Government officials in Alberta, Canada, should stop referring to teen underachievers as high school "dropouts" and instead call them "early school leavers" because the former victimizes them and causes self-esteem problems, reports Canada's National Post.

The report by Alberta's Department of Learning, dubbed Removing Barriers to High School Completion, says "dropout" is "a negative term that supports the view of the potential 'dropout' as victim." Adult dropouts in one focus group "spoke of how labelling had damaged their self-confidence," it said.

The Post said several historical notables have managed to overcome their victimization, among them Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Frank Sinatra, Noel Coward, and Dave Thomas, the late founder of the Wendy's hamburger chain.

Multicultural Statue

A statue commissioned of the moment when New York firefighters raised the U.S. flag over ground zero is being multiculturalized at the request of the New York Fire Department, reports The Associated Press.

In the now-famous photo by Tom Franklin, three white firefighters raise a flag Iwo Jima-style over the wreckage. But in a statue commemorating the moment, the three firefighters doing the hoisting will be three different races because "those who died were of all races and all ethnicities," said FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon.

Some applauded the move. "I think the artistic expression of diversity would supersede any concern over factual correctness," said Kevin James, a member of the Vulcan Society, which represents black firefighters.

But others felt the event should be represented as it happened. "They're rewriting history in order to achieve political correctness," said Carlo Casoria, who lost his firefighter son, Thomas.

'Majority' Rules

The Boston City Council wants to stop using the word "minority" in official business because it is outdated and offensive, reports The Boston Globe. City Councilor Charles Yancey wants to use the words "people of color" instead.

In a 12-0 vote, the councilors approved an ordinance banning the city's use of the word to describe people or ethnic groups.

Boston follows San Diego, which decided to stop using the term in April because, as Deputy Mayor George Stevens argued: "The word 'minority' can have such a devastating impact on our young people as well as adults."

(Thanks to Jonathan C.)

Color-Blind Justice

England's Metropolitan Police Authority criticized government officials there for including racial statistics in a report on the rise in thefts of cellular phones, reports London's Independent.

The report claimed that half a million children aged between 11 to 15 were victims of mobile phone theft last year, and that most of the people accused of the thefts were black.

Peter Herbert of the police department said it was "wholly unhelpful to provide such figures because it stigmatizes people." He said he accepted that race figures should be included in some official reports but only where there was a "positive agenda of diverting young people from crime."

Herbert said the government should blame the phone manufacturers for not making the phones unprofitable to those who steal them instead of focusing on the ethnicity of the culprits.

Redskins Ad Infinitum

Elected officials in Washington, D.C., want the owners of that city's football team to change its name and logo because they are "racist" and "morally unacceptable," reports the AP.

A one-page resolution passed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments demands that team owner Daniel Snyder change the name by the 2002-2003 season.

The team's senior vice president, Karl Swanson, said they have no plans to change the name, however.

From the Central Servers:

Dan A. writes:

First the schools become intolerant of those who want to express their culture by saying public prayers, then they say everyone has to be tolerant of everyone's "cultures, genders, experiences, and abilities." I'm confused!  How can we be tolerant of everyone's culture if we aren't even allowed to express our culture?

Sean A. writes:

I looked up redskin in the dictionary. The first definition is "a kind of white potato that has a reddish skin." What is next? Are they to find that these potatoes are offensive?

Jacob W. writes after a little sleuthing:

I don't understand how your license plate can be the source of state censorship beyond plain obscenity. But if this is the case, here are some license plates in California that may have to be removed. All of these were found in searches of existing plate configurations at the California DMV site.


Jimmy G. writes:

Has anyone ever bothered to ask Karen Davis of the chicken rights group what horrors the plants she eats must endure when they have their fruit ripped away from them or are pulled out of the soil where they get nourished and she steams or boils them for her consumption?  Plants are just as much alive as anything else on this planet, but since they are a different lifeform those like Davis can't personify them like they do animals.

Cindy M. in Lawrence, Kan., writes:

As a vegan, professional ecologist and advocate of animal rights, I take offense to what Ms. Davis asserts.  I do not deny the sad and horrific conditions that the world's poultry and livestock endure on their way to millions of dinner tables, but to compare them to the thousands that lost their lives on September 11 is not only ridiculous but also incredibly insensitive to those who have lost a friend or a family member in one of the multiple tragedies of that day.

The day Ms. Davis can prove that chickens are leaving behind a mortgage that may go unpaid, a child who will never have a mother or father to read them a bedtime story or a spouse who will never again see the love in their partner's eyes then I may be persuaded to at least consider her point of view.  Until then, let's compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges and chickens to chickens.

Steve M. in Chatsworth, Calif., asks:

If my favorite portion of the chicken is the breast, does this constitute "terrorism plus sexual harassment against a chicken"?

Jordan G. in Henderson, Nev., writes:

It's about time that we as a country wake up and respect the Native American tradition. This land was stolen from them hundreds of years ago. They have been inappropriately branded as savages and heathens and herded into reservations while we destroy their land. Even with all that we have done against Natives, they still continue to have the highest enrollment in our military. The least we can do is show some respect. If Washington can change the name of their basketball team to the Wizards from the Bullets, then the Redskins should follow suit.

Chris G. in Tigard, Ore., writes:

If Nancy Volte of the NJEA were even remotely qualified to be a teacher she would realize that the one person in the entire history of the American republic who was truly indispensable was George Washington. Without him we would all be singing "God Save the Queen" with our morning tea. Maybe it's time for a refresher course.