Thursday, November 21, 2013

Native American Code Talker Ceremony Marred by Closed Captioning Error

Native American Code Talkers from 33 different American Indian tribes were honored yesterday and awarded Congressional Gold Medals for their service during World War I and World War II. Almost all of these code-talkers are currently deceased, but represented by family members and tribal leaders. Eight members of the Meskwaki tribe in Tama County, IA, were among those honored. Those present at the awards ceremony included House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Tom Cole, (R-OK), Ron Kind (D-WI), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV); as well as 96-year-old code talker, Edmond Harjo.

But the ceremony was marred by a closed caption screen reading out to the entire audience. The closed captioning screen displayed the word "Alcoholic" during the medal presentation when listing out the tribal names.

It was a big enough problem that Speaker Boehner apologized afterwards through his press spokesman, Michael Steel:
Closed captioning services for all major congressional events are provided by a private company that has no affiliation with the House or Senate. Unfortunately, the individual transcribing today’s event apparently mis-heard the word “Choctaw.” The transcription company was given a list of the tribes before the ceremony, so this should not have happened, and we will make a full inquiry... Obviously, the Speaker deeply regrets this offensive error by the transcribing service.
Because "Choctaw" sounds remarkably like "Alcoholic"...

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