Third-graders in Madison, Wisc. won't be allowed to ring bells to raise money for the Salvation Army as they have in the past because one parent complained about the kids helping a religious-based charity, according to The Capital Times.

Students from Chavez Elementary have for years helped out the red kettle brigade during the Christmas season, along with hundreds of students from around the county. For some, it qualifies as part of their community service obligation.

Principal Howard Fried said the school administration stood down immediately when faced with the complaint. "When the objection was raised, the administration downtown told us, in no uncertain terms, not to allow it," he said.

Homophobic Incident

A UK author who said during a radio interview that it might not be such a hot idea to allow homosexual men to adopt young boys during a radio interview found herself under investigation by local police for her "homophobic incident," according to the Daily Telegraph.

Children's rights campaigner Lynette Burrows took part in a panel discussion about the UK's new civil partnerships act on a regional BBC program. During the course of the discussion she said placing boys with homosexual fathers was as risky as placing girls with two heterosexual men.

Scotland Yard said a member of the public complained of Burrows' homophobia and police are obligated to follow-up on such "priority crimes." No charges were filed.

Painful Truths

USA Today reports that Arab-Americans are seething over a planned billboard campaign that features an Arab man holding a grenade in one hand and a drivers license in the other.

James Zogby of the Arab-American institute says the ad, sponsored by a group that wants tighter restrictions on driver's licenses and due to go up near the state capitol in North Carolina, is racist.

"I think the motivation is anti-immigrant," he said. "They are creating fear ... over Arabs. The message is very clear: 'Arabs are dangerous, Arabs should not get driver's licenses.' "

But the billboard's sponsor, the Coalition for a Secure Drivers License, says the issue is terror.

"I think it's an important message to get out to North Carolinians that they have a driver's license that is vulnerable to getting into the wrong hands," says Amanda Bowman, president of the group. "A driver's license functions as the internal passport in the U.S."

Reason for the Season

A McDonald's restaurant in Raleigh, N.C. is under pressure to change a sign out front wishing passersby a Merry Christmas, according to WRAL-TV.

Some in town say the sign, which reads "Merry Christmas, Jesus is the Reason for the Season," comes on a bit too strong.

Among those who complained was Amanda Alpert, who called McDonald's corporate offices to ask that it be changed. "It offends me because it specifically talks about Jesus, Merry Christmas," she said.

Who Knew?

Black men, says a writer in the London Times, will think twice before seeing the new King Kong movie because the story "feeds into all the colonial hysteria about black hyper-sexuality" and "touches the raw nerve of the Darwin-based association between black men and apes."

The filmmaker, Peter Jackson, used the same hackneyed stereotypes in his Lord of the Rings triology, so Kong's racism comes as no surprise, writes Kwame McKenzie. In those films, he says, "the most fearsome baddies were big black and just a bit too Maori looking, the good guys -- well white."

Mr. McKenzie says the folks who do movie ratings should look for negative racial stereotypes in addition to sex and violence.

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

Mailbag:

Geoff M. writes:

Since when is a Christmas tree a religious symbol? I suppose if it has religious symbols such as crosses and depictions of the birth of Christ hanging on it, it could be but the tree itself is as secular as Frosty the Snowman. The person complaining about the "Giving Tree" is a bigot looking for some power in his/her very small world.

Joanne V. writes:

It's amazing how the word 'Christmas' is offensive to so many people, but yet they're the same ones that are enjoying Christmas morning off of work with their families. This year I would assume that they'd all report to work on Christmas Day since they would spend all day offended at home from being 'forced' to take a paid day off.

Nick P. writes:

I consider myself to be a Christian. I am not a radical. If anything, I should go to church more. But I am fed up with the fringe groups in this country acting as if the word Christian is an obscenity. This country was founded on Christian values. Let's call Christmas what it is. If it wasn't for Christmas there wouldn't be a "holiday break." I wish all the Christians in this country would boycott the secular side of Christmas for just one year. I bet if over one million people quit buying gifts, everyone's attitude would change. If Christians have to respect everyone else's religion, why don't they respect ours?

Kristin S. writes:

I enjoy reading your Tongue Tied column. However, I disagree that the item about the UK schoolgirl who got in trouble for wearing a cross necklace is a true example of political correctness run amok. The simple truth is that the school bans jewelry, period. If you want to say that in itself is extreme, I would agree with you, but it's their policy and we really don't get an opinion on it, as we don't even live in their country.

If they want to make an exception for students whose religion "requires" the wearing of a certain item of jewelry, that is only reasonable. But Christians are not REQUIRED to wear crosses. There is no reason the rules should be bent because one student feels like wearing a cross.

Andrew H. writes:

The Quote from Denmark's chief rabbi, Bent Lexner, is fantastic. ("I think that it would be better to educate Muslims to respect the culture of the majority in Denmark, if they want the majority to respect their culture.") Maybe our country can learn something.

It needs to be slightly modified for maximum impact on the U.S.: "It would be better to educate Atheist leaning Christmas haters to respect the culture of the majority in America, if they want the majority to respect their culture".

Ellen L. writes:

You right wing crazies really need to get a life. I understand the rest of the world wants people like us to stay and fight and bring America back. I say let's all leave and let you idiots live in your Christian domain of stupid, and at some point start the crusades again and send women home.

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