Unwelcome Everywhere: Miss Universe, Military Ships, Cartoon Lady

The city of Toronto barred the reigning Miss Universe from opening a local festival out of concern that the position is demeaning to women and promotes sexual stereotypes, reports the CBC.

Toronto native Natalie Glebova, crowned Miss Universe in May, was told she could open the Taste of Thailand festival at the city's Nathan Phillips Square only if she didn't wear her tiara or sash and was not referred to as a beauty queen. Organizers were told they could only refer to her as "an individual of note contributing to our community."

According to a city bylaw, "activities which degrade men or women through sexual stereotyping, or exploit the bodies of men, women, boys or girls solely for the purpose of attracting attention," are not permitted on Nathan Phillips Square.

Only in San Fran

The Bay City News Wire reports that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted against docking the USS Iowa in the city as a floating museum because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward homosexuality.

The San Francisco congressional delegation secured $3 million to move the Iowa, which was present at the signing of the treaty between Japan and the Allies ending World War II, from Rhode Island to San Francisco. A study said the ship would attract some 500,000 visitors in its first year.

Supervisors voted against a resolution in support of the move, saying they did so as a statement against the war in Iraq and to protest the military's dehumanizing treatment of gays.

Classic PC

The Boston Herald reports that two staffers at the Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune were suspended after making e-mail wisecracks about one of those classic examples of political correctness: their refusal to identify crime suspects by race.

Last month, an editor at the paper said it would no longer use race in such contexts because it can be "meaningless, may apply to large numbers of innocent people and tend to stereotype ethnic groups."

Ken Johnson, editorial page editor of the paper, replied to the e-mail edict by calling it "so much wrongheaded PC nonsense.

"Are we to write that 'Three men from east Texas were convicted of dragging James Byrd behind a pickup truck until he was decapitated' without mentioning that the thugs were white and the victim black?" asked Johnson, referring to the infamous 1998 racial killing in Jasper, Texas.

Another editor, Bryan McGonigle, chipped in with his own sarcasm, saying maybe Byrd should be referred to as a "cerebrally-challenged American with dramatic skull deficiency."

Both were suspended for three days.

Lemony Tart

An opposition politician in Australia is complaining that a state-created cartoon character intended to promote environmental responsibility is demeaning to women because she is described as "a bit tart" with a firm backside, reports The Age.

Lemony Sustainable, the mother of the environmental superhero family the Sustainables, is described on a government Web site as "at times a bit tart, but only in her sense of humor and her wardrobe!" and that she is "keeping her derriere looking more like a ciabatta than a Baker's Delight country loaf."

A spokeswoman for the opposition said such descriptions were offensive to women and might encourage eating disorders.

Environment Minister John Thwaites, who launched the Web site earlier this year, noted that Lemony, who uses homemade citrus cleaning products, was described as "a bit tart" and not "a bit of a tart."

'Soft Racism?'

The Urban Outfitters chain of clothing stores is under fire from Latino activists for a T-shirt reading "New Mexico, Cleaner Than Regular Mexico," reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

The News' Regina Medina says the phrase is "so offensive" that activists from the BlueLatino.org Web site are gathering signatures on a dreaded Internet petition.

"They need to remove that T-shirt [from its stores] because it's offensive and soft racist," said the webmaster of BlueLatino.org, Jose Quinonez. "What I mean by that is that they don't outright say it, but they allude to the 'dirty Mexican.'"

The paper sought comment from one Moises Venegas, described as head of a community-based organization called the Albuquerque Partnership, who displayed a staggering lack of community spirit despite his title.

"We don't really know that we're better than another [country]," Venegas said. "We have many areas that are very clean and other areas that need improvement."

Deferred Intelligence

A teachers' union in the U.K. says the word "fail" should be banned from use in classrooms and replaced with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralizing pupils, according to The Times.

Members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) argue that telling pupils they have failed can put them off learning for life.

The PAT will debate the proposal at a conference next week.

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


Allen M. writes:

So some folks in NY are offended by the term "paddy wagon." Some are offended by a guy in a parade dressed like bin Laden. Others are offended by fliers posted in a military area that's usually not public. Well, gosh darn. Those "offended" people need to get over it.

Patrick H. writes:

If the culture of the country that an immigrant left is superior or even tolerable, then why are they here? It is an historical standard that immigrants adopt the moral and cultural values of their new home.

If they are unwilling to do this, then let them go back to where they were happy! An immigrant to a new land has an obligation and responsibility to "fit" into their adopted country...not to have their adopted country change it's morals, language, values and customs to fit the immigrant. This entire dialogue is absurd!

Todd C. writes:

Will somebody please show me where in the Constitution the "right not to be offended" can be found? I've looked all over and I keep missing it. I can find where my right to express myself through free speech is written. I can find where my right to practice my religion without government interference is guaranteed. But for some reason, I can't find the part that says I can't offend someone by telling them what I think or by practicing my religion in public. Can someone help me please?

Am I missing an amendment somewhere?

Robert F. writes:

Granted, the office worker for the California National Guard was exercising his/her right to free speech by posting fliers that might be deemed offensive to Muslims, but the peace groups touring the complex who filmed the fliers and turned the footage into the local media were also doing the exact same thing: exercising their own right to free speech.

The Bill of Rights does not guarantee protection from public indignation. This office worker should by no means be fired or prosecuted for what he/she did, but all people should keep in mind that the same First Amendment that protects us legally allows for harsh indictments in the court of public opinion.

Dennis M. writes:

Detective Kelm's job is to explain to cab drivers about behavior that they may not understand is unacceptable in Canadian culture -- specifically their behavior toward women. And the good detective is therefore reprimanded for implying that Canadian culture is superior to unspecified other culture(s) in its treatment of women?

Well of course it's superior! Virtually the only measurement by which it isn't is the yardstick (or meter stick) of certain foreign cabbies whose own culture would accept that their selfish male ego justifies all manner of insults and assaults upon women.

I long for the day, which I'm sure is coming, when we will actually start to judge "superiority" of one culture versus another. It's long overdue!

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