A coastal village in the south of England has been forced to stop an annual competition in which contestants are whacked with dead eels, following complaints from an animal rights activist that the practice is cruel and insensitive to the eels, reports the London Times.

Since 1974, the town of Lyme Regis has ended its annual Lifeboat Week with a competition among local "conger cuddlers." In the contest, participants perched on wooden blocks are smacked with dead congers, or eels, and splashed with sea water until only one remains standing.

It was, said the locals, the most fun one could have with a dead fish.

This year's event was the last, however, because an anonymous animal rights activist said the event was "disrespectful" to the dead animals and threatened to launch a nationwide campaign to ban the practice.

More Tar Babies

The governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, was forced to issue a groveling apology for using the term "tar baby" during a fundraiser, according to the Associated Press.

In the speech, Romney was referring to his decision to take control of the much-maligned Big Dig project in Boston. "The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can," he told a crowd of about 100 people in Iowa.

Larry Jones, a black Republican and rights activist, called the term a "totally inappropriate phrase in the 21st century."

Romney said he was unaware that some people consider the term a racial epithet.

The phrase was popularized in Joe Harris' Uncle Remus stories in the 1870s and refers to a doll made of tar that traps one of the stories' main characters, Brer Rabbit. It is widely used to refer to a sticky situation, but some consider it a derogatory term for people of African-American heritage.

Positive Stereotyping

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens is in trouble for attempting to defend former Gov. Dick Lamm and praising the work ethic and amibition of people of Asian and Jewish heritage in the process, according to the Denver Post.

On a radio call-in show, Owens said of his three children: "There are many days ... when I wish they'd have more aspects of Jewish and Asian culture. I wish they'd get up earlier in the morning, I wish they would work harder and in many respects that's what we do see out of many of the Asian and the Jewish culture."

The chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Bob Martinez, said he was "flabbergasted" by the comments. "What he said is racist and bigotry," he said. "Even if it's a positive stereotyping, it's wrong."

The topic arose when Owens was asked about comments by former Gov. Dick Lamm, who said in a speech in Aspen that Asian and Jewish cultures value success more than Latino and Black ones in America. The comments incensed local activists.

Human Rights Redefined

A man in Canada is claiming that his condominium board's refusal to bend the rules and allow him to erect a satellite dish is a violation of his human rights, according to the CBC.

Halifax resident Ahmed Assal, a Muslim immigrant from Egypt, has complained to an official human rights board that the decision amounts to religious and ethnic discrimination. Assal says he needs the 18 channels of Arabic programming in order to educate his children.

"I have a family, I have children, and the serious matter is that it is for culture, religion, language," he said.

Wrong Foot

A luxury shoemaker in the United Kingdom has fallen afoul of the advertising watchdog for producing an ad that the latter says glamorizes the use of guns, according to the Guardian.

The ad featured a picture of a woman in a fur coat behind the wheel of a car with a gun on the seat next to her.

After receiving a complaint from the public, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the gun appeared in the ad solely as a glamorous fashion accessory and tended to promote a lifestyle that condoned violence.

It's All About the Sports

The NCAA is considering expanding its ban on post-season events in South Carolina because that state refuses to remove a Confederate flag from a Civil War monument in the capital, according to the AP.

The Association's Minority Opportunities and Interest Committee says it has received a request from the the Black Coaches Association asking it to ban all championship events in the state.

"I don't know that anybody is comfortable playing in a place where they fly the Confederate flag," said Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Association.

The NCAA has been hounding South Carolina on the issue since 2000, when the state still flew the flag over the capitol dome. Officials moved the flag to a Confederate monument near the Statehouse following the earlier complaints, but the move was deemed insufficient by local activists.

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

Mailbag:

Mark C. in Alabama writes:

If the city of Philadelphia decides to evict the Cradle of Liberty [boy scout] Council because of their Adult Leader Standard of being "morally straight" and "duty to God" then the more than one million who have been scouts in their youth, [as well as] their families, should show the city of Philadelphia that they [do not feel] welcome in their city if the Boy Scout Council is not welcome.

I will not ever visit Philadelphia or San Diego for the way they have treated the best male youth program in the world that creates outstanding citizens who have the Scout Law and Scout Oath as a guide to life and are not trained to hate those who do not have the same standards that they hope to live by in their adult life also.

Joe K. in Philadelphia writes:

Philadelphia is not trying to force the Scouts to move out. They are more than welcome to stay if they change their policy (not likely) or pay rent. You mention that "Philadelphia rents space to more than 75 community organizations."

The Scouts are more than welcome to become one of those groups. The real options they're being offerred are these: they can continue to discriminate and pay fair rent, they can stop discriminating and continue to use city property for free, or they can leave.

This is perfectly reasonable -- they're entitled to set their own policies, but city resources should not be used to support discrimination. What exactly entitles the Boy Scouts to get something for nothing? Isn't that just another form of "welfare?"

Rock C. writes:

Rev. Kent is a self-mockery; he would undoubtedly advocate the placement of crosses or the Ten Commandments in public places -- but not the vision of any other religion.

Had he a shred of sophistication, he could regard Demeter as an universal archetype. However, he is right to fear polytheism - the Greeks, Romans and other polytheists had a view of the deity as having multiple themes/archetypes/manifestations that was far richer and more complex than Christian monotheism.

Cliff A. writes:

I can imagine the turmoil if the Ogle County, Ill., Judicial Center were to erect a statue entitled "Christ, creator of agriculture." Every tree, rock, and fish-worshipping nut in the country would be screaming about government endorsement of "religion." Given that Demeter, the so-called "earth goddess," is another character in the spiritual soap opera that constitutes Greet mythology, why are we surprised that there's an uproar? How does our government justify removing the Ten Commandments from any possible public view -- especially a "judicial center" --and then blithely allow a statue of a Greek mythology figure on public property?

Nikki O. writes:

Why do certain states in the Union continue to fly the confederate banner anyway? Where has all the outrage about that been over the past 160 years anyway? Why didn't the Union abolish the practice of flying the most subversive symbol in American history after the war was won? It would be something like the United German Republic having a swastika on their flag, just a little on in the corner. No big deal right?

Sonny P. writes:

The fact that a Michigan councilman would state that Confederate soldiers were "traitors" for flying their flag serves only to demonstrate his ignorance concerning American history. The Constitution gave states the right to secede from the Union. It was the Union who invaded the South illegally for exercising that right. Not one Confederate soldier was tried for treason, and neither was President Davis.

Having jailed him for years, the North knew that to put Davis on the stand would be to expose the North's illegal act of aggression toward the South. They dropped all charges.

Also, without benefit of trial, President Lincoln jailed about 4,000 of his own northerners for voicing their support with the South in its right to secede. What do you call that Mr. McKague? Sounds like gross suppression of First Amendment rights to me. Sounds like an illegal invasion.

Marvin P. writes:

While a military editor in Japan ,one of my young writers used the eenie phrase--much to the chagrin of our black sergeant major's wife--in our base news magazine. She stormed into my office blasting the words as racist. I told her they were not, with the next line of the rhyme being "catch a tiger by the toe."

She insisted that was not the next line--explaining instead the N word was used. I ended the debate by checking out a children's nursery rhyme book from the base library, complete with the "catch a tiger by the toe" concluding line. She never came back. The situation, however, points out a much larger problem--certain groups have redefined terms such as racism and then demand to be the only ones to point out violations of the word.

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