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

Efforts to place statues of the Spanish soldier who founded California's first European settlement and the king who sponsored him in San Francisco's Mission District are drawing opposition from people who say such a move would glorify imperialism and genocide against indigenous people, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Members of the group People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights say the statues of explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and Spain's King Carlos III represent the "genocide and colonization of indigenous peoples of the Americas." The group is working with city Supervisor Chris Daly, who is rallying opposition to the move from inside City Hall to have the plan quashed.

"I actually think a better place for the statues might be the bottom of San Francisco Bay," Daly said during a City Hall hearing on the proposal last week.

But Brother Guire Cleary, curator of Mission Dolores, where the statues would be placed, said Daly and the others should rethink their opposition. California's history is complicated, he said, and the role of Anza and his sponsoring king shouldn't be viewed in black and white.

(Thanks to Daniel G.)

Arguing Over Hues in Boston

A Boston transit authority cop who was twice passed over for a promotion to sergeant when he was "white" changed his racial status to "black" and was promoted within the year, reports The Boston Globe.

John J. Mahoney was assumed to be white from the time he was hired in 1983 until 1992, when he petitioned the civil service to officially change his racial designation to African-American because his birth certificate described his mother as "colored."

Mahoney's promotion to sergeant a year later was based solely on his minority status. Twice, as a white employee, he took the sergeant's promotional exam without success. He then took it a third time and was promoted shortly thereafter.

Departments who want to promote minorities but have none on the list of qualified candidates can pick from a separate pool of top-scoring minorities, the Globe says, regardless of how they finished compared to non-minorities. It was from this kind of list that Mahoney was appointed, after having his racial designation changed.

Adventures in Etymology

The New York Times buries the lead but reports that researchers looking into whether children of homosexual parents are different from those of heterosexual ones have for decades been playing down the differences they find for fear of drawing the ire of gay activists or encouraging anti-gay rhetoric.

Judith Stacey and a colleague, Timothy Biblarz, of the University of California reviewed 21 studies of the children of "lesbigay" parents published from 1981 through 1998. Stacey says the results of the studies were tainted not so much because of political correctness but because of political anxiety.

In one study, for example, the sociologists said they counted "at least 15 intriguing, statistically significant differences in gender behavior and preferences" between children raised by single lesbian mothers and those raised by single heterosexual mothers, though the authors of the study had emphasized in their summary abstract that few differences had been found.

Proselytizing Memorials

The Colorado Department of Transportation is considering a policy that would call for the removal of roadside memorials to people who died in traffic accidents, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

The new policy stems from a court case in which a judge threw out vandalism charges against a man who had removed one of the memorials because it was explicitly religious. The judge in the case ruled that the man, an atheist, was within his rights to remove the display.

Taxpayers Protest Racist Museum

A former chapter head of the NAACP in South Carolina is protesting plans to use local tax money to help build a museum to "glorify" the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley in a maritime museum complex outside Charleston, reports the Charleston News and Courier.

George Freeman said the Hunley is a symbol of the Confederate States of America and is the name of a nation that oppressed black people for hundreds of years both before the Civil War and afterward.

"The Confederacy committed some of the same atrocities as did the Nazis," Freeman said at a recent town finance committee meeting. The only difference between the Confederacy and Nazism, he said, is that the crimes of the Confederacy are "an ongoing crime" on blacks by the descendants of the Confederacy.

Freeman said if Hunley supporters want to raise private money for a museum in Mount Pleasant, that's OK. But using town-generated tax money for the museum is an insult.

A Cat Named India

Protesters rallied in front of the U.S. Consulate in Bombay, India, last week demanding that President Bush remove the picture of his pet cat, named "India," from the White House Web site, reports The Associated Press.

Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a state legislator and member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, said the name of the cat is an insult to Indians. "We feel that this is derogatory and the Web site should be corrected," he said.

"We are not asking for renaming. We just want mention of the cat to be removed from the Web site," said Lodha.

Racially Profiled Jaywalkers

A group of Asian-American students who were stopped for jaywalking in Seattle are claiming they are victims of racial profiling and calling for an independent investigation, disciplinary action against the officer who stopped them, a public apology, and cultural-sensitivity training for all officers in the department, reports the AP.

The students say they were walking near the city's International District when Officer Jess Pitts, using his patrol car's loudspeaker, warned them they were jaywalking. The students say they couldn't hear him over a passing train, so he stopped the car and lined 14 of them against a wall, detaining them for 45 minutes. The group says Pitts repeatedly asked them if they spoke English, even after many of them told them they were all Americans.

Police say some of the students became aggressive, and one of them was eventually ticketed. Officers were told to be on the lookout that day for Japanese tourists in town for the All-Star game festivities. Officers wanted to ensure the safety of foreign visitors who were unfamiliar with the city, and mistook the teens for foreigners.,2933,29820,00.html

Hunting = Murder?

An animal rights group has written a letter to newspapers across the country saying that hunting it not a sport and the papers should stop reporting on it as if it were one, reports The Washington Times.

"Hunting consists of hiding in ambush and shooting a harmless animal before he knows there is any danger — or shooting him in the back as he flees in terror for his life," Norm Phelps of the Maryland-based Fund for Animals writes. "It has no more business being glorified in the sports media than a Mafia hit."

The FFA also sent a similar request to the heads of ESPN and Comcast, asking them to stop broadcasting hunting shows.

But Jim Fall, executive director of the Montana Newspaper Association in Helena, said the Fund for Animals shouldn't count on much success, at least in the Western part of the country. "I'd say their chances are zero around here," he said. "I think those guys misspent their postage."

No Whites Allowed

A Chicago alderman's efforts to join the local black caucus were rebuffed by the group because he is white, reports the Chicago Tribune. Thomas Murphy said he wanted to join the group because he represents a predominantly African-American ward on the city's Southwest Side.

"The only reason I was given was that I'm not an African-American elected official," he said at a news conference. "I believe that the purpose of the caucus was to represent the interests of the black residents of this city. Apparently, they think otherwise."

Hateful Comedians

An Asian-American watchdog group demanded an apology from NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien because a comedian used a racial epithet on the show, reports the AP.

While bantering with O'Brien on the show July 11, comedian Sarah Silverman said she had been called for jury duty but didn't want to serve. "My friend is like 'Why don't you write something inappropriate on the form like: "I hate chinks,"'" Silverman said. But she didn't want people to think she was racist, she said, so "I just filled out the form and I wrote 'I love chinks' — and who doesn't?"

"There is no excuse for something like this to have made the air," said Guy Aoki, president of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans. "She obviously chose to target a group of people that she felt she could get away with insulting. We're not standing for it," Aoki said.

From the Central Servers:

Doug M. in Altamonte Springs, Fla., writes:

The NAACP has expressed its desire, as is its right, to avoid doing business in Mississippi and to encourage others to do the same. There are those who think this to be another example of overzealous political correctness. I disagree. While far too many examples exist, this is not one of them. If one disagrees with a position taken by another, one should not be expected to pretend agreement. If the disagreement is so strong that one wishes to avoid any association with the other, that should be accepted. That is called freedom. There is nothing wrong with an organization seeking, through voluntary decisions by its members and supporters, to impose a cost on Mississippi for its decision. What could be more American. It is probable that the people of Mississippi were completely aware of that likelihood and considered it in their votes.

Mitch H. in Cincinnati, Ohio, writes:

I guess the Marine Corps really ought to look into that command structure. Apparently, some need to be reminded that they will continue to take orders so long as they are members of the military... unless they are called Mr. or Ms. President.

So, if this female "officer" does not like getting flack because she runs slowly, perhaps she should consider running more often than Friday morning. It really is disingenuous to complain that women are treated differently (especially in the military) while demanding to be treated differently.

David S. writes:

Who will this person complain to when the demeaning (mean-spirited) bullets are flying at them during war?

Thomas B. writes:

When I was in bio classes, we always dissected fetal pigs, not frogs or cats. Now, I can't see why this would bother PETA. After all, a fetus is merely a mass of tissue, isn't it?

Walter S. writes:

The Confederate battle flag is a symbol of treason. It is shameful and those who wish to fly such a thing should be suspect as traitors to the United States of America. It is the flag of an enemy of our nation, and should be considered every bit as disgusting and repugnant as the Nazi swastika flag or the Rising Sun battle flag.

Brian Y. says:

Gail A., you are correct. What type of sex people do in their homes is by all means their own personal preference and I should not care — and I don't. But, when I have to explain to my seven year old why her teacher was a man yesterday and a women today, or when a transgender person sues a school because they will not allow he/she or whatever to use restrooms, or demands one be built specifically for them — that is when THEY are pushing their sexuality on me. They decided to make the change, the consequences of their actions are their problems, not mine.

Respond to the Writer