque style of writing.

    Best Regards,

    David Martin
    EFL Press

    FOLLOWUP EMAIL POST FROM THE AUTHOR:

    From: eflp @hawaii.rr.com
    Date: November 10, 2008 7:56:00 PM JST
    To: debito@debito.org
    Cc: eflpress@gol.com
    Subject: Re: Fwd: SUPPORT FORM

    Mr. Debito,

    Hello again. I forgot to mention that we do have a note in the Teacher’s Guide
    for the activity which you mentioned. This is what is written there:

    Page 62, The Strange Foreigner

    This scene is obviously fantasy. It is exaggerated to increase student interest in an otherwise dull (but useful) grammar point.

    I put this note just in case a few people might think we were trying to look down on
    or stereotype foreigners, which is not the case.

    Thank you,

    David Martin
    EFL Press

    ARUDOU DEBITO REPLIES
    – Thanks for the replies, Mr Martin. I am sorry to have gotten your location (Hawaii) wrong (your IP indicates you are in Thailand). I am also sorry that you find my brusque style of writing “upsetting”. I find it a tad amazing how you can be upset by brusquely-worded letter of complaint (you might consider taking your own advice, and “look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset”, but never mind), yet have a thick skin regarding something put in a textbook destined for impressionable young people, portraying “gaijin” as people carrying weapons, drinking while driving, and being overtly “scary” and “strange”. I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Or for editorial rectitude when you’re on the publishing and profiting end, as opposed to the millions of “gaijin” being portrayed in proxy… Anyway, thanks for your replies. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    =============================

    FURTHER REPLY FROM MR MARTIN: 

    From:   eflp@hawaii.rr.com
    Subject: infringement of copyright on your website
    Date: November 13, 2008 11:01:57 PM JST
    To:   debito@debito.org
    Cc:   eflpress@gol.com
     
    Hi again,

    I have nothing against you including criticisms of my book, Talk a Lot,
    Book One on your website. That is up to you and is perfectly fine and 
    perfectly legal. But I was shocked when I first had a look at your website
    to find you had allowed the posting of two pages from my book which had
    been scanned. This is clearly an infringement of copyright since you have
    not asked for our permission. Please take these two pages off of your
    website as soon as possible!

    I do not ask you to do this because of the possible damage you are causing 
    us. That is not the reason at all. I am asking you to do this for two reasons:

    1. It’s illegal and thus bothers me.
    2. We, as a rule, do not put PDFs or any images of our books on our website
    because we want teachers to see our books as a whole and not just a part
    because we feel they will be convinced to use our books if they see the whole book.
     
    I hope you understand my thinking on this and will take them off. The criticism can
    go on and you can even explain in detail what is on those two pages if you want.
    I’m not against that at all..but you cannot legally copy pages from a book and 
    post them without prior written permission.

    Cheers, David Martin EFL Press

    – Mr Martin, I suggest you do some research on Japanese laws governing Fair Use.

    63 Responses to ““TALK A LOT” textbook (EFL Press) has a rotten caricature of a “strange foreigner” for an English lesson”

    1. Martin Says:

      The “foreigner” has a knife !!! (don’t tell me he’s a sikh)
      Is drinking and driving a crime in Japan ? Yes. Then aren’t they depicting foreigners as criminals ? (I’m waiting for comments from the ap0l0gists here…)

      I love the “katakana” Japanese… after all “we” can’t speak “their” language properly. I guess this is suppose to be “funny”. Now let’s start teaching Japanese to foreigners the same way they teach English: with a picture of a Japanese chikan who has a missing pinkie and says “Harro, I liku Engrishu garu” to a foreign looking girl while grabbing her ass.

    2. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      Not to mention the 外人 comment. We are officially legitimising the word now? Don’t all textbooks used in public schools have to have government approval?

      – I wonder where this unprofessional-sounding book is actually being used…

    3. jp Says:

      This is wrong in so many ways!

    4. Daniel M. Says:

      earrings cannot be pierced.

    5. PnetQ Says:

      This is unacceptable and ridiculous.

      When we have a chance to communicate with people from a different culture, the most important thing is being respectful to each other. This cartoon lacks the respect.

      Considering Question 6, Question 7 must be about breaking the High school rules, which means this foreigner must be a high school student attending his school for the first time. The foreigner in the cartoon no way appears to be a high school student. The cartoonist seems to have drawn this picture without understanding the situation. It may be that the author didn’t see, or didn’t have a say about the choice of, this cartoon until publication.

      I am interested in the words listed as “Useful Words” which must be chosen by the author himself. Is it likely for a US high school student to attend school with beard, pierced earrings, tattoo, thongs or shorts? Surely there are Japanese high school students wearing pierced earrings. When it comes to the other items, though, it seems quite unlikely to me in Japan, and in US as well. What do you think?

      BTW, other than formal textbooks, various supplementary teaching materials are used in both public and private schools. Those supplementary materials are not covered by the governmental approval.

    6. Sharky Says:

      Have you ever seen a doggy running next to a motorcycle? Guess, whoever drew that picture just got a bit carried away. Reminds me a bit of ‘Easy Riders’.

    7. MD Says:

      I think it’s kind of dumb, but isn’t it possible that the book itself was written by NJ poking fun at how Japan stereotypes them?

      – I hope the students get the irony. But I kinda doubt it. More likely that the message will be it’s okay to cojoin “gaijin” and “kowai”, methinks.

    8. TJJ Says:

      Sharkey

      “Have you ever seen a doggy running next to a motorcycle?”

      Yes I have, but only in Japan.

    9. John Says:

      The official teacher’s guide for the book at http://www.eflpress.com/Book1,Part1.pdf says:

      “This scene is obviously fantasy. It is exaggerated to increase student interest in an otherwise dull (but useful) grammar point.”

      It also helpfully includes an English translation: “Hora, ano gaijin kowai!” — “That foreigner is really scary looking!”

      So there you go. Obviously the writer and editors believed that Japanese learners of English would immediately see past the stereotypes!

    10. kevin Says:

      I was at first very shocked when I saw the image, but if the information provided in the article is correct, the author “David Martin” seems to be himself a foreigner.
      Why would he do that ?

    11. Drew Says:

      Totally unrealistic picture. It would be impossible for him to control the throttle of the bike with that beer in his hand.

    12. Iegumo Says:

      Why take it so seriously? It’s so obviously over-the-top and deliberately outlandish that I don’t see how anyone could even remotely think of this as attempting to be representative of NJs, or taken that way by students, any more than good old Charisma Man. It is, after all, supposed to be “A strange foreigner”, not “a typical foreigner” and I can’t imagine any Japanese thinking “Oh! So that’s what foreigners are like!” from looking at this caricature.

      BTW- the writer/publisher is an American and the book is from an independent publisher, likely to be used in Eikaiwa schools or senmon-gakkos. People shouldn’t jump to the “It’s them (J or GOJ) against us (NJ)” conclusion so quickly.

      I agree though that it doesn’t look like a helpful lesson. “Pierced earring” is just wrong, and the useful words aren’t exactly high up the needed vocabulary list.

      – Sorry, didn’t realize Charisma Man was an English textbook.

    13. Douglas Sweetlove Says:

      I thought it was funny myself. It’s so over the top that nobody would take it seriously. As for the “gaijin kowai” comment, remember the girls are saying “THAT gaijin is scary”. Which means other gaijin are, of course, not…..

      Really, this is tempest in a teapot stuff. EFL Press books tend to be a little off the wall most of the time anyway.

    14. Justin Says:

      The most horrifying thing about that picture is that the two Japanese boys have no lower legs or feet.

    15. Ken Says:

      I have that same underwear!

    16. Greg M Says:

      Has anyone thought about contacting the author?
      He or she may be able to give us some insight as to why the offending illustrations(s) were included.

      – Yes, I have. And he did respond. Read on…

    17. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM THE AUTHOR:

      From: eflp @hawaii.rr.com
      Date: November 10, 2008 2:53:49 PM JST
      To: debito@debito.org
      Cc: eflpress@gol.com
      Subject: Re: Fwd: SUPPORT FORM
      Mr. Debito,

      Thank you for your email regarding the “stereotype” in Talk a Lot,
      Book 1. I have had a look at your website and read the comments.
      I want to explain this, not to defend myself or my actions but
      just so you know. First of all, it’s NOT meant to be a stereotype
      in any way whatsoever. Foreigners who live in Japan are not like this,
      and everyone knows it. It’s done comically like this and is a gross
      overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally
      dull grammar points.

      For your information, very few people, students nor teachers have been
      offended by this. Yes, if you think too hard and are too critical, it may
      offend someone. Please relax, enjoy life and stop thinking too much.
      Look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset. Also, keep in
      mind that I, myself, am a foreigner and am poking fun at myself so
      why would it be offensive. Offensive to whom?

      By the way, what does it matter where I live now? It seems that you are
      trying to stir up trouble for no reason. I do not live in Hawaii, by the way,
      so your information is wrong.

      Thank you and I hope I have not offended you but I am a bit upset at
      your brusque style of writing.

      Best Regards,

      David Martin
      EFL Press

      FOLLOWUP EMAIL POST FROM THE AUTHOR:

      From: eflp @hawaii.rr.com
      Date: November 10, 2008 7:56:00 PM JST
      To: debito@debito.org
      Cc: eflpress@gol.com
      Subject: Re: Fwd: SUPPORT FORM

      Mr. Debito,

      Hello again. I forgot to mention that we do have a note in the Teacher’s Guide
      for the activity which you mentioned. This is what is written there:

      Page 62, The Strange Foreigner

      This scene is obviously fantasy. It is exaggerated to increase student interest in an otherwise dull (but useful) grammar point.

      I put this note just in case a few people might think we were trying to look down on
      or stereotype foreigners, which is not the case.

      Thank you,

      David Martin
      EFL Press

      ARUDOU DEBITO REPLIES
      – Thanks for the replies, Mr Martin. I am sorry to have gotten your location (Hawaii) wrong (your IP indicates you are in Thailand). I am also sorry that you find my brusque style of writing “upsetting”. I find it a tad amazing how you can be upset by brusquely-worded letter of complaint (you might consider taking your own advice, and “look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset”, but never mind), yet have a thick skin regarding something put in a textbook destined for impressionable young people portraying “gaijin” as people carrying weapons, drinking while driving, and being overtly “scary” and “strange”. I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Or for editorial rectitude when you’re on the publishing and profiting end, as opposed to the millions of “gaijin” being portrayed in proxy… Anyway, thanks for your replies.

    18. Benjamin Says:

      “It’s done comically like this and is a gross
      overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally
      dull grammar points. ”

      Wow, a style error, spelling error, and grammar error all in the same sentence. Thanks, Mr. English teacher!

    19. bobby12 Says:

      This is ultimately like the Gollywogs or the black and white minstrels show. Yes, you can say its just a joke and dont take it to seriously, but there will always be some people who, right or wrong, DO take it too seriously. Over time, people come to realise this kind of thing is best avoided in the public domain. Use something else to illustrate the dull grammar point.

    20. Drew Says:

      This scene is obviously fantasy. It is exaggerated to increase student interest in an otherwise dull (but useful) grammar point.

      Wouldn’t the grammar point have been illustrated just as well if it had been a comically-portrayed Japanese guy?

    21. Cameron Says:

      The author said (above), “very few people, students nor teachers have been offended by this” I have to disagree. I teach at a university and this book was recommended to me a few years ago. I used it one semester and was VERY offended by this picture. Subsequently I have never used this book again, nor any other EFL Press book.

    22. jim Says:

      i think the best way to deal with this is too just call for a boycott of this publisher,,and hopefully they will be bankrupt just like are friends at yohan earlier this year..

    23. catoneinutica Says:

      Is David Martin a native English speaker? He certainly doesn’t write like one.

    24. Matthew Klaus Says:

      “It’s done comically like this and is a gross
      overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally
      dull grammar points.”

      There is no such thing as a boring grammar point unto itself. However there remains the possibility of boring teachers, bored students, and carpy textbooks (like the fish) published by those who don’t know.

    25. An Eikaiwa Teacher Says:

      Nothing quite like the cool, refreshing taste of “Bad Beer”. I’ve covered similar grammar points and I didn’t have to resort to stereotypes to make them lively. Furthermore, putting anything in a textbook is going to give it an air of legitimacy, no matter how outlandish the author presumes it to be. Moreover, if a foreigner, especially a Caucasian (that I suppose this image is caricaturing in ridiculous ways), teaches with this book, they are in essence saying that this portrayal is either accurate and/or acceptable. This is especially important when considering the text is targetting young people. How many Japanese high school students will have had a large amount of exposure to non-Japanese? How would they know the portrayal was obviously inaccurate? In the end, this was a juvenile attempt at humor, and the author responded as one would expect of them.

      “By the way, what does it matter where I live now? It seems that you are
      trying to stir up trouble for no reason. I do not live in Hawaii, by the way,
      so your information is wrong.”

      And it does matter where you live, Mr. Martin. If you lived in Japan, I doubt you’d be so idiotic and callous as to create such a poor excuse of an English lesson. Thinking you were from Hawaii is an honest mistake, as your e-mail address is provided by Road Runner (Time Warner Cable) in Hawaii. What are you afraid of? Do you think Debito is going to send his minions to your home in whatever super secret location you live in to beat you up? You really do think and act just like a child.

      And I have to say… even the motorcycle is poorly drawn. It looks like an old woman’s moped in the front and a chopper in the back. Did you draw it yourself? Don’t tell me you paid someone for that…

    26. Douglas Sweetlove Says:

      Eikaiwa teacher;

      You ask how much exposure Japanese high school students have to non japanese. I would say, a lot! We live in a connected world with video, DVDs, the internet, all forms of communication and information. They aren’t so sheltered and impressionable as many here think.

      And picking on the writer for his grammar in an email, or for the quality of his artwork? Weak. Neither has anything to do with the topic in question of whether or not the book is somehow racist or derogatory.

      Would you all have felt better if the cartoon had been a typical “Yanki” type of local bad boy? Complete with low riding trousers, greased back hair, a chain on his wallet, and wearing a red sweatshirt under his unbuttoned uniform blazer?

      Or would that have been ok….

    27. TJJ Says:

      I can see that it’s unlikely that the author/publisher had any malicious intent, and I can understand that the main purpose of the image was to act as a “funny” talking point to initiate discussion.

      However, it’s not so “funny” to foreigners who live in Japan and battle against these stereotypes daily. So I think everyone is right to squash these instances of reinforcement of negative perceptions of “foreigness” whenever they can.

      Having said that, I think any outrage here would be misplaced, and we’ve done enough to draw it to the attention of the author, and simply refrain from buying/using the book until the quality is improved.

      – Of course. I have the feeling, however, that even after pointing out the problems, the author just doesn’t see what the issue is. He’s even indicated it’s our fault for getting upset about it. So good luck on getting an improvement.

    28. KK Says:

      It’s bad enough that the English composition textbooks have essays like, “America’s Gun Culture,” written in the 80s and insinuating that everyone in America smokes crack and owns a gun. Now we have to take it to this level as well? I’ve seen some slightly questionable drawings in Oral Communication textbooks (the ALT with the low cut shirt and blond hair/blue eyes, etc) but this one takes the cake. I will be telling my three English departments not to be ordering books from this publisher!

    29. aniberu Says:

      The gender stereotypes in textbooks like Talk A Lot are much worse. They are narrow, exaggerated and perpetuate mainstream media ideals of age and beauty. Talk A Lot also has a lot of stereotypical representations of Japanese people. Students, given the opportunity, are more than able to deconstruct these gender and racial stereotypes. Rather than just criticizing and boycotting one textbook for one stereotypical image, we should be more concerned with the overwhelming number of English language textbooks which are produced without any editorial awareness of issues concerned with representations of gender and race.

      – Well, we gotta start somewhere. This blog is open to others pointing out similar problems with other textbooks, so feel free to submit some samples.

    30. Drew Says:

      It’s interesting… The author’s reply “well, I’m foreign, so what does it matter if I make fun of myself?” (paraphrased) illustrates something that I’ve had in my head for a while but never really got around to putting into words. And interestingly enough, it reminds me of the early FRANCA discussions when we were talking about membership eligibility.

      There seem to be two fairly separate groups of foreigners here, and it’s not a line drawn based on time in Japan (or intended length of stay), or occupation, or country of origin… Actually it seems to be the difference between “people who consider Japan a home” and “people who feel like they are on an extended vacation from their real lives”. I’ve seen some of the former who have been here for 2 weeks and some of the latter who have been here for 10 years.

      I think that if your current mindset is “this is my home”, whether or not you plan that to be permanent, you take more of an interest in how you are perceived by society at large. People who think to myself “this is my home” tend to work to learn the language, tend to join community activities and make local friends. People who think “this is my home” tend to care about how people look at and perceive foreigners and temper their behaviours and their reactions accordingly.

      The “extended vacation”ers might think “Ooh, I couldn’t get the apartment I wanted, and that makes me mad” where the “this is my home”ers are more likely to think “Ooh, the fact that foreigners can’t get the apartments they want makes me mad”.

      So, my response to “I’m western; I can stereotype myself if I want!” is “please consider those of us who, even though some of us might be gone a month from now, consider this place our home, and have to live with the stereotypes that you create”.

    31. TJJ Says:

      Well said Drew!

    32. oldtimer Says:

      Sorry, Drew.

      I am a lifer, and I don’t actually find the cartoon that bad. And I’m serious about tackling issues of discrimination in Japan. I just don’t think that expending effort fighting silly cartoons is a useful activity.

      Firstly, the girls (who ARE stereotyped) are saying ‘THAT gaijin is scary’ not ‘ALL gaijin are scary’.
      If you look at the other pages of the book, you’ll find that there are a variety of foreigners, fitting a wide range of stereotypes.

      I give my students enough credit to be able to deconstruct this one without coming to the conclusion that this is what all foreigners are like.

      I’m with Aniberu – I think the unexamined gender stereotypes in textbooks are much more insidious. Japan today slipped from 91 to 98 on the World Economic Forum Gender Equality Rankings. What is unseen also matters.

      – So help us make it seen.

    33. JB Jones Says:

      All,
      I have worked on numerous cheaply-produced and hastily-constructed texts.
      The motive is profit, not education. That people could dignify this absurd caricature
      with ever considering it, amazes me, but this type of stereotyping must end sometime).
      The writer and publisher deserve to be rebuked. This is not education, it is stereotyping.
      I have to admit, when I first came here 31 years ago, I too wanted to succeed, so I did
      what my Japanese bosses required of me. I fell in line—I did not object when they included
      illustrations that were clearly racist (this has a long tradition in Japanese publishing of ‘EFL texts’.)
      If the focus were really on education instead of titillation, then such absurd cartoons would not be
      necessary. In addition, it is poor methodological practice to give translations in English ‘textbooks,’
      and I use the word loosely. I feel sorry for Mr. Martin because I have walked in his shoes.

      JB Jones

    34. JB Jones Says:

      All,
      I forgot to mention in my previous mail that there have been no
      complaints from students ( as Marin maintains), because generally Japanese students rarely
      criticize textbook selection, so Martin’s argument is weak.

      JB Jones

    35. jdictionary Says:

      Most of what I am saying has been said in bits and pieces of previous comments but I would like to specifically address the author’s comment that “It’s done comically like this and is a gross overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally dull grammar points.” In some ways I understand that part. Looking at the picture I can see how students would have plenty of choices to come up with sentences such as:

      - We are not allowed to bring dogs to school.
      - You have to have short hair.
      - You can’t bring a knife to school.

      But what I don’t understand is why does the potential student need to be a foreigner? It would work just as well (and probably make a lot more sense) which a crazy looking Japanese student. And the girls could say, “あの人こわーい!” instead.

      Douglas Sweetlove, in his comment above, asks us, “Would you all have felt better if the cartoon had been a typical “Yanki” type of local bad boy?”

      My answer is yes. What is the point of using a foreigner? I just don’t see it.

      – And not just “a foreigner”. A “gaijin”. One that speaks katakana, at that. How does that “motivate students to use a normally dull grammar points”?

    36. Martin Q. Says:

      I think you got a point there Debito, but you were a bit confrontational.

      If you don’t like it why not start your own? Would have saved you the trouble of contacting the author.

      – I have written two textbooks. See my publications site.

    37. DM Says:

      It’s wrong, and thanks for bringing it to light. Hopefully the publishers will get an earful from NJ teachers here and either drop or revise the book.

    38. Cocodrilo Says:

      The illustrations are amateurish and degrading (to be polite), and the captions lend new meaning to the word “lame”. I hope ESL teachers have better sense than to choose a text as that for their classes.

    39. Cocodrilo Says:

      I also have to add, on page 14, the text sugggests to students to describe certain people, such as Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Hitler…HITLER???WTF???!!!

    40. David Martin Says:

      Oh boy! I did not know that illustration would stir up such a storm!
      I would like to clarify a few things:

      1. I did not try purposely to create any kind of stereotype when I did this
      activity. I have always been as careful so as to make my books politically
      correct. I am not perfect and obviously this activity bothers some people.
      So, I should be more careful with future material or new editions of this
      book. But, I repeat: I do not think it’s a stereotype and I did not intend
      for it to be.

      2. Some people are asking why I chose a foreigner and not a Japanese
      for this character. The answer is simple. I tried to make it as realistic as
      possible. It would unrealistic for a Japanese student to be familiar with
      the school rules, but a foreigner probably would not know. Granted,
      a foreigner would probably not even go to a Japanese school, but the
      whole thing is fantasy (as is stated in the TG).

      3. I have always been very careful with all illustrations in my books. My
      wife did all the illustrations. I told her specifically to not draw big noses and
      not to include any other stereotypical things and I think she has done a
      pretty good job at that. Don’t only look at this page, but look at all the
      activities in my books as a whole and I think you will agree with this.

      4. I lived in Japan for 14 years. The first edition of this book was written
      in 1995, which was after I had been living there for 8 years already so talk
      of my including such a stereotype because I do not live in Japan or know
      Japanese is ridiculous. I lived in Japan, was married to a Japanese and
      taught Japanese full time.

      5. I wrote ALL of my books for ONE purpose. And this was not for financial gain.
      Sure, I care about money as we all do, but I wrote these book to try to make
      books that motivate students to learn English. Please give me some credit here.
      I agree, that the Strange Foreigner Activity is not the best one in my book. In
      fact, it is one of the weakest, but talk of my doing it for financial gain is ridiculous.
      I did it for students and for them only.

      6. As for the page on descriptions, I PURPOSELY included a BLACK person
      just to be politically correct. Also, I instructed the artist to make sure the black
      person is attractive. And this is taken out of context… the activity is more than
      one page and other skin colors are covered there. I was, indeed, very careful
      on this page. So why all the criticism?

      7. Some people do not understand why the foreigner is speaking “katakana English”. This has nothing to do with him speaking Japanese as a foreigner!
      From the artist’s mouth: “Katakana is often used for emphasis in Japanese
      comics.” It’s NOT done to make a stereotype.

      8. “pierced earrings” is real English and is not incorrect. Most of the writers
      on this blog are men. Just type “pierced earrings” in Google and see what
      you come up with. It’s real English. Not so useful, I agree, but the other words
      in the box are very useful. How do I know? They are words that my students
      have asked me how to say over the years and that is why I included them.

      I thank you all for your comments and criticisms. That said, could you please be kinder and more gentle in your approach next time? If you give constructive
      criticism, I’m more than happy to listen with an open mind, but if you give
      criticism in a mean spirit, it’s more likely to make me close minded and
      not listen.

      I did not proofread what I just wrote above because I do not have the time
      to do so and I do not care what people think about my grammar, spelling,
      etc. here but I assure you I proofread my books very carefully and work
      very hard to make our books the best they can be.

      Peace please!

      David Martin
      EFL Press

      – Are you seriously saying that foreigners attending Japanese schools are at the level of “fantasy”? This is proof positive that you really are out of touch with the lives of NJ in Japan.

    41. debito Says:

      FURTHER FEEDBACK FROM THE AUTHOR:

      From: eflp@hawaii.rr.com
      Subject: infringement of copyright on your website
      Date: November 13, 2008 11:01:57 PM JST
      To: debito@debito.org
      Cc: eflpress@gol.com

      Hi again,

      I have nothing against you including criticisms of my book, Talk a Lot,
      Book One on your website. That is up to you and is perfectly fine and
      perfectly legal. But I was shocked when I first had a look at your website
      to find you had allowed the posting of two pages from my book which had
      been scanned. This is clearly an infringement of copyright since you have
      not asked for our permission. Please take these two pages off of your
      website as soon as possible!

      I do not ask you to do this because of the possible damage you are causing
      us. That is not the reason at all. I am asking you to do this for two reasons:

      1. It’s illegal and thus bothers me.

      2. We, as a rule, do not put PDFs or any images of our books on our website
      because we want teachers to see our books as a whole and not just a part
      because we feel they will be convinced to use our books if they see the whole book.

      I hope you understand my thinking on this and will take them off. The criticism can
      go on and you can even explain in detail what is on those two pages if you want.
      I’m not against that at all..but you cannot legally copy pages from a book and
      post them without prior written permission.

      Cheers,

      David Martin
      EFL Press

      – Mr Martin, I suggest you do some research on Japanese laws governing Fair Use.

    42. Scott Says:

      This is why ‘internet activism’ will go nowhere, fast.

      In the real world, the world where people have to communicate in person, exchange words, talk to each other — civility is important. Politeness matters. We try to persuade others to change their point of view by having polite, rational, adult discussions.

      Whatever criticisms anybody has with Mr.Martin’s text, and whether you agree with his justifications or not, he has responded in a polite manner. He has tried to justify his textbook the way that grown-ups do: at length. Politely. You may not agree with his arguments or logic, but it was professional.

      Debito’s responses have been anything but: smug, smarmy and condescending — the typical tone of this site, a tone, in its posts and comments, that is becoming increasingly juvenile. Not in its concerns or intent, but in its presentations.

      Why was Obama successful? Because he appealed to the better angels of our natures. He got people thinking about the good things that they could do, the better people they could become. His activism was about motivating people to find the best part of themselves.

      This latest ‘discussion’ is nothing but slander and slurs that brings out the worst in everybody, our junior-high school, ‘I’m smarter than you are and I will try to be as witty as possible in putting you down’ side of human nature.

      Wow, what a way to bring about change!

      Mr.Martin, apparently, was not familiar with this site — with its tone, with its presentation –and, as his initial comments indicated, he was a bit put off by its ‘brusqueness’.

      He was being polite.

      Tone is everything in life.

      You can be critical without being snide, and constructive without being belittling.

      (And posting a private email communication between the two of you in the ‘comments’ section of this thread is unbelievably unprofessional…))

      Anybody browsing through this site over the course of a few weeks will find an exchange of ideas whose tone undermines and degrades the very issues which you are trying to bring to the light.

      – Points taken. But a lot of the criticism here has been incurred in response to the rather flawed (and poorly-presented) arguments and justifications made by Mr Martin (where he is, however politely, still essentially telling us it’s our fault for feeling perturbed about a textbook with unprofessional and disparaging portrayals of people). Sorry, but that’s fair game for analysis, and I have cautioned posters here who have gone too far. There’s only so much “tone” I can control (or would want to control) in the course of debate on Debito.org. Sorry.

      Also, people really ought to learn the definition of slander before they use the term so flippantly.

      Finally, an email from a representative of a company on behalf of the company regarding company matters is not a private email.

    43. David Martin Says:

      I have checked the copyright laws and this is what it states:

      “The current Japanese Copyright Law, in principle, prohibits any copying of other people’s works or distributing them on the Internet without permission.

      Exceptions to the law are copying works for personal use at home or for use in schools. ”

      – Right. Now please check out the law governing “Fair Use”.

    44. Greg in Saitama Says:

      I am very glad that the pages I sent here have caused so much debate. I was quite surprised, though, by the author’s response. The author’s admonishment to “…stop thinking too much” is the exact opposite of what I try to do in my daily life and what I try to teach my students. I think most people, in fact, think too little. As for the few people who have been offended by this, of the 6 people I know who have seen this, five staff at my school and one of my private students, all have not liked it. The first person who saw it was so offended that he made the effort to show it around. As he is on the committee that is picking next year’s text books (hence he was looking through a lot of textbooks), you can be assured that this one won’t be picked.

      The author also states that a foreigner wouldn’t know the rules while a Japanese person would. That might be the case, but that has not been my experience. All of the non-Japanese (either ethnically or in terms of nationality) I have ever taught knew the rules just as well as the Japanese students did. I know it’s just anecdotal but the only place I have ever seen a student drunk at school was at a horrible, horrible junior high I taught at here in Japan. All the students who were drunk were Japanese. I never saw students drinking at the schools I went to in Canada and the USA. Again, anecdotal, but at the school I teach at now every month or two the teachers stand outside and check the students as they come in the gates for rules violations and always find some. Couldn’t something like that have been used instead?

      As for the katakana-Japanese in manga, I might be wrong but the way it is often used is to show the person is speaking STRANGELY. The fact that I often see it used on TV for foreigners who speak well is what makes me angry and whenever I see it that’s what it reminds me of.

      I do think some of the responses here have been a little over the top. I know it is the Internet so I don’t take it too seriously, but making fun of someone’s grammar or spelling is a bit low especially since it was just a response to an email, not a textbook or newspaper. As a poor speller I’m quite sensitive about this so always write things in Word first and then paste them into my emails (and I always bring a dictionary to class in case I have to check something). As for people being rude, I’ve met rude people in real life too. There are though, way more people being rude on the Internet. Having a bit of a thick skin is useful.

    45. icarus Says:

      The concept of Fair Use is by no means set in stone. According to the article at wiki, in all cases where Fair Use is used as a defense, the defendant bears the burden of raising and proving that his use was “fair” and not an infringement.

      Factors for Fair Use usually include:
      1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
      2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
      3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
      4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

      The Japanese is the same as well, but there have been far fewer cases related to Fair Use in Japan:
      * 利用の目的と性格(利用が商業性を有するか、非営利の教育目的かという点も含む)
      * 著作権のある著作物の性質
      * 著作物全体との関係における利用された部分の量及び重要性
      * 著作物の潜在的利用又は価値に対する利用の及ぼす影響

      The concept of Fair Use is more vague for use on the internet, but wiki mentions that “Courts recognize that certain kinds of market harm do not oppose fair use, such as when a parody or negative review impairs the market of the original work. Copyright considerations may not shield a work against adverse criticism.” You can follow this link to Indiana University where there is a rough checklist of Fair Use applicability. This post more or less has no problems in the first 3 categories, but in the “Effect” category, there are a couple of points where this may or may not fail the requirements of being Fair Use, and as such, consulting a lawyer is probably advisable.

      – Thanks for doing the research and writeup, Icarus. As for consulting lawyers, I have.

      I think the issue being brought up here is less a matter of claim of copyright infringement, more a desire on the part of the author who doesn’t want his book analyzed by having primary-source material on view. Sorry, Mr Martin, but you published it, now we’re going to critique it. Live with your handiwork. We’ll have our say, you’ll have yours, and in a month or two things will have cooled down enough so you can make some decisions about how you want your next editions of your books to look. Absorb our critique. Don’t try to sluice off the information we need to do a better critique.

    46. David Martin Says:

      I really hate to be misunderstood. Mr.Debito is not a fair player at all. I explained
      my intentions for stating that he was infringing on copyright and it is not to hide
      anything. It’s because it’s illegal. Just because the fair use law is somewhat vague
      does not mean you have to take advantage of it. It’s up to you if you want to take those
      two pages off or not. I will not be consulting any lawyers nor filing any lawsuits. I was
      just pointing out that I am pretty sure it’s illegal. If you decide to keep the two pages,
      the least you can do is add the facing right page to the descriptions page, which is a two-page
      spread and included other skin colors on the following page. Your posting only one page
      out of context caused one black fellow to contact me and he was very angry saying I had
      a “racist” book which is not the case at all.

      Constructive criticism is good if it’s given in a polite manner. If it’s given in a confrontational
      manner, it can do more harm than good.

      – I see. Well, I think we can do one of two things here:

      1) Develop a thicker skin (which is what Mr Martin himself suggested that people who didn’t like the contents of the pages in question do).

      or

      2) Start portraying oneself as the misunderstood victim here, claiming being quoted out of context while wanting the context removed.

      I know which option is probably going to make one a better editor in future producing better textbooks…

      PS: I was sent those pictures by Greg in Saitama, who has seen the entire work and sent me what he thought deserved attention. Others agree that it does. But if if we do as Mr Martin suggests and put up a third page, are we saying we no longer have any copyright issues?

      This discussion is full of contradictions. Just own up to producing problematic material and stop trying to wriggle out of editorial probity, already.

    47. Anton Says:

      I’m with Scott here – tone is everything.
      I’m not sure where the line between healthy debate and distasteful insinuation/abuse should be drawn but it’s clear Mr. Martin has not lowered himself to the latter at any point.
      Giving ‘A man in Japan’ somewhere to vent…poor decision making that contributed to this an even sadder little chapter in debito.org’s history.

      – I agree. I’ll remove AMIJ’s vents with apologies.

    48. James Says:

      Just a few points I would like to make about some of David’s comments on stereotyping, and I quote:

      “First of all, it’s NOT meant to be a stereotype
      in any way whatsoever. Foreigners who live in Japan are not like this,
      and everyone knows it. It’s done comically like this and is a gross
      overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally
      dull grammar points”Date: November 10, 2008 2:53:49 PM JST

      “So, I should be more careful with future material or new editions of this
      book. But, I repeat: I do not think it’s a stereotype and I did not intend
      for it to be”

      “Some people do not understand why the foreigner is speaking “katakana English”. This has nothing to do with him speaking Japanese as a foreigner!
      From the artist’s mouth: “Katakana is often used for emphasis in Japanese
      comics.” It’s NOT done to make a stereotype”November 13th, 2008 at 10:51 pm

      Just to refresh a stereotype, according to Merriam and Websters learner dictionary, is:

      “an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic”

      Therefore in order for the picture to be a stereotype it would in the strictest sense have to be:

      a) unfair
      b) untrue
      c)a belief (as opposed to a fact) which many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic.

      Firstly, is the picture unfair? Well, yes it is, I am a foreigner and was not consulted about this picture and neither were other foreigners on this forum and for that matter the rest of the non Japanese population. Furthermore what about the other foreigners in Japan (that is the non causican population?.)

      In the picture “The strange foreigner” (Title of exercise) is blonde, unshaven, tattoed, improperly dressed, and drinking, smoking and driving on a motorcycle at the same time. So therefore all strange foreigners must look and do the same.

      (Pedantic?! Moi?! Yes, definitely, but this is prove a point and to motivate you to read on)

      Which of course I was, when I first read the exercise, and was surprised to see that “The Strange Foreigner” magically becomes “A foreigner” in the description. So therefore all foreigners (hope you noted the omission of “strange,” I certainly did when I read the explanation) must look an do the same.

      The point I am trying to make is that when you create a textbook you are (whether you like it or not) creating a reality and imposing your or others view onto that reality. Not only are you doing this, you are also legitimizing it.
      e.g based on this picture
      It is ok, to refer to foreigner as gaijin.
      It is ok, to gesticulate and not vocalize an answer to a grammatically sound question.
      It is ok, to write the grammatically sound Japanese in katakana.
      It is ok, to negatively judge (in hushed tones) someone you have never met before on appearance alone. (Referring of course to the girls in the background).

      Moving on to point b).. is the picture untrue? Well.. as I have hopefully illustrated above, it is not fact, (not all foreigners are white, or look and do the same).

      And now onto point c), is the picture an illustration of a belief that many people have. Yes, unfortunately it is.

    49. Mark Says:

      Thanks to Debito for once again having the guts to take on an issue of concern. The lesson perpetuates a stereotype for the profit of the company. If the author needs reminding, foreigners are often portrayed as
      dirty, violent and stupid in Japanese mass media. Why add to this? Ask the longtermers who are genuinely trying to integrate into this society how they feel about this kind of garbage. Mr. Martin is just plain wrong and adds insult to injury by asking us to not think too much. Right. That says it all. Debito, keep up the good work of rocking the boat. I, for one, am a big supporter. No one is perfect, you and I included, but at least you TRY to do something to make Japan an even better country than it already is. Thank you.

      Mark Hunter
      Takarazuka
      Japan

    50. icarus Says:

      It’s fairly clear what David is saying in his last post.

      He believes you don’t have the right to post his pages so he’s requesting that you remove them.

      You say that posting under Fair Use gives you the right, so the pages remain – without David bringing this to court this is essentially a non-issue.

      However,

      David realizes you have no intention of removing said pages so he’s asking you to add a third page to clear up the issue of using the word “black”. He mentioned, “included other skin colors on the following page,” which clearly means there are other racial descriptors included that have not been posted here. If he’s receiving angry email due to a willful disclosure of information, I’d say that’s a pretty clear indication of something being done wrong. He’s looking for a compromise – if you feel the need to post the pages to criticize his work, at least post all of the relevant information.

      This blog is obviously yours to do with as you see fit, but this is just downright frustrating. What exactly is the point of making any effort to improve something that may be inappropriate if you’re just going to be berated for making the mistake in the first place and punished after fixing it? This is exactly the same problem I see with the Rogue’s Gallery – you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t – so why bother? You’ve telling him to own up to his mistake, but all I see is bullying.

      – No, what you’re seeing is frustration at the fact that this publisher is absolutely clueless about what the issue is: That he’s portraying NJ in Japan inaccurately and badly. And that he’s simply trying to justify it through further ignorant arguments (that NJ wouldn’t know J school rules anyway, that NJ wouldn’t attend Japanese schools anyway, that we as the reader (and object of portrayal) are being oversensitive, that he can’t be in the wrong here because he’s a foreigner himself (in Thailand)… need I go on?) and claim that he’s been wronged because we’ve been rude.

      Well, sorry, if you’re going to fall for Mr Martin’s self-portrayal as the victim here, I’m not. We’ve seen a lot of books out there in the education field perpetuating these images about NJ, and it’s about time we had a discussion about the process and mindset behind them. Suddenly feeling sorry for the publisher (especially after the lack of any hansei on his part) just because others are expressing a similar frustration (which I have cautioned and deleted when it went overboard) is in my view the wrong reaction.

      As for the “compromise”, I’m happy to add the third page (Greg in Saitama, please scan and send), but Mr Martin has previously said we need to examine the whole book before passing judgment and that’s not really an option on this blog. So we have the classic conundrum I’ve seen time and time again by publishers who want to escape public criticism: “You haven’t quoted me fully so you’ve quoted me out of context. But I won’t let you quote me fully because it would be a violation of copyright. So don’t quote me at all.” In other words, use copyright as a shield and force critics to drop the issue. Sorry, but that’s not the intention of copyright. Hence Fair Use for a primary source. And then when I blog a demand (in writing, from the company, with him signing as a representative of the company, about company business) from him regarding these copyright issues, he claims invasion of privacy and tries to elevate his victim status further. Sorry, there’s something really screwy going on here, and I would rather people not fall for it.

    51. D Says:

      I’m seriously just appalled by this whole thing…not so much because of the original illustration (which is obviously ridiculous in innumerable ways and should be ridiculed off the face of this planet…) but from the author’s follow up comments:

      “It would unrealistic for a Japanese student to be [un]familiar with
      the school rules, but a foreigner probably would not know.”

      Hey, thanks buddy. I don’t care who you are, J, NJ, black yellow brown green white purple whatever, thank you for putting this image out there to be used in an educational environment. Yeah, foreigners are so stupid that they don’t even know you can’t show up drunk on a motorcycle with a knife to school. Furthermore, that’s what they would do if not for school regulations. Are you mad, my friend? What the bloody hell were you thinking when you came up with this?

      This has absolutely no place in any educational environment of any sort. Even for strictly profit-motivated ones it’s shameful.

    52. James Says:

      addendum,another reply to David’s comments, and another recap:

      2. Some people are asking why I chose a foreigner and not a Japanese
      for this character. The answer is simple. I tried to make it as realistic as
      possible. It would unrealistic for a Japanese student to be familiar with
      the school rules, but a foreigner probably would not know. Granted,
      a foreigner would probably not even go to a Japanese school, but the
      whole thing is fantasy (as is stated in the TG)November 13, 2008 11:01:57 PM JST

      It would also be unrealistic for E.T, Godzilla, the Yeti, Thor or any mythological creature for that matter, to go to school. The point is, a person did not need to be chosen, an animal or a fictional being would suffice.

      Yet, unfortunately a foreigner was chosen (sorry, the strange foreigner) to illustrate the point.

    53. Mark Mino-Thompson Says:

      I really appeciate the time and effort David Martin has made to respond to the criticism leveled at certain pages of his textbook. I know it’s hard to attempt to explain one’s position in an online
      forum.

      I for one, take him at his word that his intention behind the “strange foreigner” exercise was not intended to be discriminatory or put non-Japanese in a bad light. While I have no way of knowing the discussion between the author and illustrator regarding this page was, I can imagine that it may have been something like this:

      “We need to make a fun and interesting picture to illustrate the grammar ‘must, must not, Are you allowed to..?’.”

      “I know. Some of the students at my school back home were really rebels and misfits. What if we drew a picture of the most outrageous, mifit student we can come up with (someone who was always in the principal’s office) and have him show up at a Japanese high school where school is even stricter. What would that be like?”

      “Sounds funny. I think it will work.”

      In this context, it does sound pretty funny. The idea of the worst imaginable student from a “Western” school being transferred to a Japanese school might make for an interesting comedy movie,
      assuming that people watching were aware of the context. However, it’s hard to believe that the average high school student in Japan (given the unending habit in Japan of lumping “foreigners” together and seeing them as different from the Japanese) would look at this activity and conclude that this depiction of this particular foreigner as being completely ironic and atypical in nature.

      As to the use of katakana, while it is quite true that it is used at times in Japanese to stress certain words, it has also historically been used in Japan to depict the speech of non-Japanese. This has long been the case, whether it was in manga, for newcast “subtitles” when non-Japanese were interviewed (regardless of Japanese ability) or even by police “crime prevention” posters depicting “foreigners.”

      Again, Mr. Martin states that this activity was not intended to paint non-Japanese in a bad light, and I believe him. I think it may have just been an idea that seemed good at the time, but that wasn’t completely thought through on whether the students reading it would get the irony in the cultural context being shown, in that (as an example) no American high school student, no matter how rebellious behaves in this way, and as such it is a humorous, fantasy characture. But as the comments here have shown I think it’s fair to say that the activity as presented does bother a lot of people. They also raise legitimate concerns about how the lesson may be perceived by Japanese students with little to know knowledge of students and schools abroad. I for one would hope that EFL Press would take these concerns into consideration with future publications.

      Mark Mino-Thompson

    54. Douglas Says:

      It really seems a lot of people here have a pretty low opinion of the Japanese peoples’ ability to distinguish fact from fiction, or stereotype from caricature. I am more confident in their judgement.

      I’m also a long term resident here, so if my anecdotal evidence means anything, I showed the text page in question to my two foreign colleagues at my school. The result? They chuckled and went for a coffee. As we all should.

      Actually,the whole kerfuffle here has made me check whether I can possibly use EFL Press material at my school. I generally like to support smaller publishers over large ones, so hopefully I can find a place for their material in my curriculum.

    55. Fuchikoma Says:

      At first I was totally on Debito’s side on this issue, but after reading these comments I am not sure anymore. I respect Debito’s efforts and enthusiasm, but it seems to me sometimes he does things that he doesn’t have to do at all. I mean, it seems like what he does is not quite fair and hurts people’s feelings yet doesn’t bring much. And I cannot say that Debito is totally wrong, but I have a feeling that at least something is wrong.
      I don’t mean to defend Mr. Martin, but I hesitate to treat him as a criminal. I just want to point out that if Debito keeps doing this, there will be full of hatred and no mutual understanding.

      – Thanks for the advice. I never said (or treated) Mr. Martin as a criminal. I do think he’s being irresponsible, and it was his constant wriggling out of his responsibility as an editor which I believe incurred the reaction(s) that occurred on this blog entry.

      What in your opinion could I personally have done, or not done (stress on the “I”, since it is my “efforts and enthusiasm”, not the combined efforts/frustrations of posters here, that you are zeroing in on) that would have made the outcome different, lessened your feeling that “something is wrong”?

      (And as a side note, I find it difficult to accept full responsibility for what other people say here. But there is a distinct tendency for people (especially commenters elsewhere in cyberspace) to keep sticking sentiments on me that other people have said. This being “my blog” notwithstanding, frankly, I don’t feel that whatever appears here as a comment is the product of “my group” or is “my responsibility”. I’m neither their keeper nor their editor. So would it have been better if I didn’t approve comments that were critical of Mr. Martin? Or should I myself not have commented at all? Sorry, I don’t get what I’m doing wrong here. Seriously, give me some advice. Debito)

    56. David Martin Says:

      I would like to respond to Mr. Debito’s comments. It is quite clear
      that I am being both misunderstood and misrepresented.
      First of all, I do not feel victimized in any way. Secondly, my reason
      for bringing up the copyright infringement issue has NOTHING
      to do with my trying to conceal those pages from potential viewers
      of his website. Mr. Debito makes numerous assumptions, most of
      which are not based on fact but mere conjecture.

      When I first had a look at Mr. Debito’s website page
      (I did so because he emailed me and suggested I do so), the first thing
      I was a scanned page from my book, Talk a Lot, Book One. My initial reaction was,
      “Isn’t it quite audacious to scan a page from
      my book and put it up for all to see?” and “Wait a minute– isn’t this
      illegal as well? Surely this must be a violation of copyright law!”

      I had these initial thoughts BEFORE reading any of the posts
      on the blog. It was my first reaction. So, it’s not the case, as I
      have been falsely accused, that I asked Mr. Debito to take off
      those two scanned pages for the reason of hiding anything. I asked
      him to do so ONLY because he was (and is still) breaking the law.

      Finally, it is also not the case that I am ‘clueless’ about what the
      issue is. I know what the issue is. The issue is that foreigners
      living in Japan are being discriminated against and some readers
      of Mr. Debito’s website feel that the ‘Strange Foreigner’ graphic
      may cause Japanese students to see foreigners in a bad light.
      Thus, this in turn may lead to an increase of discrimination. This is
      the issue and I understand it. I understand it and that is why I
      have already stated that I intend to be more careful in future
      publications as it is clear that some people are upset by this
      type of depiction of a foreigner.

      I have already explained that I did not intend in any way to
      paint foreigners in a bad light. This ‘strange foreigner’ is just
      that–strange, atypical, abnormal. He is not supposed to be seen
      as a typical foreigner in Japan. If I had intended for him to be
      seen as a typical foreigner, I would have entitled the activity
      ‘The Foreigner’ instead of “The STRANGE foreigner”.

      Peace, love, and understanding please.

    57. Chris Mayernik Says:

      Debito, I think you are taking this to seriously. I know the pages could be influential to young Japanese minds, but how is that such a big deal? In fact it might be better because later on they can interact with a “good” foreigner and realize they are not all the same. I think it’s a little crazy illustration but that’s what makes it funny and interesting.
      I’m not offended by it because for one, I am not like the guy on the bicycle, and two, even if a Japanese thought I was like that they would soon find themselves wrong after meeting me.
      Not all Americans are so good, and not all Japanese are so good. I wouldn’t trust any American, or Japanese, or anyone if they dressed like the guy in the photo ( despite the possibility that they are a kind and trust worthy person). So if you don’t dress like the guy in the photo than what do you have to worry about? Think of it as a opportunity to bring about change by proving to someone their stereotype of you is wrong.

    58. Fuchikoma Says:

      Debito,

      I think anybody would appreciate the fact that you contacted Mr. Martin to point out this issue. You could have continued the discussion when you thought that Mr. Martin didn’t realize the significance of the problem. But, by putting the issue up on this blog, I think Mr. Martin was cornered.
      It seems to me that your primary interest is punishing, not understanding. And this strategy doesn’t always work even if you are right. For example, I think you are right about the Japan Times Gaijin issue. I certainly think that the Japanese overuse the term. But calling the users of the term racist is too much, and consequently, your message was blurred.
      What I want to say is, if your strategy is always like that, people start thinking that what you claim is always too much, therefore, must be discounted.

      – Thanks for the advice.

      But I also think there is an issue of reading comprehension here. I never called users of the word “gaijin” racist. I called the epithet and usage often based upon racism, however unconscious. Have another read of the essays. There is a difference. I wonder how much of the problem is people reading stuff into what I say and assuming that the more acidulous comments from others are something I agree with.

      Again, thanks for the advice. Debito

    59. David Martin Says:

      I would like to comment on the use of the term ‘gaijin’ in the illustration. The word
      ‘gaijin’ is used because that is the word that most Japanese would use, at least most
      young Japanese high school students. They would not say, “Hora, ano gaikokujin kowai!”
      It’s use is based on reality. There is no offense meant in the illustration by the use of
      the word.

      I’m starting to think this whole issue is such a shame. People are thinking too hard; if you
      think too hard or too much many things can look like a stereotype seems like something which they
      are not. I’m getting tired of all this. Okay, you win Mr. Debito. I will take that activity out
      of the book when we do a third edition of Talk a Lot, Book 1.

      – Mr Martin, thanks, but remember, I wasn’t the only one who raised the issue, and it’s not a matter of “winning”. I just wish you would be taking this out of the book because you saw what the issue is (you still think using “gaijin” in school reflects reality, when schools nationwide are disavowing the use of the word due to the influx of tens of thousands of international students with mixed parentage and overseas heritage), but I have the feeling you don’t. And I don’t think you’ve been following the recent debates regarding “speaker intent” vs. “listener feelings” we’ve been having about the “gaijin” epithet in recent months. Again, I think you’re truly out of touch with what’s going on in Japan today.

      Anyway, thanks for discussing and removing. Debito

    60. David Martin Says:

      UPDATE:

      I have decided to change the illustration immediately. It will not longer be a foreigner going
      to school on that page. We will reprint Talk a Lot, Book One this coming January and
      so the new batch of books will have the new illustration.

      – Thanks for the change and the update.

    61. Mark Hunter Says:

      Debito. Thank you. The offending piece will not be rereleased. You do not need to apologize to anyone for how this was handled. As you have said yourself many times, no one is perfect, yourself included. Doing what is right is not always pretty. However, the net gain in correcting these issues in Japanese society is well worth it. Japanese people and the foreigner and his or her offspring in Japan gain by being able to live in a better, more caring society that understands and accepts what is different, rather than living off sterotypes and myths that can do so much damage and harm to people living their daily lives. This living off stereotypes and myths applies just as much to the foreigner as it does to some Japanese people, by the way. Everyone wins. Keep up the good work and know that the thinking majority of foreigners in Japan support you in making life better for all.

      Mark Hunter

    62. oldtimer Says:

      Hi – me again,

      OK. I have now read through the entire discussion. The discussion seems to have significantly reframed what a stereotype actually is to mean,

      “Any image that we don’t like of a person who belongs to a group to which we also belong”.

      But what about the positive stereotypes of foreigners? Wouldn’t we need to attack those too?

      Hardworking? Nah, it’s a stereotype. Friendly? That’s a stereotype too. Honest? Treat women with respect? Men who do 50% of the housework? Yup – all stereotypes.

      Fact is, white foreigners benefit from stereotypes just as much as we suffer from them, probably more.

      So – your mission, if you posted here attacking this cartoon, is now to attack every stereotype, including the ones you benefit from. Because if you don’t, you’re a hypocrite. Start with the textbook you use tomorrow – the one with the nice, cleanshaven white guy on the cover. It’s a stereotype, after all.

      -Oldtimer

    63. SJ Aichi Says:

      As I started reading this thread, I knewthat it would get ugly. Debito, I admire so much what you do for the foreign community. Unfortunately, a dirty residue is often left over after the dust settles. I’ve followed the struggles and battles that you’ve posted here, and, inevitably, there arrvies a point in the rhetoric where you lose your footing and come off as less than gentlemanly. In this thread, it happened at post 43 with the following left jab from your corner (and I use this terminology because it is at this very point that it crossed from discussion to battle):

      – Right. Now please check out the law governing “Fair Use”.

      If you had simply provided a link to the Fair Use guidelines, (rather than snidely pointing out that someone has less knowledge in the area than you,) you could have continued on the discussion in a far less combative and superior tone. At that point, David Martin garnered my support. Further, I investigated what EFL Press has to offer, and will be including their materials in my curriculum next semester. The fact that David Martin was bullied on a forum and handled it in such a professional way has earned him and his company a few more orders. Thank you, Debito, for bringing David Martin’s books to my attention.

      Keep up with the work you do. But, please, take a moment to breathe and not forget decorum when you feel those claws coming out to attack. When you get too high on that horse, you alienate many of the people you are supposed to be standing up for.

      – Thanks for the advice. I was ticked off at that point because I told Mr Martin to research Fair Use. He came back with Copyright. So I steered him once again to Fair Use. If he researches one thing, he could have researched the other, and I didn’t feel like providing a link at that point to somebody who wasn’t addressing my arguments.

      Anyway, put his books to good use! Debito

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