Members of the English National Opera (search) have been forbidden from referring to each other as "darling" under a new sexual harassment policy, reports the Times of London.

The new guidelines ban "suggestive remarks or lewd conduct that denigrates or ridicules or is intimidatory or physically abusive of an employee because of their sex, which is derogatory, or insults which are gender related."

It continues: "The use of affectionate names such as 'darling' will also constitute sexual harassment."

A spokesman said current staff who have been using the term may continue to do so, but new hires will be disciplined if they do so.

Free Speech, Oregon Style

A columnist for a student newspaper at Oregon State University who suggested that black Americans should choose their battles a little more carefully was fired from his position for such racially insensitive commentary, reports the Oregonian.

In the column, David Williams wrote that there are "thousands upon thousands of successful and upstanding black role models," but the ones some settle on are not up to snuff and aren't held accountable by the African American community.

"... There is a lack of morality in the black community because African American leaders, whether Jesse Jackson (search) or the NAACP, choose to rally around minorities who seem to have little quality characteristics about them," he wrote.

The incident prompted the usual response from campus officials. They immediately organized a community forum on institutional racism issues in which students called for the dismissal of everyone who saw the column before publication and mandatory diversity indoctrination for the staff.

Oregonian columnist David Reinhard points out that columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald, who received a Pulitzer Prize this month for commentary, has written pretty much the same thing in the past.

'Coordinated Assaults,' Cornell Style

Meanwhile, at Cornell University (search) on the East Coast, students demanded the withdrawal of university financial support from two conservative publications on campus that published articles they consider offensive, reports the Cornell Sun.

The first article, in the Cornell Review, questioned why, of two racially motivated attacks, only the one with a black victim prompted rallies, forums and widespread publicity.

The second article, in the Cornell American, was about affirmative action and featured a photograph of African American students in academic robes with the word "unqualified!" on the cover.

At a rally protesting the articles, speakers called the articles "coordinated assaults on the civil rights movement and minorities."

"There is a thin line between freedom of speech and being responsible. When you are stereotyping and putting people into groups that is a problem," said Sarah Elliot, president of the Cornell chapter of the NAACP.

Do It for the Kids

The Toronto School Board is mulling the idea of changing the name of its traditional December holiday from "Christmas break" to "winter break" because the former makes non-Christian students feel excluded and alienated, reports the Toronto Globe and Mail.

The idea was proposed by trustee Howard Goodman, who says his chief concern is to encourage scholastic excellence and dissuade pupils from dropping out. For non-Christians, he said, celebrating Christmas is like walking in a shoe with a nail poking through.

"Every small irritant pushes somebody further away from doing well at school," he said.

Batman, Are You Listening?

The University of the Incarnate Word in Texas is ditching its Crusader mascot because it could be offensive to Muslims and because it's "inappropriate for a Catholic institution with a multicultural mission," reports the San Antonio Express News.

The Crusader has been UIW's mascot since 1980, according to faculty members, but since 9/11 has come to be considered culturally insensitive.

Sarwat Husain, executive director of the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, welcomed the decision.

"[Crusaders] did not send the right message to the community," he said. "Using Crusaders made it sound like the school was not tolerant."

Crossed Signals

A group of students at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., says an anti-abortion display featuring crosses is offensive to non-Christians and should be removed, reports News-25.

The students say the 4,000 crosses meant to represent the number of abortions performed daily are not representative enough of the "cultural and religious diversity" on Bradley's campus.

''The cross is a symbol of Christianity. Bradley's not affiliated with a Christian religion. Many students at Bradley University are Jewish and of other faiths. It is offensive because it represents, it takes over a large part of our campus,'' said Catherine Morrison of the group Voices for Choice.

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

Mailbag:

Ted B. writes:

I have to admit I don't understand why a group calling itself the Black Students Alliance is not considered racist. After all, if a group were to form calling itself the "White Students Alliance," it would probably be banned.

Imagine the outcome if this group gathered on campus with their fists raised in the air chanting "white power." The group members would most likely be driven off campus and possibly charged with hate crimes of some sort.

Jodin R. in Cincinnati, Ohio, writes:

I just read the April 12 edition of Tongue Tied, and I fail to see your point overall. It's apparent you are against the concept of political correctness, or at least as you see it going too far. But most of your examples were genuinely bothersome.

Referring to a tar baby or dressing up in black face in this day and age better come with a lot of intelligent and constructive discussion or it's simply a tactic to demean and hate. And seeing that a state legislator is spamming his coworkers state-wide with his pre-teen's "analysis email" of the vast Islam religion-- that I'm sure somehow supported our occupation of Iraq--is patently offensive.

If you've lost touch with that, then consider yourself on the list of incorrect people.

Faith S. in Sunnyvale, Calif., writes:

Usually I find Tongue Tied to be an interesting and valuable section of the Fox News web site, usually the only. But this week seems to be loaded with legitimate grievances.

Since when is "tar baby" considered an appropriate word? Many would consider this slur to be just as offensive as "nigger," and he should have known what would happen when he said this. Ditto for the "April Fools Too" and "Still Smoldering" pieces. I'd love to see how you'd react to black students in white face, playing out the worst stereotypes of white people.

Steven C. in Georgetown, Texas, writes:

Oh, so speech regarding the relative quality, depth and morality of religious propositions is now appended to the large and growing list of free speech regarded as hate speech?

Sheesh, where's George Orwell when you need him? If one rightly says of Islam that it does not promote forgiveness and reconciliation, but rather glorifies struggle -- even armed struggle -- then you are a "hater." It is way past time for people such as Sen. Sharon Grosfeld to stop trying to cram the ideas of Muhammad into a post-modern, subjectivist Western mold.

Marlane K. in Virginia writes:

My sympathies go out to anyone attempting to profess on the subject of irony at Georgia State University if Dawn Davison is representative of any significant portion of the student body.

Anyone who, in all seriousness, simultaneously champions diversity while demanding the removal from campus of anyone engaging in politically incorrect behavior would be a test of such a professor's abilities.

Mike F. in Springfield, Va., writes:

The first article from your April 12 column dealt with the use of the literary reference "tar baby" by Verl Emrick, the New Orleans Planning Commissioner, during his first day on the job. The article from the Times-Picayune reported that several staff members were offended and then complained to the mayor, which led to Mr Emrick's dismissal. While I have opinions on political correctness run amok like most everyone else, I must admit that I do not even comprehend the issue in this case.

The term "tar baby" comes from the famous Uncle Remus story by Joel Chandler Harris, where Brer Fox makes a sticky tar baby to catch Brer Rabbit. The tar baby is an inanimate object, not a person, and the use of the reference is widely used..... so widely in fact that it is in the dictionary. From the Webster's New College dictionary, tar baby is defined as "something from which it is nearly impossible to extricate oneself."

Greg F. writes:

If political correctness can be defined as a hyper-sensitive tendency to file grievances towards any perceived affront, wouldn't your column actually qualify as a form of political correctness? I'm not trying to sound contrary, but I just don't perceive that much of a logical gap between complaining about an action and complaining about a complainer.

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