A substitute principal at a middle school in Colorado has a new Pledge of Allegiance that she shared with students, one that is more inclusive and won't cross that line between church and state, according to the Denver Post.

During the morning pledge at Everitt Middle School in Wheat Ridge, eighth-grade counselor Margo Lucero, who was filling in for an absent principal, changed a portion of the pledge from "one nation under God" to "one nation under your belief system," while on the school public-address system.

Lucero says she meant well.

"I said that because I believe that there should be separation between church and school," she said. "I believe that everybody should have their own beliefs and that we shouldn't have to say, 'under God.'"

Believe It or Not ...

Harvard President Larry Summers is under fire for another speech, reports the Boston Globe, this time for "minimizing" the culpability of Europeans in the suffering of Native Americans centuries ago.

Attendees of the speech, given to an American Indian conference seven months ago, are only now recalling just how offended they were by Summers' comments. They said they were particularly bothered by his description of the "dependency" of Indian communities, and a comment that most of Indians' suffering as European immigrants settled the country was caused by disease and was "in many ways a coincidence ... nobody's plan."

Michael Yellow Bird, director of the Center for Indigenous Nations Studies at the University of Kansas, said comments downplaying settlers' culpability are unacceptable. "You don't minimize people's lives and their deaths by creating some kind of apologist stance for colonialism," he said.

In a statement to the Harvard Crimson, Summers said he "did not mean for a moment to diminish the severity or ferocity of the widespread violence that claimed very many [American Indian] lives. I regret if my remarks were understood otherwise."

He added: "I was attempting to make the point from a policy perspective that tragedies happen both as a consequence of malice and because of accidents and inattention."

Promoting Stereotypes

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations has forced a bank to apologize for an economist's use of the term mullah in a report on the global economy.

In an issue of his Monthly Indicator report, Jeff Rubin of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce wrote: "The first two oil shocks were transitory, as political events encouraged oil producers to seize full sovereignty over their resources and temporarily restrict supply. This time around there won't be any tap that some appeased mullah or sheik can suddenly turn back on."

CAIR said such language promotes stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs and demanded that Mr. Rubin undergo diversity re-education, a demand to which the bank quickly acceded.

CIBC World Markets Chairman and CEO Brian Shaw stated: "While the comments were in no way intentional or meant to offend anyone in the Muslim or Arab community, we agree that, in hindsight, the comments were insensitive."

Great Moments in Journalism Education

A student newspaper at the University of Mississippi is retracting and apologizing for running an advertisement about immigration and diversity described as "inflammatory" and "racially offensive," reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

The ad featured a white baby with light hair and eyes under the heading, "Will She Be a Racial Minority by the Time She Turns 40?" It was paid for by the New Century Foundation and intended to spur debate about immigration.

A professor charged with instructing students about journalism and the First Amendment and the benefits of free and open debate, director of student media and journalism professor Ralph Braseth, called the content "offensive" and expressed regret that it was ever published.

Braseth's influence is clearly working.

"It's one thing to debate issues; it's another to come out with a message of hate and ignorance and you alienate people. When you alienate people, there isn't a debate," said Emery Carrington, the paper's editor in chief.

Book Bans

Students at a university in Scotland have voted to ban the Bible from residence halls because its presence might make non-Christians uncomfortable, according to The Scotsman.

Stirling University Students' Association wants to remove up to 6,000 copies of the Gideon Bible from more than 2,000 dorm rooms. Citing the Scottish Executive's One Scotland Many Cultures campaign, the students said representing one faith was not in the spirit of equality.

Al Wilson, president of the association, said: "It's promoting one faith over others, so we're trying to encourage the university to still retain the Bibles within the buildings themselves, but not necessarily in the rooms."

Busybody Alert

A busybody mom in New Jersey wants an entire kindergarten class to be denied the joy of birthday cupcakes and Twinkies because she thinks they aren't healthy enough for her child, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Meredith Roth is demanding that the Millburn School District put an end to the practice because she says it contributes to the "national epidemic of child obesity."

Many of the parents of other South Mountain Elementary School kids said Roth should keep her child-rearing philosophies to herself.

For more doses of politically correct nuttiness, head on over to the TongueTied daily edition.

Mailbag:

Janice S. writes:

So you think it's appropriate for awards to be given out for such things as "Best Butt" at a school-run banquet? Whether or not it's sexist, it's really not something we should be teaching our children to focus on. Once again, I have to caution you not to jump on the bandwagon of saying everything "PC" is ridiculous.

Heather D. writes:

I disagree with your assessment that the high school canceling awards for "Best Butt", "Best Body" and the like are an example of PC run amok. With children (and these teens are children) being sexualized at such an early age, "awards" such as these certainly should not be endorsed or even allowed by a school. How would you feel if your teenage daughter came home with a trophy for "Best Butt"? Not exactly something you'd brag about at the office, huh? You're way off base with this one.

Don T. writes:

As a lawyer and professed agnostic not beholden to any religion, I am curious why the "progressive" interpretation of the Constitution is "strict contructionalist" as to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and as to other aspects of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Constitution becomes a "living document" that must change with the times allowing for broad interpretation and comparative analysis with aspects of international law? Talk about your double standards.

Amaury C. in San Antonio writes:

I am an avid reader of your column, but I cannot believe what this country is becoming. I moved from Europe 15 years ago, and I am appalled by how soft and selfish people have become. No wonder the Chinese and Indians are going to be the next global leaders. We are doing a complete disservice to our children by raising them completely unprepared for the challenges of the next century. They should be called the "Wimpiest Generation".

Sindi H. writes:

As a single parent with two small children, I would have been lost without Scouts. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies and Girl Scouts. It is a low cost (for now) option for children to learn skills and interact with others. If we lose our Scouts, we lose a wonderful institution that has helps thousands, if not millions of kids learn a better way of life. Scouting has helped keep kids off the streets and out of gangs. I say shame on the ACLU for trying to take that away from America!

Scott D. in Atlanta writes:

I hate what's going on with the Boy Scouts. I think they are a fine organization that do a lot of good especially with the boys that need them the most. But as a gay man, I hate the fact that no matter how qualified, I could not volunteer my time to them. It seems that pedophiles in the upper ranks or serial killers leading cub packs are okay, just thank God they weren't gay! I do have a problem with everyone's tax dollars supporting a group that insists on keeping some of us out--a right I agree they have--- but they can't have it both ways.

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