Five Massachusetts high school students who answered a teacher's questionnaire about school conditions with politically incorrect responses were suspended and are now threatening to sue the school for violating their First Amendment rights unless their records are cleared, reports The Associated Press.

The students were suspended from the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in Fitchburg, Mass., in January after writing on what they were told were anonymous surveys that minority students were receiving preferential treatment and that minorities were responsible for some recent fights. School officials identified and confronted the five students, then suspended them for what they were told was "behavior causing a dangerous condition." 

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, which have taken on the students' case, say the incident is part of a pattern of school officials' hypersensitivity in the wake of increased school violence. 

March Against Hassling Waiters 

As part of its March Against Hate initiative, London's Metropolitan Police force is sending undercover officers into ethnic restaurants to be on the lookout for patrons who racially abuse the waiters, reports The Times of London

Some 20 plainclothes officers settled in at Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Yugoslavian restaurants in the West End, ready to spot verbal or physical attacks on the ethnic waiting staff. "Anyone thinking of going out for a meal and abusing the staff should watch out," said Detective Chief Inspector Brett Lovegrove. 

The initiative has yet to result in any arrests, but officers are lining up for the chance to spend their shift sitting in restaurants. 

The Politics of School Assemblies 

A San Francisco-area high school teacher who wondered in print why only left-wing groups seem to be invited to school assemblies met with protests and denunciations instead of answers, reports Fox News

Dave Lapp, a physics teacher at Tamalpais High School, wrote an opinion piece in the school's student paper (on page two of the FYI section) denouncing the politically correct assemblies students are required to attend on issues like cultural diversity, feminism and African-American history. The article prompted a demonstration by, among others, the school's Black Student Union. 

School officials said the assemblies are not left-wing by design, merely by default. "There's less a diversity of ideas that come forward because the school is politically very homogenized," said Rachel Schneider, the school's leadership advisor. 

But Lapp, who says he is a Libertarian, said more diverse viewpoints should be offered or students should be allowed to skip the assemblies if they want. "Students, some as young as 14 years old, are being, in my opinion, indoctrinated," he said. 

Reparations Watch 

The Justice Department will conduct a review to document the treatment of Italian-Americans during World War II, the AP reports. The review will document the government's actions from late 1941 to 1943, when Italian-Americans were arrested, had their homes raided and were restricted from traveling. 

About 250 Italian-Americans were imprisoned in Montana and New York, similar to the incarceration of thousands of ethnic Japanese in internment camps during the war. In California, 52,000 were confined to their homes under an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. In contrast to the Japanese, who won reparations, the plight of Italian-Americans has gone largely unnoticed, the AP noted. 

'Controversial' Confederates Banned From Parade 

A week before the event, organizers of a spring parade in Tallahassee, Fla., told the Sons of Confederate Veterans that they would not be allowed to participate after all because the group is "too controversial," the Tallahassee Democrat reports

John Adams, the organization's Florida division commander, said its members — who "support the protection and preservation of Confederate heritage" — had been preparing for the event for a month and some had even bought new uniforms for the day. 

Springtime Tallahassee, which sponsors the parade, aims to make the event as inclusive as possible and the presence of the Confederate flag is disruptive, Tallahassee City Commissioner Steve Meisburg said. The flag carried by the Sons just "keeps the racial flames alive, and I think we need to get away from that," he said. 

Last year, parade organizers decided not to use Andrew Jackson, Florida's first territorial governor and later president of the United States, as its figurehead anymore because some citizens objected to his history as a slave owner and vigorous military opponent of the Indians. 

Tag's Not It 

A West Annapolis, Md., elementary school has banned the game of tag during recess because it violates the school's "no touching" policy, The Capital newspaper reports

Huntley Cross, special assistant for alternative programs in county schools, said the administrators' concerns were primarily for the kids' safety but that kids at that age may not understand the difference between "good touches and bad touches." 

"What we're constantly trying to do is use structured discipline policies and logical consequences to let youngsters know what the rules are," Cross said. 

Burned: Carved Coconuts and Joe Walsh 

A rural Pennsylvania book-burning featured little in the way of pornography or idols, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, but much in the way of pop culture. 

Among the items torched near the Harvest Assembly of God Church in Penn Township were albums by the likes of Foreigner, Joe Walsh and REM ("they promoted drugs," one participant said). Harry Potter books and materials by Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons were also included ("they are not truly Christian and promote several gods"). 

Also: Disney videos Pinocchio and Hercules ("sorcery and witchcraft"), Jurassic Park II ("blood and stuff"), a black and beige stuffed dragon and a coconut carved with the face of a pink pig. 

No explanation was offered for the latter items. 

'Undeserving' Free Speech 

After weeks of debate, editors of the student newspaper at San Francisco State University reversed themselves and said they would not run David Horowitz's ad condemning reparations for descendents of slaves in America, the San Jose Mercury News reports

Editors at the Golden Gate Xpress opted instead to run articles and editorials examining reparations, free speech and political correctness. 

Some of the editors argued that advertisements don't deserve the same free speech protections as opinions. And Horowitz's ad is even less deserving because it is political, not commercial, they said. "I don't feel it's censorship not to run the ad. It's censorship if we ignore what he's saying," said Niema Quiet, the paper's features editor. 

Pornographic Chicken Draws Ire 

A toy chicken manufactured by the company OddzOn sold at drug and convenience stores across the country is being denounced by the group United Poultry Concerns as cruel and obscene. 

The rubber chicken, which resembles a plucked bird with its legs tied together and a Tootsie Roll protruding from its beak "encourages children and others to regard animal suffering and death as amusing as well as having pornographic implications," says UPC, a chicken-rights organization. 

The Rite Aid chain has already pulled the product from its shelves and Tootsie Roll industries is reportedly reviewing its connection with the product because it does not wish "to promote cruelty to animals or send a negative message to children." 

From the Central Servers

David S., Ph.D., writes: 

Jeffrey M., Ph.D., writes: "how many other ethnic groups have had treaties systematically broken, had high disease and poverty due to isolation, and been mocked and looked down on?" 

If he were aware of the history of England's dealings with the Scottish and the Irish, he would see the same pattern in each case. These groups came to America (the Scotch in the 1700's, the Irish in the 1800's) largely because of this, and became the "hillbillies" and "dumb Irish." But today no one is ashamed of the "Mountain Man" or "Fighting Irish" mascot. 

Andrew H. writes: 

I just read Mr. Fong's commentary on Asian Americans and found it more humorous than serious. As an Asian American male, I would have thought that things would have changed since I was in college (another Ivy League institution) about twenty years ago. However, my attitude has changed to be a bit more open minded than Mr. Fong. 

I would venture to guess that Mr. Fong comes from an independently wealthy family and does not have to worry too much about studying and succeeding academically. He appears to attack the more recently immigrated students whose parents are working long hours to send their kids to Harvard. Individualism is a hard thing to achieve when you don't have too much free time to express yourselves. 

L. Zimmerman asks: 

Memorials are raised to remember and to honor. I think it's absurd to view them any other way. It is a peace memorial, since that is what we go to war for in the first place. Those who have given their lives in the name of peace, should be remembered! It has nothing to do with the current students who attend the university. Is this what's being taught in our colleges today? 

R.K.L. writes: 

It's funny how the ruling class perceives "Political Correctness" and how us "regular Joes" perceive it. 

First of all, why do white males feel they have to say hurtful things? Second, if you do have a problem with a certain group of people, be a man and use your beloved constitutional right to free speech to say you have a problem with those people. But, don't be upset when I use my constitutional right to freedom of expression to physically adjust the attitude of the person wanting to inflict emotional pain on someone just because he has a "God" complex. 

Steve in Cincinnati is puzzled: 

Let me get this straight. 

This little girl couldn't hand out a Valentines Day card because it referred to Jesus. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Valentines Day a celebration of Saint Valentine...a Christian saint. 

How can a public school justify honoring a Christian saint by celebrating Valentines Day, yet ban a card that says "Jesus Loves You?" 

Luis G. says: 

It is a shame that UGA had to delegate such an important decision, to honor our war dead, to people that do not value the ultimate sacrifice of those veterans who fought for the rights and privileges that they enjoy. A memorial honoring war dead includes all of those, who regardless of their race, creed, ethnicity or sexual preference, died while fighting for this great country. Shame on the parents and the school systems of this country that neglect to teach the up and coming generations of our military history, of the hardships and sacrifices to which military personnel and their families submit to and to be thankful and supportive for their existence. 

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