Cartoon Clean-Ups, Sharpton Chagrined

USA Today reports that fans of short films are buzzing about changes Disney made to one before teeing it up at the start of Finding Nemo (search).

Fans of the genre say Disney (search) deflated the breasts of a character in the film Knickknack (search), a 1989 short that precedes Finding Nemo in theaters now. The short is about a snowglobe snowman who wants to escape his plastic confines and join a beach bunny.

"In the original, the girls have breasts the size of large grapefruit," says Raymond Tucker of Greensboro, N.C. "In the new version, the breasts just aren't there."

Disney has no comment, but USA Today dug up a couple examples from history of Disney's cartoon tampering. Among them: the digital removal of a cigarette from Pecos Bill's mouth in the DVD release of 1948's Melody Time (search) and the removal of a black "centaurette," the servant of a white centaurette, in the supposedly uncut rerelease of Fantasia (search) in 2000.

Paddy Wagon

The police chief of Stockton, Calif., ordered the department to stop using the term "paddy wagon" to describe one of the department vehicles because of the term's offensive origins, reports the Stockton Record.

Police Chief Ed Chavez told officers to stop using the term in reference to a restored 1946 bread truck painted to look like a police wagon. He also wrote a letter of apology to resident James King, who complained about it.

It was "an insult to you, your family, and others of Irish descent," Chavez said in the letter.

"Paddy" is considered a pejorative term for people from Ireland.

Thin Skins in Great Neck

A history book commissioned by the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce (search) in New York was edited to remove mention of slavery (search), the Ku Klux Klan (search) and Iranian immigrants (search) at the behest of the chamber president who didn't want anything "bad" to be included, reports Newsday.

The chamber of Great Neck commissioned the Ultimate Book of Great Neck as a history of that Long Island peninsula. But when the author, Marcelle Fischler, came back with sections about slavery and the KKK, chamber president Elliot Rosenblatt ordered them deleted.

"So I said, "You wanted a history book," and he said, 'Well, I didn't want a comprehensive history book. We're not going to say anything bad,'" Fischler recalled Rosenblatt saying.

Fischler added that Rosenblatt also red-penned a section on the Iranians who settled in the area "because the Persians did not support the chamber."

(Tip of the beanie to Michelle C.)

Defamatory Truths

Al Sharpton (search) is demanding an apology from lawmakers in Michigan who circulated a letter criticizing him for his "long-standing history of inciting bigotry and intolerance on a prominent stage," reports The Associated Press.

A lawyer for Sharpton called the letter, written to decry Sharpton's appearance at a Democratic Party Black Caucus (search) event, an "outright defamation of character" and threatened "legal remedies" unless an apology is issued.

One of the lawmakers who signed the letter, state Republican Rep. Marc Shulman (search), said he would not apologize.

"If he does sue, I will countersue him," he said. "His candidacy is laughable. ... He should be held accountable for what he said, which was insensitive and anti-Semitic."


An aboriginal activist in Australia has filed a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Bureau (search) there claiming McDonald's (search) use of the terms "short black" and "long black" in an advertisement is racially offensive, reports the AAP.

Aboriginal (search) activist Stephen Hagan says McDonald's use of the terms -- which are common for different types of coffee and espresso -- in conjunction with actors of African and European ancestry who appear in McDonald's commercials, is demeaning.

"I don't want to be seen as a ratbag, but a lot of people have approached me since that commercial came on air," Hagan said. "It is not appropriate to be introducing race into coffee. Surely you can have breakfast without talking about black or race."

"The ad is intended to show the range of coffee that is available and also the broad customer base that we serve," a spokeswoman from McDonald's said. "There was never any intention to offend anybody."

Games People Play

A computer simulation maintained by the Swiss government's refugee asylum office had to be removed from an official Web site after complaints that it was racist and encouraged xenophobia, reports London's Daily Telegraph.

The game, dubbed Swiss Check-In and published on the Web by the Swiss Federal Office for Refugees (search), was intended to show citizens the difficulties faced by refugees in that country. In it players adopted the persona of one of six asylum-seekers (search).

But the characters, among them an Angolan woman forced into prostitution back home and an Albanian possibly involved in the drug trade, were denounced by anti-racist groups as "superficial racial stereotypes" even though they were all based on real asylum cases.

"The aim was to show that asylum is a serious and difficult business involving human futures and personal dramas," said Dominique Boillat, a spokesman for the refugee office. "We didn't hide the difficult, unsavoury and negative aspects because that is what happens. The people in the game are stereotypes only in that their cases are typical of those faced by our staff."

Dissed in Cajun Country

Cockfighters in Louisiana have sued to block a federal law banning interstate commerce in fowls because they say it discriminates against Cajuns (search) and Hispanics, reports The Associated Press.

Breeders of fighting cocks say the sport is integral to Hispanic and Cajun cultures, and claim the law denies people of the two cultures equal protection under the Constitution.

"The suit contends that the federal government should not be imposing its judgment on Louisiana -- that's not federalism, that's moral imperialism," said John Kramer, who is representing the group. "They’re dissing them, and dissing is not American."

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.


Catherine B. in Halifax, Nova Scotia, writes:

I am not sure what I find more insulting: the fact that Republicans nearly blocked the inclusive resolution on fatherhood over an objection to the language or that Assemblyman Hayes refers to the inclusion of adoptive fathers, foster fathers, grandfathers, etc. as "extraneous garbage." Shame, Shame, Shame. We should be welcoming, encouraging and "celebrating in the streets" over those who step up to the plate and raise America's children.

Stephen L. writes:

The way I see it, if you're a guy and you have kids, no matter how you got them, you're a father. Those California Dems need to go soak their heads. It seems to me that "father" needs no further definition than that.

Erin G. in Laramie, Wyo., writes:

About the Tampa Tribune article that some readers felt defamed the Hindu religion: You know who is really defaming the Hindu religion? The cannibalistic Aghoris who call themselves Hindu, not the people who try to write informative articles about them!

Randy M. in Hays, Kan., writes:

In response to the article on the Hindus practicing cannibalism: I am from Kansas and I am deeply offended that news agencies continue to report on the "Reverend" Fred Phelps from Topeka and his extreme protests. I strongly feel that this type of reporting defames the Christian faith.

Eric. W. in North Carolina writes:

I am astonished that a major network like Fox News allows an outlet for your openly bigoted rants.

By listing examples of cultural relativism and tolerance as jokes or examples of Americans being "tongue tied," you seem to be saying that Americans -- or at least you -- would prefer to be free to insult people of color, use racial slurs, attack people of other religions, etc.

Most of the examples you cite are simply racist, sexist, homophobic, Christian fundamentalist, or otherwise bigoted individuals voicing their views and being chastised in one way or another for it. This is not "PC," being "tongue tied," or an infringement on their free speech, as you seem to imply in your alarmist column. These individuals are voicing views that most Americans no longer agree with. Attacking all Muslims as terrorists, for instance, is intolerant and inappropriate -- yet your column seems to attack those who are offended by this speech, not those who are voicing the intolerant views.

While I support freedom of speech, I also support the right of Americans to vocally disagree with hateful, intolerant or bigoted speech. Your columns seem to only support freedom for those who offend, not those who are offended!

Amandilo M. writes:

I fully understand the marketing angle of your column. It's cute. Still, if you have some interest in historical accuracy and true scholarship and research, than it's clear that the vast majority of African descendants in America have a unique story to tell. I agree that many organizations have pimped this story for their own selfish ends (including, I dare say, this column) creating a truly burning need for intelligent forums to share and express the real issues that surround racial politics in America.

For example: an Hispanic writer was posted as saying she has to just look at herself and see that she is Hispanic. She doesn't need a whole department to tell her the obvious. That's fine for her, but it totally distorts the issue at hand. African descendants in America were forcibly brought here and a systematic campaign of state terror was developed to destroy any connection with their humanity or African identity. This is all well documented and has many present day carryovers.

Most European, Asian, Spanish, etc. descendants in America accept without question their ties to their ethnic homelands. Many know the tribe or town their ancestors come from. They eat English muffins or Japanese sushi, drive Italian cars or wear Mexican sombreros without any charge of PC. Now, as an African descendant in America, I am told my history began on a southern plantation. I am ridiculed for even considering that what happened before that is relevant. That any historical research on my part is foolish and futile because there is nothing there to be found except savages, cannibals and European explorers. At the same time, I am inundated with lessons about Greece, Rome, the Magna Carta and Queen Elizabeth.

But I'd rather light a candle than curse the darkness. The bottom-line is that I have to take responsibility for teaching myself and my seven children the basic facts of history, ALL OF IT. Granted, Western "Civilization" has its story to tell, a significant story, no doubt; but it is one of several significant stories that impact modern politics and civilization. Perhaps, somewhere in your editorial organization, there is some one who can appreciate the simple need to know ones self. After all, we Americans are sensitive about things like that!

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