Town councilors in Brunswick, Maine, have rejected complaints about the use of the word 'God' and what was described as sexist language in a 1959-era poem to be inscribed on a memorial to fallen firefighters to be erected in town, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Firefighters raised $12,000 for the memorial, which will be erected next spring adjacent to a new fire station. They wanted to have the poem "A Fireman's Prayer" inscribed on it.

Some members of the council initially balked, however, suggesting that the last few lines of the poem — which ask God to protect the firefighters' children and wife if he were to die in the line of duty — are sexist and could be seen as an illegal government endorsement of religion.

The Kids Are All Right; The Faculty Is Not

A group of Florida college softball players who dressed up like their friends on the school's basketball team for Halloween will be forced to undergo diversity indoctrination classes because some of them painted their faces black for the stunt, reports the News-Journal.

Members of the Stetson University softball team wore basketball jerseys, painted their skin black and flashed "gangsta" poses in pictures that ended up on the Internet. Each member of the team was dressed like a specific player on the basketball team.

The basketball players being caricatured were tickled about the stunt and even lent the softball players their jerseys for the pictures.

"The players felt that the [softball players'] intentions were not offensive," one of the coaches said. "Rather, they were elated that people thought enough of them to try to be like them."

But school officials were aghast, calling the pictures offensive, objectionable and sad. Both squads will be required to meet with the school's diversity committee, watch a documentary that addresses blackface and read the book "White Like Me" by Tim Wise.

Bird-Brained

A feminist in New Zealand has her knickers in a knot over a public transport ad campaign in Auckland that features an avian mascot riding a bus in search of some "nice birds," reports the New Zealand Herald.

Sandra Coney complained at a recent meeting of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority that the ad is a sexist relic of another era.

"Advertising shouldn't make jokes at the expense of women. I imagine a lot of women use buses," she said.

In the ad, Maxx, a cartoon pukeko, tells radio listeners he is riding a new express service after hearing "there were some nice birds" in Auckland.

Hero of the Week

India's NewKerala.com profiles a Punjabi convert to Christianity in the United Kingdom's Midlands who is campaigning to step back from political correctness and restore the celebration of Christmas.

For years, Wolverhampton has heralded Christmas by blaring the word "Welcome" in festive holiday lights over the town.

But councilor Elias Mattu, a Punjabi councilor and Christian convert, campaigned to use the dreaded C-word in the publicly funded light display once again. Thanks to his efforts, the words "Happy Christmas" are being used once again.

"Some officials seemed to think that the word 'Christmas' might offend some minorities. But I pointed out that in India we have more than 500 religions and we have no problem getting on with minorities," Mattu said.

"I don't know of a single minority in Britain which is offended by the mention of Christmas. Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus I've spoken to here all join in with it. It is patronizing to suggest they're offended. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and by removing the word 'Christmas' from the lights I think it erodes Christian values."

Heh

Efforts by Amnesty International to campaign against the death penalty at Seattle University have run afoul of the diversity police on campus, according to the Spectator.

Amnesty put up hangman's nooses around campus to mark the beginning of Death Penalty Awareness Week, only to see them taken down by police within minutes.

The intention was to let people know that Washington state still allows hanging as a form of capital punishment, but Time Wilson, the director for student affairs, said the symbol was problematic.

"People could be offended by such a powerful symbol."

Reading, Writing and Tired Hippie Politics

Teachers in Madison, Wis., had their third-graders composing and mailing letters urging a halt to the war in Iraq as part of a civics lesson — until school administrators stepped in and put a stop to it, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Julie Fitzpatrick, one of the 10 teachers at Allis Elementary School that dreamed up the project, said the assignment was intended to demonstrate "citizen action," a standard part of the district's social studies curriculum.

"We saw peace as a common good," Fitzpatrick said. "We were just advocating that people keep working toward peace."

But following complaints from some parents, school officials pointed out that even in Madison teachers are discouraged from "exploiting the institutional privileges of their professional positions to promote candidates or parties and activities."

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

Mailbag:

Ed R. writes:

My father-in-law, who recently passed away at the age of 92, picked cotton along with his 11 siblings as a child in Oklahoma. He told me the stories of the songs that they would sing to pass the time during the back-breaking labor. Oh, yes, he wasn’t black.

Meredith M. writes:

Many of us recognize that political correctness has gotten out of hand, but let’s think about this one: An old song about picking cotton at the very least is reminiscent of slave spirituals, and may in fact be about slaves picking cotton. It’s not unreasonable for someone to suggest that song shouldn’t be celebrated by school children.

Ian F. in London writes:

Regarding the "Disrespectful Memories" by the Detroit News, I find it comical that the lyrics called disrespectful are nearly the exact lyrics found in the song "The Potion" by rapper Ludacris.

As a graduate student who listens to hip-hop, I know that this has been a big hit this year and that this particular chorus was very popular. I certainly understand if people find that offensive, but the middle school band isn't to blame. These people need to check what their kids are listening to.

Matthew M. writes:

Since when is advertising that you speak a language racist? I see it all the time in California, "Se Habla Espanol" or "Hablamos Espanol." These statements appear time after time on advertisements for lawyers, doctors, banks, car dealerships. They use those statements to compete, so there is nothing wrong in stating you can speak English to potential English-speaking customers.

Jim D. writes:

The CSU (Northridge) senior who believes the use of tactics to communicate a desire to recruit more Hispanics into the military (is racist) would not have come to the same conclusion (had it been) Dell Computers or Microsoft looking to fill slots with Hispanics in an executive fast-track program, or UCSF looking to fill graduate school slots.

If the military didn't put their recruitment ads in Spanish, this same person would criticize them for being bigoted.

I suppose if the IRS puts up notices on billboards in Spanish, it's discriminatory and racially motivated. But, if Fannie Mae puts up billboards apprising the Latin community of its desire to grant more mortgages to Hispanics, that's OK.

There should be a rule of thumb in the media that college students do not get taken seriously until they graduate, and anything they say or do doesn't get reported. If my children came up with something as stupid as Ms. Ceja, I would certainly be embarrassed.

Andre writes:

I find the reader responses to Tongue Tied to be just as amusing as the column itself. Specifically, the people who complain about the "bias" and "opinions" of the author are most entertaining.

A careful word-by-word examination of any of the stories reveals that they are a recitation of facts and events with direct quotes from the people involved. Nowhere in the story does the author ever reveal his opinion about it.

Only by the headlines and description that the column is about politically correct nuttiness can you even attempt to deduce exactly what the author thinks about it. Perhaps everyone who writes in to complain about the "position," "opinion" or "spin" of the writer should rethink if they are formulating their opinion based on the actual facts of the story or not.

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