Tongue Tied

The student newspaper at the University of California-Berkeley, the Daily Californian, has apologized for having the audacity to publish an ad listing reasons why slave reparations might not be such a hot idea.

An apology from the paper's senior editorial board said the ad "allowed the Daily Cal to become an inadvertent vehicle for bigotry." In another apology, editor Daniel Hernandez insisted that institutional racism is not "running rampant" at the paper and that it does not make a habit of publishing ads with "incorrect or blatantly inflammatory content."

The apology came after a heated confrontation between the editors and students angered about the ad. At one point, police had to be called to the paper's offices to quell the disturbance. Following the incident, protestors removed all the remaining newspapers from racks on campus. 

In the offending ad, conservative columnist David Horowitz gives 10 reasons why reparations are harmful to blacks, and racist to boot. It said only a tiny minority of white Americans ever owned slaves and charged there's no single group clearly responsible for the crime of slavery. Click here to read it. 

Quote of the week: 

"We do not always agree with what our students say or do, and perhaps they could frame issues a bit more gingerly, but we do not — and legally cannot — attempt to limit their expression simply because someone might find the message distasteful or offensive." 

— Associate professor Robert D. Richards, co-director of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment, on whether the school should have reined in a feminist Sex Fair complete with orgasm bingo and anatomically correct gingerbread men at Pennsylvania State University. 

Scabs Have Feelings, Too 

In an addendum to its bias-free workplace rules, the Seattle Times has prohibited discrimination on the basis of "ideology related to unionism." The policy, dubbed the "anti-shunning policy" by employees, forbids shunning, unwelcome jokes, and any type of retaliation related to a recent strike at the paper, Seattle Weekly reported

Justice Has Nothing Better to Do? 

A group of faculty at the University of Illinois said it will begin discouraging athletes from attending the school unless university officials drop the school mascot, Chief Illiniwek. 

The faculty claims the character is racist and demeaning and an embarrassment to the school, The Associated Press reported. Its supporters maintain that the symbol honors the school's tradition and the state's native residents. 

Last week, the university turned down an offer from the Department of Justice's Community Relations Department to mediate the long-simmering dispute. 

Music for the Masses 

A California city's experiment with playing classical music in public places as a means of preventing loitering is being called a racist method of gentrification, the San Jose Mercury News reported

Vallejo, Calif., began piping Wagner and Vivaldi from a downtown bus stop known as a hangout for teenagers, most of them African-American. Police have said that reports of loitering have been cut in half since the experiment began.

But Van Jones, executive director of Bay Area PoliceWatch, said the experiment incorrectly assumes that young blacks don't appreciate classical music. "I think what we see the city falling into here are some stereotypical notions of who likes what in terms of music," Jones said.

Full Bloom in Florida

A school psychologist who, after a bout of depression, wore nail polish and his dead mother's scarves instead of neckties to work has complained because a district in Florida wants him to stop, the AP reported.

Jarrett Pence, a 20-year veteran of the profession, said he is on a crusade against discrimination in the workplace. He has filed a gender and disability discrimination complaint against the Punta Gorda, Fla., district.

"I'm gonna dress the way I want to," he said. "In the full bloom of spring."

Two years ago, Pence began taking Paxil for his social anxiety, and he says the drugs have allowed him to be freer with his dress and that if women can wear polish and scarves, he can too.

The school won't comment, calling it a personnel matter, but the employee handbook says teachers and others " should be aware they serve as models for students."

Are Leather Footballs Next?

A professor at Amherst College is circulating a petition asking university officials to stop printing diplomas on real sheepskin.

The philosophy professor, Alexander George, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that the school could set a good example "by not showing our disrespect for animals through the use of their skins as recording material." So far, about 14 professors and a number of students have signed on to the effort.

Can We Still Call Her Queen?

Britain's Broadcast Standards Commission has ruled that a comedian's reference to the Queen as a "bitch" was not over the line for broadcast television — because the remark was made by a black man, the London Times reported.

Comedian Richard Blackwood used the term on the show Have I Got News for You as part of a comment about how Her Majesty looks bored on the country's banknotes. 

The BSC said Blackwood was "using the term as it is used in rap music, to mean 'woman,' and not a term of abuse." Black leaders have, however, warned Blackwood to "mind your language." He has since apologized for the remark. 

A Bone to Pick 

An Australian woman who sued for discrimination and emotional distress after her local butcher sold her an obscenely shaped bone was awarded $4,500 in damages, the Sydney Morning Herald reported

Sarah Johnson said she felt discriminated against by the incident, in which an employee of Michael's Meats gave her the phallus-shaped bone. She also developed a severe anxiety reaction and was forced to quit her job in the same shopping center as the butcher and move to a new one 56 kilometers away. 

The federal magistrate ruled she had been the victim of unlawful sexual harassment because she is a lesbian. He also ordered the business to pay legal fees estimated at between $25,000 and $30,000.

From the Central Servers: 

Dimitrije K. writes: 

Your column, "Tongue Tied," is a grotesque caricature of what professional journalism is. 

It is disappointing to see conservative Christians blow so much hot air over issues like "political correctness" (whatever that overused buzzword is supposed to mean), and yet very little said in the mainstream media about real special interest groups. 

Right-wing blowhards like you guys have campaigned for your own special rights far more than atheists, homosexuals, women, and other frequent targets of real discrimination. You want your versions of history and biology forced down childrens' throats in public schools; you want the Ten Commandments hung in every courtroom in America; you want an end to the 'liberal' tint in the news media (Note to you guys: the rest of us don't know what you're talking about); you want a federal jihad on all things non-Christian. 

In short, conservative Christians are pining for special rights to compensate for their total inability to differentiate between the reality of an areligious (note the difference between areligious and atheist) government and the contrived fiction of their anachronistic system of morality. 

Consider hosting a column based on this phenomenon, and then I'll believe Fox News adheres to its slogan, "Fair and Balanced." 

P. Wilkinson writes: 

Today, 3-1-01, my 7th grade son's middle school had "career" day as part of "spirit week". My son decided to wear a sign that stated "will work for food". A school counselor told him the sign was inappropriate and was offensive to homeless people. 

James C says: 

I am dismayed, but not surprised, that a firefighter won the right to keep his beard. The requirement that firefighters be clean-shaven and not wear sideburns is a bona fide occupational requirement, since self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) masks don't seal tightly around beards. 

Tracy B. says: 

Let's have our own go at Nouveau Semantics, shall we? 

Prof Stephen Steinberg of Queens College wants things called different names so the problems can more easily be addressed. I couldn't agree more. Let's start with the term "Political Correctness." 

A more accurate term would be "asymmetrical tolerance." It is not "PC", it is "AT" — asymmetrical tolerance — we are seeing. 

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