Police in Tampa, Fla. are now using colored targets on their shooting ranges because they fear the traditional black silhouettes on a white background might be sending a racist message, reports the Tampa Tribune.

Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, whose agency switched to "Smurf Blue" silhouette targets from black ones two years ago, said: "Nowadays, you can never be too sensitive."

Companies that make the targets report that the trend, which started in Florida, has spread nationwide. Blue and green targets, as well as full-color images, are less likely to be criticized as racially insensitive, they say.

Inclusion Alert

A Christian student group at a university in the UK has had its bank accounts frozen because it refused to change the language of its constitution to be more inclusive of transgendered and transsexual students, according to the Times of London.

The evangelical Birmingham Christian Union was advised by the Guild of Students that it must change the words "men" and "women" in its constitution if it wants to use university facilities for meetings. It was informed that the language must be more inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered students.

Black Betty

The University of New Hampshire has stopped playing the song "Black Betty" at its hockey games after someone complained that it was "theoretically racist," reports the The New Hampshire Online.

The song by Ram Jam, which has been a staple of UNH games for years, was quietly discontinued recently following complaints from someone "significant." The school would not say who that someone was.

The Ram Jam version of the song is a cover of a song originally recorded by the blues legend Leadbelly in the early 20th century.

And All That

A University in North Dakota that uses the nickname "marauders" for its sports teams is thinking about changing it because pirates weren't nice to women, reports the Associated Press.

University of Mary Athletic Director Al Bortke says the idea of changing the mascot was first broached by the school's religion and philosophy department, which objects to its negative image.

"Marauders were pirates and they weren't nice to women, and things like that," he said.

Needling Nits

A Conservative leader in Canada came under fire for using the expression "stick to your knitting" in a radio debate with a female member of an opposing party, reports the CBC.

Peter MacKay used the expression in a radio debate with New Democrat MP Alexa McDonough. MacKay said it was a common expression in Atlantic Canada meaning, "mind your own business."

Opponents called on MacKay to apologize to the women of his constituency for using a phrase they described as sexist, which he promptly did.

"I unreservedly apologize to Ms. McDonough or anyone who may have taken offence to the expression I used on the radio today," he said. "It was certainly never intended to demean anyone."

Questions of Our Time

Italian Americans are demanding that Democratic critics of Rick Santorum stop using stereotypes and ethnic slurs in their attacks on the Pennsylvania senator for his role in lobbying reform, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

They have zeroed in on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who said in one interview that "having Sen. Santorum talk about reform is like having John Gotti talk about doing something about organized crime."

They have also criticized the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for calling Santorum "the Godfather of the K Street Project."

"If Sen. Santorum were Jewish or Hispanic or African American, these stereotypical allusions to his heritage would be unthinkable," said Dona De Sanctis of the Order Sons of Italy in America. "Why is this permitted with an Italian American senator?"

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

Mailbag:

Josh G. writes:

Of course they should change the girls' teams name: not because it's demeaning, but because it's straight-up stupid. If the guys are "Vikings," the gals should be "Valkyrie" (or "Valkyries"), not "Vikettes."

What good is it to abuse the name for the Norse warriors by dangling a French skirt from it to form the feminine noun? It is undiluted verbicide and a disregard for the heroic context the name "Vikings" is trying to evoke. "Lady Vikings" is only three points better than "Vikettes," but the balance of "Vikings/Valkyries" is worth hanging onto.

Jamie S. suggests:

How about Viqueens instead of Vikettes?

Kristin in Virginia writes:

When I was in high school, instead of using a girly nickname, all female teams were called the "Lady Chargers." I don't understand why girls' teams can't be called the same as boys' teams! It is one school with one mascot.

If the school mascot showed up at a girls' game, it was the same guy on a horse, not a woman!

I think it creates the idea that the girls' teams aren't as serious or tough as the boys' teams. My poor daughter will go to a high school that has the "Lady Buffs" instead of the "Buffaloes" as her moniker. I think it is time to scrap these dumb diminutive female names for teams. One team, one school!

Rocky writes:

In your recent column you write, "Radio Iowa says a school there is under pressure to change the name of its girls' sports teams, currently the "Vikettes," to the boys' "Vikings" because the former is demeaning to the girls."

Could you please get the punctuation right and leave the apostrophe out (since it's incorrect) and write "its" instead of "it's"? It erodes your credibility if you get the English wrong.

Steven L. writes:

After reading Mr. Soto's complaint about religion in school, I can think of only one solution. Since he appears to be the only one complaining, simply toss him out the door. He's already learned the most important liberal fact, how to whine, and doesn't need any more education. And, since he's apparently too stupid to accept new ideas, further education would be useless and a waste of taxpayer money.

JG writes:

The fact that they would have religious speakers at the school, the fact that the teacher keeps a bible on his desk, only proves that, like the Taliban, there are those in this country who will stop at nothing in violating another's space. The same way we would not allow math classes to be held during our church sermon because we KNOW its WRONG, the school knows better. Or maybe it's time for them to lose their jobs!

Keith M. in the UK writes:

It's all very simple, really:

A 'racist' is anyone who disagrees with a liberal.

A homophobe is anyone who disagrees with a gay.

And a misogynist/women hater/male chauvinist is anyone who disagrees with a feminist.

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