A student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who said in class that he opposed homosexuality on religious grounds was later singled out by his professor, in an e-mail sent to his fellow students, as a monger of hate speech, reports the News & Observer.

The professor, Elyse Crystall, has since apologized for referring to the student as "a white, heterosexual, [C]hristian male" who "can feel entitled to make violent, heterosexist comments and not feel marked or threatened or vulnerable."

In the e-mail to students in her Literature and Cultural Diversity class, Crystall wrote: "[W]hat we heard [T]hursday at the end of class constitutes 'hate speech' and is completely unacceptable. [I]t has created a hostile environment."

Sexual Harassment 101

A 10-year-old California boy was brought up on sexual harassment charges and suspended for making a crack about a female classmate's chest to a friend, reports the Sacramento Bee.

According to the parents, the fifth-grader at Theodore Judah Elementary School in Sacramento made the remark to a male friend on school grounds. The friend then ran over and repeated it to the girl. The incident violated the district's sexual harassment policy, the principal said.

In the wake of the suspension, the principal said she ordered a 17-minute video, "Respecting Each Other: Sexual Harassment Prevention," which she plans to show to several classes.

Boo Hoo

A city councilwoman in Oakland is being accused of creating a racially hostile work atmosphere for using the word "master" in a conversation with a subordinate, reports the Oakland Tribune.

Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who is African-American, is accused of telling inspector Pennie Freehan, who is white, that Freehan has "two masters and I am one of them."

"I was extremely offended and embarrassed," said Freehan. "[Brooks] is a racist. She's very mean and doesn't treat people nicely."

That Voodoo You Do

A Philadelphia group that describes itself as an advocate for African religions is suing the Sci Fi Channel, contending that a new reality series it is promoting demeans and misrepresents the voodoo religion, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Leaders of the National African Religion Congress Inc. say the producers of "Mad Mad House" are defaming their faith by inaccurately holding up a Yoruba princess as a voodoo priestess. A commercial showing contestants being placed into a pit and covered with animal parts and entrails is not representative of their faith, members of the group say.

"People already have negative feelings about this religion without a program like this exacerbating things," said George Ware, president of the five-year-old congress.

Sci Fi describes "Mad Mad House" as a reality series in which 10 people move into a house run by "five genuine practitioners of alternative lifestyles," including a vampire, a Wiccan, a naturist, a voodoo priestess and a modern primitive.

Ho Chi Mama

A New York boutique that uses an attractive Vietnamese woman speaking in broken English in its marketing is under attack for perpetuating an offensive stereotype about Asians, reports the New York Times.

The store, Saigoniste, sells housewares from Vietnam. Its mascot, Ho Chi Mama, appeared in a video on the store's Web site until the Times got wind of it and appears on price tags saying things like "Ho Chi Mama say, soft glow of tea light turns every dinner into hot date."

The Times tracked down an Ann Arbor, Mich., woman who started an online campaign against the store to complain about the broken English and the name, which plays on the degrading terms "ho" and "hoochie mama."

Un-Funny Valentine

Parents in Detroit are apparently livid about a printing error that led to the publication of a Valentine's Day card featuring a black SpongeBob SquarePants, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Officials at American Greetings Corp. said they "fell out of their chairs" when they saw the cards, which were printed in China.

Apparently, some parents in Detroit said the image -- of SpongeBob with his trademark big teeth and wide eyes, looked too much like the offensive images of African-Americans portrayed in minstrel shows decades ago.

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

Mailbag:

Sean G.:

I don't think your piece about OutKast qualifies as PC. I can't think of anything more insulting than a bunch of bad rappers imitating anything! It's bad enough they imitate musicians.

Joe N. writes:

I guess all the people who complain about content on Fox's website "accidentally" got there and were "forced against their will" to read paragraph after paragraph of horrific, right-wing propaganda.

Urmila D. writes:

I read your column regularly and thoroughly enjoy it. As a minister and leader in the Hare Krishna Movement, though, I thought that perhaps you didn't grasp the import of our court victory in New Zealand.

The butchers were using a parody of our prayer and meditation to promote the slaughter of innocent creatures, and one of our most basic tenets is mercy to all living beings. To object to someone using our form of prayer to blaspheme our principles is not a matter of political correctness. Would one want the crucifix and outward features of Christian worship used to advertise hatred and greed, principles against the very core of Jesus' teachings? Or would you want a company using a caricature of you to promote a cause that is antithetical to your most basic ideals?

Such behavior is practically a form of libel, as the advertising appears to have you endorse what is being advertised, when the opposite is the case.

Ricky V. writes:

I agree with the kindergarten teacher who didn't allow that kid to give treats with strings attached to classmates. Why was there a prayer attached to a bag of jellybeans? You can't buy such bags at Wal-Mart, so there was a hidden purpose to this treat.

It was a way to spread a certain opinion or religious belief. It was a coldhearted marketing ploy. What are we teaching these kids? Your classmates who do not share your views are ignorant and only you can save them? What's next? Kids with gay parents giving out pink jellybeans and the message "It's OK to be gay"?

I'm a member of the pagan Church of Fandel. Am I allowed to spread my message in kindergartens? Kids are inundated with commercials when they watch television. Keep commercials out of kindergartens.

The Rev. Michael J. writes:

What's the big deal with the Church of England using the term "magi?" All good translations of the Bible -- New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, etc -- use the term "magi." It's the most accurate translation. They certainly weren't "kings," and Matthew never mentions how many there were, except that he refers to them in the plural, so there was more than one. Might have been a dozen or more.

The "King James" version of the Bible was a wonderful accomplishment for its time. It gave the people a Bible they could read in the language they used every day. However, we no longer use that language, and the fact is, the King James is not a very good translation. It was pretty good for 400 years ago, but not for today. It's time people quit believing that Jesus spoke in King James English.

Bruce writes:

Unlike the other buffoons who write in to complain about your column, I say, "Bravo!" Clearly, given the vitriol of some of these complaints/criticisms, your column is striking a little too close to home than these liberal twits would like.

 

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