Black legislators in Virginia are refusing to salute the state flag with the rest of their colleagues in the House of Delegates because the salute itself was written in the 1950s by a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, reports The Virginia-Pilot.

The words themselves have no racial overtones, but the possible history of the 30-word pledge has given some legislators pause. The state's black caucus decided as a group not to recite the pledge and have asked that it be retired.

"I'm not going to say something that offends someone," said Republican Winsome Sears of Norfolk. "I am my brother's keeper. My first duty is to not do things that are offensive to others."

Demeaned Poultry

The folks at United Poultry Concerns are worked up over an ad for Carl's Jr. restaurants, claiming it "portrays chickens in a degrading and demeaning manner," reports the Los Angeles Times.

The ad shows a group of men in suits standing around as one turns a live chicken every which way in a futile search for nuggets. They note that the chicken has wings, a breast and thighs, but no nuggets. The punch line shows a man removing a rubber glove and saying, "It's not there, either."

UPC's president, Karen Davis, said the group objects to the derisive treatment of the bird's body. The bright lights of filming, the numerous takes likely needed to produce the spot and the absence of a "significant other" to calm the chicken would combine to make the experience stressful for the chicken, she said.

Larry Brayman, a spokesman in St. Louis for CKE Restaurants Inc., said no animals were harmed in the making of the commercial.

Old White Men

The new president of the New York City borough of Brooklyn says he is taking down a portrait of "old white man" George Washington that's hung in the office for years so the walls will be more reflective of the city's diversity, reports the New York Post.

Marty Markowitz said he will probably hang a portrait of a black person or a woman in his office in place of the country's first president, moving the "Father of Our Country" elsewhere in Borough Hall.

"I respect history ... but there has to be a recognition that this is 2002," Markowitz said. "There's not one picture of a person of color, not one kid, not one Latin. Borough Hall should reflect the richness of our diversity."

Old White Women

Another New York City borough president, Helen Marshall of Queens, is yanking down yet another portrait, this one of British Queen Catherine of Braganza — the borough's namesake — because she profited from slavery in the 17th century, reports the New York Post.

"Helen is looking to replace what's in our hallways now with a new art exhibit that will really reflect the diversity of the population here," Marshall spokesman Dan Andrews said.

Angry Queens residents scuttled plans to erect a giant statue of the Portuguese-born monarch in 1998 after complaining that the borough would be hailing someone who supported the African slave trade. 

(Thanks to Kevin M.)

Insensitive Scales

A public scale that told a woman to "get off, fat pig" and abused a man who had put on some weight over Christmas was removed from a busy shopping center in Australia because it was offending people, reports Reuters.

Managers of the Melbourne mall pulled the plug on the coin-operated scale after several customers complained about the offensive comments, made on printouts supposed to offer details about their weight and height.

"The comments that the machine spat out were offensive and it was removed immediately and is being examined by the supplier," spokeswoman Melanie Shelton told Reuters. "A preliminary audit indicated someone had tampered with the machine and altered its usual messages such a[s] Happy Christmas and Happy New Year."

Straight, and Proud of It

A federal judge in Minnesota ruled that a high school student has a constitutional right to wear a sweat shirt with the words "Straight Pride" on it, reports The Associated Press.

Woodbury High School officials violated that right last year when they ordered Elliott Chambers, currently a junior, not to wear the sweat shirt because it might make gay students at the school feel uncomfortable.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled that the dress code was unconstitutional when applied to Chambers. He said there are circumstances when a school can prohibit student expression ordinarily protected by the U.S. Constitution, but this was not one of them.

To read the Fox version of the story click here.

Mean Pinball:

Reader Avery U. in Boulder, Colo., sends this from The Daily Camera's entertainment listings:

"Pinball Wizard: The Who's concept album Tommy about the rise and fall of an abused, physically challenged pinball player, may have broken new musical ground in 1969, but the eye-popping technology in the 1993 Tony Award-winning stage version is all state of the art. The Who's Tommy returns to the Buell Theatre for four more performances, at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday."

From the Central Servers:

Trace C. writes:

If the Redskin potato is to be used as a defense, then the Washington Redskins should have a potato on their helmets and as a "mascot." No other ethnic group would be permitted to be used as a "mascot", why should Native Americans be singled out?

Nick H. in Winesburg, Ohio, writes:

Let's follow Peter Herbert's spectacular logic for a minute. If I get mugged on the streets and the mugger steals all of my money it surely isn't his fault. It is the fault of the federal government for making money valuable in the first place. Shame on them. The mugger is just a poor victim trying to get ahead.

Chris S. in Seminole, Okla., writes:

So, Canadian high school dropouts should be relabeled "early school leavers" because the word "dropout" stigmatizes and victimizes them with low self-esteem? I've got a better idea for a name that accurately identifies these former learners — quitters. They weren't forced to quit school, they volunteered for lifelong ignorance. Self-esteem comes from successfully meeting a genuine challenge, not from a psycho-friendly name.

Bill C. in Grand Junction, Colo., writes:

I think I'm getting the hang of it! Let's start calling Deadbeat Dads, behind schedule child providers, Terrorists, Radical frighteners, Drunk Drivers, Sobriety challenged commuters and Politicians, Morally challenged electorate. Oops, don't want to offend the politicians.

Salequah in Baton Rouge, La., writes:

As a Native American and very proud of my heritage, I have no problem with the football team from our nation's capital being called the Redskins. What I do have a problem with is that team from Texas who says they are America's Team and they are called what?

David S. wonders:

What will the politically correct speech police replace "people of color" with when Caucasians become a minority? It won't be long before no single ethnic group has over 50% of the population and we can all claim "minority status."

Lars L. in Minnesota writes:

As a Scandinavian-American I am in complete agreement with those who want to change the name of the Washington Redskins. I would like to add the Minnesota Vikings to the list of those teams who need a name change. Far from being the barbaric savages portrayed by the team, the media and racist history book writers, my ancestors were gentle, peace loving, seafarers who wanted nothing more than to live in harmony with both land and sea.

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