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For the Birds, Southern Symbols

An aquatic theme park in Australia has renamed a species of penguins on exhibit lest the birds' real name, fairy penguins, cause offense to people in the local gay community, reports the Sunday Mail.

Managers at Sea World are now calling the species "little penguins."

"We didn't have any complaints about the name of the penguins, but someone thought they could be seen as offensive so we decided to change it to little penguin instead," a Sea World spokeswoman said. "We just didn't want to upset the gay community. The new name is more politically correct."

Even local gay rights activists called the move barmy.

"I don't think our community is that sensitive about those things. If the penguins were called poofter penguins or something more direct then it might be a problem, but I don't see the name fairy penguin as a mickey-take at all," said Kamahl Fox, chairman of gay support group the Gold Coast Breakers.

Mundane Things

The Detroit Free Press says Muslim students at Michigan State University are demanding that a professor be disciplined for sending them an email saying that if they don't like western values then they should leave the west.

The Muslim Students' Association says mechanical engineering professor Indrek Sven Wichman's email creates a hostile environment and flies in the face of the school's "commitment to trying to be inclusive and welcoming and diverse."

Wichman wrote the email following campus protests over the dreaded MoToons of blasphemy. He said he was offended "not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders ..."

"If you do not like the values of the West -- see the 1st Amendment -- you are free to leave," he concluded.

University officials said that while they find his attitudes abhorrent, they are unable to punish the professor. They said they would, however, consider demands for mandatory anti-hate seminars for all freshmen, further diversity indoctrination for faculty and increased funding for Islamic culture and diversity programs.

Divisive Images

Students at the University of Kentucky are insisting that a mural on campus dating back to the 1930s be removed because it portrays Native Americans and other minorities in what they insist is an unflattering light, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Ann Rice O'Hanlon's 46-foot mural on Memorial Hall features and American Indian lurking behind a tree, tomahawk in hand, watching a pioneer woman draw water from a stream. It also features images of black workers planting crops, black children watching white ones fish and white folks dancing to music played by black musicians.

The student government at the university has passed a resolution asking that the mural be covered or removed entirely. Student Senator Samuel Gaines said, "There are other things that could be highlighted that are positive that do not bring up a history of a painful past."

Divisive Symbols

Gannett News Service reports that civil rights activists in Mississippi are complaining that federal money might be used to restore the historic home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina last year.

Responding to pleas from historic preservation groups, the U.S. Senate has earmarked $80 million to restore historic properties along the Gulf Coast. One of the homes due to be fixed up is Beauvoir, built in the 1850s and Jeff Davis' retirement home after the Civil War.

But Mississippi NAACP President Derrick says his group adamantly opposes Beauvoir's restoration. "It is one of the most divisive symbols in this state and in this state's history," he says.

Sanity Prevails

A student artist at Pennsylvania State University was told his installation called Portraits of Terror would not be displayed on campus because it "did not promote cultural diversity" or "opportunities for democratic dialogue," according to the student paper there, The Collegian.

Three days before the 10-piece exhibition was due to be displayed, senior Josh Stulman says he received an email from administrators in the School of Visual Arts saying the installation had been cancelled because it did not meet with the school's education mission.

The works featured images of the destruction of Jewish religious shrines, anti-Semitic propaganda and cartoons in Palestinian newspapers, the disregard for rules of engagement and the treatment of prisoners and the indoctrination of youth into terrorist acts, according to the paper.

After an uproar both on and off campus, school officials relented and said they would allow the display after all.

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

Mailbag:

Chip S. writes:

As an SMU Law alum from '95, I am cheered by the courage of the columnist. I also wrote an op-ed to the Daily Campus against the student senate's then proposal to adopt a Gay and Lesbian senate seat -- back then no protests and a couple of people told me that they appreciated the sentiment.

My biggest regret though was not writing an op-ed when the editor in chief in his Daily Campus column denounced the school's decision to bring Margaret Thatcher to speak on campus. I found it sadly ironic that the editor of a newspaper would favor censorship of mainstream political views with which he personally disagreed. I found it also tragic (and I am not making this up) that one on the reasons he gave was Thatcher's "war of aggression" against the sheepherders of the Falkland Islands (apparently in his research he missed the part about the invasion by Argentina).

Sadly, the byline stated that the editor was a history major. Presumably they let him graduate nonetheless.

Gregory B. writes:

These articles are a good representation of how ridiculous our society have become. There is someone somewhere who will take offense to something said, no matter what the circumstance is. This idea of being sensitive to everyone else has gone way overboard. What a sad state of affairs.

Russell C. in N.C. writes:

You claim to be uncovering "politically correct nuttiness," but cast a rather wide net in that quest. What, pray tell, is objectionable about trying to find a way to describe terrorism in a way that acknowledges that all not all Muslims are involved in, or even support, terrorist attacks?

Seems to me that's a rather intelligent thing to do inasmuch as it might help to build bridges where bridges are sorely needed. There are, to be sure, excesses in "political correctness," but at its most rational, all "political correctness" amounts to is an admonition to speak about others as we would have others speak about us.

Are we to believe that such a sentiment is "nutty"?

John W. writes:

Not my own thought but: did we ever refer to the "Catholic" terrorists in Ireland? Of course not. Why? Because it was recognized that the vast majority of the Catholics who are good and decent people should not be lumped together with a group of zealots who don't have the slightest idea what their religion is really preaching.

Oh, yeah, and they're more like us. Hmmmm…

Dave J. writes:

I thought the point of being in college was to learn by exchanging differing views and by sharing personal social norms. I also thought that even in a student paper first amendment rights were applicable to everyone. Once again the liberal agenda has a zero tolerance for conventional beliefs and continues to aggressively censor conservative views. Only a liberal could think that criticizing ostentatious behavior is hate speech.

Joe M. writes:

I live in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. We are about three hours from Nogales, Ariz., which is central to the immigration debate. The local professional soccer team is named the 'Coyotes.'

The name Coyotes must only be offensive to Mexicans living in the U.S. because no one here is outraged by this blatant insensitivity towards those traveling through our community on their journey north. Perhaps this is because everyone knows that the name is in reference to a wild dog as is pictured in the teams logo.

Kevin in N.C. writes:

The reaction of the gay students at SMU to Joel Sartain’s op-ed piece proved his point. He stated his belief that they are overdoing the victimhood thing and they reacted by accusing the writer of intolerance and hate speech for what was a reasonable request for some restraint on their part. In other words, they invoked the victimhood thing.

Tolerance used to mean live and let live but the gay movement has hijacked it to mean agree with and affirm us or shut up. That does not sound like free speech to me.

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