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

A handful of state legislators and at least one newspaper columnist in Rhode Island think it is time for that state to stop celebrating Victory Day on Aug. 13 because it "has the potential for keeping hatred alive by stirring the embers of racism."

Writing in The Providence Journal, columnist Bob Levy says its time to put Victory Day to rest because it might make Japanese-Americans feel uncomfortable. He sides with state legislators who have attempted the past decade or so to change its name to "World Peace Day" or "Governor's Day."

Rhode Island is the last state in the union to celebrate VJ Day, the holiday declared by President Truman in 1946 to mark the end of the war against Japan.

De-Fanging the Feds in E.T. 

Steven Spielberg, planning a special re-release his movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for May 2002, is said to be tweaking the film for more 21st-century sensibilities, reports Ain't It Cool News

One of the changes is said to be that every gun in the original film is being removed for the 20th-anniversary special edition.

In the original, the children harboring the alien are chased around by government agents brandishing guns. In the new version, according to Henry Knowles and several other fan sites, the agents will wave nothing more deadly than walkie-talkies. 

A More Modern Joy 

The 1970s lovemaking manual and adolescent giggle-inducer, the Joy of Sex, is being re-released after a makeover that will see the removal of phrases not deemed appropriate for the year 2001, reports The Scotsman.

Phrases such as "husbands and wives" will be replaced by "partners," and the term "women" will replace all references to "girls." Clauses deemed offensive, such as "Middle Eastern men prefer fat, pretty girls," also will be dumped. New subjects will also be added, including mentions of cybersex, Viagra and rubber fetishes. 

Joy, written in the 1970s by Dr. Alex Comfort, has sold 12 million copies worldwide and was translated into 24 languages. The author's son, Nick Comfort, is working on the revamp.

Fern-Fondlers on the Warpath 

A weekly newspaper in Mariposa, Calif., The Gazette, was forced to apologize and almost had its contract to print legal notices yanked by the county for accidentally referring to local Democrats as fern-fondlers, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The line showed up at the tail end of a routine item announcing a meeting of the Mariposa Democratic Club. The item ended with a list of phone numbers telling readers where to get more information, but a prankster within the paper added, "or tap any tree-hugging, egg-sucking, fern fondling local liberal on the shoulder, because they know everything there is to know anyway." 

Gazette Publisher R.D. Tucker printed an apology, saying it was "an unfortunate, irresponsible" and "totally inappropriate" mistake. The offending line, he said, was "meant to be a good-natured barb between two employees who have differing political views" and accidentally made it into the paper.

Your Tax Money at Work 

A New York City lawmaker wants the Federal Communications Commission to begin cataloging the media's alleged penchant for stereotyping ethnic and minority Americans in news and entertainment programming, reports The Hollywood Reporter

Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel has introduced legislation that would require the FCC to establish a "clearinghouse" where Americans offended by the portrayal of Jews, Italians, Arabs, blacks, or any other ethnic or minority group can lodge an official complaint with the government. 

The Ethnic, Minority, and Gender Bias Clearinghouse would create an office within the agency to track and report on incidences of bias in both the news and entertainment media. It would also collect and disseminate statistics on employment in the production of news and entertainment.

Offended in Oakland 

Organizers of Oakland's gay pride festival have severed ties with their hometown newspaper, the Oakland Tribune, and started looking elsewhere for sponsorship of their annual gay pride events because of an editorial they deemed homophobic, reports the San Francisco Chronicle

The offending editorial labeled gay Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington despicable and a coward for his protest against the city's playing host to Boy Scouts from Japan. The protest led Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean to move the meeting out of town, prompting criticism from angry residents and others and ultimately an apology by Worthington. 

Gay activists were angered by the tone of the Tribune's editorial, which chastised Worthington for pushing "the rights of homosexuals" and embarrassing the city and youths who benefit from the Boy Scouts. They asked for a retraction and an end to the paper's sponsorship of an annual charity golf tournament for the Boy Scouts, but the Tribune refused.

From the Central Servers: 

Bryan M. of Houston, Texas, is confused:

I don't get it. Did someone complain about the word "Homonames" or did the Times feel that it must execute a presumptive strike for all us benighted fools who couldn't figure out the play on words? Either it's a sad commentary on media elitism or the sorry state of American education.

Scott W. of Lexington Park, Md., writes:

It seems one of the PC Gestapo (NY Times) just got a dose of what it's been trying to feed it's readers for years ... and they didn't like it. Imagine that!

David T. of Atlanta, Ga., writes:

The NCAA has no mandate to dictate to any state its Laws, type of Flags it displays on State Grounds or its moral obligations to its citizens. The primary function of the NCAA is to enforce the rules and regulations governing College Sports. If the members of the NCAA want to make or dictate political correctness to the various state Governments and their citizens, then I suggest its members stand for election in those states or cease whining about issues that are not their business.

Debbie Z. in Hamburg, Ariz., writes of WND's Harry Potter hysteria:

How ridiculous. Not only do I have all four of those books on my shelves, I also have To Kill A Mockingbird. How ironic. Of course if I limited my reading to what some people would consider "normal" I would have to get rid of several other volumes. Wonder when they're going to jump on Huck Finn again?

Teresa S. of Jacksonville, Fla., writes of the Potter books:

I believe those books do intend to draw children into witchcraft, which is Satanic. My children have not and will not read those books. I still believe in moral absolutes and in what the Bible says: We should not take part in witchcraft, idolatry, horoscopes, tarot cards, palm reading, or fortune telling because those things do not get their power from God the Father, the Creator of the Universe.

Kim S. writes:

I'm a conservative religious person and I have read all the Harry Potter books so far and have found them to be delightful. The people I have talked to that feel Harry Potter books promote witchcraft have never even read the books; they have only heard passages taken out of context. It sounds to me like the people at WorldNetDaily are milking these fears to make a quick buck off of Harry Potter.

Chris B. of Columbus, Ohio, says:

I guess that world must be a safe place indeed for all the little boys and girls out there if Harry Potter is the crisis of the moment. I'm 31 years old and I think those books are GREAT! My fiancé and I have all of them and we can't wait until we have kids old enough to read the books to them.

It's odd that I don't recall the Super-Christians getting all bent out of shape about the Chronicles of Narnia. Oh, that right, those are written by a Christian writer.

Get a grip and find a battle that needs fighting for the children. I think that if you really fancy yourself a Crusader For Children you might consider worrying about the 40% of the 4th graders in this country who couldn't read Harry Potter if they wanted to because they're ILLITERATE!!!

Bryan G. writes:

Just an FYI on the Pushing the limits of 'Profiling' segment:

I ride TRAX every day, and while the transit rent-a-cops rarely are seen during business hours they are much more prevalent during off-peak times. However, whenever I've seen them they ask everyone in the car for proof of fare payment.

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