A state official in Gary, Ind., is being labeled racist for using the phrase "city mentality" before a predominantly black audience, reports the Indianapolis Star.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles (search) Commissioner Joel Silverman was in Gary hearing concerns from local residents about plans to shutter branches of his agency in some of their communities. In an effort to convince the audience to think as a county and not just as a city, he said some residents needed to shed their "city mentality."

The phrase was immediately branded "offensive and disrespectful" by the local chapter of the NAACP (search).

"When you mention the term 'city mentality' to an audience consisting mainly of African-Americans, they're not thinking city mentality means 'regional.' They're thinking you mean the N-word mentality. That was a perception problem," said the NAACP's Tammi Davis.

Gee, Thanks

U.S. Air Force (search) officials have been told that they are not to promote the notion of faith in official communications or events such as meetings, sports events or official ceremonies, reports the New York Times.

The rules, to be issued to commanders throughout the force later this year, follow complaints from cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that Christian leaders were promoting their faith on campus.

The guidelines discourage public prayers at official Air Force events, but allow for "a brief nonsectarian prayer" in special "extraordinary circumstances" like "mass casualties, preparation for imminent combat and natural disasters."

Novel Complaints

The Indy Star also reports that the city of Columbus, Ind., is under fire from American Indian activists for choosing a novel about a woman's capture by Shawnee Indians in 1755 for its first official community read.

The activists say the book, "Follow the River," by James Alexander Thom, maligns American Indians and uses the word "squaw" too much. The book is a fictional account of the true story of the capture of Mary Ingles by Shawnee Indians in 1755 in Virginia, her survival and eventual escape, told from the white woman's perspective.

Debra Haza, a Columbus resident who serves on the city's cultural diversity committee, says the book misrepresents American Indians. "We are portrayed as savages and squaws. An Indian man is described as having a snakelike appearance. He [Thom] has all these misconceptions going through her [Mary Ingles'] head," she said.

Sanity Prevails

Gov. George Pataki vetoed a bill passed by the New York state Legislature that would have required the use of politically correct terms in new state and local laws, regulations and charters when referring to people with disabilities, reports The Associated Press.

The bill's sponsor, Harvey Weisenberg, claimed that "certain terms currently used diminish the humanity of individuals with disabilities, creating an invisible barrier that excludes these individuals from being viewed as equal members of the community."

Weisenberg's bill would have required state officials to put the person before the disability, or use the term "people with mental illness" instead of the term "mentally ill," for example.

Can't Win for Trying

A Chicago city alderman who suggested that housing overcrowded by predominantly Latino immigrants is contributing to a neighborhood's growing garbage and vermin problem is being denounced as a racist for such a suggestion, according to the Hoy newspaper.

Residents of the northwest Chicago neighborhood approached Alderman Emma Mitts to arrange for trash to be picked up more frequently, saying current service levels are not sufficient.

In an effort to deal with the request, Mitts wrote to the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation, saying: "Due to the enormous amount of Latinos that reside in District 37, including many families living in the same home, the amount of trash and rodents have increased immensely."

Fellow Alderman Ricardo Munoz said the letter had racist connotations.

"She says if you are Latino, you are dirty. It's irresponsible for her to fault the community for something that is her responsibility," Munoz said.

For more doses of politically correct nuttiness, head on over to the TongueTied daily edition. Also, a special hat tip to John Ray at PC Watch for his help this week.

Mailbox:

Kevin in N.C. writes:

Could the increasing silliness of the PC in this country be a sign of just how good things are? Could it be that those who make their livings, and sometimes fortunes, on finding offended people now have to dig deeper than ever to find anything to justify their existence?

Could the fact that our economy can support completely worthless initiatives (diversity and sensitivity training for example) that do little more then irritate employees and waste millions of employer's dollars, be a sign that our economy is robust? Could it also be that if, heaven forbid, hardship ever strikes this country, that one of the first things to go will be PC? I certainly hope that is not what it will take to stop this nonsense.

Mary Kay W. writes:

Suspend a teacher and then bend over backwards apologizing for the contents of a letter they have yet to see. What a wonderful way of teaching children about the presumption of innocence and freedom of personal expression. No wonder I plan on home schooling my children next year, and political correctness will NOT be one of the subjects taught.

Kimberly S. writes:

I am deeply concerned about the teacher in Florida. Since when did writing your Congressman about an issue, no matter how ridiculous, become reason to be fired? I thought free speech was protected, as well as my right to protest. I am terrified for the future of this country, as I see liberals slowly taking away my free speech rights with this politically correct mumble jumble. I read "1984" and the first step to controlling thought is controlling speech.

Ross W. writes:

Manhattan assemblyman Mike Meyers really needs to open his eyes and take a good look around if he thinks that American slavery has been "swept under" any rug. America's slave-holding past has been placed upon a pedestal for all to see for decades. A pedestal of shame, but a pedestal nonetheless. It is, if not the leading source, among the leading sources of our current epidemic of America's hair-shirted self-loathing.

Natalie in Michigan writes:

I am one of those bleeding heart liberals that most of the fans of your column are blaming for the political correct nuttiness in America and sometimes, the world. I just want to say that most of the time I disagree with the bizarre and downright extreme things that local governments, as well as state and federal ones, are doing in the name of "political correctness."

People are no longer allowed to even have opinions that are offensive or religious. I admit that I am not religious and I get angered by things people say, but they have a right to say/do them, as long as they are not physically harming another person. I think we are raising our children so that any little offensive thing is going to upset them, and that is not going to help them in the real world where you have to know how to take criticism and smile in the face of someone with whom you disagree.

Craig B. writes:

Yawn. More predictable conservative blather from Fox News. The biggest whiners about liberal elite media bias, practice what they... well, whine about.

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