Tongue Tied: A Report From the Front Line of the Culture Wars

Feminists at the University of California in Los Angeles are calling "hateful" and "damaging to the UCLA community" an advertisement which ran in the student paper there challenging the "Ten Most Common Feminist Myths," the Daily Bruin reported.

The ad was placed by the Independent Women's Forum, which describes itself as a counter-organization to the National Organization for Women. It questions the veracity of some commonly held beliefs about rape statistics, salary disparities between men and women and empowerment through women's studies departments.

Christie Scott, executive co-chair of the Clothesline Project, wants the paper to retract the ad and issue an apology. Editors told her running the ad was a First Amendment issue, but "I feel that's somewhat cowardly," she said. Clothesline members also demanded a free full-page ad to respond.

Immaculate Misconception

A pregnant actress is suing an English opera company for sexual discrimination because it wouldn't let her play the role of a virgin in a production of The Pirates of Penzance, London's Daily Telegraph reported.

Ian Martin, the director of D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, argued that it was absurd to have 28-year-old Bethany Halliday play the role of one of Major General Stanley's virginal teenage daughters because the characters are supposed to be so afraid of men they scream whenever they see one.

"We are defending ourselves on the grounds that producers should have the right to make decisions commensurate with common sense," Martin said.

Lighting a Fire Under Yasser

The governor of New York and dozens of state legislators there are demanding that Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in New York City remove a likeness of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat because he encourages violence against Israelis, Reuters reported.

In a statement, Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew and vocal opponent of Arafat, said the wax figure should be removed because it "glorifies Arafat and what he does to be surrounded by the likenesses of Mahatma Gandhi, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, [and] Nelson Mandela."

A spokesman for the largest Arab-American group in the United States described the effort as "depressing nonsense" that demonstrated how the debate about Israelis and Palestinians was "infinitely more extreme" in New York than anywhere else.

Good Question

Women's groups in the United Kingdom are infuriated by a divorce lawyer's poster campaign in wine bars that implores men to "Ditch the Bitch" and tells women that "All Men Are Bastards!" the London Times reported.

Lawyer Henry Brookman's Ditch posters are being displayed in men's bathrooms and show the slogan above a picture of a packed suitcase. The latter posters, which picture a woman sobbing on a bed, are being displayed in women's restrooms. Brockman said the first reaction of everyone he showed them to was to laugh.

But women's groups are not amused. "This is very derogatory to women," said Sarah Watkins, a spokeswoman for Women's Aid. "These posters do not help the causes of equality and respect. We object to both these adverts, but the use of the word 'bitch' has more negative connotations than 'bastard'."

George Shaw, managing director of the advertising agency that devised the campaign, responding to the women's groups, said: "What were they doing in the men's lavatories anyway?"

Overcoming the Messenger

African-American leaders in San Francisco are calling for a boycott of the San Francisco Chronicle after it published what they described as a racist series of stories about the patronage politics of Mayor Willie Brown, that city's first black mayor, the Chronicle reported.

The paper reported in late April and early May on the network of Brown friends and supporters who have financially benefited from their ties to the mayor. The paper said he maintains a "political machine in which influence with the mayor has been the trump card in quests for hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts, land deals, favorable regulatory rulings, and jobs."

Supporters of the mayor rallied last week to decry the series, singing (to the tune of "We Shall Overcome"): "The Chronicle is our enemy, it must be removed. Just like a limb that falls on the water it shall be removed."

The Rev. Arnold Townsend accused the paper of only covering negative aspects of San Francisco's black community. "I think it intentionally writes bad stories about African-Americans," he said.

No Complaints From Tall People?

Asian-American leaders in Sacramento have called on a local talk-radio station to pull the plug on a pair of disc jockeys who referred to Wang ZhiZhi, a Chinese basketball player with the Dallas Mavericks, as "Chinaman Wang" and that "tall Chinaman," the Sacramento Bee reported.

The Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership, or CAPITAL, wants advertisers to stop sponsoring several KSTE talk shows, including the local Armstrong and Getty show – on which the offending comments were made – as well as national voices like Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Mike Gallagher and Michael Savage.

"Asian-Americans will no longer tolerate being the brunt of jokes and political pontificating ... whenever relations between the U.S. and an Asian country become tense," the group said in a letter to advertisers. "One person's racially charged joke may encourage another ... to engage in violence against people of that race."

Armstrong and Getty apologized on-air a week after their racially charged remarks. They said they "regret that we caused any discomfort" and that they are interested "in ending racial disharmony. We never want to demean any group and that was definitely not our intent."

Standing Up for Tony

A New Jersey congresswoman, the granddaughter of Italian immigrants, wants the U.S. House of Representatives to denounce the cable television series The Sopranos for "unfair stereotyping," the Associated Press reported.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter circulating on Capitol Hill, Republican Rep. Marge Roukema is asking other lawmakers to sign onto a resolution she is drafting that will praise Italian-Americans for their civic contributions and criticize movies and television shows that portray them as gangsters.

"People stop me in the grocery store, objecting to [The Sopranos]," Roukema said. "I decided this has gotten to be so discriminatory and stereotypical of Italian-Americans as mobsters, and denigrating women and families, that I thought I have to speak out."

Wheels of Justice

Maryland's highest court reversed a black man's assault conviction because a white judge laced his sentencing with "racially offensive code words" which inferred "that race was inappropriately considered in sentencing," the Washington Post reported.

The court of appeals said it was unsure if the remarks by Howard County Circuit Court Judge James B. Dudley at the sentencing of Valentino Maurice Jackson were indeed racist, but the judge "clearly was not alert to avoid comments that may be so perceived." Jackson was convicted in May 1999 of using a sawed-off shotgun to threaten a Columbia drug dealer who refused to sell him cocaine.

At the hearing, Dudley said: "A number of communities in the lovely city of Columbia have attracted a large number of rotten apples ... and they live and act like they're living in a ghetto somewhere. And they weren't invited out here to [behave] like animals." Later, Dudley said: "That's why people moved out here. To get away from people like Mr. Jackson. Not to associate with them and have them follow them out here and act like this was a jungle of some kind."

You Say Extablish, I Say Establish

A U.S. district court has fined a New York attorney $500 and publicly censured him for racially abusing an opposing counsel, a black woman working for the U.S. Department of Labor, the New York Press reported. Thomas C. Monaghan was accused of demanding that Gail Perry admit to mispronouncing the word "establish" as "extablish" during a question-and-answer session before trial.

"The Labor Department attorney, Ms. Perry, whom I have nothing against, was intimating for hours that my client had neither the education or intelligence to make [investment] decisions," Monaghan said. "While she's doing that, she then says 'extablished' and later 'exspecially.' Well, I had to do something. My client felt like she was being made a fool. How that became race-based abuse, I don't know."

The judge hearing the complaint against Monaghan said during a hearing on the issue that, "I have been here eight-plus years. I have never seen anything close to this." When Monaghan tried to explain the full story to the judge he was told to sit down. "You are disgracing yourself," the judge said.

From the Central Servers

Jay C. wonders:

I see that the Latino students are upset about Monty's image.  Considering what Cortez, the original Latino, did to the original Montezuma isn't this like members of the Seventh Calvary complaining about the way Sitting Bull is portrayed?

Chris B. says:

It must comfort white racists to know that they can stop fighting for segregation now that black students have taken up the fight.  Could the Northeastern student be any more ridiculous?

Scott S. says:

So, it has become politically incorrect to join the Army?  What I would like to know is how do the perpetually offended liberals expect to protect their political views if they have no Army to ward off attackers?

Darren C. quotes:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin.

Nick recalls:

I remember what my high school choir director said when she was asked about the religious music that we often sang.  She said that throughout history some of the best music was inspired by religion, and that we sang it not because it was religious, but because it was the best music.

Gary O. says:

Just to clarify the Salem, Statesman Journal reporting of the story: Oregon, enunciated clearly is O-re-gun, not O-re-gon. Only the recent migration of liberal Californians pronounce it O-re-gon instead of O-re-gun because they hate guns.

Official song composed by a performance artist, what's next military uniforms designed by Elton John?

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