Tongue Tied

Civilian workers at an Air Force base in Mississippi have been told the rebel flag stickers on their cars' bumpers are unwelcome.

Lt. Col. Al Trivette gave employees at Keesler Air Force base near Biloxi the choice of removing the flags or moving the cars. Public affairs director Belinda Bazinet told the Associated Press that the base's equal opportunity office did a climate assessment and found that the display of the Confederate battle flag was disrupting order and discipline in the squadron, so the base commander had the right to do what he did. 

"Of course, there is the First Amendment, but (the commander) does have the authority to go beyond that," Bazinet said. 

Fretting Over Indian Heads 

Officials in Nashua, N.H., a city named after an Indian tribe, are grappling with the appropriateness of naming a rest area in town the Indian Head Rest Area, the Associated Press reported. 

The name has a long history in the area — the Indian Head Millworks and Indian Head Bank were founded by a prominent local family — but one state lawmaker, Rep. Elizabeth Shultis, D-Portsmouth, wondered whether Native Americans would resent any Indian reference. "I'd feel a lot better if I knew Native Americans were in support of this," she said. 

Rep. Larry Guay, R-Gorham, suggested a compromise: "Why not call it the Native American Rest Area?" he said. 

Offensive Seminars in the Sunshine State 

A Christian group whose ads for a seminar about "addressing, understanding and preventing homosexuality in youth" were removed from bus shelters in Pinellas County, Fla., filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging that their free speech was violated. 

Colorado-based Focus on the Family paid $4,959 for the ads only to have them removed shortly thereafter by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, reported the St. Petersburg Times. Focus on the Family is not seeking any money, only the right to place similar ads for a seminar planned for the summer. 

The lawyer representing the group, Mathew Staver, said private companies can pick and choose their ads and governments can ban ones that are obscene or advocate violence, but ads in government space cannot be banned just because they might offend certain residents. 

Opinions Under Fire 

Statements about homosexuality attributed to a Michigan police officer by a newspaper are under investigation as a possible violation of city police policy or code of conduct, reports the Traverse City Record-Eagle. In an article in the Detroit Free Press, officer Dave Leach was paraphrased as saying that homosexuality is a perversion and a sin. 

Now, Traverse City's Human Right Commission is asking the chief of police to investigate whether Leach made the comments and what should be done about it. Leach made the comments during the debate over the rainbow diversity stickers placed on city vehicles there. 

Electing Not to Teach 

An elective history course on the Bible being offered by an Illinois high school has drawn the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union, which contends that such an offering would illegally inject faith into the classroom. 

Massac County High School in Metropolis, Ill., wants to offer the course in the 2001-2002 school year. Principal Danny Stevens said instruction will not resemble a "Sunday school class" and insisted students will be taught from the perspective of history, focusing on how that history has influenced decision-making in modern society. 

The ACLU demurred, though. "This is faith, not academics, and the appropriate place to study religion is in a church or synagogue," spokesman Ed Yohnka told the Associated Press. 

No Flag-Waving in Woodbridge 

A former Columbia University professor is calling "offensive" a New Jersey mayor's effort to require new shopping centers, office parks or factories in town to fly the American flag on its property. 

Former professor Alan Westin told The New York Times that James McGreevey's proposed ordinance in Woodbridge, N.J., is offensive "because it puts a duty of patriotism on a private facility." 

When questions about the constitutionality of such a law from the ACLU and others got back to McGreevey, he suggested amending the ordinance to require only a flagpole — hoping that people will fly Old Glory. 

Unconstitutional Constitution 

A Rhode Island state senator has drawn the ire of the ACLU for suggesting that school kids in that state recite the preamble to the state's constitution, reports the Providence Journal-Bulletin

Democrat Daniel J. Issa wants students to begin the day by saying: "We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution of government." 

Too religious, and therefore unconstitutional, says the ACLU. 

But Issa wonders: "How could it be unconstitutional to recite part of the Constitution?" 

Dueling Posters in New Hampshire 

A school board in Dover, N.H., will allow a gay outreach group to put up advertisements at the local high school, but not a Christian organization that seeks to help gays change their sexual orientation, the Associated Press reported. 

When they saw ads for Seacoast Outreach, a gay support group, some parents wanted posters for Exodus International, a religious group trying to get gays to switch teams, to be put up adjacent to them. 

The board rejected the request though, saying the posters would have promoted religion in a public school. The Seacoast posters are staying, though. 

The Sexist Sorcerer 

A professor at the University of Minnesota says the wildly successful Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling are, in addition to being tedious and grating, sexist. 

Jack Zipes, a professor of German, writes in a new book on children's literature, that the stories homogenize our children in negative ways, reported London's Guardian newspaper. 

"Rowling's books conventionally repeat much of the same sexist and white patriarchal biases of classical fairy tales," he said. 


Mail From the Central Servers 

Tim in Utah writes: 

The Constitution guarantees our right of free speech. It does not convey a freedom from being offended. 

Jason K. in St. Louis laments: 

It saddens me that so many people find the Word of God so unpleasant that they wish to change it. Right now, many have a vision of faith as a moral framework that changes as our world does. But Christianity is not a feel-good, just-do-the-right-thing kind of faith. We should be changed, not the Bible. 

Thomas K. says: 

My wife and I are not Christian. If and when we have children, they will not be Christian. Would you want your public school — which you pay for with your property and sales taxes — to display a nice gold-letter rendition of the Koran or the Satanist's commandments? 

Silly me, I thought public schools were for teaching science, history, math, and reading. I now see public schools are there for teaching the religious beliefs of the school board. 

When did parents lose the ability to teach their religion to their children? 

Ken S. in N. Augusta, S.C. writes: 

Re: Andrew Young's remarks on the Confederate flag: A breath of fresh air! It's refreshing to hear a politician who is not pandering to a specific group, but who speaks his mind and is not hung up on trivia. 

Josh M. says: 

As with most things that people have anything to do with, the idea of Pcness is rooted in the right idea. But instead of being a vehicle for promoting tolerance and diversity, it seeks to homogenize all things individual and unique. 

Also, most of what become accepted PC terms, are completely invented — in most cases by people outside the group in question — and are therefore just another extension of Euro-centric and Amer-centric beliefs that we know better than anyone what they should be referred to as. It is a bunch of garbage. 

Instead of chastising people for words they use, why not look deeper and try to be truly tolerant of each other and how about having a little faith in each other to do the right thing? Or would the ACLU have a problem with the word faith? 

Lawrence B. writes: 

It is totally amazing that the Confederate flag flying from statehouse capitols and elsewhere is accepted by today's "mainstream press" as a case of "heritage" and not the emblem of racism, violence, and theft that it is. 

Although cultural solidarity with one's kin (i.e. white southerners) is to be applauded in general, a little Christian humility might be applicable in a situation where one group's "solidarity" comes at the expense of another whose people were treated with violence, degradation, intimidation and repression. 

But I guess all this is a little over the heads of the people at FOX news.