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

A panel of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the American Fisheries Society has unanimously agreed to change the common name of Ephinephelus itajara, now known as the jewfish, because it might be considered offensive, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The committee said it found no evidence that the name of the fish was being used offensively, but "it was deemed as offensive to many individuals, including those of a minority group."

Henceforth, decreed the seven-member Committee on Names of Fishes, the jewfish, a rare denizen of the Gulf of Mexico that can get as big as 500 pounds, will be know as the Goliath Grouper. So the AFS, notes the Chronicle, is renaming the jewfish after a Jew-killing Philistine.

Maybe Because He's Not?

A transgender student at Lane Community College in Oregon is claiming the administration doesn't respect her "womanhood" and is attempting to segregate her from other students in her physical-education class, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Amy Kathryn May, who is in the process of becoming a woman, is upset because the school will not remodel the women's locker room for her. She wants the school to put in private stalls so she can use the regular women's locker room.

But the school, citing the need to balance her desire to take physical-education courses and the rights of our other students not to feel uncomfortable, chose instead to convert a custodial closet into a single shower and changing facility for her.

May — who is currently on a waiting list to have her operation — claims Mary F. Spilde, the vice president for instruction and student services, doesn't trust her in the locker room. "I don't believe she even sees me as a female," May said.

It's Official: Confederate Flag = Racist

A U.S. appeals court in South Carolina overturned the conviction of a black state lawmaker on extortion charges because a member of the jury that convicted him had a Confederate flag sticker, the Charleston Post and Courier reported.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of Larry Blanding, who was found guilty of taking $1,300 from a lobbyist in return for voting to legalize betting on horse and dog races.

His appeal claimed the jury was racially biased against him because a judge would not allow his lawyer to strike from the panel a man with three bumper stickers on his car relating to Southern heritage or the Confederate flag.

Writing for the majority, U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Luttig said it is "not an irrational inference that one who displays the Confederate flag may harbor racial bias against African-Americans."

Jesse's Back

Jesse Jackson is denouncing Toyota for what he calls a racist ad featuring a close-up of a smiling mouth with the image of a gold RAV4 sport utility vehicle on one tooth, The Associated Press reported.

"The only thing missing is the watermelon," Jackson said of the ad.

Toyota has pulled the ad and apologized. But earlier, the company defended the campaign, saying it was aimed at a "young and very trendy audience" with an emerging trend called tooth art. The image was selected "because it combined a warm smile with a leading-edge fashion statement," Toyota said.

Jackson also complained that there were too few black and Hispanic dealers on Toyota lots and called for at least part of Toyota's $470 million advertising budget to go to minority-owned advertising firms. He threatened to call for a boycott if Toyota doesn't address the issues.

No 'Religious Undertones'

Students at Hempfield High School in Landisville, Penn., will not be allowed to perform a song at graduation because of its religious undertones, the Associated Press reported.

Superintendent Doctor Wayne Doyle reviewed the song called "The Prayer" and said it unconstitutionally violates the separation of church and state.

Board member Michael Byers, who asked for the vote, opposed the superintendent's ruling. He said it's the student's graduation and they should be able celebrate the way they want.

Hate Haggis Fly in Manchester

Police in England said an attack on the home of a Scottish woman living in Manchester with haggis may be a "racially-motivated hate crime," and have taken the offending dish away for examination, Reuters reported.

Vandals hurled the traditional Scottish dish, about the size of a pineapple, through the front window of Christine MacKinnon's window. MacKinnon grew up in Glasgow but had lived in England for 35 years.

"This harassment from my neighbors has been going on for two years," said MacKinnon. "I've had people screaming in my house telling me to get back to Scotland. But I won't budge."

Offended Noses Know No Bounds

John Balzar of the Los Angeles Times reported that public health aficionados have found a new bogeyman now that public smoking is on the wane — perfume and aftershave.

The columnist wrote that at the Community Church in Miami Beach, two rows of seats are now set aside as "no perfume pews" and that Halifax, Nova Scotia, has established fragrance-free policies in public buildings. Restaurants in California's Marin County now offer perfume and non-perfume seating in local restaurants thanks to pressure from Citizens for a Toxic Free Marin, the paper reported.

According to the Earth Action Network, some 20 percent of asthma attacks afflicting 14.6 million Americans are the result of perfume. "One in five Americans may experience harm from fragrance exposures!" warns the Human Ecology Action League.

An Amador Maybe?

Under the threat of a protest by members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an Inverness, Fla., high school is removing a mural of a Spanish bullfighter from one of its classrooms, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

PETA had been planning an animal rights demonstration near Citrus High School complete with a mock bullfight and fake blood to protest the mural's presence.

"In this era of violence, we must ask, should we be sending kids the message that it is acceptable to torment and kill an animal for entertainment?" PETA wrote in a letter to the school.

The school won't say whether the demonstration had anything to do with the decision, but did announce that the mural of a matador and bull painted by students 12 years ago will be whitewashed this summer as part of a school-remodeling project.

From the Central Servers:

Valarie G. writes:

How sad it is that Judge Dudley is admonished for simply stating the truth! There SHOULD have been booming applause in the courtroom.

Tom K. sent us to the dictionary with:

Hmmm, so the idea is to publically complain about the words people use when they publically complain about words other people use?

Seems mighty recursive to me.

Robert W. believes:

I can't afford HBO. I can't see the Sopranos and be offended. President Bush is right. I need a tax cut.

Eric B. says:

The article in the UCLA student newspaper appears to have been well researched, references included. The NOW, as with most extremist organizations, appears to be afraid of facts that do not meet their agenda. Good for the Independent Women's Forum - reasoned discourse will advance the cause of women's rights - fear will not.

Tony M. wonders:

When will people learn that if something on TV offends them that they can turn the channel? Why can't people use those precious remote controls (that they can't live without when they're broken) to find something more to their liking? When I run across a show that has an extreme liberal bent to it, for example the evening news, I change the channel if I don't like what they are saying or promoting.

Jennifer G. remembers:

A teacher told me once that if you are offended by a view or statement its your problem not everyone elses.

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