The Norwich Bulletin in Connecticut says public school teachers across the country are slowly shifting away from teaching about Columbus as a visionary explorer and starting to characterize him as a pioneer of imperialism who decimated a continent.

Fifth-grade teacher Erin Rygielski, the paper says, tells her students about how the Italian explorer enslaved Arawak Indians, burned them and lopped off their limbs. Afterwards, the kids wonder why Columbus didn't just stay in Europe.

The Columbus-was-evil curriculum is, apparently, gaining ground nationally, especially among younger teachers who are parroting the things they learn in universities these days.

"Columbus was the first Western imperialist and to celebrate that imperialism is to prepare us to celebrate subsequent imperialism," said Howard Zinn, author of "A People's History of the United States," which has sold more than 500,000 copies.

Ageism Alert

An insurance company in the UK has banned employees from sending each other a round-robin birthday card lest the jokes sometimes included in them offend elderly workers and fall afoul of new age discrimination laws, reports the Times of London.

Lawyers for Alan & Thomas, an insurance broker in Dorset, told the firm that comments about bus passes, old codgers and Viagra, even if intended as a joke, could cost the company thousands of pounds in damages. It is now illegal for employers to harass or victimize staff, directly or indirectly, on the grounds of age.

The 36 staff members have for years circulated a birthday card signed by all to people on their birthday. From now, the company will send an 'appropriate' card signed by the directors on behalf of the rest of the staff.

Questions of our Time

A wise-crack about Queer Studies and lap-dancing by a curator of the University of Missouri-St. Louis has been branded anti-gay and homophobic by critics on campus there, reports the Associated Press.

Curator David Wasinger, a St. Louis attorney, reportedly questioned the relevance of "queer theory" studies at a meeting, then joked to a fellow curator about "putting on a skirt and give me a lap dance."

Faculty and staff of the university said such comments make them feel uncomfortable. The faculty senate of the St. Louis campus later unanimously approved a resolution condemning "homophobic comments made by a member of the Board of Curators" and rejecting "all forms of bigotry" while also "assert(ing) its authority" over curriculum "based on the academic merits of courses and programs."

Wasinger says he has every right to wonder why, with money so tight on campus, money is being spent on queer studies instead of on math, sciences or chemistry labs.

They Then Came for the Feathers

The AP reports that the College of William & Mary will remove two feathers from its school logo following complaints from the NCAA that it is disrespectful to American Indians.

The college athletic association in August denied the school's appeal of a ruling that prohibited it from using the logo at NCAA championship events or from hosting NCAA tournament games where the logo would be displayed. The ruling is part of a wider effort to remove such "hostile and abusive" images from school mascots, nicknames and logos.

William & Mary will be allowed to continue using its Tribe nickname, however.

Culture of Fear

Two African-American teachers at a private school in Seattle have filed a lawsuit against their employer, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, claiming the school created a hostile work environment by, among other things, allowing Dinesh d'Souza to speak on campus.

The suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, says the school created a "culture of fear" at the that "kept people from talking about racism and their personal experiences."

Among their complaints was the fact that the school invited D'Souza to speak as part of a distinguished lecture series. D'Souza argues that the underachievement of African Americans has more to do with cultural attitudes and behaviors than with white racism.

The school rescinded the invitation after one of the plaintiffs, Chance Sims, complained, but he says he was persecuted after the fact for complaining. He also says the school is "predominantly white and wealthy" and is not doing enough to support African American boys.

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

Mailbag:

Geoff M. in Seattle writes:

I honestly don't understand why Justice Scalia's reference to "tequila" is racist or offensive or whatever. Please clarify what Mr. Ortiz is talking about so I can share his outrage. Is "tequila" some sort of a derogatory codeword? I am 64 and not real "hip" to the PC sanctioned buzzwords.

Tim M. in Arizona writes:

So Justice Scalia is insensitive because he thinks a Mexican criminal might be getting drunk while in his homeland? Perhaps Carlos Ortiz should buy himself a bottle and calm down. Oh, I forgot, criticizing Mexicans is no longer allowed. I ask forgiveness.

Lynn writes:

I, for one, am glad Ms. Rowland was sacked for forwarding email at work.I don't care about the content, just the fact that she would take up the time of five people just to check her stupid email is reason enough to send her down the road.

Sue in Pennsylvannia writes:

I run a daycare in my home, it is multi-cultural. We do not subscribe to tyrannical Political Correctness, we practice simple good manners. We strive to find humor in everything and to not hurt anyone on purpose.

That being said, I am 48-years-old and not as familiar with stereotypes as a lot of people. I spent my life being prejudice against only bad people, who come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and sexes. Over the last 10 years, however, and sadly, I have become prejudice against certain groups, such as the ACLU and the NAACP. They have made it impossible for me to raise my child in a non-prejudicial atmosphere because every time I turn around they are throwing some sort of perceived prejudicial action in our face.

If they would stop shining the spotlight on all small stuff, the big stuff would finally go away and the small stuff would remain non-sweatable. Gees. It's amazing to what lengths some people will go to keep from getting a real job.

As to my primary purpose in writing, what the heck is wrong with the Hawaiian King Kamehameha wearing a multi-colored lei and holding a glass of champagne in order to entice tourists to visit? Don't Hawaiian people who work in the tourist industry wear leis? Doesn't King Kamehameha want to be as inviting to tourists as other principle leaders in other tourist countries? Is it illegal for Hawaiians to drink champagne?

Whatever stereotype was depicted here, I didn't know about it in the first place so to me, the ad was nothing more than a welcoming gesture. Now it's another eggshell on which I must walk, I guess.

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