Project Anti-Disguise
  September 22, 2004 01:59 PM
October 22, 2002
Editorial: How to treat a mean trick

"Kung Fool" was a Halloween costume that was supposed to be all in good fun but wasn't. The costume's mask was a grotesque caricature of an Asian face -- with slanted eyes (one of them blackened) and oversized buck teeth. It came with a kimono and a headband marked with a Chinese character for "Loser."

It didn't take martial-arts moves to kick the costume out of the marketplace. It just took a little outrage, organization and the Internet.

A petition was posted on the Web at, a Los Angeles-based site that bills itself as "a news and political portal dedicated to helping Asians kick ass." The site lived up to the description. In Sacramento, the Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy & Leadership was a prime mover in the campaign thanks to the list-serve it set up within the last couple of years to deliver a single e-mail to about 450 people.

Just eight days after the petition went online, there were more than 8,300 names on the list, and Kung Fool was down for the count. Costume-maker Disguise Inc., based in the San Diego area, apologized and asked stores to return the costumes.

It was an inspiring knockout, delivered by the power of voice at the speed of e-mail.

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