A building inspector in South Florida was fired from his job after complaining to a newspaper columnist about the influx of immigrants to the region, reports The Miami Herald.

In comments to Herald columnist Jim DeFede, Miami Shores inspector Charley Esher blamed Cuban and other immigrants for South Florida's political corruption as well as the demise of the Orange Bowl Parade.

The comments drew complaints on the day they were published, and the 72-year-old Esher was fired immediately.

Esher says he doesn't think he should have been fired for merely having an opinion.

"I personally don't hate anybody. I deal with Cubans all the time and they don't have any problem with me," he said. "But I do get upset when the people or immigrants of any sort don't learn to speak English. The United States is united because we speak one language. The more we diversify the language, the less we can communicate with each other."

No Quarter Here Either

A military honor guardsman in Pennsylvania says he was fired from his job for veering from the script and using the phrase "God bless …" at burial ceremonies for veterans, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Patrick Cubbage says none of the families complained about the language, but officials at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, near McGuire Air Force Base, told him the phrase may offend Jews and Muslims.

An official with the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs said Cubbage was fired not for the blessing but for departing from the "standard presentation protocol."

This is the same military currently seeking volunteer honor guards around the country because it can't keep up with the demand.

Perils of Praise

Praise for former Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk by the incoming governor of South Carolina drew howls of protest from members of the Armenian community who consider Ataturk the "Hitler of Asia Minor," reports The State.

In his State of the State address, Gov. Mark Sanford praised Ataturk as a reformer. He lauded Ataturk's transformation of Turkey from a theocratic dynasty to a modernized republic.

Armenians, who believe Ataturk was responsible for the systematic killing or forced relocation of millions of Greeks and Armenians, said they were offended by the speech.

Calling Ataturk "an administrative genius and a land reformer would be like calling Benito Mussolini a railroad executive because he made the trains run on schedule and Hermann Goering [of Nazi Germany] an art collector without recognizing what they did that was dark and evil," said Walter Karabian, a California attorney and leader of the Armenian-American community.

Red Is Dead

Teachers at an elementary school in England have been told to stop using red ink to mark up their students' papers because it has negative connotations, reports the BBC.

In the future, kids at Uplands Manor Primary School in the West Midlands will have their mistakes noted in green ink. Penny Penn-Howard, head of school improvement for the district, said red "can be seen as a negative approach to improving pupils' work."

But Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said red ink is effective. "Children have to learn to take life's ups and downs," he said. "Banning red ink is a rather trendy and politically correct idea."

Sensitive Students?

Officials at a school district in Washington state cancelled a high school production of Mark Medoff's play When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? because they were afraid some of the characters might be considered demeaning or degrading, reports The Herald of Everett, Wash.

Monroe High School drama teacher Patrick Radford had already deleted profanity, nudity and use of a gun from the script. But when one parent still complained, principal Daryl Hart killed the show altogether.

Red Ryder is the story of eight people in a rundown diner in New Mexico. Characters include an obese waitress, a busty drifter, a disabled gas station owner and a delusional Vietnam veteran.

"Some of the characters are degrading and demeaning," principal Hart said. "We worried that not everyone would get the message and our students would be made fun of."

Strait Dopes

A Michigan state ad campaign encouraging people to file their taxes online with the image of a man in a straightjacket was pulled after mental health advocates called it "stigmatizing," reports The Associated Press.

The ad features a wide-eyed man biting a piece of rope attached to a straitjacket under the phrase: "You'd have to be certifiable not to," referring to filing state taxes online.

In letters to the governor and state treasurer, Mark Reinstein of the Mental Health Association in Michigan said the ad "reinforces deplorable stereotypes that persons experiencing mental illness must be wild-eyed, uncontrollable individuals who belong in straitjackets."

Snuffing Out Smokes

Recent prints of the famous 1969 photo of the Beatles crossing a street near the Abbey Road studios have been altered to remove the cigarette from Paul McCartney's hand, reports London's Sun.

Companies, among them U.S. giant Allposters, asked that the cigarette be removed by computer wizardry. It may also be removed for the cover of the Abbey Road album the next time it is re-issued.

Anti-smoking activists praised the move, but smokers' rights groups said it was absurd.

"This is pathetic," said Simon Clark of the pro-smoking group Forest. "What next? We will have to remove pipes and cigars from pictures of Sherlock Holmes and Winston Churchill. These people should stop trying to rewrite history."

Gotta Love America

A transgendered PETA activist in dominatrix hot pants showed up at this year's Leather Weekend in Washington, D.C., urging the fetishists present to give up their interest in natural leather and embrace cruelty-free, synthetic "pleather" instead, reports The Associated Press.

The activists didn't have much luck.

One man wearing a "slave" badge and leather waistcoat said plastic could never replace leather in the circles in which he travels. Another, Norman Wagner of Scottsdale, Ariz., also failed to heed the siren song.

"I'm 6-foot-3, and 230 pounds, and I can wear anything I want to," Wagner said. "It's been around for a thousand years, it's durable, and I'm not wasting resources by using it," he said of leather. "Why would someone wear burlap?"

Can't wait until next Monday for more snippets of politically correct nonsense? Head over to the daily edition of Tongue Tied at the Tongue Tied Web site.

Mailbag:

Mike M. writes:

I was watching Raiders/Titans on TV and saw a commercial that featured black rap singers watching a video that they had made. Suddenly, they become aware that something was wrong and zoom in on two white guys dancing among the crowd. They mention something about, "What are they doing in there?" I wonder how that would go over with a white group making reference to two black guys in such a manner? I am against discrimination, but it can't be a one-way street.

Wan K. in Dunwoody, Ga., writes:

Although I have no doubt that Shaq O'Neal made his comment about Yao Ming in only a joking fashion, I think this illustrates a couple of things about American society.

It seems that a vast number of people that I've talked to seem to think there's really no harm in what Shaq said...fair enough. However, let's reverse the roles. If it were Yao Ming or a white player who said "Tell Shaq.. (insert your choice of ebonics-laced funny comment here)," there would be an even bigger uproar. We all laugh when we make fun of white "rednecks" or the Asian guy with the funny accent and the camera. Yet no one can make light fun of blacks without being labeled a "racist".

Political correctness needs to either (a) apply to all people equally (white, black, asian, etc.), or (b) get a life and just stop being divisive in our open society.

Justin S. writes re: the Plantation item:

I wonder how many people know that the real name of the state of Rhode Island is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations?"

Robin C. writes:

Here in Georgia, many subdivisions and apartment complexes have "plantation" in ther names. I have yet to hear of any complaints; in fact, many of these complexes have large numbers of African-American residents. The chairwoman of the Northampton Human Rights Commission needs to get a real job and find something more important to worry about.

Mike in Overland Park, Kan., writes:

How desperate do you have to be in your quest for "racial profiling" prejudices to attack the listing of race on an inmates photo ID? Do these people not have eyes?? Are there actually people out there who cannot tell a person’s race by much more than a simple glance?

I mean, let’s not forget that these are inmates, and they should be tracked for safety and security reasons. Now, if the badges listed something not obvious enough to tell by the naked eye, such as sexual orientation, I could see this as a legitimate claim. But until Mr. Falconer wins a case against the DMV for listing eye and hair color, he should keep his trap shut.

Marvin B. writes:

Re your article on gays having sex in public bathrooms. I don't care who they are -- gay, straight, left, right or upside down: It doesn't belong in public restrooms. I should be able to send my 11-year-old son into a public bathroom without him encountering Bill and Bob doing the mambo up against the towel dispenser. Yes, it can be exciting to do it in some discreet, public place. But if you get caught, no whining!

 

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