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Twain Troubles, PC Problems

A family in Michigan has filed a formal complaint against a high school teacher for reading a racial slur from the text of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, reports the Detroit Free Press.

William Robinson, 18, claims a teacher at Cousino High School in Warren used the word when reading from the book and during later discussions about it. He said he was offended. Robinson's mother, Theda Harris, said the family plans to file a lawsuit against the district. A spokesman for the district pointed out that the slur is in the book.

Who Knew?

People who complain about political correctness are merely masking their old-fashioned bigotry and really just hate “other” people, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. In a glossary of terms in the debate over race in America, the News quotes affirmative action supporters as saying that conservatives use the term “as a way to criticize them without bringing up what's really on their mind: skin color and prejudice.”

"I think people use these terms like 'PC' or 'politically correct' as a way of cutting off what should be a legitimate discussion," said Robin Lakoff, a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. "People on the political right who are saying 'PC' are really saying, 'Shut up, we don't want to hear about this anymore.'"

There Go the Leave It to Beaver Reruns

European Union commissioners are looking to ban television programs that depict women in stereotypical roles and all advertising that does not “respect human dignity,” reports the Financial Times.

A draft of the new law obtained by the Times says that while respecting freedom of expression, sex discrimination and affronts to human dignity should be banned from media and advertising. An explanatory note says: "The purpose of this provision is to avoid throughout all forms of mass media all stereotypical portrayals of women and men, as well as any projection of unacceptable images of men and women affecting human dignity and decency in advertisements."

Too Straight

A New Zealand lesbian who won a gay beauty contest in a nightclub was booed because she looked too straight, reports the New Zealand Press Association. Bindie Redden, who dressed as a Barbie doll and later a Playboy bunny for the contest, said she entered the contest to shatter stereotypes about lesbians.

"I don't look like the average lesbian. They look like boys, they don't shave under their arms, they have short hair. They just automatically assume that I'm straight."

One of the judges, a drag queen who goes under the name Polyfilla, deplored the booing, saying: "The queer community as a group gets discriminated against so much, we don't need it from within our own ranks."

More Troublesome Tees

Lawyers looking to blame racism for the killing of a PCP-addled motorist by police officers in Connecticut are pointing to a T-shirt with the phrase “Boyz on the Hood” as evidence of that racism, reports The Associated Press.

Members of the East Haven Police Department’s softball team were said to wear shirts depicting two white officers with two suspects on the hood of a car and the slogan, "Boyz on the Hood" -- an apparent takeoff of the 1991 movie, Boys N the Hood.

Police shot Malik Jones, 21, four times in April 1997 when he tried to run them down with a car. Jones’ mother is suing the department, claiming its officers violated his civil rights.

If You Go Looking …

In a letter of complaint to the Toronto Star, the author is outraged about a cartoon featuring a white high school guidance counselor showing two black parents in an orange jumpsuit similar to those worn by prisoners and saying the uniform helps kids prepare for the future.

The comic, a strip penned by Vic Lee called Pardon My Planet, was described as “outright, blatant racism” by one reader, the Star says. Lee tells the paper that the race angle never dawned on him.

"The panel was about crime in the schools and a school system that is breeding criminals. Not about black kids growing up and going to prison," he said. "The panel didn't call for a black or white couple -- it called for a couple with a school-age child. It just so happens that my only recurring characters with a school-age child (Nico) are Dennis and Chloe, who happen to be black.”

Semantics Trouble

A school board in Florida that added a clause to protect people from discrimination because of their sexual preference is drawing fire from gay groups unhappy about its choice of language, reports the Bradenton Herald. The Manatee County board voted unanimously to add the words "sexual preference" to the discrimination section of the school district's Code of Student Conduct. But keeping that phrase would apparently damage the psyches of young gays, according to one person who objected.

"This phrase is generally used to suggest that one's sexual orientation is a choice or a disorder, and therefore curable," complained Leon Weinstein, co-chair of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Sarasota in a letter to the Herald. "The term 'sexual orientation' is an accurate description of variations of sexual attraction, and is inclusive of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and heterosexual men and women."

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:

Rick McC. in Huntsville, Ala., writes:

I have always prided myself on the fact that my Irish-American brethren refrained from entering the PC battle. I actually considered it a sign of intelligence. Now this bozo from California comes in and complains about the term "paddy wagon." Does he not know that it got the nickname because of the many Irish-Americans on the police force around that time? What a terrible stereotype to have attached to your heritage! People these days want everyone to remember their heritage, and yet they want every reference of it removed from everyday life.

Derek Y. in Madison, Wis., writes:

Regarding the column about the aboriginal activist suing over the use of the word "black" to describe coffee ("Surely you can have breakfast without talking about black or race"):  I have always heard plain coffee referred to as "black," and I never considered it racist in the slightest. That is visually what color the drink is. If that is racist, then what color is my car?  Or my dog's nose?  Will it soon be racist to call asphalt "blacktop?" Sometimes, the word black means not a race, but simply a color.

Lee Y. in Huber Heights, Ohio, writes:

What an enlightening perspective from Eric W. I didn't realize that being a Christian fundamentalist automatically linked me with being a "racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted individual."

My beliefs teach a little more tolerance and love than apparently Eric ever learned.

J.E. in Wilmington, Del., writes:

Actually, the lawmakers from Michigan should allow Al Sharpton to go ahead with his lawsuit. There exists sufficient evidence to prove what has been said of Mr. Sharpton's intolerance and bigotry. Such a lawsuit would simply define for all parties who the real Mr. Sharpton is, and would perhaps add a note of reality in his candidacy. Too many people allow themselves to live in fear of being called "racially insensitive" by those who make a living off of such attacks.

Jim M. in Lynchburg, Va., writes:

So removing huge breasts from an old cartoon is somehow politically correct? What spectrum of the political world does this represent? Work harder, your selections for this week are, well, weak.

I saw a good one recently, Mr. Bush was selling his tax break for rich people and behind him plastered all over the backdrop was "Jobs and Economic Growth" or something like that. Talk about trying to spin something. If that wasn't political correctness, what is?

Fair and balanced, remember. Let's see it, or are you afraid you'll lose your job?

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