PC violation

A few weeks ago we ran a story about gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Maybe we should start referring to him as the über-natorial candidate.) A week after that story ran we received a short, unsigned note from the Independent Living Services of Northern California. “As an agency that serves people with disabilities in our community,” the note begins, “we hope that you will be more sensitive to this issue in the future.” Accompanying the note was a clipping from the story that reads, “Schwarzenegger played an influential role in the Special Olympics, a well-thought-of athletic competition for the mentally retarded that was founded by his mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.” The words “mentally retarded” are highlighted in yellow. There is also a photocopied piece from Independent Life magazine, entitled “Say What? Disability related language.” The short article lists “preferred terms and expressions” and “outdated terms and expressions.” Under the latter listing, the word “retard” is highlighted in the same yellow highlighter color. Understandably, “retard,” like “spaz,” “gimp” and “crip”—unless you’re referring to gangsters— is considered outdated and now mostly used by people in junior high school. But our story didn’t say retard. It said, “mentally retarded,” which is listed right there on the preferred list, between “developmentally disabled” and “mobility disabled.” So we’re not sure what the good folks at Independent Learning Services are trying to tell us. You could say we are “confused.” Is that acceptable?

Sam’s House of Hofbrau, for years one of the best downtown lunch spots, has been closed for more than a month. Initially there was a hand-written sign in the window that said “Closed for vacation.” A week or so later, a new sign said “Still on vacation.” Now the only sign says “Closed.” The place is dark; the chairs are stacked on the tables. Someone is picking up the mail and piling it on the cash register counter. The phone service is still on, but messages left on the answering machine have not been returned. I’ve asked some city staff people what they know, and they only shrug their shoulders and share their general disappointment that the place is shuttered. If indeed Sam’s days are done, that’s a big loss for the downtown lunch seekers hoping to avoid the swarms of high-school kids who buzz through town just after noon. Sam’s served as a sort of sanctuary for the older folks.

The rumor that singer Willie Nelson and presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich (pictured) would appear together on the campus will not be coming true. Their respective schedules made it impossible. Speaking of Kucinich, a Chico State student named Brennan Purtzer offered me a story covering a Kucinich speech in Oakland. He also offered us a compact disc with photos he’d taken of the speech. But it was important that he get the disc back, he said in a yellow Post-it Note stuck to the CD case, because besides the Kucinich photos the disc also had pictures of his “dead chinchilla” (also pictured). Brennan, thanks. Didn’t use the story—we covered a speech he gave last May in Grass Valley—but the photos of your late chinchilla are safe.

Jason Ross, a former Chico News & Review contributing editor, was part of the team of writers for The Daily Show that won an Emmy for best writing for a comedy or variety show last Sunday night. Ross, who now lives in New York City, is the son of retired Chico State University professor and former CUSD Trustee Bob Ross and his wife Sharon. It was strange (and sort of disturbing) to walk into the room and see Jason on my TV, standing behind Jon Stewart. I’d like to say I taught him everything he knows about writing, but I won’t.