A federal jury in Kansas City rejected a lawsuit by two African-American sisters claiming that a flight attendant’s use of the rhyme "eenie, meenie, minie, moe" was racist and caused them physical and emotional distress, reports the Kansas City Star.

Louise Sawyer and Grace Fuller said they were traumatized when a stewardess on a Southwest Airlines flight said over the intercom, "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go," in an effort to get passengers to take their seats.

Some say the original child’s rhyme ended with "catch a nigger by his toe," and the sisters say hearing it on the plane caused one of them to have a seizure later in the day. The flight attendant says she only ever heard the version that ends "catch a tiger by the toe."

I Have a Dream

A group of high school students in Omaha, Neb., who nominated a South African student for a "Distinguished African-American Student" award were disciplined for what was described by administrators as an "inappropriate and insensitive" act, reports the Omaha World Herald.

Administrators at Westside High School said the award should only go to a black student. A student who later circulated a petition complaining about the racism inherent in that policy also was punished by the school.

The students nominated their South African friend by putting up some 100 posters around the school supporting his candidacy. The award has been given the last eight years to an outstanding black student as part of the school's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Niggling Names

A school district in Oregon is reversing its decision to name a new middle school after the town founder after learning that he had ties to slavery in the late 1850s, reports the Corvallis Gazette Times.

After conferring with local historians, the Corvallis School Board said it would rename the newly christened Avery Middle School.

Records dredged up by angry locals show that Joseph Avery, who founded Corvallis with his wife, Martha, was affiliated with the Occidental Messenger, a pro-slavery weekly newspaper published between 1857 and 1859.

No word on whether the city will be renaming Jefferson Elementary School anytime soon.

Careful What You Write

A professor at the University of Oklahoma who ran afoul of the PC police four years ago is still paying the price, David Deming writes in the Oklahoman newspaper.

Deming, an associated professor of geology, says his troubles began in March 2000 when he published a letter to the editor criticizing a female colleague's claim that all gun owners are potential murderers. He wrote that if her assertion is true, then one could argue that her "possession of an unregistered sexual organ made her a potential prostitute."

The colleague filed sexual harassment charges against him that were eventually dropped.

Since then, he has written letters to local papers that were determined to be showing "contempt and resentment" toward the school. The letters were included in his personnel file in a situation he describes as "analogous to a professor stapling a student's political letters to his or her examinations."

Deming has had his classes yanked from him and been reassigned to an office in a small, dark corner of a basement because of his political views, he says.

White Pathology Personified

School officials in Brattleboro, Vt., have voted to change a local high school mascot that some in the community have decried as a symbol of racism, reports the Rutland Herald.

The Brattleboro Union High School Board voted 8-1 to retire the Southern colonel-looking mascot by July 1 and to remove it from school products as budgets permit.

Speaking at a board meeting, local resident Leah Stuart called the vote "just the beginning in recognizing white pathology, white racism and superiority." The "pain and anguish of everyday life in this community" must be addressed with other measures as well, she said.

Angry Fems

A bookstore at Michigan State University was vandalized by a horde of feminists angry about what they said was a degrading advertisement for the store, reports the State News.

The windows of Ned’s Bookstore were covered with graffiti saying "resist patriarchy" and "womyn unite."

The offending ad featured men walking down the street turning their heads at the sight of women coming toward them, as well as women fawning over the Ned's gorilla mascot. They have been pulled from the air and Ned’s has apologized.

The Nitty Gritty

Police in Scotland have been issued new sensitivity guidelines that admonish them against using the phrases "nitty gritty" and "rule of thumb" because of their sexist and racist origins, reports London’s Sunday Times.

The guide also says to avoid the term "homosexual" because it stems from a 19th-century notion that gays suffered from an illness that required a pseudo-scientific label.

Nitty gritty is verboten because it is thought to have been used by slave traders to refer to remains at the bottom of the transport ships that were covered in lice and grit. "Rule of thumb" is sexist, the officers are warned, because it dates back to a law which said you could not beat your wife with an implement thicker than the thumb.

Male officers also are warned that referring to female colleagues as "one of the boys" is not really appropriate, as "it implies that, only by behaving like men, can women be accepted by those men in their workplace."

(Most mainstream etymology resources say the origins of the term "nitty gritty" are unknown. Worldwide Words, however, provides a pretty convincing refutation of the above usage, saying the phrase didn't show up in print until the 1950s.)

For a daily dose of politically correct shenanigans, head over to the Tongue Tied Web site.

Mailbag:

Tom in Sarasota writes:

What a waste of space. Column after column complaining about how others are taking away your rights while all along you want to take away theirs to disagree with the norm. Since when is being "correct" wrong?

People have a right to complain about what they perceive as offensive...99 percent of all the crap you write about is one or two individuals striking out at something. It goes nowhere, but you dig it up and present it, falsely, as some kind of movement to change something we all love.

Nice try, but your neo-conservative rants and those of your entire cult are getting old.

Barry D. writes:

I find it interesting that you condemn a man for criticizing another person then you launch into your own tirade about how he is wrong for criticizing.

Sounds like there is a little bit of hypocrisy going on. We have the right to criticize anyone’s views.

Vicente R. writes:

In "So Much for Sensitivity," I am not surprised by the actions of the teachers and other kids. I am a legal immigrant and I agree with Tim Bueler's idea.

Being against illegal immigrants does not mean being against immigration. Why is everyone in the media so much "in love" with people that break the law to enter the country, yet they ignore those of us who have been here legally for more than 10 years. We have to continuously make our case in applications to the INS.

We have to prove that we are not getting paid less than a U.S. citizen. We have to prove that there are not enough U.S. citizens in our area of expertise. Also, we have to have our fingerprints taken and let ourselves be tracked by the authorities.

Most of those teachers would be outraged if the government did the same to them. But nobody cares about the legal immigrant; give the illegals all the breaks and services.

Robin S. writes:

As an immigrant to the U.S. from Germany, I respectfully request that the term "sour kraut" immediately be changed to "sour cabbage." I realize that the food has been in the U.S. for over 100 years. I realize that the term is a direct translation from the German. I still find it offensive, since the term "kraut" is used as a derogatory term to describe Germans.

And, while we're at it, my friend Bob, who has an Italian last name, demands that Burger King change the name of their signature sandwich. It is offensive to him and he has vowed not to eat there again until they change the name.

Damian in Ireland writes:

I think it's important not to gloss over the wording of Kilroy-Silk’s controversial reference in the Sunday Express. He didn't refer purely to Arab nations, but instead made reference to "Arabs" in general -- offending many people of Arab extraction who abhor the activities of some Arab nations as much as anyone else.

His comment should also be taken in the context that he once managed to offend the entire Irish nation by describing us as "a country of priests, peasants and pixies."

Not the most tactful man on the planet!

Gus M. corrects us:

As a native Philadelphian, I can tell you that Chinks is not a "Steakhouse," but rather a place to buy our beloved Cheesesteaks. Calling such an establishment a steakhouse is too much of an honor and at the same time somewhat a slight.

Secondly, Wissinoming is not near Philadelphia as stated in your story but rather a neighborhood in Philly. This would also mean that citing its address as "a local landmark in Wissinoming, Pa." would be wrong as well. I can assure you that none of the fine people in Wiss address any of their mail with anything but the standard Philadelphia, Pa.

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