A Michigan high school student who wanted to share her religious objections to homosexuality during her school's annual Diversity Week was forbidden from doing so by school officials and as a result has filed a federal lawsuit alleging her free speech rights were violated, says the Thomas More Law Center.

The student, Betsy Hansen, and her mother are suing Ann Arbor Public Schools and several of its administrators and faculty members from Pioneer High School. The mother said she objects to the school's practice of promoting religious beliefs that conflict with the religious beliefs of her children and family.

The lawsuit alleges that during the school's Diversity Week in March, Betsy's attempt to make statements critical of homosexuality during a panel titled "Homosexuality and Religion" was quashed by school officials. Her view was deemed a "negative" message and that would "water-down" the "positive" religious message that they wanted to convey, according to the lawsuit.

School officials denied Betsy's request to have members on the panel who would present the dominant Roman Catholic belief that homosexuality is immoral. They also created written guidelines that prohibited, among other things, members of a student panel also discussing the subject from making comments that "target" another person's "sexual orientation."

"In their zeal to promote the homosexual agenda during this so-called 'Diversity Week,' school officials gave a powerful lesson of intolerance and bigotry toward traditional Christian beliefs," said Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

Dixie Melody 'Not Patriotic'

A black singer objecting to the song "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" being scheduled as part of a Sept. 11 memorial concert in Maitland, Fla., quit rather than take part in the event because she said the song connotes slavery, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

The song, made famous in 1918 by performer Al Jolson, includes lyrics such as "Mammy" and "Old Black Joe." It — along with "God Bless America," "America the Beautiful," "Proud to Be an American," and others — was due to be part of a patriotic concert in town later this month.

But Denise Beumer, who was scheduled to sing two solos in the show, said she was offended by the words.

"It's not patriotic," she said. "When we are saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing 'God Bless America,' that means something to me. But then when we throw this song in, it's almost like a mockery of 9/11."

The group's conductor and music director offered to change "Mammy" to "Mommy" and "Old Black Joe" to "Old Man Joe" in his version, but Beumer said that wasn't enough.

She quit, and now she is asking the Maitland City Council to cut the city's $5,000 annual funding of the choir.

Fishing Expedition

Two officials at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado have been placed on temporary leave and an investigation continues into reports that cadets there performed skits from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life at a pre-graduation party, reports The Associated Press.

Cadets reportedly performed the skit at a gathering known as a "dining-in," which is similar to an office party. The event was not open to the public but was held in a restaurant. Academy officials wouldn't say how many people attended the dining-in, where it was held, or what year the cadets were.

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said his office received a complaint about the play's content, which included a scene of a teacher graphically describing foreplay to his pupils.

Academy spokesman Neil Talbott said he expects an inquiry into the matter by the Air Force's inspector general to take two to three weeks.

Workers of the World Attack

Hardcore vegetarians known as vegans say they are shunning honey because the production process involves the use of oppressed animals — namely bees, reports Time magazine.

Honey involves the enslavement of the gentle insects, says People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Honey farmers have been known to remove the wings of queen bees to keep them close to home and have them artificially inseminated on so-called "rape racks."

Large commercial operations also have been known to take all their bees' honey and replace it with a cheap sugar substitute that is not as tasty.

The oppressed masses are now fighting back, however. The Associated Press reports that a 90-year-old beekeeper in Austria was hospitalized last week after suffering 1,000 stings when he approached his pint-sized slave labor camps without protection gear.

Leggo My Dagos

A Florida couple who wanted to express pride in their Italian heritage with the license plate "2 Dagos" are being told to return the plate to the state because some people feel it's an ethnic slur, reports the AP.

Phil and Fran Lascola are fighting the request, saying they don't consider the term insulting. "How in the world could they say this is obscene?" says Phil Lascola. "We're Italians, we're not slamming anybody."

But state officials don't agree. "The department has the broad statutory authority to recall any license plate on which the alphanumeric combination is deemed to be either obscene and/or objectionable," says Robert Sanchez, spokesman for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He said combinations that could be taken as ethnic slurs could fall within the guidelines for objectionable.

No Cigar

Lleyton Hewitt, the 21-year-old Australian who walked away with the Wimbledon trophy this year, is under fire from anti-smoking groups back home because he was photographed with a cigar in his mouth while celebrating his win, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Queensland Cancer Fund said he sent a terrible message to children around the world by being pictured smoking a Cuban stogie at the Champions' Dinner after the tournament.

"We're dealing with very impressionable young people here," the fund's acting executive director, Alan Hooper, said. "We're dealing with people who see a sporting hero, someone they admire and look up to and, in most cases, would like to emulate."

But Hewitt's managers said he doesn't smoke. "It's not his, he wasn't smoking at all," a spokeswoman said. "The camera happened to catch him being a 21-year-old with his friends."

Victimology Unbound

Animal rights activists in Los Angeles are urging the City Council there to strike the term "owner" from local codes and instead refer to all pets' companion people as "guardian" because the former doesn't accurately reflect the importance of pets in today's world, reports the Los Angeles Times.

After being nudged by In Defense of Animals, a rights group based in Mill Valley, Calif., the Los Angeles Animal Services Commission last month unanimously voted to replace the term in its documents and conversations. Later this month, the three members of the commission will consider whether to urge the City Council to make the policy citywide.

"This is part of a change of conscience, just as there was a change of conscience in terms of how society should treat minorities, how they should treat the handicapped, how they should treat children, and how they should treat women," said Elliot M. Katz, founder of the group.

"The word 'owner' is outdated and doesn't reflect the human-animal bond that exists in our culture today," he said.

If the council goes along with the change, the city will join in the "pet guardian" camp the state of Rhode Island and the cities of Berkeley; West Hollywood; Boulder, Colo.; Amherst, Mass.; Sherwood, Ark.; and Menomonee Falls, Wis. San Francisco and Marin County officials are expected to consider similar proposals soon.

Watch Your Tongue

A country music singer who told his audience at a concert in Colorado that immigrants should learn to speak English was denounced as a racist and hateful, reports The Denver Post.

In a speech between sets at the Greeley Independence Stampede, singer Chad Brock expressed frustration at immigrants' reluctance to embrace English. "You are coming to our country. We don't speak Russian. We don't speak Spanish. We speak English here," Brock told the audience, according to the Greeley Tribune.

Brock said his comments were meant to express his "pride in being American" and weren't mean to offend anyone. "I'm not a racist. I wasn't directing the comments toward any particular group. I was speaking my mind as an American" during the Fourth of July holiday, he said.

But some local Hispanics were outraged. "His comments were bigoted, inflammatory and hateful," said Roberto Cordova, a local college professor.

At a news conference, some Hispanic leaders said it wasn't the first time the Stampede has offended the city's growing Hispanic population. Last year, for example, organizers of the annual event canceled the fiesta section and renamed it Family Night.

Mailbag:

Jeff Z. writes:

There are plenty of places in the world that subscribe to the ideas that Ms. Cloud believes so strongly in. Perhaps she should find one that she CAN pledge her allegiance to. I’ll gladly help her pack!

Bob S. in Springfield, Ill., writes:

Your article is disingenuous. I've asked you many times in the past whether you are as much against rightwing PC as you are against leftwing PC, and you've never responded. You had your chance to dismiss the government-imposed recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as rightwing PC (a la McCarthyism) but you've been conspicuous in your silence on this. Even Gov. Jesse Ventura vetoed the law mandating the government-imposed recitation, labeling it as akin to "Nazi indoctrination." I conclude that you are a hypocrite (gosh, what a shock). Your credibility is zero if you only rail against PC you disagree with and ignore PC you do agree with. What else am I to think?

Lee R. writes:

I’m very surprised to see Tongue Tied’s attacks on the pledge verdict. The decision to add ‘under God’ to the pledge of allegiance in the 1950s was a blatant act of political correctness, just as we see today coming from our modern-day more-liberal government. Political correctness has come from both the left AND the right over the ages and it needs to be fought on both fronts with equal strength if we all truly care about freedom. Having kids pledge allegiance to a flag has nothing to do with believing in God. I read Tongue Tied consistently as I despise all forms of political correctness, but you do a disservice by not understanding that political correctness is a two way street. It can come from the right as well as the left.;

John B. from Hoffman Estates, Ill., writes:

It would appear that atheist zealot Mike Newdow was contemplating neutering our language while watching Scooby Doo.

Jonathan B. writes:

Concerning getting rid of masculine and feminine pronouns, please consider the following:

On a bright sunny day, Chris went over to Sally’s house to play ball, but re forgot rees glove, so re went back in rees house and got it. When re came back, all erm friends were gone."

Who forgot their glove????

Ed G. writes:

When you stated that Michael Newdow said that he "wants to ferret out all uses of religion in daily life," I believe that you are misquoting. What Newdow, and almost every other atheist, wants is to remove religious references from government institutions (i.e., "public" life, not "daily" life). The government is supposed to serve all of us equally and should not be endorsing, coercing, or mandating any particular religious view.

Mike J. in Denver writes:

Dana Cloud's pledge reveals the true paradox at the heart of political correctness. In its efforts to remove "judgmentalism" from every form of expression, the PC crowd can't help but be judgmental. This "pledge" is nothing more than a diatribe against the U.S.A dressed up in Marxist garb.

Chris B. writes:

Just an observation: By asserting that "there is no right or wrong - everything is relative," these so-called academics have created an absolute. But, when you have one absolute, then "everything" can't, by definition, be relative. It's like making the statement "There are no absolutes." The statement itself is an absolute.

Which way do these underworked, overly protected Ivory Tower goof balls want it?

John B. of Provo, Utah, writes:

I have been a corporate writer for 40 years, and have been more or less forced to go along with a few PC-inflicted abominations committed against the English language. I always resist, but sometimes I have to give in to keep Cheerios on the table. Some years ago, I coined the term euphamasia to describe this insidious and willful destruction of the language by euphemism.

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