Owners of an apartment complex in upstate South Carolina have told a group of seniors that they can no longer hold weekly Bible study meetings in the common areas of the complex because it might violate the Fair Housing Act, reports the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

Raleigh, N.C.-based One Management Inc., the owners of the complex on South Church Street in Spartanburg, said no hymns may be played and the nativity scene the group puts up at Christmas will not be allowed from now on.

The owners say the apartment complex must be "religion neutral" to avoid the appearance of discrimination based on faith. They said the Bible studies and nativity scene might make tenets feel that one religion is preferred over another.

An organization that studies housing issues said there was "a dramatic increase in the number of fair housing complaints filed by apartment renters who claimed they were victims of religious discrimination" during the 2005 holiday season.

Foodstuffs

The Daily Orange at Syracuse University reports that a student was brought before a Judicial Affairs committee and kicked off his dormitory floor for saying to a fellow student "just because a grocery store doesn't have an aisle of fried chicken, cornbread, and watermelon doesn't mean they are (sic) racist."

Engineering major Kyle Galarneau made the comment to his resident advisor, Melissa Samuels, after she posted an article outside her door listing the myriad ways in which white folks have an advantage over others in modern society.

The article, by Dr. Peggy McIntosh and titled "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," said one of those advantages is that whites "can go into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with (their) cultural traditions."

Galarneau took exception to the list, and expressed the aforementioned opinion to Samuels. Samuels promptly cited Galarneau up for expressing racist sentiments and he was kicked off the floor for a week after a review by the school's Judicial Affairs council.

Racist Ringtones

Cingular Wireless was forced to yank a ringtone for sale on its website after Latino activists complained that the immigration-officer themed audio was offensive, hateful and racist, reports the McAllen Monitor.

The "La Migra Alert" tune had been for sale for about two months before company officials acted. In it, a southern-accented man tells an immigrant selling oranges on the street, "Calmate, calmate, this is la migra. Por favor, put the oranges down and step away from the cell phone. I repeat-o, put the oranges down and step away from the telephone-o. I’m deporting you back home-o."

Activists said they were stunned that the product was available. Brent Wilkes of the League of United Latin American Citizens called it "horribly offensive and a disgusting thing."

Belated Apologies?

A panel of experts in Bristol in Southern England have concluded that the city should formally apologize for being a hub of the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th century, according to the BBC.

Despite polls showing overwhelming public antipathy to the idea, the panel of experts voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the city make the gesture. Black rights campaigners say the city owes it to the descendants of slaves.

Others, however, called the move an empty gesture. Conservative councillor Richard Eddy said: "I think it's a ludicrous proposal. Why should 21st Century Bristolians apologise and be held accountable for events they had no responsibility for?"

Last month, the city agreed to change the name of a planned urban renewal project, dubbed The Merchants' Quarter, after some of the same activists suggested it was culturally innappropriate because it harkened back to the days of the slave trade.

Hero of the Week

A former head of the ACLU chapter in Boulder, Colo. is calling the city's plans to spend $30,000 to create a "hate hotline" ludicrous and says it will create more problems than it solves, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

The City Council wants to establish the line in order to give residents a way to report incidents in which "people are treating others insensitively, based on their race, gender, sexual orientation or other differences." City officials say its needed because citizens are emotionally hurting one another.

But Carla Selby, former chairwoman of the Boulder County ACLU, says the hotline would only encourage a victim mentality.

"Instead of being inclusive, this would be divisive. People are sentimentalizing and overly individualizing everybody," she said. "We all get offended -- I get offended by people spitting on the sidewalk -- but you have to live with it."

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

Mailbag:

David. K. writes:

I can't believe that California would have a bill that mandates stating the sexual orientation of historical figures. Who cares? How would my understanding of history be any better if I knew the sexual orientation of the founding fathers?

I can see it now: a nation of young people who don't know the three-fifths compromise, the Monroe Doctrine, or the Marshall Plan but know the sexual orientations of the founding fathers. Wonderful.

Stephen from Missouri writes:

I wonder if gay and lesbian students will be made more comfortable when it is pointed out how many of our historical figures were heterosexual, not homosexual. Pointing that part out will probably be left out of the legislation, that is to not "offend" anyone.

Michael T. in Colorado writes:

I am normally 100 percent against the politically-correct stupidity you showcase and am shocked to find myself agreeing with the resident forced to use a sticker with a Christian grave marker symbol for auto identification.

While not part of the Christian world, married to a Catholic and strongly in favor of tasteful displays of religious symbols and events in public areas, I prefer not to have one group's religious ideology forced onto or into my private property.

Philip in Columbia, S.C. writes:

If UC is worried about offending gender-neutral persons, then why use such terribly offensive gender identifiers as pants and skirts? After all, do we not choose to wear one or the other due to social constructs which pressure us to identify ourselves as either masculine or feminine?

Maybe UC could identify these gender-neutral restrooms with something more absolute like pictures of male and female anatomy. Or since that can be altered these days, maybe just a bare stick figure with nothing on it.

However, that might offend the Society of Really Thin Nudists. Better yet, if one is so enlightened as to understand that gender is a social construct, surely they also understand that using the bathroom indoors is also a result of modern social and cultural pressure. UC could set aside a nature preserve for those who have freed themselves from all these terrible pressures and have gender-identified themselves according to their natural instincts.

Hugh F. in Denver writes:

As a black man I am totally insulted that people try to equate sexual orientation with the fight for equal rights for black people in America. When this happens it is like saying black people have a choice to be black. Deviant sexual behavior is a choice not a birthright.

Ken S. writes:

The Saudi King on a billboard does not offend me, nor does the cross on a bumper sticker, or bamboo huts, or even transgendered prospectors. I am, however, deeply offended by the use of the contraction "it's" (as in "it's operators") when "its" is correct. When I want butchering of the English language, I'll call the HP technical support line, thank you very much.

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