Goodbye Columbus, Classic Censorship, Sikh Cartoons

In what has become an annual rite, protesters in Denver say they plan to block a Columbus Day parade this weekend unless organizers take the name Columbus off the celebration, reports the Denver Post.

The protesters likened Columbus to a Nazi and a slave-owner who brought genocide to the Americas. "Cultural celebrations need not be hateful, they need not be divisive, they need not be destructive," said Glenn Morris of Colorado's American Indian Movement.

The Native American groups want the parade only to be a celebration of Italian culture and make no mention of Columbus.

Scary Stuff

Officials in California have removed an "insane asylum" from a fairground haunted house after mental health workers and patients complained it was demeaning and offensive, reports the San Diego Union Tribune.

A spokesman for the Del Mar Fairgrounds said he received about two dozen phone calls and e-mails from people who said the psychotic-patient character in the annual Halloween display was unacceptable.

One of the rooms in the Scream Zone featured a straitjacketed actor sitting in a brightly lit, padded room and staring blankly. Following the complaints, the straightjacket was removed and bars were added to make it look more like a jail cell.

High Irony

Two public school committees in Illinois are reviewing complaints about profanity and racial slurs in John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," reports the Peoria Journal-Star.

Parents at two high schools in Normal, Ill., complained about the books being assigned to their children in an American Literature and Composition course. The parents objected to Steinbeck's use of the "N-word."

One of the objectives of the course is to create an understanding of the African-American struggle for freedom through American literature.

And Another

A high school production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in Indiana was cancelled following concerns about use of the N-word in the dialogue, reports WRTV in Indianapolis.

Students at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ind., worked five weeks on the show but saw it cancelled when the drama teacher asked a representative of the local NAACP whether use of the word was acceptable.

The NAACP's Gwendolyn Wiggins said she supports the story's message (about racial injustice in 1950s Alabama), but she doesn't like the way it is delivered.

"Don't we have some positive things going on with black people that we can highlight now? Find those plays and use them," she said.

Twisted Tribute

The Times of London reports that an official remembrance ceremony for British and allied soldiers who died in Iraq will forgo the usual military honor guard in order to appease opponents of the war.

The service, to be attended by the queen and held at St. Paul's Cathedral, also will feature prayers for both "the civilian and military dead in Iraq."

The Royal British Legion said it supports the low-key nature of the ceremony because it doesn't want to glorify war, but some family members told the Times they are none too happy about the decision.

Cab Cranks

The National Iranian American Council is in a tizzy over Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewurst's use of an Iranian cabdriver metaphor, calling it insensitive and inflammatory.

Dewhurst accused Texas House of Representatives Speaker Tom Craddick of negotiating like the aforesaid cabdriver during a redistricting debate.

"At this late hour, I think we need to come together on a map ... and stop playing the Iranian cabdriver negotiations, where you get what you want and then you start adding two or three other requests," Dewhurst is quoted as saying.

The remark "shows the degree to which latent suspicions towards America's immigrant communities permeates the outlook of powerful political actors in the United States," NIAC said.

Life-Threatening Cartoons

Sikhs in America are in a twit over a cartoon that appeared in the Hartford Courant, calling it a grossly unfair stereotype that was dangerous and even life-threatening.

Set in a series of cartoon panels entitled "Foto Funnies," artist Carol Lay depicted Associated Press photos of California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante at a press conference where a turbaned Sikh looms in the background and is referred to by Lay as "a shady character" and "Usama's no-good cousin, Randy bin Laden."

An organization called United Sikhs said the cartoon was "not only distasteful but simply dangerous and possibly life-threatening for innocent Sikh men in turbans. Such gross misinformation within the media leads only to cause more confusion and negative sentiment towards innocent people."

Sikhs, who come from northern India and are neither Muslim nor Arab, wear a turban style distinct from those worn by Arab men. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, they have been beaten and harassed -- one Sikh man was murdered -- by people mistaking them for Arabs and Muslims.

Ms. Lay removed the cartoon from her Web site and apologized in writing to the organization. She said she had been inundated with vicious and life-threatening e-mail.

Testy in Texas

A Texas high school pep rally skit that featured caricatures of students from other schools as, among other things, a pregnant prom queen, is being called inappropriate and hurtful, reports the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

The rally at Calallen High School in south Texas featured teachers dressed as "stereotyped" students from surrounding schools. One of them was dressed as a pregnant and barefoot queen, another as a gang member with low-rider pants and hickeys on her neck.

An administrator from Calallen has apologized to some of the neighboring districts, but some locals still want the teachers involved canned. One called it an example "of prejudice, hatred and cowardice that will set us back many, many years."

For a daily dose of politically correct shenanigans, head over to the Tongue Tied Web site.

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