Tongue Tied

The Easter sunrise services are OK. The 190-foot carvings of Confederate generals are OK. But when the managers of Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Ga., mention their Christian values and ethics on their Web site, the American Civil Liberties Union comes calling.

Officials with Silver Dollar City Inc., which manages the park under a 30-year lease from the state, tell the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they never intended to use park attractions as a platform to preach. All they wanted to do is communicate their commitment to operate the park "all in a manner consistent with Christian values and ethics." 

But Robert Tsai, a Georgia ACLU lawyer, said advertising the fact that a public park is being run in a Christ-like manner crosses the line. The offending statements were removed from the Stone Mountain Web site. 

'Jingle Bells' Sparks Debate 

The Fresno Bee reports that at an elementary school in the California city, the principal asked his choir director not to sing the carol "Jingle Bells" during "winter" (the religiously neutral title that most schools now use) recitals for fear of offending non-Christians at the school. Only after a raucous debate and at the last minute did he change his mind and allow the secular song back into the program. 

Some parents said schools that shun religious song and symbols are protecting basic American rights, but Fresno Mayor-elect Alan Autry disagreed. "De-celebrating" one religion does not mean respect for another, he told the paper. 

"Let's celebrate all faiths," he said. "But let's not take away a celebration of Christmas because we haven't figured out how to celebrate the others." 

The Signs, They Are a Changin' 

American Sign Language is going PC, exchanging age-old signs that some deem offensive with more "culturally appropriate" ones, reports 

The old sign for Africa, for example, was conveyed by signing the letter "A," circling your face and then pointing to your nose — a reference to the relatively broad noses of some black Africans. Asians and Asian countries were represented by signs that involved slanted eyes; Greece and Greeks were symbolized by large noses; and Hispanics and Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain, were all lumped together with a movement that represented someone putting on a Mexican sombrero. 

Now, the sign for China is a quick sketch of the Chinese military uniform, the sign for Japan mimics the shape of that country's main island and Africa can be signed with a hand in the shape of the continent. 

Votz De Problem? 

An English brewery was asked to remove advertising posters for its Spitfire brand beer from the London Underground rail system because they are offensive to Germans, reports the Daily Telegraph. The Shepherd Neame brewery, which caused a stir last year with ads claiming its ale was "downed all over Kent, just like the Luftwaffe," is now in trouble for one that makes fun of German accents ("Votz Zo Funny About Zeez Posters?") and another that mimics a secret code ("The goat and the marmoset play all night by the river in the spring and later summer," with several of the letters ringed to read "German beer is pants"). 

Conservatives Can be Called Nazis, But ... 

When a professor at the University of Toronto sent out a mass e-mail in which he compared the tactics of local feminists with those of the Ku Klux Klan, University officials called the idea "repugnant" and began a review of policies on campus e-mail, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education

In a mass e-mail, computer science professor Charles W. Rackoff criticized a memorial for female students murdered in 1989. "It is obvious that the point of this [memorial] is not to remember anyone," he wrote. "The point is to use the deaths of these people as an excuse to promote the Feminist/Extreme-left-wing agenda. It is no different, and no more justifiable than when organizations such as the Klu-Klux-Klan [sic] use the murder of a white person by a black person as an excuse to promote their agenda." 


Eugene, Ore., City Manager Jim Johnson last week agreed to allow firefighters to put Christmas trees in their fire stations for two days — Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, reports the Associated Press. Johnson previously banned all Christmas trees and other "religious-themed" holiday displays from almost all city-owned property, including fire stations. Firefighters said they'll take Johnson up on his offer, but will continue to try to overturn the ban. 

A Mississippi commission last week recommended that the state hold an election next year and vote to get rid of the Confederate symbol in the state's flag, reports the AP. The commission, appointed by Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, said the state could heal old wounds by eliminating an emblem many blacks feel is synonymous with segregation. The recommendation will be forwarded to the Legislature. 

The Hiawatha School District in Kansas will this spring abandon its Redskins, Warriors and Braves in favor of non-ethnic symbols, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. "The students on the committee felt that they would like to have a mascot that everybody could rally around," said School superintendent John Severin. "They have had to be so guarded with an ethnic mascot, it takes the fun out of that." No word on what the new mascots would be. 

Mail From the Central Servers 

Steve from Plano writes: 

Do people really not understand what separation of church and state means? Recognition and even practice of a religion does not violate the separation of church and state clause of the U.S. Constitution. Our founding fathers came from lands where religion was a requirement. Example: You must be Lutheran to vote, or you must be baptized in order to hold public office, or you must be Methodist to own land. This and only this is what separation of church and state was meant to protect. Our founding fathers were deeply religious people. They never intended to remove religion from society. The recognition of religion is NOT the same as the requirement to practice. 

Kevin T. complains: 

I am angry beyond belief ... Our office in good old Midwestern Indiana is being taken over by the evil Grinch. We are not allowed to have a Christmas Party, we cannot have signs that say "Merry Christmas," of course any Nativity scenes or Angels are strictly taboo. We cannot have Christmas Music on our music on hold because we do not want to offend anyone. It was even Instrumental Jazz for crying out loud ... 


Sarah W. writes: 

Rush is great. If the NOW ladies don't like his views, they are certainly not obligated to listen to his show. When it comes on, go to a different radio station! 

Hill D. argues: 

Political correctness, at its most basic level, is nothing more than the blanket insistence that if you do not agree with the current sophistry, you should be silent and let those who know better than you guide your thinking. Spare me the rhetoric — I was born at night, but it wasn't last night. 

Christopher B. chides: 

Your reliance on meaningless news-bites and flippant disregard of the facts behind the issues you briefly mention in your column would be laughable if they weren't so mind-numbingly tragic. It is largely thanks to lowest-common-denominator journalism like yours that the dumbing-down of our society has progressed to the extent that we have witnessed in recent years. 

As an example of your biased lack of background: Religious groups have been prohibited in many instances from erecting Nativity scenes and the like NOT because there is some evil government conspiracy to thwart their religious freedom but rather because those groups have endeavored to use PUBLICLY-held lands and buildings to do so. There would be no story at all if those groups would just keep their displays on the grounds of their churches and residences, but they cross the line when they expect local governments to aid in the promotion of their beliefs. The alternative would be allowing ANY and ALL groups equal access, and I sincerely doubt that all the good Christian folk who so adamantly demand that they be allowed to abuse public property in the manner which they intend would be as tolerant of other religions and belief systems (read: atheism, agnosticism, paganism, etc.) as they expect other people to be of theirs. 

"Fair and Balanced?" I don't think so. Shame on you. 

Roland F. says 

While the desecration of the U.S. Flag is deplorable, it is currently a permissible act under the First Amendment. The First Amendment was designed to protect political speech or actions. What is [a] greater act of political protest than burning or desecrating the flag? As a retired Naval Officer I hate the idea of somebody desecrating the flag. However, I have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, including the Amendments. 

And Kevin M., along with many others, points out: 

Otto W. wrote: "I wish writers would at least attempt to correctly use the English language." Apparently Otto's definition of how "to correctly use" the English language does not extend to the rule against split infinitives.