Tortilla Troubles, Down With Dixie

The president of the University of Arizona is asking students to refrain from the tradition of tossing tortillas into the air at graduation because to do so might be culturally offensive to some people, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

Officials at the university said they have been receiving complaints about the tradition. UA grad student Ray Siqueiros said he was "sickened" to see the flying flour patties in December, when his wife received her master's degree in bilingual library science.

"It was rude. It was appalling," Siqueiros said.

But student Ty Trujillo, who was due to graduate over the weekend, defended the tradition. "Don't even get me started on that," he said. "It takes the fun out of graduation." 

Marketplace of Ideas, Part I

Professors who had the nerve to raise questions about the inequitable salaries and perks being offered to their younger, less-experienced minority colleagues at Iowa State University were accused of being hostile and racially insensitive, reports the Des Moines Register.

In written comments to the head of the journalism school at ISU, the white professors questioned whether they were being discriminated against. Three of the four minority professors in the department resigned when they got wind of the comments, citing "hostility."

Following the fracas, the journalism school’s chairman and associate department head were forced to step down, and the school reaffirmed its commitment to recruiting and retaining minority faculty. The complaints were called out of line.

"Individuals who make the claim that they are being discriminated against to favor minorities, I think simply do not understand the constraints that are put in a minority's way," the school’s provost, Rollin Richmond said. 

Triangle Trip-Up

A senior at Lakeland Community College in Ohio who objected to a class assignment requiring him to wear a pink triangle around for a day as a symbol of gay rights then write about the experience was told he would get an ‘F’ if he didn’t comply, reports NewsNet5 in Cleveland.

The unnamed senior said he had moral objections to the assignment and asked the professor if an alternate assignment was available. Initially, he was told that there was not and that he would fail the class if he didn’t wear the triangle.

"It's a moral issue I have," he said. "I pay tuition to come to this school. I shouldn't have to defend my moral issues."

After the television station began inquiring about his situation, the student said he received an apology note from the teacher and was exempted from the assignment.

A Perennial Favorite

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Sonoma State University in California has changed the name of its team mascot fromt he Cossacks to the Seawolves because the former, who have been blamed for massacring Jews, represent anti-Semitism, violence and murder.

The Chronicle, in its Mascot Watch feature, also reports that the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has dropped its Mohawks team name and Quinnipiac University will lose its Braves mascot. Both names, the universities said, perpetuate stereotypes and historically inaccurate perceptions of American Indians.

Peace Offensive

Muslim leaders in Britain called a London rally in support of Israel and peace in the Middle East "offensive" and a "provocation" because it came within days of Israeli army activity in the West Bank, reports the BBC.

Massoud Shadjareh, the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission there, said the rally of about 30,000 in Trafalgar Square was "extremely offensive, not just to one community but to all of us who believe in certain absolute values" because it happened within a few days of Israel’s mop-up in Jenin.

Kumar Murshid, chairman of the London Muslim Coalition, said it could not have come at a more insensitive time. He called it a "provocation."

Organizers described the rally as "for peace and the resumption of talks in the Middle East" and not necessarily in support or otherwise of current Israeli Government policies. "The aim is to say yes to peace and no to terror," a spokesman said.

Anyone Told the Dixie Chicks?

Some folks in Alabama are so offended by the phrase "Heart of Dixie" — which they say glorifies the slave days — on their state license plates, that they are obscuring parts of the plates to cover the word "Dixie," reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Karen Taylor, a 44-year-old native of the state, said she placed tape over the word on her license plate. She views the plate as kind of an official consecration of a slave-holding Confederate past.

"'Dixie' was used as a fight song for the Confederacy, to keep things the way they are — to keep the South in a slave-holding capacity," Taylor says. "Any black person would be offended by that...."

The debate is an old one, the paper reports, but flared up again recently when Taylor received a traffic ticket for obscuring her license plate and because redesigned plates issued since January have all-but obscured the phrase.

Marketplace of Ideas, Part II

A University of California at Berkeley teacher offering an undergraduate English course on "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance" is under fire for warning in the course description that conservatives "are encouraged to seek other sections," reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Snehal Shingavi, 26, a fifth-year graduate student in English and a leader of Students for Justice in Palestine, says in the description that the right of Palestinians to fight for their own self-determination is not up for debate.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl called the course description a "failure of oversight" by the English Department and promised that the class will be monitored to ensure that it does not exclude or discourage qualified students from participating.

"It is imperative that our classrooms be free of indoctrination — indoctrination is not education. Classrooms must be places in which an open environment prevails and where students are free to express their views," Berdahl said in a statement.

Prom Problems 

A gay high school senior in Sacramento, Calif. said she is being discriminated against because the school will not let her run for prom king, reports the Sacramento Bee

Kristine Lester, 18, said that Encinas High School officials said her name would not be on the ballot because only males can run for prom king and only females can run for prom queen. 

Lester said she believes the school is discriminating against her because she is gay. 

Officials with the school district said they are backing the principal’s decision and denied there was any discrimination involved. 

From the Central Servers: 

Paul S. in Groton, Conn., writes: 

Some don't want Indian names for team mascots, others don't want rockets. Why don't we use names like Daisies? Wait, that may offend Vegans. How about Sparrows? Wait, that may offend PETA. Maybe the Mighty Oaks? Wait, the environmentalists may complain. What ever will we do? 

Harold H. writes: 

In answer to Mary's question ("Have your heritage and cultural traditions ever been subjected to clown-like trivialization?") the answer is an unequivocal "YES!" 

Mary should try being a Southern White Male. We seem to be the last acceptable stereotype. My ancestors were poor farmers, never owned slaves, joined up to fight when an invading army threatened their state in 1862, finally lost the farm to the same invading army during Reconstruction. Where are my Reparations? 

Umesh J. writes: 

What does Fox News mean to imply by its use of the phrase "One Man's Abuse..."? The phrase is assumed to continue "Is Another Man's Free Speech." 

Clearly, Fox thinks abusive threats and harassment are protected by free speech. Okay then, let's see the white boys at Fox react to a barrage of insults and threats against whites, in say, South Central LA. Guess who'll be first to the rescue of the whites in L.A., decrying the abusive nature of any attack on whites? If you guessed Fox, you're smarter than you look. 

Mike Kintner in Glendora, Calif., writes: 

Kudos to Andrew Smith. It's too bad that there are not more politicians on both sides of the fence who have the courage he showed by voicing his opinion. What part of 'illegal' do people not understand? Why should illegal immigrants not be subjected fully to the law? Insensitive or not, lets open our eyes and face the facts, folks! 

David T. in Atlanta, Ga., writes: 

When people complain about public funds being used to produce art like dung-covered Madonna and child, the politically correct and their lawyers scream about censorship and claim that, even if they paid for it, the taxpayers do not have a right to object or stop its display. 

Now a young woman designs a cover that has the words "God Bless America" on it and the lawyers censor it and make her change it to suit their legal opinions? I pay a rather stiff school tax each year even though I have never had a child in the system and feel that if the artist who does sacrilegious art cannot be stopped from using our tax money and public facilities such as museums to display his or her art, then the young woman should have the same right to use that same tax money and public forum (school) to put "God Bless America" on her yearbook cover. 

Jerry Rose in Cave Creek, Ariz., writes: 

What did that UConn student say? She doesn’t believe in censorship, but she wants the television show taken off the air because it makes her feel like she lives in a really hostile environment? You know, I don’t believe in stereotypes, but any chance she was a blonde sorority girl?

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