A British theater company dropped the word "hunchback" from its stage adaptation of the classic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame to avoid offending disabled people, reports The Associated Press.

Oddsocks Productions named the touring production of the show The Bellringer of Notre Dame following discussions with a disability adviser, who said it could offend people with spina bifida or the disfiguring scoliosis of the spine.

"We did not want to reinforce any stereotypes about Quasimodo's disability," said producer Ellie Mackenzie.

The original title of the novel by Victor Hugo was Notre Dame de Paris — the name of the ancient Catholic cathedral where the story takes place. The Hunchback part was added when the book was translated into English.

Adventures in Etymology

Jay Nordlinger of the National Review reports that the NCAA's Big Ten Conference and other college sports associations have stopped using the term "unsportsmanlike" to refer to rowdy behavior on the field.

Instead, the term "unsportslike" is being used. The intent is to remove the "man" part of the phrase so as not to offend female athletes.

Campers in the Crosshairs

The Bush administration's Agriculture Department is investigating the use of Native American symbols and tribal names in West Virginia's 4-H Club chapter as a possible civil rights violation, reports The Washington Times.

For 80 years, the 4-H camping groups have used the names of the Cherokee, Delaware, Mingo, and Seneca Indian tribes and gather in the evenings in Indian-inspired council circles that sometimes involve war whoops, "spirit sticks," ceremonial face paint, and headdresses.

The Agriculture Department received a complaint last year from a parent whose daughter attended a 4-H summer camp in 2000. The parent, Wes Harris, called the program "totally inappropriate.

"It's not about political correctness, it's about racism," he said.

The results of the Agriculture Department's investigation will be forwarded to the Justice Department, which could decide that the program violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

The 'Profiling' Juggernaut Rolls On

The National Fair Housing Alliance and a professor of education and linguistics from Stanford University are teaming up to study the phenomenon of linguistic profiling on housing discrimination, reports Realtor magazine.

The professor, John Baugh, will look at instances of bias that the housing markets show toward speakers of non-standard English over the telephone. Baugh and the NFHA believe speakers who do not "sound white" often are discriminated against over the telephone.

"Even though the courts are reasonably well equipped to prosecute cases of face-to-face discrimination," says Dr. Baugh, "they have a hard time understanding and applying the law to linguistic profiling, and that's where this research will help." 

Zealotry Ahoy

An Arizona high school teacher who attempted to maintain order in his classroom by keeping out a disruptive student was accused of being a racist and a bigot for his actions, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

Math teacher Jim Bloodsworth, a retired Air Force master sergeant, was forced to seek a restraining order against a student because, after the student assaulted a classmate, punched a hole in a window and threatened to kill the teacher, the school failed to do anything.

For seeking the restraining order, Bloodsworth was accused of mounting an "extremely bigoted, zealot, racist-attitude attack" by principal Steve Wilson, who likened the situation to "Mississippi in '54, only without the rope."

Smoke-Free Chickens

An animal rights group is complaining that a casino game in which people play tic-tac-toe against a chicken is cruel and demeaning to the chickens, reports the Evansville Courier & Press.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it had received numerous calls about the "Chicken Challenge" game being played at Aztar casinos in Evansville, Ind., Atlantic City, N.J., and Las Vegas.

"Some callers are concerned about the poor quality of life for the chickens kept in the tiny boxes, others are irritated about the message of disrespect conveyed by the game, and still others are outraged by both," said PETA's Amy Rhodes.

Casino Aztar spokeswoman Pam Martin said the chickens were kept in a temperature-controlled, smoke-free environment where they are regularly cared for and fed. "I think it's a considerate environment for any animal," said Martin. "It's a much better life than some chickens are subjected to."

Mailbag:

Imre B. writes:

The attitude of the administration of the University of California at San Diego is symptomatic of the typical academic attitude — namely that any opinion not to the extreme left of the average U.S. citizen's view of the world is an opinion not worth having.

Not only are our children being taught by a group which would starve if forced to make a living in the real world, they are also so far outside the norm of our society, as to be considered "eccentric" by the rest of us (and I am being very generous by using that word).

My grandfather was forced to leave Hungary because, as a newspaper editor, he criticized first the Fascists then the Communists. These two groups are two sides of the same coin, a coin that is becoming legal tender in the universities of America. Who needs Maoists, Saddam's iron fist, a military junta or Al Qaeda as an enemy when we have our own homegrown despots running our schools and living on our tax dollars?

Tom W. in China writes:

I can't help thinking Usama and his buddies must crack up laughing when reading about the PC traumas we suffer through.

Gordon P. writes:

In reference to the California school that wants to ban children from playing tag because the bigger, stronger kids have an unfair advantage, shouldn't they also ban spelling bees? Aren't the smarter kids given an unfair advantage over the slow learners?

Crissie N. writes:

I can understand why the American Muslim Council doesn't like the State Department's warning on Saudi-American marriages. It certainly doesn't make them look good from a westerner's eyes. But does that make it wrong to circulate the warning? I think it's a good practice for any one contemplating marrying and moving into a different culture to learn all she (or in some cases, he) can about it first. The warning was issued to educate American women, not to insult Muslims.

Ben J. writes:

I hope for the safety of all the children in Cedar Rapids that they are taught how to swim before they are released into local ponds.

Frank V. writes:

I read this article whenever I can, and I'm always amused at the stories you find. Sometimes I don't know what's funnier — the stories, or the people who write in to defend the idiotic actions that are written about.

This week in particular, I loved the story about the coffee. I used to work for Starbucks coffee, and now have a $50 a day coffee habit, so I suppose it struck a chord with me. Is this guy serious? What's next on the list for this guy, making sure the glaze on his Cinnabun isn't made in a sweatshop? I'd have loved to have been one of the people he asked to sign his petition. He reminds me of most of the other activists you see — too worried about the fate of the seagull dropping to do something productive with their lives.

Respond to the Writer