A proposal to add the words "so help me God" to the pledge uttered by AmeriCorps volunteers is generating flak from those who think its inclusion would be divisive, reports The New York Times.

The old pledge ends "I will get things done." The new version finishes with "so help me God."

The executive director of the alumni group of AmeriCorps, Michael J. Meneer, said there were concerns that the new pledge was "militaristic and religious."

But congressional Republicans say the new oath is nearly identical to the one required of all federal employees, including members of the armed forces and the Peace Corps. The new phrase "so help me God" is optional, they said.

Sour Krauts

Two Germans living in England said they are planning legal action against Motorola for allowing a hostile environment and anti-German slurs in the workplace, reports The Associated Press.

The victims, Jens Puhle, 30, and Heinrich Sawatzki, 41, said their English colleagues called them "krauts" and "squareheads," and goose-stepped around the Motorola office in Swindon, west of London.

The local police are investigating the claims, which could lead to charges of aggravated harassment.

Humbugs

A middle school in South Orange, N.J., cancelled a planned field trip to see Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol because Christian references in the play might make students who don't celebrate the holiday feel awkward, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The school principal said the cancellation had more to do with concerns that the play didn't mesh with the class's curriculum. But he acknowledged that "there is a great sensitivity to putting students in awkward situations."

One of the parents at the school, Meg Uhlman, says a "zero tolerance" for anything that hints at religion is creating a Christmas in which snowflakes are in, but angels are out.

Beardism

A group dubbed the Beard Liberation Front is threatening to boycott Harry Potter films because they continue to use fake facial hair instead of the real thing in the movies, reports the BBC.

The fake beards sported on the silver screen give beardists, as those with ill feelings toward bearded folks are wont to be called, ammunition for their irrational antipathies, says Keith Flett, the man behind the BLF.

"The Santa season is the worst time of the year for beard wearers," says Flett. "The taunts from children and comments we get from White Van-Man get worse."

Flett says the possible Potter boycott is "light-hearted," but insists there is a serious side to his crusade.

Beardism, or discrimination against those with facial hair, is well-entrenched, Flett says. Bearded politicians regularly poll less than their clean-shaven counterparts, and beards have also been known to prevent people from working in certain jobs like food service.

Halloween Goes PC

Two fraternities at the University of Virginia have been suspended by their national organizations because students showed up at a Halloween party dressed as Venus and Serena Williams, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The fraternities were busted because photographs shot at the event, held at the Zeta Psi house, showed up on the Web. The offending brothers, both white, were from the Zeta house and the Kappa Alpha fraternity.

"Obviously, I am disappointed in the choice of a few of our students to display imagery or portray individuals in a way that is very offensive and painful to other students," said Aaron Laushway, assistant dean of students for fraternity and sorority life.

Hounded Hunters

A columnist for London's Daily Telegraph was held by police on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred because he suggested that hunters have the same right to march in protest as gays and other minority groups, the Telegraph reports.

Robin Page, an outdoors columnist and an outspoken supporter of rural residents' rights, allegedly made the comments at a county fair. He was urging listeners to attend a "Liberty and Livelihood March" in London later in the month.

Page told the audience that Londoners had the right to run events such as the Brixton carnival and gay pride marches, which celebrated black and gay culture. Why therefore, he asked, should country people not have the right to do what they liked in the countryside?

Police said they had received a number of complaints about the comments.

Shocking!

A columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is shocked -- just shocked! -- that a traveling version of the Rockettes' Christmas/Holiday show is actually suffused with religious and Biblical references.

Columnist Mark Lowry complains that an "ominous voice" narrates the traditional story of Jesus' birth. The scene takes on "such seriousness that it turns preachy and overbearing," he says. "You almost expect the narrator to tell the Easter story and read the Book of Revelation.

"To lure spectators of all faiths [and non-faiths] with the promise of an entertaining holiday revue, and then to ambush them with Christian theology, is dated and borderline offensive," Lowry writes, "especially at a time when understanding of other cultures and beliefs is more important than ever."

Southern Discomfort

A county commissioner in Memphis, Tenn., says the city should change the names of three parks dedicated to the Civil War because the names are divisive and offensive, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

County Commission Walter Bailey got the idea while riding around with some HBO officials during last year's Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight. He said the officials saw a monument dedicated to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and found it "unbecoming."

Bailey now wants to change the names of three city parks dedicated to the Civil War: Confederate Park, where the Davis monument is located, nearby Jefferson Davis Park and Forrest Park.

"Changes would be consistent with our efforts to become a world-class city," Bailey said. "These monuments are offensive to some people."

Finally! The daily edition of Tongue Tied is here. For those who can’t wait until the end of the week for a dose of the deluded PC-niks latest antics, head over to the Tongue Tied Web site.

The mailbag returns next week.

All material copyright 2002 by Scott Norvell. Reprinted with permission of the author.

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