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In Brief

"In Brief" Continued...

Issue: "Global shame," June 15, 2002

Golden State's warriors

Multicultural activists in California tried to cancel the Chiefs and ax the Apaches. But on May 28 the state assembly scalped their attempt to ban American Indian nicknames for public-school teams. Yet this isn't likely to end the campaign for politically correct mascots. New York Education Commissioner Richard Mills is campaigning to have Indian sports symbols eliminated from his state, and the Maryland State Board of Education asked schools to drop the names last year. An activist group called the Morning Star Institute claims that over half of America's 3,000 schools with Indian mascots or nicknames have already changed to other mascots. Stanford University replaced its "Indian" with a color, "Cardinal," back in 1972. Los Angeles and Dallas schools banned Indian mascots in 1997. Democratic Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg wrote the California bill claiming Indian names create a hostile learning environment and spark racial division. The bill would have banned such names as Redskins, Indians, Braves, Chiefs, Apaches, and Comanches. The mascots would have vanished from elementary up to university levels with one exception: schools on reservations. The measure would have forced about 100 California schools to change names, including 26 using "Braves" and 55 using "Indians." California also has 85 "Warriors" teams, which the bill would have barred if they used Indian mascots. Critics said that schools had the right to pick their own names, a position Ms. Goldberg rejected. "Civil rights are not a matter of local control," she said. "They are a matter of simple dignity." After both sides debated for hours, the bill went down to defeat on a 35-to-29 vote. The whole Indian mascot debate was refueled by a misbegotten attempt at mockery. Some Indian students at the University of Northern Colorado named their intramural basketball team "The Fighting Whities." They printed jerseys with clip art of a middle-aged white man-and the shirts quickly became collectors' items. The students found themselves deluged with requests for the shirts from outside the school. - Chris Stamper

Bilingual barons

Back in 1998, California maverick Ron Unz led a ballot fight to have public-school kids taught in English. Today he and his fellow proponents are still trying to see Proposition 227 enforced, but roughly 25 percent of California's 6 million public-school students do not speak English fluently. Boston University Professor Christine Rossell claims the state's educational bureaucrats undermined the law. Prop. 227 demands that "nearly all" lessons be in English, but her study found that school districts allow up to 30 percent of instruction in another language. Parents retain the right to apply for a waiver that would allow their children to be transferred to bilingual classes. But schools are not required to offer the alternative courses unless 20 or more students in one grade level receive waivers. Multiculturalists and bilingualism advocates wanted the rules changed so faculty and teachers can initiate the waiver process. Prop. 227 supporters said this would undermine the law, and Mr. Unz threatened to sue the board over this issue: "That was completely illegal and contrary to the clear language of the initiative." Prop. 227 has resurfaced as an election issue this year, as California Gov. Gray Davis's opponents accused him of undermining the initiative. When the referendum passed in 1998, it carried 61 percent of the vote. - Chris Stamper

Gender Bender, Inc.

Which companies are leading the way in corporate-backed "gender inclusion"? American Airlines, Verizon, and IBM. The three mega-corporations last month partially bankrolled the second annual national conference of GenderPAC, a "human-rights" group that works to blur the distinction between males and females and to "give our children the right to choose and express their gender." The three-day event in Washington included a Capitol Hill lobby day; workshops on legislative activism that promotes gender "self-determination"; and something called the "Great Big International Drag King Show II." In one address, IBM representative Cynthia Neff lauded her company's progress toward hiring and promoting inclusiveness for such "sexual minorities" as transsexuals. Meanwhile, a Verizon table offered a booklet that listed ways to make a workplace more inclusive. Among specific suggestions: "Use examples of same-sex couples in business exercises and role-plays," and "seek out opportunities to learn from transgender people."- Lynn Vincent

Tax-funded cyberporn

One area where the Bush administration would like more of a "digital divide" is in public libraries: keeping children digitally divided from online pornography. But a federal court ruled that a law requiring Web filters at public libraries is unconstitutional. The three-judge panel said legislatures cannot force public libraries to install software that blocks sexually explicit sites from their public computers. The upshot: Taxpayers must pay for people to view cyberporn in public libraries. This marks the third law restricting online obscenity to be tossed out since 1996. In this case, the panel charged that Web filters also block sites on topics that should not be suppressed, such as politics, health, and science. The Justice Department says it may appeal to the Supreme Court. The law, called the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), had bipartisan support when President Clinton signed it two years ago. Its supporters say the decision ties the hands of parents who want to take children to the library without fear of endangerment. The Justice Department argues that smut is so pervasive that children need special protection and that libraries should use the same caution with the Internet that they use with books and magazines. The ALA claims filters give parents a false sense of security. The group has suggested that libraries use optional filters for children, privacy screens, and special classes about Internet use. Critics say these ideas may make forbidden fruit more tempting. Another major cyberporn law is still before the courts. The 1998 Child Online Protection Act would force sites to check proof of age before displaying material deemed harmful to minors. Meanwhile, lawmakers are trying to draft new anti?kiddie porn laws after the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of a 1996 law that would have banned simulated sexual images of children.


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