A New Hampshire judge has refused requests by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to scuttle an annual pig scramble at a local fair despite the group's pleas that the event is dangerous to the piglets, reports The Union Leader.

The SPCA likened the 4-H-sponsored event to the human "freak shows" that once were common during summer fairs. The concern is that a beefy farm boy might fall on top of a piglet and injure it, or that families who take pigs home won't know how to care for them.

The event in question involves placing eight piglets in a pen and allowing up to 10 children, ages 8 to 18, to chase after them in three-minute rounds, try to capture them and stuff them into bags. The winners get to keep the piggy.

Court testimony included commentary from professor Jerilee Zezula from the University of New Hampshire who said that being chased by a group of children "causes enough stress for [the piglet] to cause it long-term harm."

Even the Funnies

The Chicago Tribune has bounced Beetle Bailey from its comics page, and people with the comic's syndicate think that insensitivity toward women displayed by characters in the strip may be to blame, reports the Chicago Reader.

In June, the paper told readers that it was dropping Beetle Bailey from the lineup "as part of an ongoing effort to test the popularity of selected strips or to introduce new ones." The editors promised to make a final decision on the future of the strip later, but it has not been seen since.

George Haeberlein, VP of sales at King Features Syndicate, which shops the strip, says he has heard hints that sexism in the comic strip is to blame. "It came from within the Chicago Tribune, I don't know what level," he said of the alleged complaints. "We think it came from a pretty high level."

The cartoonist himself lamented the loss, but said he has tried to keep up with the times.

"I sent [General Halftrack] for sensitivity training a couple of years ago, and he hasn't leered at [Miss Buxley] since," says cartoonist Mort Walker. "He doesn't drool over her anymore. I've even toned down on some of the other characters, like Killer. I don't know what it is, but you're not allowed to look at women anymore. So I've stopped that."

History, Updated

A state landmark in California declaring that Round Valley was discovered by white settlers in 1854 is being updated following complaints from local Indian tribes that it didn't include a reference to the tide of Indian deaths and cultural destruction unleashed by that "discovery," reports The Associated Press.

State officials have installed a revised plaque acknowledging the valley's original inhabitants and explaining what happened to them.

The AP says other prominent places have also been renamed or updated in the West as part of a broader campaign to set the historical record straight in that state. The battlefield in Montana dubbed the spot of "Custer's Last Stand," for example, was renamed Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. It is no longer portrayed as the site of a tragic U.S. loss, but instead as that of a resounding Indian victory.

In Oakland, Calif., a statue of early San Jose Mayor Thomas Fallon has been stowed in an Oakland warehouse for more than a decade because Mexican-Americans complained that it represented American imperialism.

And in San Francisco, statues of early settler Juan Bautista de Anza and King Carlos III of Spain, who supported the United States during the Revolutionary War, also sit in a warehouse, banished from public display because of controversy over their association with colonialism.

Crossed Out

A federal judge in California has ruled that a six-foot cross lording over the Mojave National Preserve in California as a veterans memorial must be taken down because it constitutes an illegal government endorsement of religion, reports the Press-Enterprise.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Timlin of Riverside, Calif., cited decisions by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in determining that the "presence of the cross on federal land conveys a message of endorsement of religion."

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the National Park Service in March 2001, demanding that the cross the removed.

A prospector, John "Riley" Bembry, first raised a cross on the spot in the 1930s in honor of World War I veterans. 

Mailbag:

Jon G. in Bryan, Texas, writes:

Newberry medals or no, those parents in Cromwell have every right to demand the removal of questionable material from the school library. Satanic and occultic subject matter may have a place on the shelves of a public library, but not in a middle school library...especially when the taxpayers of that district, who are forced by the government to pay for those schools, do not want those books in there.

Corky P. writes:

I’m one of those dreaded conservative Christians, but I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond to my kids. It does not teach that there are such things as witches, or anything at all about witchcraft. It is a story of a lonely widow unjustly accused of being a witch, and a kid who befriends her. Those who object are being PC on the right, which bothers me because it undermines conservative’s credibility. Left or right, make sure you know what you are talking about before making a stink! It will make for a more pleasant and productive public discourse for all of us.

Jim F. writes: 

In regard to the parents in Cromwell, Conn., who want two Newberry Medal-winning books removed from the middle school curriculum because they say the books promote witchcraft and violence: They just need to change their reason for removal from saying they promote witchcraft to saying the books promote religion. Then, the books would be removed before you could say "Amen". 

Jim R. writes:

Just dropping a note concerning the turmoil caused by the women's movement at the PETA convention. Could we be lucky enough to see the PC movement consume itself from the inside like termites in a house? Is it possible that breeding emotional weakness may actually be a self-solving problem?

Jordan G. writes:

Quite frankly, if censors have their way with things, standardized tests themselves will be a thing of the past. What student will be able to READ the test having been denied books which contain references to soda, snack food, pets, girls, or even family units? Maybe educational testing in the future will be based on watching footage of animals in nature and commenting on the effect the cinematographer will have on their ecosystem. After all, what else is worthy of study?

D. Adams writes:

I have witnessed firsthand the whining of certain interest groups who have made our daily lives so untolerably PC. However, I must agree with the actions of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada. I have a brother who was diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 15, and he has suffered greatly not only due to having this disease but at the hands of people who misunderstand his illness.

My brother has been kicked out of grocery stores for talking to bread, assaulted while walking down the street and asked to leave restaurants because he's scaring off customers (odd, he was drinking coffee by himself). His life has been made a living hell by his neighbors, his landlords, the police, and nearly everyone he comes into contact with outside of health care personnel and family. He doesn't need commercials making fun of him or his disease as well.

I applaud the actions of those who stand up for the rights of the mentally ill when it's still grossly misunderstood and carries a stigma worse than AIDS. If you think I'm being overly sensitive, please come visit my brother or those like him and see what it's like to wear those shoes. 

Michael K. in Pittsburgh, Pa., writes:

It would be funny if the Dairy Farmers of Canada developed a follow-up promotion that had the tagline, "You'd have to be crazy to not like cheese!" or "Only crazy people don't eat cheese!" The commercial could show some guys in white coats throwing straightjackets on people in line at a burger joint when they order a burger without cheese.

When are these "activists" going to get a sense of humor anyway?

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