Tongue Tied

The Robert E. Lee High School band, from George W. Bush's hometown of Midland, Texas, temporarily changed its name when it went to Washington last weekend to play in the inaugural festivities, the Washington Times reported.

Perhaps in deference to recent sensitivities on the subject, the Mighty Rebel Band and its mascot — a dead ringer for Robert E. Lee named General Winsalot — played with the Midland High School band as the "Sky Is the Limit March on Washington Band." 

Band director Randy Storie told the Times that his school, whose athletic teams are called the Rebels, tries to play down its historical ties. The band only occasionally plays "Dixie," and they no longer fly the Confederate battle flag. 

"Some people are sensitive to that," he said. 

Skunks Everywhere Were Outraged 

Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft is apologizing for a favorite political joke in which he likens moderates to dead skunks. 

When asked about the joke by Sen. Herbert Kohl, D-Wis., during confirmation hearings this week, Ashcroft said, "I really regret it if anyone is offended by it ... I mean no injury or disrespect to those individuals who don't have my views.'' 

The joke goes: "The only thing you find in the middle of the road is moderates and dead skunks." 

Book About Rich White Kid Shelved 

The Washington Post reported that J.D. Salinger's classic Catcher in the Rye is quickly fading from high-school reading lists because the main character is a white, privileged male with little relevance in today's multi-cultural world. 

The tale of underachieving, phony-hating, prep-schooler Holden Caulfield is irrelevant to many of today's kids, says Michele Bajek, supervisor of English and language arts for Arlington, Va., schools. 

"There are a lot of new books, especially ones with wonderful Latino main characters and wonderful African-American ones that kids can identify with for more than just angst. They can also [bond] with the heritage, which is better, I think," she said. 

Bowing Out of a Bible Course in Colorado 

A rural Colorado high school teacher has rescinded his offer to teach a course titled the "Bible in a Historical and Literary Context" next semester because of the furor it caused, reported the Denver Post

Teacher Marty Slonaker, of Westcliffe, Colo. (pop. 476), withdrew her offer after a barrage of attention from the media and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. 

"She didn't want to be scrutinized at every turn or by every decision she made," said Custer County School principal Harvey Goodman. Of the school's 68 juniors and seniors, 17 had signed up for the course before it was canceled. 

Proponents of the course wanted to introduce students to the impact the Bible has had on civilization, their heritage and conflicts raging around the world in places like Israel and the Balkans. Opponents believed the course to be a back-door approach to introducing Christianity in the schools. 

Speaking of Stereotypes 

The folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are calling on Coca-Cola to put on hold a plan to market milk products to children. 

PETA said the company is charging ahead with "Project Mother" even though "most African-Americans and racial minorities are lactose intolerant." PETA wants Coke instead to promote soy milk, a "drink that all children can enjoy, not just the white ones." 

But They're Not Quotas, They're 'Targets' 

The Washington Post reported that universities across the country are gutting their sports programs in the name of gender equality. 

Because of the requirements of Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination at schools receiving government money, schools like Virginia's James Madison University are axing low-profile men's sports so that — on paper — the percentage of women participating in varsity sports mirrors the proportion of women at the university overall. 

The school currently offers women 14 different sports, but hasn't attracted enough players and can't afford to add any more. So it is preparing to cut as many as five men's teams and three women's teams at the end of the school year. That way, though fewer opportunities to play will be offered to all students, they will be offered in the right proportion — so that around 58 percent of JMU's athletes will be female, and 42 percent male. 

Title IX itself makes no mention of intercollegiate sports or proportionality, by the way. All that was added later by federal education officials who wrote the statute's regulations, and by the courts, which in turn interpreted them. 

Politically Correct Presidents 

The Wall Street Journal's noted that the new Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial on the mall in Washington D.C. is a paean to political correctness — one built that way posthumously because, "he would've wanted it that way." 

Spurred by an essay in the American Spectator by Reid Collins, the Journal notes that Franklin D. Roosevelt is portrayed in his wheelchair despite the fact that he spent most of his life trying to conceal his disability from the public. 

"The disability movement won over those who knew, and know, 'he wouldn't have wanted it that way,'" Reid wrote. 

The wheelchair is not the only bow to present-day political correctness, though. Animal-rights activists managed to keep Eleanor from being portrayed with her trademark fox fur, the Journal noted, and anti-smoking advocates made sure FDR's trademark cigarette holder didn't make the cut as well. 


Mail From the Central Servers 

G.D. says Tongue Tied is: 

A childish, silly and extremist commentary — using childish, silly extreme examples — to trivialize much more serious issues. 

But John K. says: 

What I enjoy about reading some of your snippets is that instead of attacking one point of view, you report the news and let the reader interpret. Thank you. Only the dead, blind or willfully ignorant could make a case against anything you wrote. 

Ed T. believes: 

The current obsession with correctness and not offending anyone on the left has contributed to the degeneration of our society. We can be tolerant of the gay lifestyle without endorsing it. 

Alice S. in Greenville, S.C., says: 

Focus on the Family is a Christian organization. It is only fair that they keep their views (and other forms of propaganda) off federal and other government properties. A homosexual support group is not a faith- or religion-based entity. 

One facet of American life that I cherish is the separation of church and state. Other religious groups do not try as blatantly to cause contention among the public. 

In fact I actually can respect Christian religions that are tolerant of homosexuals because these people practice the true Christ-like example of accepting everyone for who they are, and forgiving them for their differences. These Christians need to practice some consideration, conservatism, and the Christ-like attributes they preach. 

Nivritti K. explains: 

I am always amazed when I hear people getting all worked up about the Confederate Flag. They spout all the worn out words like racism, hatred, slavery, bigotry, etc. and they actually believe that is what the flag stands for and what the Civil War was all about. 

The Confederate Flag stands for, and has always stood, as a symbol of states' rights and a measure of independence from Federal control. And THAT is what the Civil War was all about. Slavery was just an issue on the table. 

Scott W. insists: 

Your short piece on Lt. Col. Al Trivette denying civilian employees the privilege of displaying the Confederate flag while on station at Keesler Air Force Base is decidedly unfair to the Colonel. 

His actions were probably directed by a higher military authority reacting to the prevailing political sentiment. Whereas I don't agree with the sentiment, the military takes extreme measures to ensure a non-biased atmosphere. 

You mention the First Amendment, but U.S. Forces are governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A system which I doubt civilians, much less journalists, could ever comprehend. 

Military personnel are entitled to their social and political opinions, but in as much as these opinions are non-sequitur to military operations and sometimes run counter to military discipline, they may be openly expressed only in non-military venues (off-base). 

The Military doesn't say you can't fly (the Confederate flag), just that you can't fly it on its facilities. 

Allen K. pleads: 

People — LIGHTEN UP!