June 15, 2006
Hippies, Dems 'Burned Up' Over Flag Amendment
For hippies, democrats and other malcontents, summer is traditionally the peak flag-burning season of the year. But a push by Republican Senators to pass the Flag Protection Amendment may pour cold water on solstice celebrations, veggie cookouts and other warm-weather gatherings that typically feature flag burning as a main event.
Dixie Chicks rethinking '06 "Burn This Flag" Tour
By Cole Walters
SEATTLE, WA—Eric "Banzan" Saxby describes himself as "one angry dude" these days. Mr. Saxby, who goes by the single name "Banzan," a Zen term meaning "indestructible mountain," recently got word that the US Senate is on the verge of passing an amendment giving Congress the authority to ban the burning of the American flag. The ban, says Banzan, represents a real bummer for individuals like himself, for whom the summer is typically the peak flag-burning season of the year.
"You got to do it, man," says Banzan, a former associate at a local bookstore who is currently between jobs. "We burn one every time we get together. It's just what you do."
Banzan and his friends, a loose-knit collective of vegetarians and vegans who describe themselves as deeply interested in the pursuit of alternatives, are far from the only disappointed flag-burners these days. Across the country, hippies, democrats and other critics of traditional values say that the flag-burning ban will leave a gaping hole in summer solstice celebrations, veggie picnics and other left-wing gatherings. Banzan and others have even convened a local spokescouncil to debate what else they might burn if flag desecration is in fact outlawed.
Dixie Chicks 'flame out'
It isn't just Seattle hippies that are burned up over Senate's move to protect the symbol that Americans hold dearest. Controversial country rockers, the Dixie Chicks, are also reportedly rethinking the concept for their 2006 tour, nicknamed the "Burn this Flag" tour. The Chicks, who will be touring the US and Europe this summer to promote their new album, "Taking the Long Way," had planned on burning a flag at each performance and were even offering discounted tickets to fans who brought in the ashes of a previously burned flag.
Wanted: an easier-to-burn flag
Not everyone is cancelling their plans to set the Stars and Stripes ablaze this holiday season. Seattle librarian and former John Kerry supporter Heloise Doucette says that she won't let a federal ban on burning douse her annual flag-burning fiesta. In fact, says Doucette, difficulty setting Old Glory alight last summer now has her in search of an easier-to-burn flag.
"When you see our flag going up in flames overseas it seems like all they have to do is just set a match to it and it's done," says Doucette. "But with the rainy climate out here you can go through a whole box of matches just to get a blaze." Ms. Doucette says she's currently scouring online auction sites for a 'pre-doused' flag and may even try to acquire one from overseas.
Dems: protect the Mexican flag
While the drive to protect the flag from enemies of American freedom at home and abroad is being led by Republican Senators, members of the Democratic Party have indicated that they're considering a flag protection act of their own: of the Mexican flag. Democratic Party leaders, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, were reportedly deeply disturbed by images of the Mexican flag being torched at rallies earlier this spring. The Democratic measure would make burning the Mexican bandera a federal crime punishable by imprisonment.
Should Americans who burn the flag lose their right to vote or be deported? Talk back to Cole Walters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 14, 2006
Most Massachusetts Marriages on Verge of Collapse
It has been just over two years since a tribunal of black-robed Massachusetts judges set out to undermine traditional marriage. Now say a growing number of experts, most marriages in that state are teetering on the verge of collapse. It is predicted that by 2013, the majority of adults in Massachusetts will be 'hooking up with' or married to at least one same-sex partner.
More couples 'exploring what's out there'
BOSTON—Retired teachers Bob and Debbie Mastrantonio had planned to celebrate 40 years of wedded bliss this summer, welcoming friends and family to their suburban Boston home for hot dogs, ice cream and a tribute to that all-American institution: marriage. Instead, the party's off, and so is the marriage. Like an estimated 92% of married couples in Massachusetts these days, Bob and Debbie are headed to divorce court.
From man and wife to 'man hunt'
The trouble started two years ago, recalls the couple's son Tom "Tiger" Mastrantonio, just weeks after a fiat of black-robed judges in the Commonwealth handed down their infamous decision legalizing homosexual marriage, effectively undermining Bob and Debbie's union, along with hundreds of thousands of other traditional Massachusetts families. "Overnight my dad just turned into a different guy," says Mr. Mastrantonio. "He kept saying he wanted to 'get out there' and 'explore other options.'" What initially seemed like a new hobby reached a crisis point last fall when an uncle encountered Bob's profile on a popular gay dating site: manhunt.net.
Meet your new polyamorous mom
Meanwhile Debbie's devastation over the collapse of her traditional marriage led her to seek relief and companionship in the arms of another woman: former high-school classmate and long-time public school teacher Juliet Kolodny. The couple recently invited a third woman to join their polyamorous union and hope to make the love trio official sometime next fall. "I never knew this kind of situation was even an option," says Debbie Mastrantonio. "It's basically anything goes these days."
Marriages collapse en mass
Experts say that the collapse of Bob and Debbie's marriage is far from unique. More than half of all Massachusetts marriages have ended since the Supreme Judicial Court launched its assault on morality in 2002. By 2013, it is predicted that the majority of adults in the Commonwealth will have abandoned traditional unions in favor of homosexual marriage, polygamous pairings, relationships with dogs, cats or other house pets, or incestuous love matches with their own brothers and sisters.
Gay levees breached
While there are still a handful of heterosexual Bay State couples that continue to try to buck the cultural tide despite the collapse of the gay levees around them, even they show signs of weakening. Organizers of the recent Boston Pride events report record attendance at this year's parade and festival by married couples who describe themselves as "bi-curious."
Bi-curious and curiouser
Boston resident Linda Haynes is part of one such curious couple. Mrs. Haynes notes that while a typical June Saturday would have found her playing with her kids in the yard of her suburban home, she and husband Doug opted instead to march in the gay pride parade. "There's a whole world out there to explore," says Mrs. Haynes. "So we said 'let's hire a sitter and get out there.'"
The couple has no plans to divorce, says Mrs. Haynes, but they are keeping their options open. This weekend they plan to post a joint profile on bicupid.net, a virtual meeting site for bisexual and bicurious friends, couples and singles. "We haven't decided whether it's going to be another man or a woman," says Mrs. Haynes. "But we're definitely ready to expand our marriage."
Have gay unions in Massachusetts caused your marriage to deteriorate? Talk back to Russell D'Arby at email@example.com.
June 13, 2006
Most Americans Confused About Who to Hate This Summer
As Americans begin the busy summer driving season, a new poll reveals that most are confused about who they should hate and why. While last summer's 'must hate' favorites, including war-critics Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore, are now regarded as hated has-beens, few new 'hateables' have captured the public's attention.
Poll: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad easy to hate but hard to pronounce.
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—Americans are already weeks into the busy summer driving
season yet most still lack a clear sense of who they should hate and
why. The current murky forecast stands in marked contrast to the hazy
hate-filled days of last summer, in which most Americans agreed to hate
anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whom they blamed for dominating news
coverage, causing traffic jams in much of the southwest and driving up
the price of gasoline.
Who do you hate?
According to the results of a recent poll, most Americans have all but forgotten Ms. Sheehan. The Polltronics poll, based on 2,130 telephone interviews conducted earlier this month, found that while 63% of Americans report feeling "mildly irritated" at the mention of Ms. Sheehan's name, only 9.2% say that they are prepared to hate her "most of all" between now and Labor Day.
Sinking like a stone
Also falling short in the blame game these days is one-time controversial filmmaker, Michael Moore, hated by fully 39% of Americans last year. By contrast, only 7% of respondents indicated that Mr. Moore would continue to top their "most hated" list this summer. While the angry auteur may be off the hook for the summer blockbuster season, 56% of Americans said that they were prepared to resume hating Mr. Moore when his film "Sicko," a thinly-veiled attack on the American health care system, widely viewed as the best in the world, debuts later this year.
No one left to hate
The anxiety that many Americans feel about not knowing who to hate has only worsened in recent days with the news of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who'd been widely regarded as a replacement topic for Ms. Sheehan during talk radio summer sweeps month. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed said they'd planned on hating Mr. Zarqawi "more than anyone else" during the months of June, July and August, but were no longer sure to whom the top spot should belong.
Anxious Americans did get some relief from their worries this week with
the announcement that Iraqi militants have appointed a successor to Mr.
Zarqawi. The new leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq is said to be Sheikh Abu
Hamza al-Muhajer, which means "the immigrant." Sixty-one percent of respondents said that they would be more likely to
hate an immigrant than a native-born American.
While there is no clear front runner among those likely to make the summer's "most-hated" list, several early favorites have lost steam in recent weeks. Among them: Hillary Clinton, pedophile priests, teacher unions and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Forty-two percent of those surveyed said that they would be more likely to hate Mr. Ahmadinejad "most of all" if his name were easier to pronounce. Also dropping from the top spot: gays, who turned in a disappointing performance during last week's debate over amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage.
How this poll was conducted
Samples for Polltronics polls are random digit samples of telephone numbers selected using the "probability proportionate to size" method, which means numbers from across the country are selected in proportion to the number of voters in each state. Individuals who did not answer their phones were assumed to be watching one of the following cable news shows: "The Big Story" with John Gibson, "Special Report" with Brit Hume, "The O'Reilly Factor," "Hannity and Colmes" or "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren.
Have you decided who to hate this summer? Talk back to firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 09, 2006
Cleaned Up 'K-Fed' May Seek Office
Kevin Federline is contemplating a run for office, say sources close to the aspiring performer, best known for his role as the husband of Britney Spears. 'K-Fed,' who often blasts California liberals in private, is now looking to take that criticism public and may challenge democratic representative Henry A. Waxman in next fall's congressional election. First step on the campaign trail: a new clean-cut, more professional look.
A private critic of the democratic establishment goes public
MALIBU, CA—When aspiring performer Kevin Federline was looking for a title for his forthcoming rap album, the artist, known to millions of fans as 'K-Fed' chose "Playing with Fire" to indicate that he's not afraid of a little controversy. Now the former dancer and husband to chanteuse Britney Spears is about to take on the most controversial challenge of his life: against Henry A. Waxman, long-time democratic representative from California's ultra-liberal 30th congressional district.
K-Fed fed up, say sources
Sources close to Mr. Federline say that he has long been a private critic of California's democratic establishment, including Representative Waxman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But that may be about to change. Earlier this spring Mr. Federline agreed to appear in 'Item,' a magazine aimed primarily at 18-49 year-olds in the southwestern US, including tens of thousands of potential voters in such traditionally liberal enclaves as Pacific Palisades, Bel-Air, Century City, Westwood, Brentwood, Topanga, Chatsworth, Woodland Hills, Beverlywood and West Los Angeles.
In the multi-page spread, Mr. Federline debuts a new clean-cut and decidedly conservative look that he hopes will appeal to the growing number of independents and swing voters who reside in the 30th district. "This is basically K-Fed saying 'here I am y'all, ready to represent," says a source close to the performer.
A ballot initiative spurs action
Mr. Federline's decision to run for office—a formal announcement is said to be expected later this summer—may have been prompted by a recent campaign in California to tax the wealthy in order to pay for preschool for all children in the state. Earlier this week, voters rejected by a decisive margin the "Preschool for All" ballot initiative, which would have imposed a 1.7 percent tax increase on individual incomes over $400,000 and couples' incomes exceeding $800,000.
Mr. Federline's antipathy towards the measure was in part ideological—he is a strong opponent of socially redistributive policies—but may also have been motivated by his reported dislike of filmmaker and political activist Rob Reiner. "K-Fed thinks that Reiner should stop shooting his mouth off about complex political issues and stick to making movies," says a source close to the performer. Mr. Reiner, his wife and father sunk a combined $4.6 million into the socialized daycare drive.
Britney backs K-Fed
While tabloids have been rife with speculation of late that Mr. and Mrs. Federline may be on the verge of splitting up, sources close to the couple say that she strongly supports the idea of his running for office. Unlike the vast majority of Hollywood celebrities, the former Miss Spears has been an outspoken backer of President Bush, a position she reiterated in a 2003 interview with CNN's Tucker Carlson. In recent months, the Federlines' loyalty to the president has been tested somewhat. The couple is said to be deeply unhappy about Mr. Bush's proposal to allow gay migrants to serve as guest workers in the hospitality and home decorating industries.
Do you worry that K-Fed's musical career could suffer if he runs for office? Talk back to Russell D'Arby email@example.com
June 08, 2006
'Death Tax' More Deadly than Gout, Polo Injuries Combined
President George W. Bush is encouraging the Senate to focus on one of the deadliest scourges facing the nation today: the 'death tax,' which devastates tens, even dozens of Americans every year. Mr. Bush is urging Senators to feel compassion for the afflicted families, whose fois gras consumption and thread counts have plummeted in recent years.
Senate to hear horror stories of families ravaged by 'death tax'
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush is encouraging Senators not to delay in their efforts to improve the fortunes of some of the worst suffering Americans: those devastated by the estate tax. In recent years tens, even dozens of Americans have seen their fortunes whither as a result of the aptly-named 'death tax,' forcing them to cut back on everything from yacht trips to fois gras consumption. In a few drastic cases, those most affected by the tax have seen the thread counts of their sheets drop below 500. The Senate is expected to take up the urgent issue later this week.
A toxic tax, a savage surcharge
While this savage surcharge on wealth is formally know as the “estate tax,” over time it has come to be known as the death tax due to its devastating impact on the nation’s wealthy. The Senate's move to visit the issue comes amid news that the toxic tax is even deadlier than most Americans could have imagined. According to recent data, the 'death tax' is more devastating to individuals with estates valued at over $800,000 than either gout, linked to excessive consumption of port wine, injuries suffered during polo matches or intermarriage, the practice of marrying among a very small group of wealthy individuals resulting in genetic, mental and physical defects.
Americans fear death tax more than gay migrants, 'hot' teachers
In a recent survey, 43% of Americans said that they feared the death tax more than activist judges, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gay migrants or fast-growing molds. Only an accidental plunge from a cruise ship or unwanted sexual advances from a female elementary school teacher incited greater fear among those surveyed. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they were "terrified" or "very anxious" about encountering misadventure on the high seas, while 57% said they worried about being hit on by a "hot" educator.
A visit from 'death tax' widows
Later this week Senators will hear from a handful of individuals whose families have been literally taxed to death in recent years. Among those scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill: members of the Mars candy family, the Gallo wine family, the Wegman supermarket family, the Dorrance family, which controls Campbell soup, and the Waltons, who control Wal-Mart.
Members of the hard-hit families will temporarily lift the black veil that the 'death tax' has lowered onto their lives, allowing Senators and ordinary citizens a glimpse into this other America. "These are not easy stories to tell," says a source close to one of the families. "People are suffering. They're having to scratch and claw just to get the things they need to survive: yachts, granite counter tops, single malt whiskey. We're talking about very basic goods here."
A tour of devastated estates planned
President Bush announced today that he plans to interrupt his tour of border cities overrun by gay migrants in order to tour the mansions of some of the Americans hardest hit by the 'death tax.' White House schedulers say that the president plans to visit Bridgehampton, NY, Aspen, CO, and Rancho Santa Fe, CA. Mr. Bush, who will be traveling on Airforce One, will first survey the properties from the air in an effort to assess the impact of the estate tax on landscaping, pool maintenance and fleets of cars.
Has the Bush Administration done enough to ease the suffering of the wealthiest Americans? Talk back to Deanna Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org
June 06, 2006
'Mark of the Beast' Day Has White House Planning for Rapture
6/06/06, otherwise known as '666' or 'Mark of the Beast' day, is cause for celebration among Satanists, teacher unions and in the nation's Godless urban centers. But among key Bush administration figures there is great concern that today could mark the start of 'The Rapture,' in which President Bush and millions of other Christians are summoned up to heaven.
Most Democrats likely to be left behind
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—6/06/06, otherwise known as '666' or 'Mark of the Beast' day, may be cause for celebration among Satanists, teacher unions and in the nation's Godless urban centers. But among high-ranking officials in the Bush administration there is growing concern that today could be President Bush's last day on earth. The reason: '666' is the sign of the Antichrist--and the fact that this eternal foe of Jesus Christ has chosen to announce his presence so publicly likely means that 'the rapture,' in which Mr. Bush and millions of other Christians will be summoned skyward.
White House officials are said to be concerned by a recent up-tick in the Rapture Ready Index, a self-proclaimed prophetic speedometer of end-time activity that monitors such seemingly disparate factors as the crime rate, unemployment, wild weather and the "mark of the Beast," evidence of activity related to the antichrist. The Rapture Ready Index recently reached 157, the highest it has been since 2004. Among the signs raising alarm on Pennsylvania Avenue: the possible emergence of a 'Beast Government' in Europe.
Who will rule?
For the White House, the possibility that the dramatic events described in Thessalonians 4:13-18, in which "the dead in Christ will rise, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord," presents an obvious dilemma: if President Bush is summoned on 6/06/06 to meet his maker, who among the "left behind" can govern the country? According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, if the president is incapacitated, dies, resigns, is for any reason unable to hold his office, or is removed from office, he is to be succeeded by his vice president, in this case Dick Cheney. But top White House officials have expressed concern that Cheney's health may make such a transition impossible, especially after the shock of witnessing his boss disappear through the ceiling of the Oval Office.
Next in the succession chain would be Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. But the former wrestling coach who attended Wheaten College, an evangelical college in Illinois, is likely to be raptured as well, say sources close to the Speaker. With Hastert unable to serve, the honor moves to the president pro tempore of the senate: 83 year-old Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, who, at 38 years and counting, is that august body's longest-serving senator.
Security vs. tribulation
But Republican Party officials are already expressing concern that Stevens may not be up to the task of seeing the US through the turbulent years of Tribulation, a seven-year long period in which the antichrist takes advantage of the Christians' absence, and makes a treaty with the Jews, enabling them to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and to reestablish their ancient liturgical system of animal-sacrifices. "We're preparing for tough times ahead," said an administration official. "We don't know what's going to happen or what to expect."
A number of senators have also expressed misgivings over the possibility that Senator Stevens may use the confusion of the Tribulation period to divert excessive discretionary spending, known as pork, to his home state of Alaska. Since Stevens became chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 1997, per capita federal spending in Alaska grew by more than 50 percent, to nearly $12,000 last year, by far the highest in the country and almost double the national average. "We're talking about a guy who is basically the King of Pork," said one senator. "Is this really who you want running the country during a period of floods, plagues and unprecedented violence? The people of Alaska may survive the seven years, but what about the rest of us?"
Ready or not, here He comes
Of course there is always the possibility that the rapture won't happen today, if at all. But millions of Christians, including many of those who make up President Bush's socially-conservative base, say that they're convinced the rapture is imminent.
In a recent poll of Christians conducted on leftbehind.com, the online counterpart to the popular Left Behind series by Reverend Tim LeHaye, more than 50 percent of respondents said that they expected the rapture to happen any day. Nearly 3 in 10 either had unfinished business or didn't want to end their earthly good times just yet. Many Republicans are probably feeling the same way these days.
If President Bush is raptured today who do you think should lead those left behind? Deanna Swift can be reached at email@example.com
June 05, 2006
Bush: We Will Defend Marriage, Borders
They do the jobs that Americans by and large refuse to do: hairstylist, flower arranger, bathhouse attendant. But if President Bush gets his way, an amendment to the Constitution known as the Marriage and Border Protection Amendment will soon bar gay aliens from penetrating the nation's borders and undermining our most sacred institution: legal heterosexual marriage.
Children of gay couples more likely to speak Spanish than those raised by a traditional family
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—They do the jobs that Americans by and large refuse to do: hairstylist, flower arranger, bathhouse attendant. But if President Bush gets his way, an amendment to the Constitution known as the Marriage and Border Protection Amendment will soon bar gay aliens from penetrating the nation's borders and undermining our most sacred institution: legal heterosexual marriage.
Each day, thousands of gay migrants—many of them couples—make their way across the border towards the nation's homosexual hotspots: Los Angeles, CA, Colorado Springs, CO, Boise, ID and Omaha, NE, lured by the promise of lucrative jobs in the home-decorating industry.
'Tough but firm'
By making his 'tough but firm' announcement yesterday, say observers, Mr. Bush sent a strong signal to homosexual migrants that they should think twice before crossing the border in hopes of undermining the traditional American family.
Enrique Ochoa and his partner Jim Hernandez, who met three years ago through an online Mexican gay dating site, traveled all the way from Acapulco in order to cross the border and marry, drawn north by rumors that millions of gay migrants living in America will soon be able to say 'si acepto' or 'I do.' And while they wait for the judicial fiat that will enable them to live as novio y novio, Enrique and Jim say that they're keeping busy with scrapbooking, weekend antiquing trips and running their flower-arranging business: Floras Fabulosas. "In Mexico, we have an expression: "solo el activista juez tiene el poder." says Mr. Ochoa. "Only the activist judge can set you free."
Calls for an impenetrable border
The tales of gay migrants like Enrique and Jim are enough to send chills down the spine of Sandy Slokum, executive director of Defend Our Marriages and Borders, an Arlington, VA advocacy group that wants to erect a 2000-mile long fence between the US and Mexico in order to protect legally-married Americans. "The need for the Marriage and Border Protection Amendment has never been more obvious," says Mrs. Slokum, who recently returned from a two-week trip to the US/Mexican border in order to witness first hand the nightly spectacle of gay migrants entering into the country in order to marry, many of them armed with small dogs, including Bichons Frise, Malteses and Coton de Tulears.
"All over this great nation of ours you have legally-married couples who are cowering in fear right now wondering if their marriages are going to be made meaningless because some activist judge decides that it's ok for gay migrants to marry," warns Mrs. Slokum. She points to research showing that children raised by two gay parents are far more likely to speak Spanish than those raised by a mother and a father.
Avoiding the 'Three-Minute Men'
Meanwhile, the border crossings for gay migrants are becoming ever more dangerous. The latest threat to pop up: a band of roving man-hunters known as the Three-Minute Men who troll the border in search of quickie encounters. "It's really a tragic situation," says Sister Josefina Margolis-Ruiz, executive director of the pro-gay migrant marriage group Somos Todas Mariconas. "These are exactly the type of encounters that gay migrants are hoping to put behind them by marrying once they cross over into the United States."
Is your marriage under assault by gay migrants? Talk back to Deanna Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 02, 2006
Group Objects to Words of Foreign Origin in National Spelling Bee
During this year's national spell-off, contestants were forced to puzzle out words of Spanish, Greek, Latin American, homosexual, even French origin. Now some native-born bee watchers say they've had enough. If they get their way, spelling bees from elementary schools to the nation's capital will soon be conducted in English only.
75% of Americans say foreign words are too difficult to spell
By Deanna Swift,
WASHINGTON, DC—Unlike millions of Americans, Lorraine Dittie didn't wait to watch the coronation of Katharine Close, this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee champion. Dittie, a Dover, PA, mother of two, had turned off her TV in disgust in the fourth round of the annual spell-off after contestant David Keyes of Watkins Glenn, NY, successfully sounded out sudadero, a Spanish word meaning a blanket that soaks up the sweat beneath the saddle of a horse.
For Dittie, the surfeit (sûr'fit; a word of French origin meaning excessive amount) of foreign words in this year's bee was just the latest sign that English—the language in which she majored in college—is increasingly under siege. "I listened to the words they were giving to these kids and I was just shocked. There were Greek words, Latin American words. I even heard some Indian words. But what happened to all of the English words?" asks Dittie.
English bees please
A growing number of native-born and legal spelling bee fans are asking the same question. Studies indicate that as the number of illegal immigrants in this country has soared in recent years, so too has the percentage of foreign words in spelling bees. Now a new organization, ProEnglishFirst, is lobbying Congress to make English the official language of all bees, from local contests at elementary schools to the biggest bee of all. "Our position is that if you're going to spell in this country you ought to be spelling words that are native to our language," says Martin DuCasse, a spokesperson for the Arlington, VA, nonprofit.
Volunteers from ProEnglishFirst monitored the official word list from this year's competition, notes DuCasse, and were disturbed by what they found. "There were way too many French words," he says, listing causerie, meaning light chit chat for social occasions and accouchement, the process of giving birth to a child, as two offending terms. "There were a couple of these that were so bad that we encouraged our members to call the FCC to complain," says DuCasse.
Linguistic law of the land
According to recent polls, Americans overwhelmingly agree that English should be the official language of the United States, including more than two-thirds of Democrats and four-fifths of first- and second-generation Americans. Support for English-only spelling bees is believed to be even higher.
The US Senate recently passed a measure that would make English the national tongue, and while the proposal contains no language specific to spelling bees, House negotiators are expected to try to force the issue in conference later this month. Once the new law goes into effect, National Spelling Bee organizers would be forced to eliminate all foreign words from their vocabulary lists in time for the 2007 competition.
Offensive words from Mexico and France weren't the only terms to raise eyebrows and ire at this year's bee. Observers also noted an increasing number of homosexual words being assigned to the school-aged spellers. One contestant, homeschooler Matthew Oliphant, successfully spelled one such word, mansuetude, a gay term meaning a meek or gentle attitude, in the fourth round of the competition. But when yet another word with homosexual origins came his way in round 6, it was Matthew's turn to bow out gracefully. The word: spheterize, meaning to appropriate or make something one's own.
"Can you use it in a sentence?" asked Matthew.
"Young Tom was afraid to take off his clothes in the locker room for fear of being spheterized," came the response.
Matthew looked puzzled—he later admitted that in preparing for the event he had neglected to memorize a gay dictionary—then made a brave attempt.
The dreaded bell sounded and yet another young contestant had been sent packing.
Do you think that foreign and homosexual words should be banned from spelling bees? Talk back to Deanna Swift at email@example.com.