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Jewish World Review August 15, 2000 / 14 Menachem-Av, 5760

John Leo

John Leo
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Consumer Reports

You can't make this up

More cultural craziness that's stranger than fiction -- Another harasser brought to justice. In Canton, Ohio, a 6-year-old boy who jumped from his bathtub and ran to a window to stop a school bus was suspended by his school for sexual harassment. The boy's mother said she put him in the tub so he wouldn't see the bus go by; he had a doctor's appointment and couldn't attend school that morning. But when his sister told him she saw the bus coming, the tyke ran to the window and shouted for the driver to wait. Since he was nude at the time, the school ruled that he had harassed youngsters on the bus. The school forced him to sign a paper admitting that he knew the nature of the charges against him.

Busted! Seth Shaw, a counselor at a public elementary school in Fort Worth, Texas, said, "Hello, good-looking," to a new female employee. Big mistake. She turned out to be the no-nonsense instructor of the school's sexual harassment workshops. Shaw's breezy impoliteness was treated as a serious offense. Shaw was suspended without pay for 20 days.

Home of the Fightin' School Supplies. A tiger was the emblem of Thomas Lake Elementary School in Minnesota. Officials there decided it was too mean and violent-looking, so they asked the students to pick a new symbol from a list that included a sweet-looking tiger and some school supplies. The students voted for the school supplies–a pen, a pencil, and a ruler.

Now sit, Ingvar, sit. Young women in Sweden, Germany, and Australia have a new cause: They want men to sit down while urinating. This demand comes partly from concerns about hygiene–avoiding the splash factor–but, as Jasper Gerard reports in the English Spectator, "more crucially because a man standing up to urinate is deemed to be triumphing in his masculinity, and by extension, degrading women." One argument is that if women can't do it, then men shouldn't either. Another is that standing upright while relieving oneself is "a nasty macho gesture," suggestive of male violence. A feminist group at Stockholm University is campaigning to ban all urinals from campus, and one Swedish elementary school has already removed them. In Australia, an Internet survey shows that 17 percent of those polled think men ought to sit, while 70 percent believe they should be allowed to stand. Some Swedish women are pressuring their men to take a stand, so to speak. Yola, a 25-year-old Swedish trainee psychiatrist, says she dumps boyfriends who insist on standing. "What else can I do?" said her new boyfriend, Ingvar, who sits.

Can't they play without violence? The British Labor government authorized a pamphlet urging teachers to ban the children's game of musical chairs on grounds that it promotes aggression and allows the biggest and strongest children to win. Sue Finch, the booklet's author, said: "Musical statues is better because everybody wins." Good idea. Let's get rid of all the damaging kids games. Goodbye to pin the tail on the donkey and monkey in the middle (violence toward animals), jacks (sexist), and hopscotch (obvious mockery of limb-deficient disability).

Butchering the truth. The federation of meat-shop owners in France is offended that reporters refer to murderers as "butchers," since most butchers are "gentle, peace-loving" workers. An architect in New York complained about a news report identifying "the architect" of a shooting spree. "There it is," wrote columnist Clyde Haberman of the New York Times, "the ugly face of anti-architect bigotry."

New, nicer language! Mutilative elective surgery (the declawing of cats), pet guardians (pet owners), peace room (war room), guest service employees (bellhops), people of advanced chronology (the elderly), nondiscretionary fragrance (body odor), states of concern (the State Department's new term for rogue states), and Green Bay Pickers (a new name for football's Green Bay Packers suggested by the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which doesn't think anyone should eat meat, let alone pack it).

What about hissing and herpes? Because it begins with the masculine-sounding syllable "his," the word "history" has been banned at Stockport College in Manchester, England. Also banned are the phrases "ladies and gentlemen" (offensive connotations of class) and "slaving over a hot stove" (which "minimizes the horror and oppression of the slave trade"). No word, though, about that offensive first syllable of "Manchester."

A government-run employment bureau in Walsall, England, banned the words "hard-working," "reliable," and "smart" on grounds that they discriminate against the disabled. The phrase "commitment and a desire to succeed are vital" was banned as well, apparently for insensitivity toward lazy people. Striving to be reliable and smart, the Labor government rescinded the ban.

JWR contributor John Leo's latest book is Two Steps Ahead of the Thought Police. Send your comments by clicking here.


08/08/00: The niceness strategy
08/01/00: When rules don't count
07/25/00: Anti-male bias increasingly pervades our culture
07/18/00: Banned in Boston
07/12/00: What Jacoby had to deal with!
07/11/00: Will boys be boys?
07/05/00: Partial-sense decision
06/27/00: Attitude toward death penalty gets in the way of facts
06/20/00: Double troubles
06/13/00: Fools paradise
06/06/00: Accidental conspirator
05/30/00: Faking the hate
05/23/00: Was it law or poetry?
05/16/00: Here, there and everywhere, people have gone bonkers
05/09/00: Tufts evangelicals are punished for acting on their beliefs
05/02/00: Elian's opera isn't over until nearly everyone sings
04/25/00: All the news that fits: The media serve up many stories from a standard script
04/19/00: Those darned readers: The gap between reporters and the general public is huge
04/05/00: Census sense and nonsense
03/29/00: Hollywood message films leave no room for other views
03/22/00: The Vatican confesses, but is it enough?
03/14/00: Watch what you say: The left can no longer be counted on to defend free speech
03/07/00: McCain's malleable messages
03/01/00: Bush's appearance at Bob Jones U. will dog him all the way
02/23/00: 'Multi-millionaire' show is new evidence we're insane

© 2000, John Leo