The New York City Board of Education banned the phrase "God bless you" from writings on school property after a teachers union representative questioned whether it violated the U.S. Constitution, reports the New York Post.

The issue arose after Board of Ed lawyers ordered Beach Channel High School in Queens to remove a "God bless you" greeting from a sign placed prominently in front of the school. The sign was put up by the school's parents association.

A Board of Ed lawyer told the school that the sign violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

Show No Evil

Following the 9/11 terror attacks, Paramount Pictures recast the villains in the latest Tom Clancy movie, The Sum of All Fears, making them neo-Nazis instead of Arab, reports Variety.

In the movie, a cabal of Al Qaeda-like terrorists detonate a nuclear weapon at the Super Bowl, killing tens of thousands of Americans, in an effort to aggravate Soviet-U.S. tension and prevent a Middle Eastern peace settlement.

But after 9/11, the studio changed the ethnicity of the terrorists out of fear that it would encourage anti-Arab sentiments.

See No Evil

Guidelines for airport security screeners issued by the Department of Transportation specifically discourage guards from singling out for closer examination anyone speaking Arabic or appearing to be from the Middle East, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The edict, titled "FAA Guidance for Screeners and Other Security Personnel," says closer examination of people who look or act like terrorists must not take place because it is discriminating against people on the basis of national origin.

"Selection [for closer examination] must not be based solely because a person speaks Arabic, Farsi, or another foreign language, or solely because they speak with an accent that may lead one to believe they are Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and/or Muslim," the DOT says.

Road Rage

A Washington state lawmaker who recently learned of a highway's long-forgotten designation as Jefferson Davis Highway No. 99 is outraged and demands that the road be renamed and a pair of plaques at each end of the highway be removed, reports The Herald of Everett, Wash.

"In this state, we cannot have a monument to a guy who led the insurgency to perpetuate slavery and killed half a million Americans," said Democratic Rep. Hans Dunshee.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy established the Jefferson Davis Highway in 1913 as a chain of highways across the country. Davis was the first and only president of the Confederate States of America.

Dunshee has introduced a bill in the Legislature to change the highway's name to the "William P. Stewart Memorial Highway," in honor of a man from one of the first black families to settle in Snohomish County. Stewart fought with the Union during the Civil War.

The Devil's Work

The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened a federal lawsuit against the mayor of a Florida town for her proclamation banning Satan within the town limits, reports The Associated Press.

The ACLU told Inglis, Fla., Mayor Carolyn Risher that it would sue unless she removes anti-Satan proclamations from four posts that sit at the town's entrances. The group also wants the town commission to pass a resolution repealing Risher's edict and is demanding that Risher reimburse the town for any costs of printing it.

Risher wrote a proclamation casting Satan out of the town on Halloween night last year. It was typed on town stationary, signed and affixed with the town seal. She then put a copy on her office wall and then placed others at the town entrances.

Coming Soon: Sideline Sacrifices?

San Diego State University last week debuted its new Aztec "ambassador" mascot, designed to replace the earlier mascot, Monty Montezuma, which was criticized as racially offensive, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The new mascot will not be prancing along the sidelines at Aztec football games wielding a flaming spear and rallying fans. The new historically accurate mascot, portrayed by Alberto Martinez, will instead "celebrate, honor, respect and educate people on Aztec culture," Martinez said.

Some of the students who complained earlier were not happy with the new incarnation, though.

"What the hell is this?" asked Manny Lieras, president of the Native American Student Alliance, which started the movement to ban Monty. "This is horrible. ... This guy is no different than what we had before."

Grey Lady

The New York Post's Page Six column reports that the venerable New York Times is no longer using the phrase "girlfriend" in reference to adults in its news pages because it offends feminist sensibilities.

The Post said a Times writer was interviewing an architect when the man referred to his girlfriend. The architect was informed that editorial overlords at the paper had nixed the phrase, preferring instead the term "whom he dates."

Maple-Leaf Rag

A Canadian college student was asked to remove that country's flag from a window in his apartment because it might offend non-Canadians or new immigrants, reports the Edmonton Journal.

Clark Barr's landlord delivered the admonition in the form of a note slipped under his door. Barr put the flag into a sliding glass door of his ground-floor apartment because he wanted to express his patriotism and his support for Canadian troops who will soon leave the city for Afghanistan.

Barr said he called the landlord to object, but was told that it must come down out of respect to people from other nations. "Just because we have a flag up doesn't mean we're disrespecting people," he said. "It's the Canadian flag, for God's sake. It's not a communist flag."

From the Central Servers:

Brent R. from Baton Rouge, La., writes:

What I don't understand is how people see only their ethnic group as singled out for mascots. There are many mascots that are associated with ethnic or social groups: Cowboys, Knights, Chiefs, Patriots, Steelers, Titans, 49ers, Packers, Vikings, Saints, Giants, Redskins, etc. Many of these are symbols or tyranny, violence, and other "offensive" concepts. Knights raped women, Giants are tall and heavy people, Saints are a religious group, etc. Why is it only non-white symbols are under attack? Get a thicker skin people!

David T. in Atlanta, Ga., writes:

A person such as George Washington is not honored for his mistakes but for his accomplishments. If we remove all historical figures from our institutions, schools and history books merely because they happen to be old white men and imperfect then western history would only take a couple of seconds to teach.

Bryant in Delaware asks:

Will the black legislators in Virginia who refuse to salute their flag next refuse to adhere to the Constitution? After all, it was written by slave-holders?

Rob T., along with many others, missed the sarcasm:

To Lars L. in Minnesota who called the Vikings "gentle, peace loving, seafarers:" I know some northern and highland Scots that would vehemently disagree with you. The people in many towns were massacred and churches destroyed by Viking raids. Stop trying to re-write history.

Bryant H. of Bozeman, Mont., writes:

Here are the mascots I expect to see changed and the reasons why:

Patriots because unpatriotic people, or non-Americans, feel excluded!
Giants and Titans because of their exclusion of average or under-average sized people!
Saints because of their religious connotation!
Vikings, Raiders, and Buccaneers because they portray marauders and thieves who undoubtedly harassed countless people and it still haunts their descendants to this very day!
Cowboys because, well, if this one isn't obvious, you must not be a very sensitive person and border on being a bigot!

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