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

Even before its general release, gay activists are calling Kevin Smith's latest movie - Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back - "overwhelmingly homophobic" with a "huge potential for a negative impact on gay people, particularly gay youth."

In a letter to Smith posted on his production company's Web site,, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation complains that the film "reinforces [gay men] as objects of acceptable ridicule and dehumanization," and condemns one of character's use of the word "gay" when describing something stupid. 

The film, which hits theaters August 22, stars Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith as dopers Jay and Silent Bob, who set off for Hollywood to sabotage a movie loosely based on their life.

In a response to GLAAD posted with the letter, Smith says: "I swear, I caught it from the right wing on Dogma, and now I'm catching it from the left wing on this flick. Which am I, people, a bleeding heart liberal or Bible-thumping conservative? And when the hell do I get to make a movie in which I don't have to explain myself afterwards?"

More From Miami 

To the charges of tolerating anti-women attitudes dogging the top general at the U.S. Southern Command in Miami can now be added accusations that he tolerates racially insensitive comments, reports The Washington Times

The Pentagon's inspector general is investigating the "command climate" at SouthCom in Miami under Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace following complaints from a female officer that a mandatory weekly run is too hard and subjects women to ridicule.

In the letter complaining about the runs, the officer also said a general on Gen. Pace's staff made a racially offensive remark by saying the "right side won" in a Civil War battle in which the South emerged victorious. 

One Scary Entrance 

Female lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives are complaining that they are being discouraged from exercising in the House gym and have appointed a "committee on the gym" to study any differences in access and make recommendations on how to eliminate any discrimination, reports The Associated Press. 

Female members of the House, for example, complain that their entrance to the pool is uncomfortably close to the men's locker room. They also say men have taken over the large gym to such a degree that women feel their only alternative is to walk down the hall and use a much smaller facility with fewer pieces of equipment and shorter hours. 

Multicultural Elvis 

A likeness of Elvis Presley surrounded by a cross, a menorah and a Star of David didn't sit well with some folks in Memphis, Tenn., reports the AP. And now, the band shell on which it appeared is being repainted.

A Baptist youth group recently painted the "evangelical" Elvis on a city park band shell. Steven Banbury with the group Save Our Shell says the kids asked to paint a mural as they protected the band shell with new paint. But Banbury says they didn't tell him it was going to be a religious mural featuring Elvis. 

Making Classrooms More Comfortable 

To Kill a Mockingbird, the classic Harper Lee novel about racial tensions in a small Southern town, has been pulled from the required reading list for freshmen at Muskogee High School in Oklahoma, reports the AP

"It's a great book. It teaches life lessons," said principal Terry Saul. But the book contains racially charged language and innuendoes and "we didn't want to put any kids in an uncomfortable situation." 

Daffodils and Dragons On the Outs in Wales 

Schools in Wales are being criticized for having too many pictures of daffodils, dragons and ladies in tall black hats and aprons on their walls and should think about substituting more modern images of the principality such as economic regeneration and multiculturalism, reports the London Daily Telegraph

The criticism comes in a report by the regional education authority titled Y Cwricwlwm Cymreig - The Welsh Dimension of the Curriculum in Wales. Schools should instead offer more upbeat images and present the multicultural look of modern Wales by including the descendants of sailors from the Indian subcontinent, Somalia and Yemen. 

Coming Soon: 'Slave-Free' Hersheys 

Activist members of Congress urged on by Knight-Ridder newspapers are pressing the chocolate industry to start putting "slave-free" labels on its chocolate, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer

Legislation requiring such labels has already passed the House and the Senate may soon follow suit. It comes in response to a newspaper investigation that found that boys as young as 11 are sold or tricked into slavery to harvest cocoa beans in Ivory Coast, which supplies 43 percent of U.S. cocoa.

The chocolate industry says cocoa is harvested by many small family farmers in Ivory Coast who do not use child slaves as well as some farms that do. Figuring out which is slave-tainted chocolate and which is not would be impossible, it says.

A "slave-free" label "would hurt the people it is intended to help" because it could lead to a boycott of Ivorian cocoa, said Susan Smith, a spokeswoman for the Chocolate Manufacturers Association. 

Positive Discrimination 

In an effort to get more women into office, the U.K. Liberal Democrat Party is preparing a plan that would bar male candidates from any party-held "safe seats" that come open during the next two general elections, reports the London Times

The plan, agreed to by a gender equality group within the party, will be debated at the Lib Dem's annual conference in September. It is likely to meet some opposition there, though, because many in the party regard positive discrimination as fundamentally illiberal.

From the Central Servers: 

Sgt. Charles M. writes:

Is it possible that we as a society do not have enough to do during the day or truly don't have anything worthwhile to worry about? We are going to choke ourselves on the idea of political correctness and a zero defect attitude.

Arguing over a painting in a High School or worrying about whether or not a list on a state web site contains info on local churches tells me that there are people out there with nothing better to do. I am glad their lives are so great that they can spend so much time and effort on issues that should not matter a hill of lima beans.

Jim C. writes of the anti-Custer crusade in Minnesota:

Boy, did those Minnesota Thought Police put their foot in it! That Poster is making fun of Custer. I bought a copy of it a few years ago on the Crow Reservation here in Montana.

Kevin S. writes of the restrictions on professor Willand:

Geez freak'n Louise! Talk about being vague and ambiguous. Name me one thing that *doesn't* run afoul of this rule.

William L. M. writes:

With all due respect to Georgia Senator Zell Miller, he is wrong in his assertion that the only person "left in the ethnic shooting gallery that it is still all right to shoot at" is the Mountaineer. It is also acceptable to shoot at white males, business leaders, conservatives, gun owners, hunters, and motorcyclists, among others.


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