Banned in the U.S.A.

Evangelicals get a taste of their own medicine.

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Evangelical Christians have long had a fetish for banning things. Be it books from schools, computer access from libraries, or Jews from country clubs, the thinking seems to be that evil disappears if you just can't see it. One of their biggest scores came earlier this year when they convinced Wal-Mart to dump men's magazines Maxim, FHM, and Stuff.

Yet they might have been wise to consider that old adage about people who live in glass houses. The Boomerang Effect is now in play.

Marc's has announced that it will no longer distribute Connection Magazine, a Christian publication. The reason: A Muslim employee complained that the September issue was offensive. It contained a front-page story about the kidnapping of two missionaries with the headline "Soul Survivor of Muslim Terrorism."

It all seems pretty harmless, especially since the headline is technically accurate. But it doesn't take much to push Marc's into Full Sphincter Mode. Scene was also banned from its stores after writing about an employee union drive.

Nonetheless, Connection Editor Jon Hanna is positively outraged! "If Muslims in America can continue to remove Christian publications from public distribution, then it won't be long before the Christian media in America loses its freedom of speech rights."

That's exactly how Punch feels about Wal-Mart taking away the rights of perverts to deliver us important news about scantily clad starlets.

Barry’s racket goes sour
When we last left Lyndhurst Mayor Barry Jacobson ("Barry's Sweet Racket," June 11), he was explaining how he was able to sell a single can of bug spray to Trumbull County for $73.

"It is like selling cars," said the slim young mayor, whose day job was serving as co-owner of Envirochemical, a Bedford Heights janitorial supply company. "If you and your neighbor go to a car dealer and buy the same car, your neighbor could have spent thousands more, but you would never find out."

Sadly, it seems everyone found out. Last week, Jacobson pleaded guilty to bribery and complicity to theft in office. He admitted paying "tens of thousands of dollars" in bribes, primarily to the head of Trumbull County's maintenance department and his wife. In return, Jacobson was allowed to rip off the county by as much as 500 percent for his cleaning supplies. A $25 case of toilet bowl cleaner, for example, was sold to the county for $169.

Now the former mayor -- he resigned not long after our original story -- admits netting at least $85,000 from the scheme. As part of the plea agreement, he agreed to pay $200,000.

But he still may have a chance to see his products at work: His deal calls for up to six months in jail.

FCUK Fulwood
If PD columnist Sam Fulwood's September 16 piece about French Connection United Kingdom sounded familiar, it may be because you read virtually the same column four days before in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Fulwood went schoolmarm on the company for its acronym (FCUK) and its supposedly lewd ad campaign to sell perfume. He was so outraged, Punch suspects he blew a hamstring.

But if Fulwood didn't expressly steal from a piece written by the Beacon Journal's Mary Ethridge, he gets this week's Xerox Award for nailing the closest facsimile.

Ethridge wrote that the ad "features a partially clothed couple in an embrace with the slogan, 'Scent to Bed.'"

Fulwood wrote that "the ad shows a young couple romping in a rumpled bed. He's stripped to the waist. She's wearing next to nothing. 'Scent to Bed,' the headline read."

Ethridge wrote: "About four years ago, French Connection decided to build an advertising campaign around its acronym."

Fulwood wrote: "Four years ago, the company decided to titillate customers by putting its initials on T-shirts and other apparel."

Ethridge wrote: "Oh yuck. Or should I say, YCUK."

Fulwood wrote: "French Connection feels the need to offend people with its sick advertising."

Okay, so swiping topics is commonplace in journalism, where the last new idea occurred in 1983. But professional ethics require reporters to A) wait at least three weeks so readers forget about the first story, and you can pawn yours off as original; and B) restrict your thieving to papers more than 50 miles away. Fulwood also violated statutes regarding Feigned Moral Outrage and Pandering. Two days before his column, the Beacon reported that readers weren't particularly offended by the supposedly offensive acronym.

Last week, a judge ordered Fulwood to repay Ethridge with two story ideas. Look for her upcoming columns on Krispy Kreme and Darling Daughter.

Indiana sucks worse
So much has been written and said about Cleveland's brain drain. But here's the good news: Other places suck worse.

The Eli Lilly Company's endowment is dangling $40 million in front of Indiana universities in an effort to keep educated Hoosiers from bolting the state. Endowment officials expect colleges to enhance their internship and job-placement programs, according to The Indianapolis Star. "I see this as a win-win relationship," said University of Indianapolis President Jerry Israel, who should be punched really hard in the arm for using that cliché.

(The Star, incidentally, has documented the travails of Indiana's economy in a "Quiet Crisis"-like series titled "State of Decline." Newspaper editors are nothing if not unimaginative.)

Northeast Ohio may not have a $76 billion pharmaceutical company in its midst, but at least we're starting from a higher level of ignorance than our friends to the west. According to census figures, 19.4 percent of Indiana residents over age 25 have a four-year college degree. Ohio has a 21.1-percent graduation rate. Go Bucks!

The canine revolt
Parks & Rec boss Natalie Ronayne, Councilman Joe Cimperman, and other city officials are in the doghouse with a group of Tremont pet lovers, who claim the city shivved them on its promise to build a dog run in Lincoln Park.

Members of TREATS -- that's Tremont Residents Empowering Animals to Socialize -- are barking mad. They say they were led to believe that the Lincoln Park renovation would include a dog run. Now the city has told the group that the run will be created instead at Clark Field, near the closed LTV plant.

"It's an abandoned field where someone would rather dump a body off," says Becca Greifenstein, owner of the Happy Tails pet service. "We don't want the security of single women put in jeopardy."

When Cimperman called Punch, he broke into an impromptu rendition of "Who Let the Dogs Out" and said the city never made any promises about Lincoln Park. He also described Clark Field as "beautiful," which suggests his taste in nature runs similar to his taste in music.

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