Following a single complaint from a member of the public, British television regulator Ofcom has ordered that scenes in 50-year-old Tom and Jerry cartoons which "glamorize" smoking be edited by the Boomerang kids' network, according to the Cox News Service.

Ofcom says its broadcast code stipulates that smoking must not be featured in children's programming unless there is strong editorial justification, and it must not be condoned, encouraged or glamorized.

Following the ruling, Boomerang said it would edit scenes in which Tom tries to draw a female cat's attention by rolling a cigarette, lighting it and smoking it using just one hand and another in which Tom's rival in a tennis match is shown puffing on a big cigar.

Boomerang said it would also review its entire catalog of cartoons airing in Britain -- among them "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons" and "Scooby-Doo" -- to ensure that they comply with the ruling.

Ofcom rules do not apply to depictions of assaults with frying pans, stabbings, maulings with an egg slicer or the roasting of chirpy rodents.

Dismal

After analyzing the race and sexual orientation of 679 characters on the U.S. television networks' fall schedules, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has concluded that the nets continue to underrepresent gays and lesbians as well as people of color.

GLAAD said it analyzed 95 upcoming shows on six networks and counted only nine gay or lesbian characters on eight programs, or about 1.3 percent of the total number of characters. It said there were no transgender or bisexual scripted characters on the networks. It also said 513, or 75 percent, of the characters were white, 81 (12 percent) were African-American, 18 (3 percent) were Asian-Pacific Islander and 49 (7 percent) were Hispanic.

"When you look at primetime's dismal lack of LGBT characters — combined with the continuing under-representation of people of color, gay and straight alike — it's clear that the broadcast networks have a long way to go before they accurately reflect the diversity of their audience and our society," said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano.

According to the U.S. Census, the population of the United States in 2005 was 75 percent white, 12 percent African-American, and 3 percent Asian-Pacific Islander. Some 35 million of the country's 281 million residents, or about 12 percent, identify themselves as being of Hispanic origin. The same census estimated the number of same-sex couples to be 1 percent.

Candy Man

A city councillor in Canada has been told that he will not be allowed to toss candy from his float during the city's annual Gold Cup parade because the flying sweets might injure kids along the route, according to the CBC.

For his first appearance in the parade, Charlottetown councillor Bruce Garrity bought $8 worth of penny candy and planned on tossing it into the crowd along the route.

A spokeswoman for the parade committee said, however, that the potential for injury -- whether from flying candy or kids scrambling to grab the goodies -- is just too great risk to allow anything to be tossed from the floats.

Criminal Villification

Australia's Age newspaper reports that an appeals court reviewing villification charges against two Christian preachers has been told that any criticism of Islam as a faith is by default criticism of the people who hold that faith and constitutes incitement of religious hatred.

Two pastors with Victoria's Catch the Fire Ministries, Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot, are appealing their convictions under the state's religious hatred law. Earlier, a judge ruled that the pair had incited "hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of" Muslims in a talk that was described as "essentially hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslim people, their god, Allah, the prophet Mohammed and in general Muslim religious beliefs and practices."

A lawyer for the pastors claims the law is an infringement of the pastors' free speech rights.

"They are restrained by law from suggesting or implying a number of things about what in their view the Koran teaches: that it preaches violence and killing, that women are of little value, that the God of Islam, Allah, is not merciful, that there is a practice of 'silent jihad' for spreading Islam, or that the Koran says Allah will remit the sins of martyrs. Contentious or otherwise, these are opinions about Islam's doctrines and teaching."

Racism at the Beeb

The British Broadcasting Corporation's new diversity czar says white reporters covering places like Africa should be replaced by black ones who are more in tune with the local culture, according to The Observer.

Mary Fitzpatrick, the corporation's new Editorial Executive of Diversity, who is consulted on all decisions about television content, said improving the "cultural accuracy" of the network's reporting staff is among her highest priorities. She said there are too many white reporters reporting from non-white nations.

"I get tired of repeatedly seeing programs where [the situation is] 'Here we are in Africa,' and here's a white person saying, 'Well, look at these people.' I would prefer to see somebody who understands that culture, understands what's going on and can say, 'Look with me, because I am a part of this.' It feels more authoritative and more involved."

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

Mailbag:

Alicia T. writes:

I think people need to realize that the "Eenie Meenie Minie Moe" nursery rhyme did use the N-word in the past. While living overseas as a child, the kids said the nursery rhyme using the N word (instead of Tiger). I didn't know the word was offensive until my mother gently corrected the kids and, to be honest, I don't think the kids knew the hatred behind the word.

I was able to shrug it off because there was no underlying hatred there, but not all black kids were as lucky. Let's remember that some people grew up hearing the hateful version of that nursery rhyme. As a result, they might be a little sensitive to it.

Elizabeth B. writes:

Recently in South Carolina, much was said about a college official using the term "yard apes" to refer to children that were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. She claimed that she did not mean this as a racially offensive term. I don't know if that is the case or not because I can't read her mind to know her motivation. I do know that the term was applied to me as a child, and I am not African-American.

Is it possible that some of us are looking for reasons to be offended? I knew immediately what the reference to "tar baby" meant when referring to the Big Dig. I grew up with my parents reading the Uncle Remus story to me, and I saw the Song of the South. There is an object lesson to be learned from that story. Get your facts straight before you jump in swinging, or you could end up in a huge mess. It should also be noted that Brer Rabbit got all tied up in the tar because he took offense when the tar baby wouldn't return his "howdy."

Perhaps the critics of the governor of Massachusetts could benefit from that lesson. Eventually, there is going to be a backlash when their "offense" offends others.

James B. writes:

So the NCAA is now being led by the nose by so-called "civil rights activists." This is the same group that preaches tolerance, but in reality are the most intolerant people in America. If you do not blindly acquiesce to their viewpoints, you are automatically a "bigot, racist or worse." Come on NCAA, show some backbone and tell this bunch of hypocrites where to go.

Emma F. writes:

I don't understand what all the fuss is about over state flags. They are symbols of history and slavery is part of our history. There was slavery in New York, yet that state still flies the same flag they adopted in 1778. If the NCAA is going to ban playing under any flag that once supported slavery, then they'll have to ban everywhere that flies the stars and bars, because slavery existed under the American flag for a lot longer than it did under the Confederate flag.

Garth T. writes:

Re the item about Gov. Owens' generalizing of ethnic tendencies: The ability to generalize is a basic foundation for intellectual analysis and discussion. Without generalizing we have no way to infer trends and commonalities -- the basis for statistical analysis and the scientific method. But now we are not only unable to make "negative" generalizations, but even positive ones are not permitted.

The Orwellian Left does not refute or even attempt to counter the generalization (thereby conceding the claim) but instead prevents the discussion by pronouncing "bigotry" and "hate" upon anyone who dares to imply the obvious.

Tom C. writes:

So, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Bob Martinez thinks positive stereotyping of a group is wrong. Let's remind him of that the next time he praises the Republican Party. Some ethnic groups have developed a strong family support system and work ethic in their cultures. It is not only legitimate, but proper to highlight those groups and use them as role models. It's also time to recognize that cultural relativism – i.e., all cultures are equal and worthy of respect – is shallow thinking excrement.

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