December 4, 2009
"Deadly Viper" Put to Death
What do you think of Zondervan’s apology and decision to pull the book?
Last month a significant controversy arose around the book Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. The accusation made by numerous Christian leaders in the Asian-American community was that the book mocked Asian culture by utilizing stereotypes, failing to distinguish between different Asian cultures, and leveraging Asian culture as a marketing gimmick.
Soong-Chan Rah, a professor at North Park College, rallied many Asian-American Christians to address their concerns about Deadly Viper with the authors and with the publisher, Zondervan.
Thankfully, since the controversy arose, Soong Chan Rah, Eugene Cho, Kathy Khang, Chris Heuertz, Jud Wilhite, Mike Foster, and others have had a joint teleconference to discuss concerns about the book. Apologies were offered and a commitment to work together to move forward was reached. You can read a report and summary of these positive events on Prof. Rah’s blog.
On November 20, Zondervan responded to the controversy. A letter from Zondervan’s CEO stated:
This book’s characterizations and visual representations are offensive to many people despite its otherwise solid message.
There is no need for debate on this subject. We are pulling the book and the curriculum in their current forms from stores permanently.
Dr. Rah responded to the news on his blog: “It reflects a genuine repentant spirit and a deep willingness to hear and to act. I am moved by Zondervan’s willingness to act in this decisive and dramatic manner.”
(You can read a full rundown of the Deadly Viper controversy and responses on CT’s Liveblog.)
The question for Urbanites is this: Do you believe Zondervan did the right thing? Do you agree that Deadly Viper Character Assassins needed to be pulled from the shelves?