Tongue Tied

A cartoonist for the University of Minnesota newspaper, The Minnesota Daily, is under fire for a cartoon depicting the school’s president in black face.

Cartoonist Pete Wagner says he was making fun of another college’s decision to cut and paste pictures of black students into publicity shots so the school would look more diverse. 

But staff members at the University of Minnesota said the cartoon was "disrespectful of all African-Americans on this campus, and frankly of people of all races and ethnicities who reject derogatory images of African-Americans." As a result of the complaints, the paper said it would no longer publish "cartoons like this one." 

Wagner, in an open letter to the paper, lamented the "bully tactics" by "academic Stalinists." He said he is "embarrassed to be a graduate student at a university where this stale 1980s-style of political correctness is routinely yanked out of moth balls to attack anyone who might dissent from the letter writers' shoddy anti-art mentality." 

More Mischief From Academia 

Frederick Zackel, a professor of English at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, attacks the new movie The Legend of Bagger Vance as the latest in a long line of "racist and dehumanizing" portrayals of ethnic sidekicks to white men. Writing in the Bright Lights Film Journal, Zackel insists there is a "secret agenda" dating back to Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe to portray these sidekicks in purely subservient roles and perpetuate their inferiority. Zackel cites similar movies of the same ilk — Men in Black, Independence Day, 48 Hours and Pulp Fiction

No Comment Here 

Villagers in Seneca Falls, N.Y., are hopping mad over a ban on public comment at village board meetings. Trustee Charles Barbay III said the ban, enacted in the face of constant complaints about the firing of a local official, is meant to restore "rules of courtesy, decorum, dignity and good taste" to the meetings. Protesters called the rule an affront. 

"There's been people died in wars for this right," one of the protesters, Phil Pontius, said. Seneca Falls is the village where suffragists staged America's first women's rights convention in 1848. 

Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls 

Some members of the Chicago City Council last week resisted efforts to have the panel recite the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings there. 

Several black aldermen said the phrase "liberty and justice for all" doesn’t ring true because of the country’s history of discrimination. They called for a full City Council hearing on the issue before going forward. 

The following day, the council members retreated and voted "yea" on a measure requiring them to start all meetings with the pledge. 

So Now We're Reduced to Pre-Dawn Raids? 

In a stealth operation intended to foil the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, an Indiana state representative and about 50 cheering supporters placed a monument of the Ten Commandments outside the Lawrence County Courthouse early one morning last week. 

The monument was supposed to go on the Statehouse lawn, but the ICLU sued to block its placement and Lawrence County offered to keep it until the lawsuit is resolved. The county set it in place before the ICLU could get an emergency restraining order to block its display there as well. 

Recant, or Else 

The police chief of Portland, Ore., a born-again Christian, is under fire for remarks he made more than a decade ago blaming AIDS on society’s relaxed moral standards and referring to alternative lifestyles as a form of perversion. 

Some gay activists in town want Chief Mark Kroeker fired, and at least one city commissioner has asked the chief to recant his statements or face the consequences. Kroeker said the statements were a private matter and said he will not discuss his personal religious beliefs. 

At least one Oregonian, Chuck Conniry, came to the chief’s defense. "We are a pluralistic society and should not be censoring someone for certain beliefs they hold," Conniry told the Associated Press. 

From the Central Servers 

Howard S. writes: "If you haven't already, read Balint Vazsonyi's America's Thirty Years War: Who Is Winning? He makes the point that the term "politically correct" is Marxist in origin and that Hitler modified it to "socially correct," but with the same meaning. How incredibly effective the socialist/communist utopian pursuit has been in ruining incalculable amounts of property and, most importantly, murdering millions of human beings. I wonder how many uninformed PC'ers would be shocked to truly understand the socialist origin of this new American campaign. There is nothing new under the sun." 

Bob S writes: "In my opinion, the most important yet totally overlooked instance of PC and complete breach of freedom of speech is the muzzling of religious institutions. If a church or other religious institution takes any position on a political issue, it loses its tax exempt status. This is prior restraint of free speech. It is incredible to me that this is constitutional both from the perspective of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We decry the decline of morality in our society, yet muzzle the institution most able to provide leadership in this area." 

Roland G writes: "The 'campaign' against Maurice (Bessinger) is not about stifling his free speech rights. It is about businesses that are exercising their freedom of association rights. Maurice says some pretty repugnant things, which he has every right to do. However, those who disagree with him have every right to do so. It is important to note that there is no government action against Maurice. The 'campaign' is being taken (on) by private people, organizations and businesses that disagree with him. Therefore nobody is infringing upon Bessinger's free speech rights."