Tongue Tied

A group of feminists is trying to turn Valentine's Day into a day of resistance to men's deplorable treatment of women, writes Christina Hoff Sommmers in USA Today.

Eve Ensler, author of the play The Vagina Monologues, and such luminaries as Oprah Winfrey, Brooke Shields, Winona Ryder and Calista Flockhart — along with some 20,000 other women — gathered at Madison Square Garden in New York to mark the event. It was the event's fourth year.

V-Day, as it will now be called, will be celebrated in 50 cities and on 300 colleges worldwide. Activities will include speeches against rape and battery, "empowerment" workshops and dramatic readings from Ensler's play. 

Its planners say they will continue celebrating V-Day until the violence stops. When all women live in safety, then it will be known as Victory Over Violence Day, they say. 

Meanwhile, in Rwanda ... 

The president of Senegal incensed the audience of a recent U.N. conference on racism and injustice by suggesting that racism against Africans in places like Europe is "marginal" compared to the terror Africans are inflicting on each other, reports London's Guardian newspaper. 

Abdoulaye Wade, a liberal lawyer whose election last year brought an end to four decades of socialist rule in the West African republic, said lack of democracy was a far bigger problem than discrimination against Africans on foreign continents. He also described campaigns to demand compensation for slavery and colonialism as "childish." 

Delegates to the meeting, a preliminary one for a larger gathering in South Africa planned for this fall, are calling the slave trade and colonialism crimes against humanity (and demanding restitution) and portraying the wealth gap between the west and the world's poorest nations as economic racism. 

Annals of Understatement 

A Massachusetts town that fined a local veteran $200 for allowing someone to smoke in the local VFW bar is dropping the charges in exchange for Richard Russo's promise to drop his countersuit. 

The city of Marblehead fined Russo, a non-smoker and president of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars, after health inspectors caught a woman smoking in the bar in July in violation of a city ordinance. Russo was headed for a criminal trial for refusing to pay the fine when the settlement was announced last week. 

The lawyer for the post, James Walsh, said Russo had at least one advantage over the city in the debate: "There is an enormous PR issue when a town is trying to take rights away from individuals who fought to protect our rights and freedom," he said. 

You Didn't Know You Were Racist? 

Stonehill College in Massachusetts will be paying out $150,000 to settle a discrimination case involving what experts describe as "the face of racism as we move into the 21st century." 

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ruled last week that Stonehill professor Soo Tang Tan was a victim of "aversive discrimination" because he was paid less than his Caucasian colleagues at the Roman Catholic college. 

The Boston Herald reports that this cutting- edge field holds that employers can be guilty of racism without knowingly being racist. A chief exponent of the theory says aversive racism occurs among people who don't necessarily harbor "dislike or hostility" toward members of minority groups but nevertheless "avoid interracial interaction wherever possible." 

Maryland's a Long Way From Indiana 

A member of Maryland's Commission on Indian Affairs wants every school sports team in the state that uses an Indian-themed nickname to change their name, reports the Baltimore Sun

Richard Regan calls the nicknames "vestiges of bigotry, hate and racism." They are "a slap in the face to the most under-represented group in this state and in this country," he says. "You don't see teams called the Gaithersburg Latinos or the Rockville Irishmen." 

About 30 schools around the state use sports team nicknames, logos or mascots with American Indian themes, Regan said. 

A.K.A. Indoctrination 

More than 50 employees of the cashier's and controller's offices at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, will be taking sensitivity training soon because one of their own was insensitive, reports the Salt Lake Tribune

When the school's Gay Pride Alliance set up a display in the student center during a Gay and Lesbian Film Festival last week, one of the cashiers asked janitors to put a divider between herself and the table so she would not have to stare at it all day. Members of the Alliance complained to the administration, and the edict was the result. 

Squabbling Over the Word Squaw 

Lawmakers in South Dakota last week became the latest lawmakers to plunge into the debate over use of the word "squaw" in geographic names by introducing a bill that would change the name of creeks, lakes and ridges in 17 counties there. 

In Idaho last week, a state-appointed Indian Affairs Council unanimously voted to press the legislature to take the word out of nearly 100 place names there. If successful, the initiative means Idaho would join Montana, Maine, Oklahoma, Minnesota and British Columbia in wiping "squaws" off their maps. 

In some Indian languages, the word "squaw" is believed to translate literally as a coarse term for female genitalia rhyming with the word "blunt." 

Dancing Girls Have Maoris Up in Arms 

Britain's Independent Television Commission last week banned an ad for Reef, an alcoholic drink made by Bass, which featured women doing an imitation of the Maori dance, the haka. The commission, reported London's Daily Telegraph, said the ad was insulting, racist and "crossed the boundary between poor taste and serious offense." 

A traditional war dance, the Ka Mate haka is performed by Maori men to prepare them psychologically for battle. Soccer players and the Spice Girls have also been chastised for performing the ritual. A Maori leader complained that people were hijacking his culture. 

The Bible: Sacred or Profane? 

A Florida Wiccan wants the Bible banned from the Ocala local library because it is filled with what he calls graphic descriptions of rape, murder, incest, cannibalism and sodomy. Charles Schrader, a retired Marine, points to various excerpts from the Old and New Testaments that describe a father impregnating his daughters, a man eating his son, virgin sacrifices and torture. 

Schrader says he is being a little facetious in light of the recent debate there over a children's sex education book, It's Perfectly Normal, that some in town have described as pornographic, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. 

"I do not have any illusions that they're going to remove this," he said. "And personally, as a civil libertarian and a staunch defender of freedom of religion, I don't really want them to." 

He is hoping to convince the county commissioners, who control the library system, that they have no business regulating the content of library books and to point out the hypocrisy of taking excerpts from a book out of context to conclude the entire book is obscene. 

Sanity Prevails in Iowa 

The University of Iowa marching band can again celebrate Hawkeye basketball victories by singing the polka song "In Heaven There is No Beer," reports the Associated Press. 

The band members had stopped singing the song's lyrics this semester because a parent complained about the words: "In heaven, there is no beer. That's why we drink it here. And when we're gone from here, all our friends will be drinkin' all the beer." 

Athletic director Bob Bowlsby called it "a real stretch" to link the song to binge drinking. 

From the Central Servers: 

Bryan L. in Des Moines writes: 

As a white male of European ancestry, I am now being unfairly stigmatized for the accident of my birth. I believe that in order for me and all other white males to maintain our self-esteem, we must also have our own PC description. I offer the following as one suggestion: "Ancestrally challenged, melanin-impaired, gender-deficient human being." 

Chris W. corrects us: 

You are mistaken about the Stars and Bars name that you give the Confederate battle flag. 

The Stars and Bars name is accurately given to the first national flag of the Confederate States of America. It is much like the Betsy Ross flag: it just has 3 bars rather than stripes. 

The Confederate battle flag is sometimes called the Southern Cross, but never the Stars and Bars. 

Erik N. says: 

Funny, Harry Potter is written by a woman [who] used to be on welfare. Just goes to show, the French may have good food but little taste. 

Laurence H., along with about 50 others, informs Justin S.: 

Respect is not something you deserve simply because you jump up and down demanding it. Respect is something you earn. Don't expect anyone to show you any respect unless you've accomplished something to merit it. Get out there and work for it like the rest of us have. 

Dan C. in North Carolina offers: 

Without having to change the figure of the gingerbread man or the anatomy for that matter we can just tell people it's a "gingerbread lesbian in loose clothing" or "the gingerbread female cross-dresser" or "the gingerbread transsexual, transvestite, transmutant." And when will they start making ethnically correct gingerbread men and women as well as physically challenged gingerbread men and women... 

Charles G., reminds us: 

In the February 2 "Tongue Tied," Rob M. stated in regard to the phrase "separation of church and state" — "Only in the last 40 years ... has this idiot phrase come into vogue." 

In response I would like to quote President Thomas Jefferson: "The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between Church and State." He wrote this on January 1, 1802, in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Conn. 

Rob F. writes: 

In spite of the ongoing debate between the "Nature vs. Nurture" camps regarding the origins of homosexuality, for J.M.P. to compare the "divisiveness, rudeness and just plain wrong" behavior he's had to deal with as a gay man with the injustice that black people have been subjected to seems to be the ultimate stretch in search of political correctness. At least that's the opinion of this straight white man, who has been sneeringly referred to as a "breeder" by gays. So much for tolerance! 

Boy G. in Michigan says: 

I am personally offended by Greg T. of N.C.'s suggestion to use the term "squelch" to describe fire department personnel. "Squelch" is a very aggressive term that implies oppression and subjugation. May I suggest a less confrontational new PC name: "female, male, or transgendered persons who negotiate flaming environments." 

Jimmy B. corrects us on the word "offensensitivity:" 

Actually I believe the word was coined by Berke Breathed in his strip Bloom County

Dale M. in Oklahoma allows: 

If any athletic group anywhere wants to call themselves "The Middle-Aged Bald White Guys," I would be honored and delighted that my segment of the general population is finally getting the recognition it deserves. 

A very special tip of the beanie this week to Von Glitschka of Espy Graphics in Salem, Ore., for the new P.C. Patrol art