Tongue Tied

A long-awaited Marxist structuralist analysis of the Harry Potter books published by France's Liberation newspaper concludes that the young sorcerer is a sexist neo-conservative meritocrat who perpetuates a "degrading image of women."

Far from being merely an unruly intellectual with his glasses and tousled hair, young Harry is quite clearly after being deconstructed, of course a "political allegory" of the triumph of the socially ascendant petit bourgeoisie. Writer Pierre Bruno insists that the series is not about the struggle between Good and Evil, but about the "conflict between established and rising classes."

Progressive, non-sexist and non-elitist children are strongly urged to avoid the books. 

Gingerbread Man Meets His Mate 

Reuters reported that the English grocery chain Safeway will begin producing gingerbread women to accompany its traditional and presumably patriarchal gingerbread men. The chain says it is in response to customer demand, and that the gingerbread women will merely have longer hair and wear a skirt. 

But in the town of Grantham, where the gingerbread man originated in 1740, the move was met with ridicule. "It's political correctness gone way beyond the pale," said Mayor Mike Williams. "The gingerbread man has always been an innocuous little fellow. It's not as if he has all his naughty bits showing." 

That Line Keeps Moving 

The image of a historical landmark, a local Baptist Church, will be removed from the Chester Township, Ohio, Police Department's new emblem after complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union that it may cross the line separating church and state. 

Township officials told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the 131-year-old church near the center of town was chosen since it is regarded as a recognizable local landmark. Its presence on police department patches, alongside the town's gazebo and an old school, was not meant to offend anyone, they said. 

But the ACLU said the design may be interpreted as a "favorable nod" to the Baptist church, and is in violation of the Constitution. 

Courting the Non-Sexist Vote 

Calling the tradition "sexist," a female student at Northern Kentucky University campaigned to become the school's first Homecoming King. Theresa Geisen didn't get enough votes to win, The Associated Press reported, but she still feels as though she won a victory. 

"I'm happy I made some people think about gender roles and expectations," said the senior history and criminal justice major, founder of the group Feminists at Northern. 

Geisen said she decided to run for Homecoming King when she spotted an application which required a person to list their age and sex. "Why should a person's age and sex matter? The problem was sexism it was their choice of words," she said. 

Stars and Bars Survive for Once 

A federal judge in Baltimore has ordered that the Confederate battle flag be allowed to fly at a cemetery in Maryland over the objections of the Justice Department, which said that flying the flag at the Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery could be viewed as an endorsement of racial intolerance by the U.S. government. 

U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson ruled that the government had violated free-speech rights when it barred the flag from daily display at the Civil War graveyard, where more than 3,000 Southern prisoners are buried, the Washington Post reported. "Such censorship on the part [of] the government is impermissible under the First Amendment," Nickerson wrote in his ruling. 

PC Foe Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is 

The University of North Dakota is in a quandary. Administrators and some students want to change the school's Indian head logo, but a wealthy benefactor who promised $100 million to the school for a hockey arena and other projects said he will walk away from that pledge if the school abandons its 70-year-old nickname, the "Fighting Sioux." 

The majority of the school's students and alumni want to keep the logo and nickname, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported, but some 350 Native American students and their supporters want them banished because they say they symbolize the degradation of a people and culture. When alumnus and benefactor Ralph Engelstad heard that the president had convened a panel to examine the issue, he said he would walk away from his earlier pledge and take a $35 million loss the amount of the pledge spent so far on the project if the nickname were changed. 

Beer Song Falls Flat 

Bowing to pressure from a parent who said it promotes irresponsible drinking, the University of Iowa marching band will no longer sing the lyrics to the polka tune "In Heaven There Is No Beer." 

Parent Tom Aunan complained that the lyrics ("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.") send the wrong message to fans, especially young ones. 

The band will still play the tune, but will not sing the words. The song has been played for about 20 years after victories by the Hawkeye football and basketball teams. 

Eminem on the Outs in the U.K. 

On the eve of his first tour of Britain, bad-boy rapper Eminem has been banned from Sheffield University, London's Daily Telegraph reported. The university radio station has been forbidden to play his songs, T-shirts bearing his name will not be allowed into the disco and the student paper will not be allowed to publish reviews of his albums or concerts. 

A complaint from a female student about his lyrics led to the ban, which was imposed by the students' own union. They were upset by his inclusion of words such as "fags" and said they contravene its "gay-friendly" policy. 

Wiping the Slates Clean in Austin 

A bill introduced in the Texas State House of Representatives will require the University of Texas at Austin to remove all images of Confederate dignitaries from public view on campus. 

As introduced by Rep. Lon Burnam, the measure specifically calls for the removal of statues of Jefferson Davis, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate Postmaster John H. Reagan and Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston. The bill states that the statues may be placed away from public view or "disposed of in any other way considered appropriate by the board of regents." 

From the Central Servers: 

Jeff R. writes: 

After chuckling I felt kind of sorry for these people that can wake up one day, survey the infinite array of lethal, critical and chronic problems facing the world and decide they can best improve the quality of humankind's existence by dedicating their energies towards eradicating the phrase 'butt end.' 

Ryan K. in Colorado says: 

I am amazed at the argument that the Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery and racism. No one seems to bring up the fact that while slavery existed under the Confederate flag for just a few years, it in fact existed under the good ol' Stars and Striped for nearly ONE HUNDRED YEARS!! I don't hear any arguments for banning the display of the American Flag. Isn't that just a bit hypocritical? 

J.M.P. writes: 

I do realize that political correctness can sometimes go to far, but have you ever wondered who is bothered by it the most? It seems to me it's the straight, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant men. Step outside of this comfort zone sometime, and language can really create distance from a country you love. 

As a gay American, I continually find that anti-gay sentiments are as commonplace in today's society as "nigger" was in the 50's and 60's. That's not political incorrectness, that's divisiveness, rudeness and just plain wrong. 

As Americans, we have far more in common than we do differences. Why don't we focus on that? 

Adam P. in Arizona wonders: 

Could it be possible that in a world full of diversity and promise that in America we could be so stupid? When we cannot tolerate even the smallest forms of religion which our country has been based upon since it's inception we truly do not live up to our forefather's expectations. We label people and tell them what is right and wrong for the good of everyone else. Political Correctness; America's new form of discrimination. 

Dave D. tells us: 

I am an employee of the Department of Defense and have been associated with the military most of my adult life. I was stationed at the former Griffiss Air Force base in the early 1990s and there was a Vietnam era B-52 bomber on display at the main entrance to the base. This particular bomber had flown several successful missions and had nose art depicting these missions as well as a picture of a young woman in a nightgown perched upon a bomb with her arms outstretched in a yawn. The caption below the picture read "SAC Time" signifying the Strategic Air Command. 

A small number of female employees who obviously had to much time on their hands began to protest and complain until the base officials decided to paint over the nose art. 

I believe firmly in equality and sensitivity to other cultures and sexes, but history is history and should not be altered or apologized for. It would not be appropriate to paint such a picture on an aircraft today but in the times of the Vietnam war, it was acceptable, possibly offensive, but still acceptable. 

The crew who flew that plane 30 years ago and risked their lives for their country conceived "SAC Time" portrait and had it painted on their aircraft as a statement, an identifying mark. When a young G.I. was ordered to slap a coat of $2.00 a gallon green paint over it, he erased a historical piece of that time period. 

We can't keep apologizing for the past, we can only improve the future. 

Mark T. offers a new word: 

Offensensitivity: When you're so sensitive that you take offense at anything. 

Justin S. insists: 

There is no such thing as "Political Correctness." That is a term invented by white males to discredit people (other than white males) who demand respect. Stop being so chicken sh*t and insecure and give others the respect they demand. 

Emily C. says: 

Philip Bereano's comments asking the University of Washington to go beyond tolerance and acceptance to affirmation are quite ironic. What he really is saying is, "Because we are gay, we should be able to force you to say that you like our lifestyle." What is this, third grade? How ridiculous! I love how all of these groups that are "discriminated" against holler because the majority imposes their beliefs on them. Philip just proved quite the opposite, I believe. No, gays and lesbians should not be discriminated against. And NOOOO, society should not have their lifestyles shoved down our throats while we are asked to swallow and enjoy. 

Rob M. says of "separation of church and state": 

If I hear one more reference to this inane term I will scream! It is nowhere in the Constitution. The Constitution says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof." 

Only in the last 40 years, or in other words, "The era of Me-Centered Liberalism" has this idiot phrase come into vogue. 

Greg T. in North Carolina offers: 

The article on the Scottish Executive's consideration of the appropriate term for firefighters (deemed "too aggressive") did not include any suggested PC-acceptable alternatives. May I suggest the new PC name: "female, male, or transgendered persons who squelch burning objects".