Tongue Tied: Pampered Porkers, Quote Quotas and the Prince of Gaffes Strikes Again

A Jay Leno crack about South Koreans and dogs drew the ire of both Koreans and Korean Americans and prompted NBC to issue a statement insisting that the late-night comedian didn't mean to offend anyone, reports Reuters.

Leno joked that Olympic skater Kim Dong-sung "was so mad he went home and kicked the dog, and then ate him" when he was disqualified in a 1,500-meter race in Salt Lake City.

Politicians in Korea called Leno "ill-mannered" and said he should not be hosting a TV program.

Karen Narasaki, chair of the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, said Korean Americans also took offense. Such humor amounts to ethnic stereotyping, she said.

Piggies Need Quality Time Too

German pig farmers are buying their animals toys and giving them "quality time" in order to meet the requirements of a new directive from the country's agriculture ministry, reports London's Daily Telegraph.

The rules are part of a series of European Union guidelines for pig farmers that the German government has decided to phase in by the end of 2003.

Dr. Karl-Heinz Placke, who is responsible for animal welfare in the Schleswig-Holstein area, said that the rules require all pigs to get at least 20 seconds of the farmer's time each day. Larger farms with up to 1,500 pigs will obviously have to take on extra staff or get family members involved in this duty, he said.

Placke said the pigs should be kept happy with two or three toys and extra lighting should be provided in winter to keep the pigs from becoming depressed.

Quote Quotas

Staffers at ABC News have been told that their evaluations will henceforth take into account the number of minorities they consult while reporting stories, reports USA Today.

ABC management graciously compiled a database of 480 minority sources that can be called to fulfill the quote quotas.

"The goal here is to make sure that when we are seeking experts outside the news division to help explain stories we're working on, we include in the group we're considering a wide variety of possibilities, rather than simply going back to the same, limited group," ABC News President David Westin wrote in an e-mail to staffers.

Both CBS and NBC have rules similar to ABC's and grade producers on the issue accordingly, the paper says. CNN has a diversity plan but doesn't grade producers on it. Fox News just talks to people who know what they are talking about regardless of their race or gender.

Prince of Gaffes

England's 80-year-old Prince Philip, touring Australia with his wife the queen last week, is said to have enraged aboriginal militants by asking a tribal leader in jest whether they "still throw spears at each other," reports London's Evening Standard.

William Brin, the tribal leader directly involved, laughed off the comment, saying: "I don't mind. It was quite funny. I found it amusing, but I was rather surprised he said  it." But the Standard managed to find an angry aborigine, however, to call the remark "ignorant and offensive."

Philip is renowned for remarks that are apparently made in jest but sometimes called offensive. Among the more memorable:

At a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting: "If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it."

Regarding an old-fashioned fuse box in a factory near Edinburgh: "It looks as if it was put in by an Indian."

In 1998, to a student who had trekked through Papua, New Guinea: "You managed not to get eaten, then?"

England's Shortest

A 5-foot-1-inch firefighter in England is suing her department for sexual discrimination because it did not design its equipment with her short stature in mind, reports London's Daily Telegraph.

Katie Reid, 31, was taken off active duty after a number of incidents in which she was not able to reach equipment, pull out hoses and lift ladders because of her height. She also could not reach the emergency keys in an elevator, which meant she was unable to deal with any emergencies involving elevators.

As a result, she said she became embarrassed and depressed because she felt other firemen did not want to work with her.

An official height restriction that banned recruits under 5 feet 6 inches was ended in April 1997 because it was considered discriminatory.

Plus-Sized Aerobics

A 5-foot-8-inch, 240-pound fitness buff in San Francisco filed a weight-discrimination complaint with that city's Human Rights Commission after the Jazzercise company rejected her application to teach classes, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Jennifer Portnick says that because she can nail complicated dance steps without a problem she should be entitled to work for the company. But in a letter to Portnick, the company said fitness involves more than just weight.

"Jazzercise sells fitness," Maureen Brown, Jazzercise's director of franchise programs, wrote. "Consequently, a Jazzercise applicant must have a higher muscle-fat ratio and look leaner than the public. People must believe Jazzercise will help them improve, not just maintain their level of fitness."

Activists praised Portnick's pluck.

"I think this case is taking fat people out of the stereotypical role that we are lazy and eat bonbons all day," said Maryanne Bodolay, executive director of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. "I think what this says is we want to get out and move and make our environment safe for us."

Sitting Down for Democracy

Reporters covering the state Legislature in Florida don't feel the need to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance because their mere presence is enough of a patriotic act, reports The Tampa Tribune.

After complaints from visitors, Senate Majority Leader Jim King suggested in a memo that the media "help in setting an example to all of those in attendance by taking part in this important gesture of national respect if you are 'visible' to the audience."

But Lesley Clark, a reporter for The Miami Herald and vice president of the Capital Press Corps, said reporters aren't part of the Senate proceedings and shouldn't have to stand.

"We're in a separate room working, observing the Senate and letting the public know what their elected officials are up to — certainly an important part of democracy," Clark said.

From the Central Servers:

Edward V. in Las Cruces, N.M., writes:

I agree with Ms. Rhodes in that the cow used in "cow bingo" at Florida Southern College should not be used for entertainment purposes. It should be used for consumption, preferably medium rare. After all, I too
am a member of PETA (People for the Eating of Tasty Animals).

Michelle T. writes:

What else will those stupid people come up with? I agree -- animals serve us and should not be ridiculed or subjected to people's hunger for stupidity! What a degradable game to play, and then to involve children in it is the summum of idiocy. That's shows where we are going, doesn't it? Pity the fools.

Ross L. in Jackson, Mich., writes:

I attended Michigan State University for five years.  I spent nearly three years of that time working for the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety. It was the most politically correct university and police department I have ever seen and I would never go back and work there again.

It baffles my mind that ethnic intimidation is even linked to the promotional fliers for "Kung Pow.” I guess MSU will have to ban comedy on the campus as any joke will offend someone if they look hard enough.  The saddest part is a movie were to be about "Rednecks", not one person on campus would object despite the negative

Darryl H. in N.C. writes:

I agree, it's high time we showed our appreciation for telemarketers! If PETS would only publish their home telephone numbers, I would be glad to call each one at supper time to express my feelings.

Jim M. in Kansas City writes:

This country isn't as fun as it used to be. I wonder if our government could set aside a State for those of us who do not take ourselves too seriously

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