Angry Hillbillies, Book Banning, Curriculum Craziness

A California school district's proposal to slide its commemoration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Day later this month by one week is being called culturally insensitive by some members of the community, reports the Pasadena Star-News.

Officials in Arcadia, Calif., public schools say Jan. 20 (the third Monday of the month, the usual day of the holiday) comes four days before the end of the semester and during a week when students will be taking final exams. They want to take the day off Jan. 27 instead.

But parent Lujuana Haggerty complained to the local chapter of the NAACP, saying the plan is offensive. "Even if the intentions weren't about race ... it's kind of a slap in the face," said Haggerty, whose first- and fourth-grade sons attend an elementary school in town.

The Case for Y'all

Some women in Englewood, Fla., apparently get offended when other people refer to them as "guys" as in the greeting, "Hey guys," reports the Herald-Tribune.

Carol Mahler learned this while participating in a series of discussions about diversity, discussions partially funded by the taxpayers of Florida. In one gathering attended only by women, she said, the women told Mahler they were offended that she kept referring to the small group as "guys." She has since banished the phrase from her vocabulary.

Book Banning

A St. Louis middle school teacher who attempted to use a chapter from Harvard prof Randall Kennedy's new book about the N-word in class was slapped on the wrist by school officials and parents for it, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

English teacher Shannon Schumacher distributed a chapter from Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word as part of a lesson on sensitivity. The calls from angry parents started almost immediately, school officials said.

The offending chapter includes anecdotes and samples of hate letters written to Hank Aaron when he was nearing Babe Ruth's home-run record, and a comedy sketch between Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live. Schumacher was forced to apologize to the offended parents and students and the book has been removed from the curriculum.

Shielding the Students

A Barnes & Noble bookstore on the campus of the University of North Dakota says it will "tone down" displays of merchandise with the school's logo because it might offend some people, reports the Grand Forks Herald.

The school logo, an Indian head, and nickname, the Fighting Sioux, has drawn the ire of American Indian activists and their supporters because they say it perpetuates stereotypes. B&N's action was spurred by a petition signed by about 50 faculty members at UND who oppose the logo.

Some faculty members complained about stuff with the logo being so prominently displayed where students must go to buy books. They said students shouldn't be confronted with images that might offend them.

Angry Hillbillies

A group described as an Appalachian advocacy group has taken out ads in major U.S. newspapers denouncing an upcoming CBS reality series modeled on the old Beverly Hillbillies TV show as demeaning.

The Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Ky., wants the show, which places a poor Appalachian family in a Beverly Hills mansion, cancelled. It says the show will ridicule and mock people based on stereotypes and economic status.

"It's all about looking down at this family as if they're strange, out-of-step, weird people," said Dee Davis, president of the center. "Who else could they look down on but poor people in a rural family?"

Curriculum Craziness

Two students who wanted to form a Bible club at a public high school in Boulder, Colo., were denied that right by school officials because the school only permits clubs in subjects relating to the curriculum, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

But in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Denver, Ashley Thiele, a senior, and Amy Duvall, a freshman, claim the school district permits many other clubs not related to the curriculum, including a Gay/Straight Alliance and a Multicultural Club.

Allowing those organizations, but not the Bible group, is discriminatory, the lawsuit charges. The Boulder Valley School District claims the other clubs are indeed part of the curriculum -- the Gay/Straight Alliance is a product of health education and the Multicultural Club part of a class on diversity.

Truly Tongue Tied

A reporter with the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper in Florida was suspended without pay for a week for relaying what are being called offensive remarks about Islam in a private e-mail to a reader.

Political writer Bill Cotterell was responding to a reader who complained about Doug Marlette's now-famous "What Would Mohammed Drive?" editorial cartoon. In his reply to the angry reader, Cotterell said Arab nations need to get over the creation of Israel and make peace.

"OK, they can squat around the camel-dung fire and grumble about it, or they can put their bottoms in the air five times a day and pray for deliverance; that's their business," Cotterell wrote. "And I don't give a damn if Israel kills a few in collateral damage while defending itself. So be it."

Executive Editor John Winn Miller apologized for the remarks, saying: "They absolutely do not represent the views and sensitivities of this newspaper. Worse, they run counter to many of the values we hold dearest, among them tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness."

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 PC wackiness, head over to the Tongue Tied Web site.


Troy S. in Fairbanks, Alaska, writes:

The "morality" of Franklin Graham's comments about the Islamic faith must be weighed against the "morality" of statements by the Mullahs when they are speaking to journalists in their native countries concerning Christianity.

Why must Mr. Graham be held to a higher standard than others? He is a leader in a moderately conservative arm of Christianity voicing his personal views of an alternative religious belief. One of the primary tenants of Christianity is that each individual has free will (unless you're a Calvinist). Choose to believe what you will, then reap as you sow.

Anne S. writes:

I just wanted to commend you on including an attempt by Christian fundamentalists to fudge data on the Earth's geological timeline in a science textbook along with several examples of leftist attempts to falsify information taught to children. Although I myself am a lefty pinko, I agree with you completely that nobody, left or right, should have a license to ignore the facts in order to indoctrinate children in their own version of "the truth."

David E. in Orlando, Fla., writes:

What's with the needless sarcastic knock against creationists? I'm referring to the item of Monday, Dec. 30, that said, "And thanks to creationist complaints in Texas, textbooks that once referred to geological events taking place "millions of years ago" and fossil fuels "formed millions of years ago" now say such things happened "in the distant past" or "over time." The previous descriptions conflicted with biblical timelines, you see."

This is one of the incredibly rare victories gained by Creationists in this age of recklessly pulling the name of God and all Bible references out of public schools. So what? Some Creationists stood up for their beliefs and fought the accepted notion of religious evolution that the Earth is millions of years old. Good for them. To say definitively that fossil fuels were formed "millions of years ago" is totally unfounded and a mere whimsical assumption.

Actually, this item would have been just fine had you not stuck the words "you see," at the end. Be a real journalist. Report the news and lay off the sarcasm.

Peter V. in Minnetonka, Minn., writes:

You wrote today how in one textbook, "jihad is defined as 'to do one's best to resist temptation and overcome evil.'" Traditionally, this is what Jihad means and describes an internal struggle. Extremists have twisted the word to describe their militant movement. Maybe this alternate definition should be described in the book as well, but the majority of students and teachers would already be aware of the current use of this term and would bring it up in class anyway. I guess I don't see the problem here.

Tanya G. in Tremonton, Utah, writes:

Yeah, it has been all those nasty editorial cartoons that have made people think that Islam is a violent religion. It had absolutely nothing to do with 3,000 people perishing on Sept. 11 at the hands of Islamic extremists. It certainly has nothing to do with the Jews and Christians all over the world that are dying at the hands of those extremely cordial Muslims everyday. There was no Jihad declared and the mosques all jumped at the chance to denounce the Sept. 11 attacks. It was definitely the influence of all those political cartoons that made people think that Islam is a violent religion. Right.

David S., aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, writes:

After reading the account of the ACLU, I cannot believe the gall and stupidity of that federal judge or how a cross in the middle of nowhere can be offensive. If you follow that line of reason, it is unconstitutional to portray a cross, Star of David, or any other holy symbol anywhere on public ground. This would include a cemetery. I don't know where I will spend my next Easter. I may be in the Persian Gulf, protecting and defending the United States and all of the rights we as citizens hold dear. I think, perhaps, after I return, I may have to wander over to that hill and build a cross. God Bless the USA!

David H. in Roseville, Calif., writes:

Doug Marlette is lucky that the Council on American-Islam Relations is only asking for an apology. If he had drawn the cartoon in a paper in the Persian Gulf area of the world, he'd be on the run for his life after a Fatwa had been issued by the local cleric demanding his head for insulting Islam.

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