John Leo

Critics have noticed that nobody is responsible for anything anymore, since almost everyone is a victim. Here are the top 10 victim stories of 2005

Children of witches are victimized by Halloween. Coming to class dressed as a witch on Halloween is a violation of  “equitable schools policies,” according to the Toronto district school board. The board said it feared “traumatic shock” if children treat “the Christian sexist demonization of pagan religious beliefs as ‘fun.’ ”

British Muslims are victimized by Piglet and piggy banks. Novelty pig calendars, toys, and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet have been banned in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, out of deference to Muslim sensibilities.

Students are victimized by the disappearance of low weekend prices in bars. Pressured by the University of Wisconsin and a federal campaign against binge drinking, 24 bars near the Madison campus agreed to end cut-rate weekend prices. Three students and a Minneapolis law firm failed to convince a Wisconsin circuit judge that this represented conspiracy and price fixing. But they are suing again in federal court. Legal costs to the bar owners so far: $250,000.

Hit-and-run victim offends police. A woman struck by a car while standing on a sidewalk in northern England ran afoul of police when she described the errant driver as “fat.” “I was given a frosty look and told . . . I could have said lardy, porky, or podgy,” said Mary Magilton, 54. “I don’t think she was severely reprimanded,” said a police spokesman, citing a firm policy of “appropriate language” in police reports.

Fired CBS employee is victimized by Viacom, CBS, vicious bloggers, the panel that investigated her, and a “McCarthyite” panel member who asked if she is a liberal. Mary Mapes complained last week that people were saying mean things about her and the discredited 60 Minutes II segment she produced about President Bush’s military service. She felt “extremely battered” by “having my head kicked around a soccer stadium by much of the western world.” No apology, though. For unknown reasons, Mapes’s new book is titled Truth and Duty rather than I Messed Up Big Time and I’m Sorry.

Atheists are victimized by religious people. “The McCarthy era is the last time this climate existed,” said beleaguered California atheist Stuart Bechman. The Los Angeles Times said nonbelievers feel stress when a major leaguer points skyward after a hit or when an actor thanks God after winning an Oscar. Some join atheist groups anonymously to avoid harassment. Still, atheist organizations are lobbying in Washington and hope to have at least one presidential candidate court their votes in 2008. Thank God.

Redheads are victimized by cruel jokes and slurs. New Zealanders with red or ginger hair have organized against hair-color bigotry, founding groups such as the Ginger Revolution and Redheads United. Casual slurs like “gingernuts” cause a lot of hurt, so carrot-topped liberationists want to see a “Love Your Ginger Neighbor” campaign and perhaps a “Be Kind to Gingas Week.” Who knows? Maybe even a Redheaded History Month. Chris Irwin, who filed an official complaint last year against a TV ad that made fun of redheads, says red hair color is “part of who I am, and I’m proud of it-as hard as that is in today’s society.”

Antihooker prejudice fought in Europe. “Sex workers,” the current euphemism for prostitutes, strippers, and lap-dancers, are organizing to end discrimination against their profession. Camille Cabral spoke in Brussels on behalf of the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe. Wearing pink stickers reading “Sluts Unite” and “Whore Power,” she called for an end to the stigma associated with paid sexual service.

New Orleans school-bus failure was Bush’s fault-maybe Clinton’s too. Why didn’t the city use all those empty buses to drive poor people to safety as Hurricane Katrina approached? Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu explained on Fox News: “Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane . . . it’s because this administration and administrations before them do not understand the difficulties . . . In other words, [the Bush] administration did not believe in mass transit.”

Public victimized by kitchen-utensil violence. Doctors writing in the British Medical Journal called for a ban on the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives. Some say the knives are not necessary in food preparation and cited 10 chefs who agreed. Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is unimpressed. “Can sharp-stick control be far behind?” he asked.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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