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Banning Books, Dying Birds, Dissing Dixie

All students in Florida's Escambia County won't be allowed to read Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn until the 11th grade because one 7th-grader was uncomfortable with the "racially charged" language in the book, reports the Pensacola News-Journal.

Ransom Middle School principal Richard Harper defended the move, saying that while he himself first read the book in elementary school, times have changed. Repeated use of the N-word is not acceptable in any form, he said.

"That's a very sensitive word," he said. "We send kids home for saying that word."

One school board member, however, questioned the wisdom of the decision. "I think it's an over-reaction and knee-jerk reaction to one parent complaining," said Cary Stidham.

Book Trouble II

A group of Ohio parents wants to remove John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men, from the local high school reading list because of the "down rotten filthy" language it contains, reports the Wilmington New Journal.

Lloyd Caldwell, whose granddaughter was assigned the book for a freshman English class at Blanchester High School, called on the board to take it off the list. Currently, students whose parents object may be assigned another book instead, but Caldwell wants everyone to be assigned another book.

"There's words on there you wouldn't say to a drunken sailor," Caldwell said. "Every page in this book except four, and that's right at the beginning, has swear words of one nature or another -- and some of them are just dern right, down rotten filthy."

Marketplace of Ideas

A Texas Tech University biology professor who refuses to write letters of recommendation to students who don't believe in Darwin's theory of human evolution may be breaking the law, reports The Associated Press.

Federal officials, who are inquiring about the policy following a complaint, say professor Michael Dini may be discriminating on the basis of religion. The complaint was filed by a student and the Liberty Legal Institute, which calls Dini's policy "open religious bigotry."

"Students are being denied recommendations not because of their competence in understanding evolution, but solely because of their personal religious beliefs," said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for the institute. "No professor has the academic freedom to discriminate against students on the basis of their race, sex or religious beliefs."

Lingering Holiday Cheer

A 10-year-old New York boy who had his winning entry in a holiday card contest altered to remove a church from the scene won an apology from the bank that did the altering, reports WHEC-TV in Rochester.

Gregory Paladino, a fourth-grader at Our Mother of Sorrows Elementary School, entered the contest with a picture of a dove flying above a small village scene in winter with a church and steeple and the words "Peace on earth begins in our community."

HSBC chose his card, but in the version it sent out, the steepled church had been changed to a house.

Parrotheads' Wrath

A parrot welfare group is complaining that an ad aired during the Super Bowl that showed a dead bird lying at the bottom of a cage is too traumatic for bird lovers and should be pulled from the air.

The ad, for Quizno Subs, is intended to show that chef Jimmy Lambatos is so obsessed with the perfect sandwich that he neglects his everyday life -- including his bird.

A group called The Gabriel Foundation has launched an e-mail campaign to get Quizno officials to remove the bird -- which is fake -- from the commercial. The group says caged birds are dying in "epic proportions because of starvation and neglect" -- so the ad is "not appropriate."

Tee Trouble

A student at a junior high school in Pennsylvania was told to remove the pro-life T-shirt he was wearing because the message was the equivalent of a swastika, reports the Thomas More Law Center.

The unnamed student wore a shirt reading: "Abortion is Homicide. You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation. Rock for Life."

The center says the principal of Anington Junior High School told the student to either cover the shirt or turn the shirt inside out because the message was inappropriate to be displayed in school. He said the shirt and message were the equivalent of a swastika being displayed on a shirt.

Dissing Dixie

The Dixie Conference of the NCAA's Division III will be changing its name next month in order to avoid any controversy that the name might engender, reports the Roanoke Times.

Officials at the 40-year-old conference, which includes schools such as Methodist University and Shenandoah University, haven't decided on a new name but figure anything will be better than Dixie.

"Primarily it's due to sensitivity to ethnic groups and just making sure that the 'Dixie' name is not offensive to anyone," said Ted Kinder, athletic director at Ferrum College. "Although it hasn't been widespread, there does seem to be a negative association with 'Dixie,' and if it's offensive to anyone, the conference has decided it's probably best to change the name."

Marketplace of Ideas II

A middle school in California has barred a student's science fair project on the issue of medical marijuana because it wasn't "hands-on" enough, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

The principal of Ralston Intermediate School in Belmont, Deborah Ferguson, told 13-year-old Veronica Mouser that her project -- called "Mary Jane for Pain'' -- had to be removed. Veronica burst into tears upon hearing the news, saying she put months of work into the project.

Veronica didn't smoke marijuana herself or give it to her research subjects. Instead, she studied the effects the weed had on three medicinal marijuana patients, visited a cannabis club, toured a private pot-growing room and interviewed doctors. She didn't attach any samples on her cardboard display, and her parents supervised her at every step.

School officials, however, said science fair projects are supposed to include hands-on experiments, and letting a student conduct research on marijuana is not appropriate.

Our Nation's Capital Will Be Devastated

The Journal Star newspaper in Lincoln, Neb., has announced that it will no longer refer to that football team in Washington as the "Redskins" because the name is offensive.

Instead, editor Kathleen Rutledge says the paper will just use the term "Washington." She has also decided to drop the stereotypical modifier "fighting" when used with team nicknames such as the Fighting Sioux or the Fighting Illini.

"We also have stopped printing logos for professional and college sports teams that use Native symbols -- ones that adopt imagery such as an arrowhead and ones that caricature Native culture," Rutledge writes. "The Chief Wahoo logo of the Cleveland Indians, which we stopped using last summer, is an example of rank caricature. Instead, we'll use alternative logos that stay away from Native symbols."

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:

Ken B. in Santa Monica, Calif., writes:

Just a note about the English school banning red ink from its test results. Here in the good ol' USA, the use of "Red-lining" is a standard that has been used by most drafting departments of most industries since before World War II. I really don't see the issue. Red is a good color to make notes on drawings and school test results as it calls attention to something that needs to be recognized, just as it "screams stop" at a street intersection.

Also, it is one color that photocopiers seem to reproduce with more toner than just plain black. I wonder how long it will be before we will begin to see the PC idiots whining about using red color pens in our own society? God help us all when it gets to that point.

Becky in Ohio writes:

We've got multiple madmen roaming the planet right now who would like nothing more than to completely annihilate the United States of America, and what are we worried about? Damaging a kid's inner psyche by using red ink to mark an error. If the terrorists were smart, they'd just sit back and let us implode from our own ignorance.

Krikor M. writes:

How dare you call the subject of Armenians and Greeks protesting the references praising Attaturk by the South Carolina Governor politically correct nonsense? That man was a Muslim Hitler! If he would have praised Adolf Hitler, then (his remarks) would not be considered political correctness. The Armenians and Greeks were stating the facts. I guess Fox News thinks people coming out and speaking the truth about a murderer like Attaturk is just nonsense. I have lost a lot of respect for Fox News after this.

John K. writes:

Kudos to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford for his praise of Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Who could not praise the leader of a republic who led his people out of occupation by foreign forces and from under the Ottoman Empire to become the then only (and still only) secular democratic Muslim country in the world? He has been recognized as a great leader, visionary, and reformer by almost all western leaders past and present.

Jason L. in Wheaten, Ill., writes:

Firing an honor guard for saying a blessing at a funeral is almost as absurd as firing some military Arabic linguists because they are homosexual. What is the military coming to?

Don S. in Florida writes:

OK, if they are worried about the phrase "God Bless" offending Hindus or Buddhists that's one thing, but what idiot thinks that "God Bless" is going to offend a Christian, Jew or Muslim? Are they really that ignorant? Do they not know that all three religions worship the same God? Sure, there are wide ranging differences in beliefs and interpretations between the religions, but come on. It's the same deity!

Arlene D. in New York, N.Y., writes:

I'm as against this whole "politically-correct" trend as much as you are. But I'm glad to hear that the building inspector from Florida was fired for his comments. All the other examples you gave of astounding "PC" impositions were ridiculous, except for this one. In a situation where a public servant is making such remarks, it's safe to assume that his would taint this work (If he encountered a Haitian immigrant landlord during his next inspection, who did not speak English, I can only imagine how skewed the results would be due to his personal prejudices).

And, let's get off the whole "immigrants should learn to speak English." A lot of immigrants don't have the time, money or resources to learn the language -- do you think they enjoy not speaking English? We should all cut them a little slack.

And, as for his mentioning Cuban-American exiles: considering that Cuban-Americans are the one bastion of conservatives among the world of minorities and the ones responsible for electing G.W. Bush to office, Fox should pay them a little more respect and now feature this "article" that so prominently degrades them unjustly.

 

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