Tongue Tied

A U.K. art historian says snowmen are sexist, out of date and should make way for snowwomen, according to London's Daily Telegraph.

University of Birmingham professor Tricia Cusack called snowmen "rotund relics of Bacchanalia" that reinforce traditional gender stereotypes by reflecting men in prominent, public roles and women in private, domestic situations. 

"I don't want to ban snowmen or anything," she said. "Let's just be a bit more imaginative — why not have a snowwoman?" Cusack spent five years studying snowmen and published her findings in the journal New Formations

Offensive Computer Equipment 

A PC Patroller who wishes to remain anonymous alerts us to the fact that Fannie Mae has issued new guidelines for computer terminology in its Enterprise Service Organization. 

Previously, the terms "master" and "slave" were used to describe the relationship between things like servers or operating systems and applications or disk drives. An employee said some might find the term offensive, according to an internal memo, so all technical staff will "immediately begin using the terms 'primary' and 'secondary' in lieu of 'slave' and 'master.'" So sayeth the company's Diversity Advisory Council, anyway. 

Nativity Sets for the Sapphic Set 

The Times of London reports that a survey of shop windows in that city finds manufacturers of nativity scenes going the extra mile these days to be politically correct. 

Gone are Joseph and dark-skinned kings from some nativity sets, while in others Joseph appears as a rose-complexioned female. The latter are apparently intended to appeal to single parents or those with "Sapphic (read: lesbian) inclinations." 

Buyers are also offered the option of choosing the skin tone of the three wise men, traditionally identified as kings from Arabia, Persia and India. Some sets on sale showed all three as pale-skinned. 

Sopranos Not Welcome in New Jersey 

Officials in Essex County, N.J., say they will not allow producers of the hit HBO series The Sopranos to film on county-owned property, partly because they don't like the show's portrayal of Italian-Americans. Essex County executive James W. Treffinger tells the Associated Press: "I have no intention of granting a permit for our taxpayer-owned facilities for a profit-making enterprise which depicts an ethnic group in stereotypical fashion." 

Floats related to the show were also banned from this year's Columbus Day parade in New York City, and a local university refused permission for the show to film on campus when a professor who was scheduled to lecture about negative Italian-American images protested. 

Washington Company Gags on Xmas Neckties 

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights laments that public transport provider C-TRAN forbids drivers in Vancouver, Wash., from wearing hats, vests or neckties that depict religious themes. The local newspaper, The Columbian, says the policy has been in effect for years and that it makes exceptions only for things like Santa Claus hats the week before Christmas. 

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said the group called transit officials in several other Washington cities, and "none of them has such an absurd rule, and indeed they offered that they have 'no problem' with any employee who wears a hat, vest or tie that depicts a religious theme." 

Religion-Free, Maybe? 

A principal in Cobb County, Ga., who asked teachers to avoid the word "Christmas" in the coming days in order to be sensitive to a diverse student body has been overruled by her superintendent. 

In a Nov. 30 memo, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Linda Clark of Durham Middle School wrote that "as the holiday season begins, a student has reminded me that it is important that our lessons, discussions and decorations remain religious free." 

A school system attorney reviewed the relevant case law, however, and discovered nothing that prevents people from using the word "Christmas" in school. 


Mail From the Central Servers 

A PC Patroller who wishes to remain anonymous writes: 

As a federal employee for 24 years I thought I'd seen it all, but arriving in San Juan, PR on an overseas contract with the FAA showed I was wrong. The plastic strip-holders used by air traffic controllers contain a strip of paper with flight info on them. When action is required, an assistant will offset the strip in the strip bay, calling attention to it by its angle in the bay. 

For years and years we said we were "cocking" the strip, like cocking a gun, to highlight it. Now we are not allowed to say "cock the strip" because it was found to be offensive to some employees. The acceptable terms are "angulate, canter, offset, or highlight." 

Frank S. insists: 

I would certainly hope that someone would complain when a public park claims "Christian values." That phrase has no place in the public domain, ever. I can't imagine the uproar if a public organization touted "Hindu values." Just the phrase itself is offensive to non-Christians. It sounds like they think they are somehow better people. 

Linda S. in San Diego laments: 

As a volunteer at the local elementary school, I am part of a team providing bi-monthly art history lessons. Recently the lesson dealt with cave paintings made around 30,000 BC. We were admonished against using BC or AD as they are Christian terms. 

Tom O. writes: 

Regarding the Fresno school that wanted to ban Jingle Bells for its religious overtones: Nowhere in the first two verses of Jingle Bells (and I doubt that anyone remembers beyond the first verse, anyway) is there a reference to Christmas or to any other holiday. This song should be a PCer's dream — a generic "winter" song. Before they take any more of our culture away, I would like to suggest to these whiny little PC snots that they at least get their story straight. 

John H. recalls: 

Christopher B. is dead on. 

I am an atheist, and for 48 years Christians have considered me fair game for every sort of verbal assault, libel, name-calling, ostracism and at times actual violence. As a child in school, the choice was take part in these idiotic Christmas rituals or face a beating. (In those days, arbitrary and summary corporal punishment was an accepted norm in schools, particularly in Mississippi.) Many's the time I simply moved my lips so I would appear to be screeching Christmas carols along with the rest of the brainwashed lambs, but retaining my integrity by remaining silent throughout the ordeal. 

Tom K. jokes (we hope): 

Ban the Christmas trees? Why not finish the job? 

No green and red M&M's in government buildings. Poinsettias? Kill 'em. Ties w/candy cane prints? Ban them, too. Is the Postal Service promoting religion by delivering Christmas cards? By issuing Christmas stamps? By not delivering on Christmas Day? 

Valentine's Day? Named after a Saint! No heart-shaped candy in the schools. How did that sneak through? 

Rename the Easter Bunny to the Spring Bunny.