Dateline: Germany—The long-standing editorial feud between two newspapers came to a head (so to speak) recently when German newspaper Die Tageszeitung unveiled a three-dimensional mural on its building facade depicting the editor-in-chief of rival right-wing paper Bild naked and sporting a 50-foot phallus. The unflattering portrait was erected (so to speak) in November by artist Peter Lenk. The plastic bas-relief features Bild boss Kai Diekmann spreading his legs and showing off a penis that stretches across five stories of Die Tageszeitung’s headquarters. The artwork also includes sensationalist, reproductive organ-based headlines from Bild’s history, such as “Federal Court of Justice: Now Everyone Can Say Pecker.” The unsubtle work of art is the latest round in the brutal editorial brawl between leftist-leaning Die Tageszeitung and Diekmann’s conservative paper. The row started some seven years ago after editors at the liberal paper ran a satirical article claiming their colleague at Bild had undergone a failed penis extension operation. Although the spoof was meant to highlight how Germany’s best-selling daily thrives by reporting on the misfortunes of others, Diekmann was understandably not amused. He sued and Die Tageszeitung was forced to expunge the piece from its archive. Since then, the two sides have expended considerable effort to outdo one another. Diekmann scored a major coup earlier this year by landing a seat on the cooperative that funds Die Tageszeitung’s endowment. “The penis row from 2002 is slowly becoming the stuff of legend,” Diekmann told Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel two week ago. Diekmann said he does not plan to take legal action over the gigantic penis portrait. “Apparently the artist got a free yearly subscription for it,” Diekmann was quoted in Der Tagesspiegel as saying. “As a member of the cooperative, I’m naturally not happy about wasting a subscription. But I’ll certainly ask about the financing at the next co-op meeting.”
Dateline: Canada—According to the Hamilton Spectator, about two dozen kids at Burlington Central Elementary School in Ontario were suspended two weeks ago after allegedly taking part in “Kick a Ginger Day,” a nonexistent holiday which encourages people to kick those with red hair. Halton Regional Municipality police told the newspaper they were called to the downtown Burlington school around 8 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20, to investigate at least four incidents linked to the holiday in question. Parents of some of the disciplined students say the school’s tactics for punishing children—which included a police presence and the naming of those who participated at a school assembly—were out of line. “They’re bullying the kids and trying to intimidate the kids,” one parent who refused to be named said. “Of course, I do not condone this ... but in this context I think it’s sort of overkill.” Several of the suspended ginger-kickers were allowed back after parents complained.
Dateline: Florida—While Canadian kids were busy kicking redheads, American kids were busy upping the ante. Ten middle school students in Naples were suspended earlier this month after district officials say they participated in “Kick a Jew Day.” A Jewish student at the North Naples Middle School informed the dean of students on Thursday, Nov. 19, that she had been attacked because of the fake holiday. The next day, after Principal Margaret Jackson addressed students, her office was informed of at least 10 other such kicking incidents. The 10 students involved received a one-day, in-school suspension and will participate in special parent-teacher conferences. In the wake of the incident, the school’s administration has decided to devote 20 minutes of every day to discussing respect, kindness and bullying prevention.
Dateline: Pennsylvania—Two college students were handcuffed and transported to the Bethlehem police headquarters on Oct. 23 after failing to leave a tip at a neighborhood pub. Moravian College senior Leslie Pope and Lehigh University grad student John Wagner were members of a party of eight during happy hour at the Lehigh Pub. The group refused to pay a $16.35 service charge on top of their $78.87 tab because of the shoddy service they received and the fact that the “mandatory” tip was nearly 5 percent higher than the 18 percent listed on the menu. “Gratuity is thanking you for your service,” Pope, 22, told the Lehigh Valley Express-Times. “You can’t give us terrible, terrible service and expect a tip.” The group reportedly had to wait more than an hour for a salad and some Buffalo chicken wings and had to get their own silverware and drink refills while their waitress smoked outside. Pope and Wagner, 24, have pleaded not guilty and await a summary trial before a district court judge. “This is minorly ridiculous,” Pope added.