The globalization of the market for children's books has brought Australian authors face-to-face with American standards of political correctness, according to a report in The Age, and the authors are none to happy about it.

Among the things deemed verbotten in illustrations for the books, the authors say, are udders on cows, large lips on dark-skinned children and so-called "Asian-looking" eyes.

"It's not only gone mad, I think it's completely irrational ... to start to think that portraying a race in a true and honest way is somehow derogatory or demeaning," says illustrator Roland Harvey.

Among the other guidelines handed down by U.S. publishers:

--Avoid stereotypes such as females as peripheral/helpers to active/leading males, or senior citizens as infirm, with canes, doddering.

--Elderly people should be shown as active members of society; unless relevant to text they should not be shown in wheelchairs.

--Show mothers involved in outside employment (not in aprons in kitchens).

--Show African-Americans in positions of power, not just in service industries.

--Show African-Americans and other people of colour with a range of skin tones. Hair texture should vary from straight to curly.

--Do not stereotype Asian people with glasses, bowl-shaped haircuts, or as intellectuals.

--No large groups of people without an appropriate ethnic mix and male/female ratio.

--No "help the disabled" pictures ― show disabled people doing for themselves and others.

--Show many types of family grouping. Take care not to imply that one-parent homes are broken.

Fat Man

Scripps-Howard News Service says a balloon design for the annual Albuquerque balloon fiests is being called insensitive to Japanese-Americans because it is shaped like an atomic bomb.

The hot air balloon designed by Chad Person looks like Fat Man, the device dropped over Nagasaki in World War II. He also wants to build a balloon shaped like The Gadget, the first atomic bomb tested at nearby White Sands, N.M.

"It's meant to be campy in a way," said Person, 27. "I like to splash in some humor. If you can't see humor in the world around you, we'd all go crazy."

Others don't see any humor in the plan. "It's not something we should put in the closet or celebrate," said Maria Santelli, co-coordinator of the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. "It's something we should think of soberly and try to get rid of."

Cafe Society

AFP reports that a gang of young Muslims armed with iron rods forced a cafe in Paris to remove religious cartoons that poked fun of Islam from an exhibit that poked fun at people of all faiths.

The drawing were part of an exhibit of 50 illustrations by well-known French cartoonists, titled > "Neither god nor god," in the Mer à Boire cafe. None of them had any images of Mohammed, but some locals called them racist and demanded that they be removed.

"They warned us that if we didn't take down the cartoons they would call in the Muslim Brothers who would burn the cafe down," said one of the cafe's three owners.

One of the cartoons that irked the thugs was a bar scene, in which the barman offers a drink to an obviously drunk man who says "God is great." The caption is: "The sixth pillar of Islam. The bar pillar." In France a "bar pillar" is a barfly or drunk.

Our Kind of Red Carpet

The Collegiate Network's annual nod to the PC ninnies of American academia, the Pollys, are out today.

Yale University takes the top award for admitting a former Taliban bigwig with a fourth-grade > education -- in the name of diversity, of course.

DePaul University also gets a nod for, as the judges put it, declaring war on free speech.

"First, the university suspended -- without a hearing -- a veteran adjunct professor for daring to debate students handing out pro-Palestinian literature on campus. Next, the administration branded as 'propaganda' a College Republican protest of a Ward Churchill speech on campus. Finally, college officials shut down an affirmative action bake-sale sponsored by the campus conservative club and charged the club member who organized the event with harassment," the network says.

The third place award is shared by officials from Stanford University and at the College of the Holy Cross, both of which tried to silence conservative alternative newspapers on their campuses after The Stanford Review and Holy Cross' The Fenwick Review mocked or criticized sacred PC cows on campus.

Cross-Wise

A Traditional Values club at a high school in Michigan is being told it can't put a flag up along with all the other special interest clubs, according to the Livingston Daily, and its members are wondering why they can't but the school Diversity Club can hang a gay pride flag at the school.

Members of the Traditional Values Club have been told their flag -- which features a red, lowercase "T" set in a blue field in the upper-left-hand corner of the white flag -- looks too much like a cross. About 40 members of Howell's staff said the cross- or T-bearing flag should not hang on school grounds because it is an illegal endorsement of Christianity.

Even the ACLU said it had no problem with the Traditional Values Clubflag. Since the club was started by students, said Executive Director Kary Moss, its actions are not being endorsed by the schools.

Fruity

The president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York, Mark Gearan, is complaining about his school's sports fans mocking the rival Syracuse Orangemen with tee shirts that read, "At least our mascot isn't a fruit," according to the Finger Lakes Gazette.

Gearan said use of the term might be misinterpreted as a derogatory reference to gays, making its use "especially painful to many because of our commitment to diversity, equity and social justice."

Chicken 'Basketball?'

The good folks at United Poultry Concerns are calling on the owner of a tourist attraction in South Dakota to close an exhibit that features chickens playing tic-tac-toe and basketball inside giant slot machines.

UPC wants Reptile Gardens in Rapid City to close the attraction and to "develop alternative programs that teach respect for the relationship that chickens and other birds share with reptiles in the course of evolution."

"Chicken basketball and tic tac toe should have no place at Reptile Gardens," said UPC president Karen Davis. "These games contradict the wholesome family outing image fostered by the company. No animal should be presented to the public as a slot-machine gadget."

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

Mailbag:

Steven L. writes:

Somebody needs to slap some sense into college students. Having viewed the mural in question, and considering the age in which it was created, I see nothing wrong with it, racially or otherwise. Black Americans are honored for creating jazz, the precursor to rock and roll and many other musical forms. And the mural honors them for that.

And, yes, there is an image of a man apparently picking cotton, but that IS part of the history of black America and one they should be proud of.

Before 1865 black Americans produced most of the cotton, rice and other products used by America and England to build their nations. They provided the backbone for Southern economy, and much of the economies of New England. That is not something to be ashamed of -- it's something to be proud of. It is their contribution to the creation of America and it is more than some groups did.

It's time Black Americans began to be proud of who they are and not feel shame for their history. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

Allan S. writes:

When you get right down to it, it's not about the so-called intolerance of Christianity that is at issue but non-traditional religions hell-bent on complete cultural dominance and the total destruction of America's founding religion. This is multi-culturalism for you. America will become Balkanized.

Rob B. writes:

You report on the Borders bookstore refusal to carry a magazine with the cartoon of the prophet from a religion of peace with a bomb shaped turban but, I wonder, did Fox News have the courage to publish the offending drawing?

(ed: yup.)

Zachary L. writes:

Tar baby is defined as: A situation or problem from which it is virtually impossible to disentangle oneself. Looking it up in an encyclopedia, it mentions the Brer Rabbit stories, and nothing about racist overtones related to the term Tar Baby. What is the NAACP getting at? It reminds me of outrage towards the use of the word 'niggardly.'

Thomas H. in Illinois writes:

There was only one reason in this country for which the slur 'tar baby" was used. God help you.

David H. in Irvine, Calif. writes:

In another victory for the Islamic totalitarians, Borders and Waldenbooks stores decided not to stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine, which contains the Danish cartoons of Muhammad.

The motive for their decision is clear. "For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority," Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said.

Borders' capitulation is a powerful reminder of the Islamist threat under which we live. It is also an ominous sign of a pervasive fear taking hold of our society: the fear that Muslims will lash out violently against those who criticize or ridicule Islam. Our right to free speech is under attack by our enemies and they are succeeding in silencing our writers, editors, publishers, artists and bookstores.

Our government must do everything in its power to make sure we are safe to exercise our right to speak, denounce and offend anyone, especially those who today seek to subjugate us to Islam and its taboos.

Greg B. writes:

Don't play dumb when talking about the San Francisco "rally". Photographs taken at the rally showed the "loving" Christian kids waving signs about how homosexuals are evil and damned to hell, among other things. That's the entire reason San Francisco was chosen for this rally, to come tell gay people that God hates them.

The obsession the religious right has with homosexuals is simply bizarre at this point. Next time, why don't they hold the rally somewhere where they know people will welcome their message. Try Mississippi.

Al from Minnesota writes:

Interesting how city leaders in San Francisco, America's self-proclaimed "most 'tolerant' city," have officially condemned a group because of differences in opinion and beliefs. Once again it is proved that the so-called "tolerant" are truly intolerant of anyone who possesses a worldview or ideology different from his or her own.

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