The Hillsdale Independent reports that a pizzeria owner in New York state who wants to name his restaurant Goombah's is catching flak from some people on the local planning board who says the term is an ethnic slur against Italian-Americans.

Joseph Visalli, of the Schodack, N.Y. planning board, said the term was offensive and had no place on a public sign in the city.

The paper says the term has several meanings, among them close friend or mentor. The term also is described as a derogatory reference, referring to a stereotypically overweight Italian-American man who knows gangsters and sits around a social club drinking espresso and playing cards all day.

Dead Horse I

Cuban exiles on the school board in Miami-Dade County have ordered a children's book about Cuba removed from school libraries because they don't like the way it portrays life on the island under Fidel Castro, according to the Miami Herald.

The book, Vamos a Cuba, and an English-language version, A Visit to Cuba, is part of a series covering 24 nations, including Greece, Mexico and Vietnam. The 32-page tome, 49 of which are sprinkled throughout the school district's libraries, is intended for kindergarten-to-second-graders.

Perla Tabares Hantman is one of six people on the school board who believes it portrays too rosy a picture of life on the island. "A book that misleads, confounds or confuses has no part in the education of our students, most especially elementary students who are most impressionable and vulnerable," she said.

Opponents of the ban said it amounted to censorship of politically unsavory speech.

"Next week we will have another complaint about another book from another group," said board member Evelyn Greer. "If this standard is applied, we will go through every book in the system."

Dead Horse II

The South China Morning Post says a school in Hong Kong has removed from circulation a yearbook that featured one of the dreaded MoToons.

The cartoon — featured as part of a news review of the year in the yearbook of the Hong Kong International School — shows the Prophet wearing a bomb as a headdress. It was handed out to students at the middle and high schools last week.

School officials freaked when they realized what had happened. They apologized profusely, saying they were upset and embarrassed.

"There was nothing malicious about it. The students were not insensitive. They just had a lack of understanding. They did not recognise the significance of putting the cartoon in," said school head Richard Mueller. "The process of putting the book together was hectic, and it was just overlooked. HKIS apologises to its constituents, the wider community, and especially to those of the Islamic faith."

It's All About 'Freedom of Expression'

A showing of the controversial musical Jerry Springer: The Opera will go ahead at a theater in Wales despite protests from hundreds of local Christians who believe the work to be offensive and blasphemous, according to the Western Mail.

Theater officials said carrying on with it was all about freedom of expression.

Protestors peacefully marched outside the public Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff at the beginning of the show's six-night run, handing out leaflets and wondering aloud about the apparent double-standard regarding the show, which was aired on the taxpayer-funded BBC last year to great critical acclaim.

"Why does the Millennium Centre contract something that's offensive to Christians?" said 59-year-old David Barnes. "I doubt if they would do something to offend Muslims or other religions.'

In the show, a foul-mouthed Jesus dressed in a diaper describes himself as "a little bit gay" and has his genitals fondled by Eve. The Virgin Mary at one point says she was "raped by God," who Himself is portrayed as an old fool in need of therapy.

De'vi'ant (adj.) Diverging Sharply from Customary or Traditional Norms

A member of the Washington Suburban Transit Commission in Maryland was removed from his position by the governor after he said during a cable television debate about a gay marriage amendment that homosexuality is "deviant behavior," according to the Baltimore Sun.

Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. dismissed Robert Smith from the board for expressing what he described as "highly inappropriate, insensitive, and unacceptable" opinions.

"They are in direct conflict to my administration's commitment to inclusiveness, tolerance and opportunity," the governor said.

The governor's announcement came almost immediately after complaints from District of Columbia Councilman Jim Graham, who demanded an apology from Smith. Smith refused.

Incorrect Movie

The Motion Picture Association of America has deemed a Christian-themed movie worthy of the PG rating because it contains what the association calls "thematic elements" that may offend some people, according to the Deseret News.

The low-budget "Facing the Giants" is described by its makers as a gentle movie about a burned-out football coach whose life takes a turn for the better when he finds faith. It features miraculous healings, prayer-generated field goals, medical miracles and a proselytizing coach.

The movie's distributors said the MPAA told them it warranted the parental guidance rating because it was "heavily laden with messages from one religion and that this might offend people from other religions."

Mailbag:

Karen in Merlin, Ohio writes:

You would think people would have more to worry about than what the local high school mascot represents. Thirty years ago Josephine County built three new high schools; one to replace a very old building and two to ease population woes in the city high school. One of the teams created were the North Valley Knights.

For 30 years we have had Knight Pride in Merlin, Ore. My daughter is a Lady Knight. My sons were Knights, I was a Knight. I never felt slighted, nor has my daughter. As a matter of fact, her favorite book is "First Test" by Tamara Price, which is about a young woman who is becoming a knight.

William in Michigan writes:

I have one word for those Australian public schools: heterophobes. Horrible, child-brainwashing heterophobes.

Scott D. in Newport Beach, Ca. writes:

Instead of having the city of Naperville reprint its anniversary brochure because Sherid Smith claims an image of a Confederate flag is insensitive and dvisive, I say the DMV should strip Ms. Smith of her driving priviledges until she successfully completes sensitivity counseling at her own expense.

After all, she could be driving down the road and see the same image on some mud-flaps and go into road rage, injuring or killing innocent people.

MJ in Fairfax, Va. writes:

In response to the Kelseyville Unified School District High School eliminating its traditional Indian mascot, I am going to start my own athletic team, its mascot: The Bloodthirsty Savages. Our uniforms will feature a prominent red BS logo and on the sidelines will be an Indian chief, Zulu warrior, Viking and Crusader so the PC whack-jobs will go cross-eyed trying to decide which one to protest first.

Jim N. in Illinois writes:

I sympathize with the school district in California which is experiencing the wrath of what civil liberties groups and other ultra-sensitive types continue to whine about, offensive school mascots! This follows on the trail of my institution of higher learning, the University of Illinois.

With historically accurate representations of native American dance from the Sioux Indians themselves, you would think this may be a tribute rather than an offensive action. However, this school district in California was admirable and didn’t fight the protest, yet found themselves in an equal or even worse position. You truly cannot win in a society overrun with political correctness and poisoned by ACLU driven civil-rights groups.

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