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No free speech at the library

January 11, 2002 | Page 4

A LIBRARY mural in Memphis, Tenn., is provoking heated debate among some people who haven't figured out that the Cold War with the ex-USSR is over.

Several local politicians are up in arms over the fact that the mural outside the new Memphis Central Library features the words, "Workers of the world, unite." The mural also features, among other things, depictions of the Cat in the Hat, a painting by Picasso and quotations by William Shakespeare and Salman Rushdie.

But officials only seem to be offended by the quote from The Communist Manifesto. "Over 100,000 Americans were killed in two wars trying to rid the world of Communism," fumed city councilman Brent Taylor. "We just don't feel a public place is appropriate to inscribe the motto of our enemy of 70 years."

Initially, the offended politicians suggested that the phrase be sandblasted off the mural. Commissioner Marilyn Loeffel, a self-described conservative Christian known for crusades against rock lyrics, suggested that offended citizens should try to block future money for the library and arts commission.

Or perhaps they should take matters into their own hands. "I've had a lot of people say, 'I've got a jackhammer,'" Loeffel quipped.

--New York Times, December 29, 2001

God hates Harry Potter

HARRY POTTER books are "an abomination to God." So says Pastor Jack Brock, head of Christ Community Church in Alamogordo, N.M.

"These books encourage our youth to learn more about witches, warlocks and sorcerers," Brock told reporters recently. "Harry Potter books are going to destroy the lives of many young people."

So Brock held a "holy bonfire" on December 30, where members of his congregation torched dozens of Harry Potter books to save the souls of vulnerable preteens. Members of the church sang "Amazing Grace" as they threw the books on the fire.

So God hates Harry Potter. But burning books is okay.

--Associated Press, December 30, 2001

Heard it through the grapevine

"IT IS not our proudest product placement. But it shows that the Taliban is looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: durability and reliability."
--Toyota spokesman Wade Hoyt, after media images showed Taliban soldiers fleeing in Toyota pickups

"[A] GENT who in our country's hour of need has turned out to be one of the classiest acts on camera."
--Wall Street Journal columnist Claudia Rosett on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

"I APPRECIATE every one of you, especially you ladies. You are good-looking. God bless you."
--Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) to congressional colleagues on his 99th birthday

"THIS WENT very well. We liked this very much."
--Northern Alliance officer Kudratulla Umar on the U.S. bombing of a supposed Taliban bunker

"THE AMERICAN bombs were the biggest I have seen in my life, but they missed the Taliban."
--Northern Alliance soldier Muhammad Shah on the same bombing

"OUR WAR against terror extends way beyond Afghanistan. And at some point in time, maybe some president will come and say, 'You have the expertise that we don't, would you mind maybe having some of your troops with ours?' And the answer is, 'You bet.'"
--George W. Bush on widening the "war against terrorism"

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