A state court judge in New Jersey has ruled that a stained glass window in a courtroom must be covered when court is in session to avoid the appearance of religious favoritism, reports The Burlington Times.

Burlington County Superior Court Judge John Sweeney issued the order after receiving a complaint about the window's religious overtones. City officials purchased a $260 drape to comply. The window was taken from a Presbyterian church that once stood on the site of the municipal complex.

"When you go to court, not only do we want our courts to be fair, but it's important for people to feel they are being treated fairly, and they can't feel the court is endorsing one form of religion over another," said court manager Steven Traub.

Boys and Girls

Researchers paid in part by British taxpayers report that the U.K. Army is sexist because it uses words like "manning" instead of "staffing," reports the Daily Telegraph.

The $60,000 research, by academics at the Universities of Sunderland and Newcastle, criticizes senior military officers for continuing to use the term "girls" to describe female officers, even though "our boys" is common parlance for male soldiers.

"The term 'manning' speaks volumes because it presupposes an entirely male force," said Rachel Woodward of Newcastle University, one of the researchers. "I know that in the media there is a lot of 'our boys' but that has a different connotation. It implies that male soldiers are part of the family, whereas to describe a woman soldier as a girl is belittling."

The report, Gendered Bodies, Personnel Policies and the Culture of the British Army, was based on Ministry of Defence documents and interviews with senior Army staff.

No Talking in Class

A Washington state high school teacher who initiated a discussion about abortion in his math classes and expressed anti-abortion sentiments was forced to apologize and may be reprimanded, reports The News Tribune.

Teacher Greg Leach spoke to each of his five math classes at Wilson High School on the day before the 30-year anniversary of the Roe v. Wade court ruling. He told students about how different his life would be had abortion been legal when his wife and father, both of whom were adopted after being born out-of-wedlock, were born.

He related the discussion to math by having students divide the 40 million abortions of the past 30 years by the 45,000-seat capacity of a nearby stadium, and do the same with the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

Parent Jennie Dahlby was so upset about the teacher's actions that she wrote to the paper. The teacher should not be expressing any opinions on the subject, she said.

"It's not an ethics class or even a health class," she told the paper. "He's in the position of authority as an educator and teacher. He has a captive audience of these impressionable teenagers."

Spoilsports

A Kiwi beer company's promotion featuring buxom women in skimpy nurses uniforms was cancelled after nurses complained that it was demeaning to their profession, reports The Australian.

The company that makes Lion Red Beer said it received several complaints from nurses after photographs of the Lion Red Nurses appeared in a local paper. It immediately dropped the campaign.

"We were called by nurses who were insulted, and we absolutely don't want to offend anyone -- it's just light-hearted fun," said Stephen Smith, Lion Red Beer's marketing manager.

The promotion will now feature the "beer girls" in plain clothes.

Trouble in the Locker Room

Britain's television watchdog is demanding that a Vodka ad which shows a man in a locker room acting effeminate be taken off the air because it carries a "significant risk" of offending gay men, reports London's Guardian.

The independent television commission ordered that ad, for the vodka-based drink WKD, off the air after receiving complaints that it encouraged "anti-gay behavior."

The commercial shows a group of men in a locker room tricking a teammate into standing with his hands on his hip in an effeminate way then teasing him with cries of "Ooh, hello sailor!"

Bigotry Exposed

A Vanity Fair satire published in the February issue that questions the need to learn Spanish shows "an appalling display of bigotry" and warrants a boycott of the magazine, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The column featured a letter to a reader from the fictional Dame Edna Everage asking which second language to learn.

"Forget Spanish. There's nothing in that language worth reading except Don Quixote, and a quick listen to the CD of Man of La Mancha will take care of that," Dame Edna responded. "There was a poet named Garcia Lorca, but I'd leave him on the intellectual back burner if I were you. As for everyone's speaking it, what twaddle! Who speaks it that you are really desperate to talk to? The help? Your leaf blower? Study French or German, where there are at least a few books worth reading, or if you're American, try English."

In a letter to the editor of VF, the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists said the fact that the column is satire does not excuse the bigotry.

"Humor and satire are not safe hiding places for ignorance and bigotry," writes Juan Gonzalez. "Frankly, we're tired of people hiding behind 'it was just a joke' after taking broad and unwarranted swipes at our culture and heritage."

Mark Your Calendars

The American University Department of Anthropology is gearing up for this year’s Lavender Language Conference Feb. 14-16 (the 10th such conference!) to explore the unique language shared by people of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community.

The agenda includes a panoply of fascinating events, including formal papers, roundtable discussions, performance art and other presentations exploring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered-related languages and the intersections of language, sexuality and gender.

Among the eagerly anticipated papers are Unpacking the Language of Homophobia, by Bill Leap of American University, which hopes to come up with "a working definition of homophobic text and otherwise begin to unpack how homophobic discourse is produced and reproduced in everyday communication."

Also: Lavender Languages in Public Media by Roger Streitmatter of American University, examining the messages by and about LGBTQ people in Seventeen, Cosmo and other popular magazines.

The conference is made possible in part by a grant from American U’s College of Arts and Sciences, donations from campus offices and the contributions of people like you.

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:

Justin V. writes:

The idea that this professor is practicing religious discrimination for refusing to recommend students who reject evolutionary theory is patently absurd. He is a biology professor, and evolution is a core part of the biological sciences. Were he a theology professor refusing to recommend non-atheist students, then I can see it. But in this case (as the U.S. Supreme Court has said in many cases against state creationism laws), evolution is science, and creationism is religion.

Shane T. in Austin, Texas, writes:

I graduated from Texas Tech about five years ago and have less-than fond memories about Dr. Dini. He is a blowhard, evangelical atheist, who considers himself to be smarter than anyone else in the world. It doesn't surprise me to see him causing trouble for the university. In fact, it's probably very satisfying to his ego.

With what I remember of him, a letter of recommendation from this particular professor would probably be a strike against a prospective job candidate, not a note in his favor. (Fortunately, I'm not in the same field that he is.)

Jason K. in Lindale, Texas, writes:

Banning a pro-life tee shirt as an equivalent to the swastika is illogical and complete nonsense. Last I checked, the swastika presided over the systematic killing of "undesirables."

Regardless of one's viewpoint on the abortion debate, what ever happened to free speech? The principal of Anington Junior High School more clearly displayed the spirit of a swastika than that tee shirt ever will.

Brian M. in Amsterdam writes:

I read your recent article about HSBC's shameful decision to remove a steeple from a winter landscape that formed the background of the Christmas card selected by their own judges as the "winner" of a recent contest.

This action upset me, so I thought I would go to HSBC's website and send them an email expressing my regret that they would take such an action, and discovered yet another irony. On their website, HSBC states: "To truly understand a country and its culture, you have to be a part of it."

Interesting that they would then choose to ignore and even go so far as to offend a major sector of their potential client-base by being oblivious to the importance that religion plays in the lives of so many Americans. HSBC can rest assured that I will choose to find another bank for all of my future financial needs.

Dave J. in Flemington, N.J., writes:

I have finally reached my saturation point for all of this PC idiocy. I have been able to mostly ignore this carousel of absurdity, but the article about "Dissing Dixie" was the topper.

Per Ted Kinder of Ferrum College, it's a good idea to change the name of their Division III athletic conference, The Dixie Conference, to ensure that the "Dixie name is not offensive to anyone."

I'd like to direct Mr. Kinder and any of our over sensitive PC friends who might be adversely affected by this word to look at Webster's definition. Dixie, a noun, " the Southern states of the U.S."

Seems pretty mundane to me, until the wheels of hysteria get turning. Does this mean that I, as an obviously PC-challenged citizen, should immediately stand up and petition for name changes of the Dixie Chicks, Winn-Dixie supermarkets, and Dixie Cups? I would hate to stand idly by and contribute further to the suffering of my PC brethren.

MacLane K. in Washington writes:

Science fair entries are generally supposed to exhibit a student's grasp of the scientific method. Since the description of Ms. Mouser's project didn't include anything regarding a hypothesis or testing with a control group, it seems appropriate to exclude her project from the fair. I hope other inappropriate projects were also rejected (regardless of subject matter), but I fear that they were not.

If this is the case, the injustice is not that Ms. Mouser's project was rejected, but rather that the other non-scientific projects remained. The victim is not Ms. Mouser, but rather those who actually designed and carried out scientific experiments and were merely given equal standing to those who did a report on something potentially science related.

Michael S. from Washington writes:

What I cannot understand about the Quiznos commercial is how they thought showing a dead animal would sell sandwiches. Americans can and do put up with a lot of violence in movies and television, but it is almost an unwritten rule that you cannot hurt an animal. An animal cruelty news story almost always evokes a stronger outcry than a slew of murders. Thus, I am not so annoyed by the commercial, but by the marketing and advertising folks at Quiznos who seem to have no understanding of the audience they are trying to connect to.

Christopher H. writes:

Are you kidding me? There is actually a "parrot welfare group"? What's next? The United Pencil Safety Board that ensures that no pencil is too pointy? What is this world coming to?

Richie D. writes:

In this day and age, is there really a need for a column like this? It's just more polarizing clap-trap from the authoritarian Right, something of which we need much less.

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