Book Banning, Christmas Controversies

Published December 03, 2006

| FoxNews.com

A book publisher in Australia has pulled the plug on a children's thriller after booksellers and librarians said that they would not stock or purchase the novel because it featured Muslim terrorists as villains, according to The Australian.

The company said it had canvassed a broad range of booksellers and library suppliers who said they would not stock the book by award-winning novelist John Dale.

"Army of the Pure" features no guns, no bad language, no sex, no drugs and no violence. But because two characters are Arabic-speaking and the plot involves a mujaheedin extremist group, the booksellers and others said it might cause offense.

The plot involves four children chased by Afghan terrorists after discovering a plot to blow up Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

Conduct Unbecoming

The indomitable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports that a student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. has been suspended for a year for posting Halloween party invitations on facebook.com that some on campus found offensive.

The university found 18-year-old junior Justin Park guilty of failing to respect the rights of others, harassment, and intimidation for posting ads for a fraternity's "Halloween in the Hood" party that contained "offensive racial stereotyping."

He was also charged with "failing to respect the rights of others" and engaging in "conduct or a pattern of conduct that harasses a person or group."

"Jeopardizing a student’s entire academic career because some students were offended by a joke is not just unfair—it’s cruel," FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Samantha Harris said. "Hopkins should teach its students that the way we deal with speech we dislike in a free society is with more speech, not with severe and life-altering punishment."

No Room I

Expatica News reports that the age-old Dutch Sinterklaas tradition is being phased out in public celebrations because two of Saint Nick's helpers, Black Peters (Zwarte Pieten), usually appear in blackface and offend recent immigrants to the country.

Sinterklaas usually arrives by steamboat from Spain about Nov. 20 each year and gives out presents to the kiddies on Dec. 5. This year, the steamboat sailed into a rainbow on the way to the Netherlands and as a result the Zwarte Pieten have blue, green, yellow and red faces.

The Peters have black faces not because they are of African descent but because they are the ones who slide up and down chimneys to deliver presents.

No Room II

The Chicago Tribune reports that the city of Chicago has scuppered a promoter's plans to show clips from the Christmas movie Nativity at a downtown Christmas market because the scenes of Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus might be offensive to non-Christians.

The annual Christkindlmarket, a festival and bazaar modeled after those held in Germany each December, has been held in the city's Daley Plaza every year for more than a decade. This year, the market was partially sponsored by the makers of the film Nativity and organizers planned on showing clips from the movie.

But Jim Law, the city's executive director of special events, said to allow the film to be shown would be "insensitive to the many people of different faiths."

Later, city officials said the film was banned because it wanted to eliminate any "blatant commercial messages," at a market.

Hero of the Week

A professor at the University of Idaho has gotten so fed up with thin-skinned students whining about being offended by something they've seen in his film class that he has started requiring them to sign a "statement of understanding" at the beginning of the course, according to Inside Higher Education.

Dennis West, a professor of film and Spanish, said he wants the statement to make a point to unsophisticated undergraduates who might find themselves squirming or complaining to the administration.

"I guess I started to get more freshmen who would come to me and say, ‘Well gee, I can’t look at any film that has violence in it or nudity,'" West said. "So I developed a statement of understanding so people know ahead of time certain issues will be intellectually examined in some of these films, such as poverty, slavery, sexual themes, punishment and murder."

Mailbag:

Gina E. writes:

It is a shame that history must be changed or withheld if it is offensive to one group or another. Our children are growing up not learning what really happened because someone finds the history racist.

In this case, all history must be erased, since there is not time in history when one group was perfect and non-racist. You'd think that we all would want to remember these things and try to change the future.

Jacob F. in the Phillipines writes:

Why are people so against military recruiters in their neighborhoods? No one is forcing people to sign up and serve. I was raised lower class and was fortunate to join the Marine Corps and get tuition assistance for college. Now I have a great job and a great salary and I owe it all to the United States military.

I say we should open more recruiting stations to offer this opportunity to more people. And what's with all the uneducated, lower class stereotypes? We have plenty of officers in the military who have gone to college, graduated and then joined. If you don't like [the military], then don't sign up, but don't try to deny others of that option.

Mike L. writes:

One of two real students in the march, Dante Strobino, said he was there because "modern military recruiting is racist ... They prey on economically disadvantaged people to join the military."

Isn't that a racist statement on the part of Mr. Strobino? The implication is that only "racial minorities" are economically disadvantaged. I know many "minority" people who are economically successful, and many whites who suffer economic hardships. I would say that is it Mr. Strobino who is being a racist here.

Melissa Z. writes:

I can't believe the group of people protesting the opening of a new army recruiting center in Chapel Hill, N.C. A recruiter's office isn't hurting anyone. If you don't want to join, then don't join. If you don't agree with current conflicts the U.S. military is engaged in overseas, write your Congressman or Senator; don't picket the men and women who sacrifice so much to serve their country and protect every American's freedom of speech.

I saw a t-shirt once that put it best. It said, "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If it's in English, thank a soldier."

Richard F. writes:

Maybe Charlie Rangel and Nancy Pelosi are right. It may be time to bring back the draft. Our college campus's are full of diversified students who are ignorant of what America should really be like and have taken our freedoms to extremes. Bring back the draft and clean this country of these people who are not happy being here. We all have and make choices, and these students seem to have chosen a different world to live in. It is time to take the federal funding from these campuses and pay for the transportation of these wacky students to their country of choice.

Eric W. corrects us:

As a former writer for the Technician, I'd like to point out that it is the student newspaper for North Carolina State University. UNC-Chapel Hill's newspaper is the Daily Tar Heel. The writer was focusing on NC State students at the protest in Chapel Hill. UNC's campus is only about 50 miles from Raleigh, where NC State is. You call the writer "research-challenged", and you couldn't get the Technician's origins straight? Pot, meet kettle.

Respond to Writer

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