An Inclusive Litany

12/30/93

The New York Times, October 16, 1993:
After almost 30 years of delays caused by planning and environmental challenges, the last stretch of Interstate 287, between Montville and Mahwah, N.J., is to be opened in the next month, six months ahead of schedule.

A Native American tribe in New York demanded that the famed statue of Theodore Roosevelt that stands in front of the American Museum of Natural History be removed and replaced by another. The statue, which shows Roosevelt on horseback, allegorically riding through time with a Native American man and a black man walking beside him, was deemed offensive because Native Americans and African-Americans are shown in "inferior" positions. The statue was meant to depict Roosevelt as a friend to all races. However, the tribe said that a new statue must show Roosevelt, the Native American, and the African-American at precisely the same height.

Canadian authorities seized two books by feminist author Andrea Dworkin that were en route to a book store. The book allegedly violate Canada's antiporn law, which incorporates the legal theories of Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon.

In 1992, Canadian customs officials seized 8,118 publications. Lesbian bookstores have complained that they have been unfairly singled out for attention.

In a speech to Cuba's National Assembly, President Fidel Castro announced that Cuba now boasted the world's healthiest and best-educated prostitutes. On another occasion, Castro praised Cuba's Olympic team, which he said was the largest of any nation—per capita.

12/27/93

Following the Los Angeles riots, similar rioting occurred in Chicago after the Bulls won the NBA championship, and in Boston at an outdoor rap and dance music concert. The Chicago riots were repeated the following year, when the Bulls once again won the championship.

After Washington D.C. played host to "The Black Family Reunion," a hugely successful outdoor festival in which over 100,000 participants celebrated African-American culture, Ed Murphy, president of the African American Business Association, had one major complaint: 4 out of the 36 food vendors were Asian. Though the food served was consistent with the festival's fare of fried fish and barbecue, Murphy complained of the use of foreign cooking techniques and "Asian spices." According to Murphy, "It sends mixed signals to call it an African-American family reunion and have others serving our food."

Rich Savwoir, owner of the U.S. 1 Auto Parts Store in Bethpage, New Jersey, faces a one-year prison term and a $10,000 fine because he didn't post a sign stating that his store accepts waste motor oil for recycling. Savwoir claims that the sign was down that day because a window washer was working on the store.

Linda Perry, lead singer of the pop group 4 Non Blondes, committed a major faux pax when she performed with the band at the release party for an animal rights benefit album while donning leather pants. According to Rolling Stone, Perry apologized for her gaffe early in the evening. "We're in it [the cause] for the dogs," she said, apparently forgetting about cows and other animals.

Donald Kennedy, who resigned as president of Stanford University amid allegations that he and the university had misdirected federal research money, including $2,000 a month for floral arrangements and bedroom paneling at his home and more than $180,000 on a yacht, is now teaching the course "Professional Responsibility and Academic Duty." Kennedy teaches doctoral candidates about the kind of ethical problems they might encounter as professors and administrators.

12/23/93

Lucinda Franks in The New York Times Magazine, October 10, 1993:
In spite of the confusion these children experience, few would disagree that they are, in many ways, a splendid generation. My son, Joshua, 9, and his friends are amazing in their generosity, sensitivity, ability to stretch across an intellectual canyon and meet adults on their own terms. They have highly developed senses of justice and fairness, rejecting stereotypes and embracing oddities in their peers, whether a hair style or a disability. They are disdainful of smoking and drug use, can sniff out hypocrisy and have social consciences that are poignant. They are so worried about the few trees on their block that last year they formed an earth club to keep them free of litter. At times, the child in our children pokes endearingly through the veneer of sophistication. "Mom, please don't buy Ivory soap anymore" was his most recent environmental request. "Why?" I asked. "Because they shoot elephants to get the Ivory, don't they?" he replied.

Ben Thomas, a Largo, Florida, man with muscular dystrophy, announced that he would file a formal complaint against the upcoming Walt Disney World Marathon. Thomas was denied entry in the wheelchair division because he uses a motorized wheelchair; the USA Track and Field organization specifies that only manual wheelchairs can be used by wheelchair entrants because motorized ones do not present a sufficient competitive challenge. Thomas claims that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires Disney to admit him.

12/20/93

Harvey Van Fossan of Springfield, Illinois, was convicted of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, fined $450, and given three years of probation. Ordered by city officials to get rid of the pigeons that were creating a nuisance on a vacant lot near his home, Van Fossan had killed two common grackles and two mourningdoves with strychnine-laced corn. A neighbor sent the dead birds to the Smithsonian Institution, and after an autopsy, local officials decided to prosecute. Under the treaty, shooting the birds is permitted, but poisoning them isn't. The prosecutor declared this "one of the most important cases" in his office, even though there are more than 400 million such birds in North America.

At the University of Michigan, tenured professor David Goldberg taught Sociology 510, which examined the use and misuse of statistics in social sciences. In class examples, he established that there was no correlation between race and SAT scores or ability to get a loan, and he undermined the assumptions behind the statistic that said that women only made 59 cents for every dollar a man made, showing that women earned different amounts according to lifestyle choices, such as having a child or choosing part-time or otherwise low-paying jobs. Also, a cartoon enclosed with course materials, which poked fun at statistics, showed a caveman chiseling a pair of dice. A woman asks the caveman, "What kind of childish nonsense are you working on now?"

In an anonymous letter, students complained that "Dr. Goldberg used data sets, cartoons, and lectures in order to vent his own political, ideological, and personal frustrations (with affirmative action, for example) on students in the classroom. The obvious target for these attacks were students of color and women." The letter objected to the cartoon as a sexist portrayal of women's mathematical abilities, saying "His use of this cartoon, particularly in conjunction with derogatory comments, constitutes not a form of communication (i.e., giving information), but rather a political act for which he is accountable."

The students did not claim, however, that the statistical examples used by Goldberg were inaccurate. Rusty Bush, who attended the class, argued that in-class examples, although true, may be racist and sexist "if they lack sensitivity and analytical rigor." For example, he says, while Goldberg's statistics on male vs. female pay may be accurate, they fail to consider the institutional sexism inherent in the other factors, such as education, that partially account for the income discrepancies.

Although Goldberg was charged with creating a hostile atmosphere for women and people of color in his class, nobody has suggested that he treats these students any differently. Sociology graduate student Patrick Ball wrote to The University Record: "Legal scholar Isaac Balbus points out that if citizens are fundamentally unequal in some respect, then perfectly due process will perfectly fairly reproduce that inequality. From my understanding of the character of Sociology 510, this is what Prof. Goldberg has done... If students come from traditionally excluded groups, Prof. Goldberg's technique might easily be felt as an academic version of social exclusion, a statistically disguised version of the hate they overcame to arrive here." Not only is equal treatment of all students no defense against charges of racism and sexism, it may actually confirm these accusations.

After fighting attempts to oust him from the faculty altogether, Goldberg finally got his sentence reduced. For students who object to Goldberg's teaching style, he cannot teach any required courses for which there is not another instructor available.

Another professor, Reynolds Farley, suspended his course at the University of Michigan on the history of race relations after examples he used in class to demonstrate the history of racial conflict—a description of Malcolm X that called him a "pimp" and quotations by a nativist senator deriding Mexicans as lazy—offended his students and led to charges of racism. Farley concluded that he could no longer teach the course in such a politicized environment. Asked if he is ready to resume teaching race relations, a subject on which he is considered to be a leading authority, he responded, "After what happened to David Goldberg, I'm not going to petition to return."

Residents of Riverside, California, one of the areas scorched by devastating wildfires, are angry because they had been prevented from creating firebreaks around their homes. The brush is the habitat of the Stephen's kangaroo rat, which is protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Environmentalists dismiss the criticism. "These fires weren't started by the kangaroo rat, and it shouldn't be made a scapegoat for something that happened naturally," said Anne Dennis of the San Gorgonio chapter of the Sierra Club.

California officials studying the cause of those fires also cite opposition to a proposal by city officials to create a three-million gallon reservoir that would have been helpful in extinguishing the fires.

Nicolino, a conceptual artist, has proposed to string 10,000 bras across the Grand Canyon. "It's about the puritanical obsession with the breast," the 53-year-old artist told Denver's Rocky Mountain News. "It's about breast implants and victimizing the health of women. It's about connecting a woman's self-identity to the size of her breasts."

Nicolino has a message for American women: I want your bras. He's got several dozen "bra agents" and says he has collected 1,500 so far. He has already figured out how to put the project in place: Helicopters will lower each end of the bra string and hook them into the sides of the canyon. "I had a fantasy of using blimps to lower [the bras] onto the hooks. That would have been symbolic. But I've been told the winds are too strong."

Park officials are just saying no to the idea. "Grand Canyon National Park just is not an appropriate venue" for a display of undergarments, said acting Superintendent Gary Cummins. But Nicolino has vowed to fight the decision. To raise money for the project, he plans to build two miles of "sand castle breasts" along Northern California's Stinson Beach.

Nicolino denied he is obsessed with breasts. "In my case, it's not that serious," he said. "I can be detached enough to at least be an observer."

12/13/93

Nation of Islam activist and spokesman Khalid Muhammad addresses Kean College, November 29, 1993:
If the white man won't get out of town by sundown, we kill everything white in South Africa. We kill the women, we kill the children, we kill the babies. We kill the faggot, we kill the lesbian, we kill them all. Kill the old ones too ... push them off a cliff in Cape Town. Kill the blind, kill the crippled, and when you get through killing them all, go to the graveyard, dig up the grave, and kill them again.... The so-called Jew is a European strain of people who crawled around on all fours in the caves and hills of Europe, eating juniper roots and eating each other. You [Jews] slept with your dead for 2,000 years, smelling the stench coming up from the decomposing body. You slept in your urination and your defecation.... The so-called Jews are the bloodsuckers of the black nation.... That's why you call yourself Rubenstein, Goldstein, and Silverstein, because you've been stealing rubies and gold and silver all over the earth.... Everybody talks about Hitler exterminating six million Jews. That's right. But don't nobody ask what they did to Hitler! They supplanted, they usurped, they ... undermined the very fabric of society.

From "Teaching Intentional Errors in Standard English: A Way to 'big smart english,' " by Donald A. McAndrew and C. Mark Hurlbert. The essay appeared in the English Leadership Quarterly in May 1993, and was later judged best article of the year by the journal's sponsoring group, the Conference on English Leadership.
Writers should be encouraged to make intentional errors in standard form and usage. Attacking the demand for standard English is the only way to end its oppression of linguistic minorities and learning writers. We believe this frontal assault is necessary for two reasons: (1) it affords experienced writers, who can choose or not choose to write standard English, a chance to publicly demonstrate against its tryanny [sic] and (2) if enough writers do it regularly, our cultures [sic] view of what is standard and acceptable may widen just enough to include a more diverse surface representation of language, creating a more equitable distribution not only of the power in language and literacy but also, ultimately, of the power in economics and politics that language and literacy allow.

Naomi Wolf, from her book Fire with Fire, chides female students who complain of sexual harassment because of Berkeley's infamous "Naked Guy":
He'd offered himself up naked to the female gaze, and in doing this taught himself about the female experience, for he had made himself more vulnerable to the eyes than women were... What could be more tender, more honest? Isn't this just what we say we hope men will do, metaphorically—become naked to us, come to us freely in the responsive skin of their humanity, show us who they are, potent and gentle, shed of costumes and armature? How could women repudiate a gesture like that in the name of 'feminist' delicacy?

The Seattle Times explained in its real estate section that it is obliged under the Fair Housing Act to warn advertisers to stay away from words and phrases that hint at tenant preference "to avoid both civil and criminal liability." The words are: "Adult, Bachelor, Couple, Family (as in 'perfect for family'), Mature, No Children, One Person, Retired (housing for the elderly is sometimes exempted), Sex (may be OK in advertising for roommates), Single, Two People, Christian, Executive, Handicap (as in 'not suitable for'), Integrated, Membership Approval, Mentally Ill, Religious, Religious Landmark (near St. Mark's), Older Persons or Senior Citizens (housing communities designed for elderly may be acceptable), Physically Fit Person, Private (private community—no; private drive—OK), Race, Restricted, Senior Discount."

Gideon Kanner, law professor emeritus at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, also notes that in Oregon and California, ads can say "no smoking" but not "no smokers." According to Kanner, "We're dealing here with ding-a-lings."

12/4/93

After a San Diego police officer was sentenced to fifty-six years in jail for raping women on local beaches, his wife sued the police department for lost income, claiming that the department should have known not to hire him in the first place.

The consumer-affairs commissioner of New York City devoted the efforts of his entire staff to a close examination of the contents of a mail-order lingerie catalog in order to determine whether or not the company used a sufficient number of minority models.

Vogue, December 1993:
[Hillary Rodham Clinton] says she likes her hair short 'for now,' but even it changes—straight for peace, curled and tightly coiffed for health.

The Virginia Times Register, December 4, 1993:
AIDS activist Larry Kramer stormed out on an audience at Yale University after accusing faculty and students of being silent about the AIDS epidemic and telling them: "You disgust me."

The playwright, a 1957 Yale graduate, banged on the lectern Thursday night, thundered "AIDS is intentional genocide!" and told his audience of about 400 to "Go home" before he ducked out a back door.

Biology professor Alvin Novick, who introduced Kramer, said Kramer's speech was informative, inspiring and a work of art.

"The dramatic ending, with his screaming, and banging and telling the group that he hated them was Larry theater," Novick said. "I don't mean that he didn't mean it, but that's his style."

Some outstanding grants that have been bestowed by the National Endowment for the Arts:

  • $1,000 from NEA-funded American Literary Anthology to poet Adam Saroyan for his one-word poem consisting of the misspelled word "Lighght."

  • $50,000 to Living Stage, which performed in public schools and had elementary schoolchildren shout "bulls***" throughout the group's performance.

  • $6,025 to Ann Wilchusky for "sculpting in space," that is, throwing crepe paper out of an airplane.

  • $40,000 to the Gay Sunshine Press to publish "alternative publications," primarily with sexually explicit homosexual themes, including detailed descriptions and illustrations of group sex among men and between men and animals.

  • $30,000 to the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia to put together "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment," a show that eventually went on tour. Photographs included a self-portrait of the photographer with a bullwhip protruding from his rectum, photographs of one man's arm (up to the forearm) in another man's rectum, one man urinating into another man's mouth, a close-up of a man sticking his "pinkie" finger up his penis, and a little girl with her skirt lifted, exposing her genitals. (On viewing the controversial "XYZ Series" at a Washington gallery, one viewer commented, "I've been here four times already and this show disgusts me more each time I see it.")

  • $75,000 to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. $15,000 went to artist Andres Serrano, who was selected for his use of body fluids in photography. "Piss Christ" featured Christ on a cross in a vat of the artist's own urine.

  • $17,500 to the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle for the "Modern Primitives" exhibition, which featured photographs of tattoos and ritualistic body piercing, including genital piercing. COCA also used NEA funds to sponsor an event involving two naked women covered with paint rolling around on paper.

  • $5,000 to Southern Exposure to support a series of exhibitions that included the "Modern Primitives" exhibition described above, plus live shows including an "autoerotic scaffold."

  • $20,000 to Artpark, an arts festival which included a "Bible Burn," the intention of which, in the words of its organizers, was to "create large sexually explicit props covered with a generous layer of requisitioned Bibles. After employing these props in a wide variety of unholy rituals, ... machines will burn them to ashes."

  • $127,000 in 1990 and $125,000 in 1989 to The Center on Puppetry Arts, which featured a puppet show that included oral sex between puppets.

  • $70,000 seasonal support grant to Artists Space, which in turn funded "Degenerate with a Capital D." The exhibit included "Alchemy Cabinet" by Shawn Eichman, featuring the remains of the artist's own aborted baby. Another exhibit was Dread Scott's "What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag" which invited viewers to walk across an American flag spread across the floor.

  • An unspecified amount for a militant feminist show, "Rattle Your Rage," which featured a multimedia collection that shows three male figures down on their knees, hands bound, penises stretched out on a block with the heads of their organs chopped off.

  • $204,390 to the Franklin Furnace of New York City (along with a state grant of $73,370), which put on a feminist performance art exhibition, "The Second Coming." The show included one lesbian inserting her foot into another lesbian's vagina, an 86-year-old woman boasting of sexual escapades with teenagers, priests shown in sadomasochistic situations, and group sex photographs. One otherwise tame photograph of a woman breastfeeding an infant was titled "Jesus Sucks." The title of a photo of a newborn infant with its mouth open suggested that the infant was available for oral sex.

  • Other grants over several years to New York's Furnace Theater, which featured the performance art of Johanna Went. Went relies upon props such as giant body tampons, satanic bunnies, three-foot turds, and dildos. The high point of her show, according to the Village Voice, was her "giant vagina headdress which she squeezed as white liquid gushed from her mouth."

[Ed.: Yes, the NEA also funds art that appeals to mainstream taste. Offensive aberrations are dismissed as infrequent, and endowment board members feign irresponsibility since requirement-free grants are usually distributed to mediating private institutions, not to artists themselves. It is also said the avant-garde is both important and undefinable, raising the question of how board members can forsee which art is worthy without recourse to a dart board. Finally, proponents of arts funding complain that any attempt to impose up-front content restrictions on grants imposes cruel 'censorship.']

11/29/93

In the case of Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Judge Howell Melton ruled that leaving open on one's desk a newspaper displaying an advertisement featuring a woman modeling a bra or panties, or of a picture of one's wife wearing a bathing suit of any outfit "not suited to or ordinarily accepted for the accomplishment of routine work," constitutes sexual harassment.

Critics have long found fault with Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, but never quite like this. Alexander Cockburn, a writer for the Nation, writes that "Perhaps one day Lee Harvey Oswald will be properly recognized as a leftist who came to the conclusion that the only way to relieve the pressure on Cuba and obstruct the attempts to murder Castro was by killing President Kennedy.... In this calculation he was correct. A year and a half after the killing in Dallas, L.B.J. suspended the CIA's assassination bids. He privately denounced the 'Murder Inc.' that the Kennedys had been running in the Caribbean." Warming to his topic, Cockburn explained that "Oswald's ambush was one of the few effective assassinations in the history of such enterprises. Too bad that this radical exponent of the propaganda of the deed should now be traduced by assassination buffs as a creature of the right, the pawn and tool of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

The Ocala Star-Banner, Ocala, Florida, August 23, 1993:
Instead of sitting in long staff meetings and organizing their classrooms all day Tuesday, Fort McCoy School's 70 teachers spent their first day at school... in exercises that are supposed to build communication and problem-solving abilities.

Don Cox, the school's new principal, hopes the exercises will help his teachers to work together and solve problems that come up during the school year...

[One] exercise has about 15 teachers standing on a blanket that was supposed to be a boat surrounded by hungry sharks. The teachers all had to get on the boat, and every time they succeeded, the blanket would be folded over again until it was about half its original size.

The teachers adapted and ended up clenching each other and standing on each other's feet so they could all fit on the blanket.

The University of California Davis Law Review, Winter 1993:
The U.C. Davis Law Review follows the convention of using female pronouns. This article follows that convention except when referring to a criminal defendant, where male pronouns are used. Federal criminal defendants are overwhelmingly male.

From a flier distributed at Vassar College:
Are you down on menstruation? The Women's Center warmly welcomes you to the first all-campus BLEED IN October 16, 1993, 8:00 P.M. in the Women's Center.

In Cobasset, Massachusetts, Linda Gallagher asked city officials for a "Slow Children" sign for the residential street on which she lives with her two toddlers. City officials want to grant her wish, but state law forbids the signs for fear they will offend the mentally retarded. Cobasset officials are now awaiting delivery of signs that read simply "Children," which cost $100 apiece.

The Chicago office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers because it required its switchboard operators to greet callers with a cheerful "happy holidays" from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day. Operator Ninette Smith claimed this constituted a breach of her religious freedom, and the EEOC agreed.

"'Happy holidays' is generally considered a generic term in our business," said Ellen Butler, spokeswoman for the hotel. "We use it because it doesn't mention any holidays specifically by name."

Nonplussed by Smith's complaint, the hotel management nevertheless tried to accommodate her. "We told her she could just say, 'Greetings,' " says Butler. When asked how this impinged on Smith's religious freedom, EEOC regional attorney John Hendrickson told the Chicago Tribune, "They only wanted her to say it during the Christmas season, so it is a violation."

The Office of Contracting Services of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation awarded a $315 contract to mow the lawn of a house the FDIC had foreclosed, considerably more than the $15 it previously cost to get a neighborhood teenager to do it.

11/22/93

Variety, July 6, 1993:
The self-proclaimed "most violent man in rock 'n' roll," Kevin Michael (G.G.) Allin, died June 28 in New York City at age 36, apparently of a heroin overdose. Allin, whose antics included hurling his feces at audiences, punching out crowd members, and holding women at knife-point (to bring back "the danger of rock 'n' roll, which is dead," he said), had always claimed his death was destined to come on stage, preferably on a Halloween and after he'd "taken a bunch of you (expletive) out with me."

The singer/performance artist's brother and bassist, Merle Allin, said G.G. had been "partying all day, doing coke" prior to a show at Manhattan's Gas Station, an art gallery on the Lower East Side. As was typical of Allin's gigs, the actual set lasted about 10 minutes. But, in Merle's words, "You could sense it was kind of a grand finale."

The Gas Station's particularly violent crowd spilled onto the street and commenced a bottle-hurling battle with police while G.G. made his escape to an Avenue B apartment. There, according to his brother, G.G. copped one too many bags of heroin in an attempt to cool out.

He was found dead the next morning at 9 a.m., but "had clearly been dead for about five hours," according to his brother. "He was totally blue, and rigor mortis had set in to the point where I couldn't get the rings off his fingers."

Allin will be buried in New Hampshire. At his request, he will be laid to rest in his favorite outfit: a dog collar, a leather jock-strap and boots.

The University of California, Riverside, suspended a fraternity for distributing T-shirts advertising a "south of the border" party that depicted a man in a serape and sombrero who was sitting on a beach with a bottle of tequila. This was judged an offensive stereotype.

The fraternity successfully challenged the suspension, citing the First Amendment and a new California statute protecting free speech on campuses. Under the terms of the ensuing settlement, administrators who suspended the fraternity were sentenced to undergo five hours of sensitivity training about the First Amendment at the hands of constitutional law professors.

When Earth First! wanted to hold a "Round River Rendezvous" on national forest land near Durango, Colorado, the Stone Forest Industry logging company filed a protest against the meeting, claiming that an environmental impact study would be needed before the group could have its campout. The group went ahead and held their rally, but they were fined $8,505, the cost of extinguishing a six-acre forest fire started by their camp fires.

Becky Kroll, director of the University of Minnesota Women's Center, and Patricia Mullen, director of the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, recommended the addition of "classroom climate adviser" as a new faculty position. Mullen said they conceived the idea after she took a call "from a student who was unhappy about a classroom discussion of a cultural diversity 'hot topic'—in this case, Columbus. The student felt the discussion got out of hand and that a fellow student's crude comments were not adequately handled by the instructor." To avoid situations that are "disruptive to the learning process," specially trained graduate students and staff members would be available to deal with such grievances, or as an aid to any instructor who "feels some students are having trouble distinguishing between theories I have to teach and my personal beliefs about controversial matters in the area of diversity."

Congress declared the week of October 3-9 Mental Awareness Week, and October 6 was dubbed German-American Day. Previous commemorations include Tap Dance Day, School Breakfast Week, Country Music Month, and Decade of the Brain.

In a letter to parents, the Equity Affirmative Action Advisory Committee of the Iowa City, Iowa, school district recommended caution in choosing children's Halloween costumes. It said witches, devils and hobo costumes (among others) may offend certain sensibilities and create "unpleasant and hurtful situations."

11/18/93

Reporter Nina Totenberg, in an exchange with Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun about capital punishment cases on ABC's "Nightline," November 18, 1993:
Totenberg:
"Have you ever cried over these cases?"
Blackmun:
"Have I ever what?"
Totenberg:
"Have you ever cried over them?"
Blackmun:
"No."

11/17/93

New York Times editorial page editor and former Washington bureau chief Howell Raines in an interview discussing his book Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis, on the PBS talk show "Charlie Rose," November 17, 1993:
I don't shield my politics in this book, as I do in much of my journalism, as I've been disciplined to do. The Reagan years oppressed me because of the callousness and the greed and the hard-hearted attitude toward people who have very little in this society, so all of that came together at around age 40 for me.

11/15/93

Actress Kathy Najimy had some reservations about doing the recently released Bette Midler film Hocus Pocus because she didn't want to help perpetuate the myth of the evil, ugly witch. Before agreeing to take the part, Najimy says she consulted with Gloria Steinem "because she's the goddess of the world and knows everything."

The Wall Street Journal, August 13, 1993:
When the city of Miami hired a team of consultants to determine whether it discriminated against minority-owned businesses in contracting work, the researchers reported what arguably would be good news: They didn't find a clear pattern of discrimination to justify the city's decade-old policy of directing a percentage of its work to minorities.

But angry city commissioners refused to accept that conclusion.

An incredulous Vice Mayor Miller Dawkins, the group's only black member, railed at the stunned consultants: "The whole purpose of this study was for you to prove that there was a disparity in minority hiring."

After Michael Jordan suddenly retired from the National Basketball Association, the public has been bombarded with many theories as to why he decided to quit at the peak of his career: the death of his father, an increasing lack of privacy, a desire to spend more time with his family, etc. But the Village Voice came up with its own special slant on the situation—to wit, the most popular athlete in the world, a man who made $30 million a year in endorsements, was a victim of racism.

The article, titled "Race Man," states that "the tide turned" with Gatorade's campaign that centered on the slogan "If I could be like Mike." All of a sudden, "Little white kids in little white towns were dreaming about the bald-headed brotha in baggy hoops shorts." Not only that, but "they were dreaming about being black."

As Voice writer Scott Poulson-Bryant sees it, this caused some unnamed white authority figure or group to begin the persecution of Jordan, focusing on his gambling. "If white kids wanted to be like you, you had to show them the way, you had to come clean, you had to meet standards," said Poulson-Bryant.

The piece insinuates that another powerful white authority figure or group—or perhaps the same one—wasn't pleased that Jordan's Chicago Bulls had won three consecutive NBA titles. "White folks get nervous when you start winning too much (unless, of course, you're winning for them)," it said.

Poulson-Bryant, of course, neglects to mention that many white athletes, such as Don Drysdale and Bjorn Borg, also retired at the top of their games, and that white players have also gotten into trouble because of gambling, such as Pete Rose and Denny McClain.

Denied a diploma because she flunked a course in clinical nursing, Eve Tenser sued her school and professor.

In the lawsuit, which was put before the Pennsylvania Board of Claims, Tenser said she put "time, effort, dedication and money" into her studies at Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, in exchange for a degree from the college. But the school "rescinded and repudiated said agreement... by issuing... a grade of 'F' in clinical nursing without justification, cause or merit."

Tenser is unemployable in her field without the degree, said her attorney, Rebecca DeSimone. So the plaintiff sought up to $20,000 or "reevaluation" of her clinical abilities and a nursing degree.

Bill Reed, a spokesman for Edinboro University, says that after having failed the test, Tenser was offered a chance to take the course again. But DeSimone says that because Tenser is a single mother of two children, that is not feasible.

In a Boston Globe editorial, Deborah Prothow-Stith, assistant dean for government and community affairs at the Harvard School of Public Health, criticized Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Jurassic Park for perpetuating stereotypes about various groups.

"A black worker is eaten in the first five minutes of the movie—an occurrence that is incidental and overlooked.

"Other people eaten include another black man who smokes, a fat man who is trying to steal the dinosaur embryos and sell them for a profit—expendable people about whom the audience is made to care very little. Children learn not to value the lives of these characters."

But they do learn to value blonds, which also bothers Prothow-Stith. "All the blond characters—and only the blond ones—are lucky or smart enough to survive without injury. The one dark-haired scientist who lived was hurt badly...

"This stereotype—the valued blonds and less valued and incidental others—is an outrageous insult."

When a majority of the New York City Board of Education voted to boot out Chancellor Joseph Fernandez following public outrage over the sexually explicit "Rainbow Curriculum," they didn't win over their colleague Victor Gotbaum. It seems that Gotbaum, an appointee of Mayor David Dinkins, feels the board members and parents have a hang-up. "The majority members [of the board] are enamored of middle-class, two-parent families with children who don't have sex," Gotbaum told the New York Daily News. "Their values are not representative of what's in the school system."

11/8/93

Letter to the editor, San Francisco Bay Guardian, June 23, 1993:
Is there an unwritten whites-only rule at nude beaches? [See "Bare Facts," 6/16/93] After having sampled several in the Bay Area I'm left with the impression that even golf and country clubs are more multicultural. Same goes for the often-photographed nudist crowd at Berkeley. Unfortunately, your article tends to reinforce this perception, with only one (apparently) non-white-person-photo out of at least 10 (not to mention the "mud people"). Will someone explain?

The deep political concerns of various Hollywood celebrities:

Harry Hamlin:
One of the issues that I am currently involved with is the Greenpeace issue, to save the world.

Raquel Welch, on "Larry King Live":
I was asked to come to Chicago because Chicago is one of our 52 states, and the mandate we've now been given on the pro-choice issue is that we have to pick up the pieces... In 52 states across the nation, we have to bail water out of the boat.

Louis Gossett Jr.:
Half of the middle class is unemployed and homeless. It's touching more people than we think, and if we don't stop, everybody's gonna be homeless or something-less.

John Cusack:
Given the things I said about Reagan—that he's a criminal who used the Constitution as toilet paper—it wouldn't surprise me if my phone was tapped.

River Phoenix:
I regret being born a white male. If I could have been born anything, I'd be a Native American.

Rae Dawn Chong:
[The movie Amazon] takes place in the Amazon, and what you realize is that this man has to make major choices, and he makes major mistakes instead of the right things, and through his mistakes he learns a lot of soulful things, and he actually corrects his inner life, which, of course, helps enhance his outer life, and through the whole process we learn about how sad it is that we have something called the Amazon forest and we're destroying it, and yet I say as an American-Canadian actress, it's sad what we're doing to [forests] in America.

Alexandra Paul, of Dragnet and 8 Million Ways to Die:
We have to tell these kids what a condom tastes like.
After 27 years of shining shoes around the Bergen County Courthouse in New Jersey, county officials informed Robert Taylor that he needed a contract to continue his business, which, until then, he had operated under an informal agreement. In order to get the contract, he was told that he had to go through a competitive bidding process; meet 18 pages of specifications, including requirements that he wear a regulation smock and run a cash register; and have a $1 million liability insurance policy, in case an injury occurs when a customer climbs into or out of Taylor's elevated chair. But Taylor told The New York Times that an accident would be impossible. "For 27 years, not even a woman has gotten a run in her stocking here," he said.

Thanks to a book titled Hell's Gate: The Terror at Bobby Mackey's Music World, which documents ghost sightings at Mackey's, the Newport, Kentucky nightclub has gained notoriety among thrill seekers. Intrigued, J.R. Costigen went to Mackey's on Halloween night, 1991, and, in the words of his complaint, "walked through different rooms of the nightclub daring and mocking the supposed ghost/ghosts to appear to him." Costigen claims he was subsequently attacked by a "dark man" who punched him in the face and kicked him as he lay on the ground. Then, Costigen says, the attacker "dissolved into the air."

Seeking $1,000 in damages, Costigen states that the nightclub is responsible for his injury because it failed to make the building safe from ghosts. Mackey realizes that "any publicity is good publicity," but he wishes the suit had never been filed. "I'm trying to run a respectable country music establishment here," he says. His attorney, Robert Lotz, says the case poses interesting legal challenges. "For one thing, there is no precedent for this kind of complaint," he says. Lotz asked for a motion to dismiss the case, based on a one-year statute of limitations. The actual motion, in keeping with what Lotz calls the "kooky" nature of the whole business, was delivered in verse:

But souls departed eschewing repose
Prove difficult for us lawyers to depose
And the sheriff will greet with rude demeanor
My request to serve a spook's subpoena
So to counter Petitioner's claim phantasmal
I turn to the law for relief substantial
The one year statute of limitations
Applies to injuries by permutations

Three Wyoming artists, Sue Thornton, Pip Brant and Duane Brant, got a $4,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for an exhibit that employs 70 cows painted with words from the writings of early 20th century feminist Phyllis Luman Metal, who was raised on a ranch near Pinedale.

According to Thornton, cows and feminism make a natural pair. "Cows are great and so are women," she explained to the Associated Press. "Both of their lives are about self-sacrifice and about motherhood."

The artists paint two large words, one on each side of the cow. Because the herd will meander in a field, the message will inevitably become garbled. Thornton said that was part of the point. "To put it all together," she said, "you have to be savvy."

After being voted out of office, a former North Carolina labor commissioner filed for unemployment benefits.

11/1/93

The Associated Press:
The University of Colorado at Boulder offered a summer-school course called "Studies in Gender & Performance: Madonna Undressed."

The instructor, Polly McLean, said she would "single Madonna out and profile her like we profile Shakespeare in English."

In New York City, schools special investigator Edward Stancik revealed that the Board of Education was aware that teacher Peter Melzer was a self-avowed pedophile for over ten years before questioning his predilection. Melzer is a member of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and editor of its newsletter, which calls for the repeal of age-of-consent laws and dispenses advice such as, "Don't keep photos of your partner where police might find them." Although Melzer was not accused of molesting any New York City schoolchildren, the investigation determined that Melzer took time off during an educational conference in the Philippines to pursue at least one boy. Stancik recommended that Melzer be fired or removed from the classroom, saying he could not be trusted to fulfill responsibilities such as reporting child abuse.

George Mason University law professor Michael Krauss wanted to illustrate for students in his first-year torts class how certain hurtful words might prompt legal action. Mission accomplished. Mr. Krauss spun before his class a hypothetical example of the KKK carrying signs reading "Kill the Niggers" in a predominantly black neighborhood. Soon, students were circulating a petition deploring Mr. Krauss's insensitivity and demanding that the N-word be banned from classrooms.

According to the inspector general of the Resolution Trust Corporation, which is charged with overseeing the Savings & Loan bailout for which taxpayers have already spent $100 billion, the RTC has been paying temporary employees $35 an hour to make photocopies that, at 67 cents per copy, cost far more than the going rate. Luckily, the workers were often left idle. "At times, 50 to 150 temporaries were observed playing poker during office hours... [They] would brag about sleeping on the job, taking two-hour lunches, reading the newspaper... One shift did nothing for eight hours."

Laura Tyson, head of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, explaining why the Clinton administration reduced its 1993 growth projection from 3.1 percent to 2 percent:
We are now looking at a future from here, and the future we were looking in February now includes some of our past, and we can incorporate the past into our forecast. 1993, the first half, which is now the past and was the future when we issued our first forecast, is now over.

The following letter was received by Anne Ruggles Gere, Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication Executive Committee, and reprinted in the September 1993 newsletter of the National Council of Teachers of English:
My request, I believe, is a small but important one. I respectfully ask that the CCCC Executive Committee replace the phallologocentric term "dissemination," which appears in "Basic Rules for the Handling of Resolutions at the Annual Business Meeting," found on page 147 of the program for the CCCC meeting.

I realize that the term may not be that offensive to some people. However, my reading and my discussions with people make me know that some do find the use of "dissemination" offensive.

I make this request because I feel that CCCC should take a strong leadership on such matters. Because language is our field of study, we should be extremely sensitive to the perceptions of people who feel that certain kinds of language exclude them.

I will suggest "distribution" as a substitute term, but you may have other preferences.

—Duane H. Roen
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

[Ed.: While we're at it, what about the word 'nurture,' which is also gender-specific?]

10/30/93

Newsweek reporter Eleanor Clift commenting on the Malibu wildfires on "The McLaughlin Group," October 30, 1993. The temperature the night the fire started reached a low of 58 degrees:
If you step back and you get away from the very dramatic pictures on television, there is really no loss of life, [and] most of the communities that have been hit are wealthier and there is going to be insurance recovery... One of the fires was started by a homeless man trying to keep warm. It represents the strains in our society, from neglect to the nihilism, the 'burn, baby' nihilism of people who actually go and start fires like this.

A TV game show in the Netherlands, "A Matter of Life and Death," allows the studio audience to vote for which of two guest patients is worthier of treatment under the country's rationed health care system. Producers announce that only doctors make the real decisions, but patients hope that a favorable audience reaction will persuade health authorities. On one show, two cancer patients vied to see which is more deserving of an expensive drug.

10/27/93

In Dallas, Texas, an appellate court has ruled that Ann Marie Lindsay's suit against the Cabaret Royale can go forward. Lindsay, 40, filed an age-discrimination suit against the men's club when, she claims, management refused to promote her from waitress to topless dancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency has declared that the cedar chips sold in some "green" shops as moth repellents are pesticides and must meet all the appropriate regulatory requirements. Until the needed tests are completed, it has banned the sale of cedar as a moth repellent.

Proposition BB, from the November 1993 election in San Francisco:
Shall it be the policy of the people of San Francisco to allow Police Officer Bob Geary to decide when he may use his puppet Brendan O'Smarty while on duty? [YES/NO]

10/25/93

Description for a course offered at Bard College, "The Meaning of Music: An Inquiry, Part II: Hearing Music Through the Filters of Contemporary Radical Thought—Political, Critical, Philosophical, Musical":
How is the actual experience of hearing the actual music described or implicated in these texts impacted by the adoption of the perspectives they propose and advocate, or even just by the experience of reading and being confronted by their contents? To find out we read texts (in realtime, together) and then listen to the relevant music (in realtime, together)—different texts with same musics, different musics with same texts—and we perceive and describe the contents of our listening experiences.

Following a lawsuit in which several black Secret Service agents claimed discrimination after receiving slow service in a Denny's restaurant in Annapolis, a black woman brought a federal discrimination charge against a Denny's in Glen Burnie, Maryland, because she found a foreign object in her hash browns.

[Ed.: Over five years later, a group of Muslims sued Denny's, claiming restaurant workers intentionally put pork in their meals after having been asked to use a separate skillet.]

In Idaho, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration leveled a $7,875 fine against the construction firm DeBest Inc. The company's troubles began when a dirt wall collapsed on a worker. Two other workers immediately jumped in to help him. But they neglected to put on hard hats and take precautions against other side walls collapsing or against water flowing into the trenches. That was a violation of OSHA rules, and it got the company fined.

Kevin Gill, one of the rescuers who was honored for bravery by the town of Garden City, pointed out that if they had taken all the necessary precautions, the man would probably be dead. "We could hear muffled screams," Gill said. "There was a good-sized chuck of dirt on him. You could see just about one inch of the back of his head."

Ryan Kuemichel, the local OSHA director, said that it would be "selective enforcement" not to fine DeBest. "We're supposed to look at a hazard and resulting injury, not at employees' or employers' belief as to whether it was a hazard."

10/18/93

From the classifieds of the Washington Post, August 9, 1993:
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CASKET—Swiss engineered, recycled cardboard, no trees must die when you do. Mahog. type fin. No tool assembly. Use for storage or Halloween while alive. $199, while supplies last. 1-800-253-2460.

The Prince George Citizen, July 19, 1993:
People and companies accused of racism should be deemed guilty until proven innocent, says a private report prepared for the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

The report says the presumption of innocence—guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms—should be tossed out the window, the Toronto Sun, which obtained a copy of the document, reported today.

Instead, the commission should presume "the complainant has a legitimate complaint and oblige the respondent to demonstrate otherwise," says author Donna Young.

Young says commission investigations are different from legal proceedings "where and accused's right" must be protected. She also maintains that "racism is, in fact, the norm," and so the legal tendency to assume the accused isn't racist skews the process...

The report also states:

  • The commission should stop demanding corroborating evidence from witnesses before adopting a complaint as genuine.

  • The commission should learn to tell the difference between racist name-calling by minorities—which Young describes as understandable—and racist name-calling by whites, which Young says is far more serious.

  • The commission should also develop "novel investigative techniques" to uncover workplace discrimination.

The Nevada State Senate has approved a measure that would ban barbers and beauticians from wearing frilly lingerie. "Can you even imagine somebody dressed like that washing your hair? It's just one of the most repulsive things I can even imagine," said Sen. Ann O'Connell. The bill will prevent the "A Little Off the Top" barber shop from opening, but the women who were planning to work there may be able to get a job at the "G-String Car Wash" just across the street.

Three years after a tornado hit Plainfield, Illinois, a lawsuit has been filed against the National Weather Service, seeking almost $75 million in damages on behalf of 14 people, 12 of whom died in the storm. The suit alleges that the weather service, which had issued a severe thunderstorm watch that day, failed to predict the severity of the storm.

10/13/93

During the first session of the 103rd Congress 210 public laws were produced. Of that total, four dozen were commemorative resolutions such as the establishment of "National Good Teen Day" (January 16, 1994), "Education and Sharing Day, USA" (April 2, 1993), "National Parents Day" (July 28, 1994—"to adopt policy that helps families stay together by strengthening and sustaining fathers and mothers in fulfilling their parental roles"), as well as the recognition of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, as the "World Capital of Aerobatics." These resolutions have to be printed just like other laws, and staffers actually spend time to get cosignatures of as many other congressmen as possible on each bill. These plus other delays cause many of the commemorations to be retroactive. The bill that set aside August 1993 as "National Scleroderma Awareness Month" was signed into law in October of that year. Likewise, "Education and Sharing Day, USA," on April 2, wasn't signed until April 12.

Course description for "Elvis as Anthology," offered at the University of Iowa:
Although it is the fashion for critics to dismiss Elvis movies, in fact Elvis was versatile and made some good movies while inventing strategies to dodge the control of the power structure in others.

In the spring of '93, 26-year-old Martin Baker, a homeless man recruited to the University of California at Berkeley to increase their representation there, disrupted a Sociology class taking its final exam and, when asked to leave, removed his clothes and urinated in the room. Baker was detained in a psychiatric facility. He told the Daily Californian he'd wished to distinguish himself from the world of clothed men: "I wanted to be a metaphor of man just as I am, and as a naturally functioning body." Many students complained that the incident had disrupted their concentration. They were given extra time.

Students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst spent Columbus Day protesting the use of the "Minuteman" as the school mascot. Martin Jones, organizer of the protests, says it is racist, sexist, and offensive to Native Americans since it portrays "a white man with a gun." The University's former mascot, the "Red Man," was discarded in 1972 because it was considered to be offensive to the Native American community.

10/11/93

Denver City Councilwoman Cathy Reynolds has proposed legislation that would make it illegal for teenagers to so much as touch a weapon, even with a parent's permission. It would forbid parents to take their kids hunting or teach them how to handle a gun. The definition of "weapon" is so broad that it also includes BB guns, slingshots, paint guns, water guns, baseball bats, and heavy boots.

Hawaii prosecutor Maurice Arrisgado was sanctioned by circuit judge Marie Milks for "sexist and racist" remarks he made during a murder trial earlier this year. Milks apparently objected to Arrisgado's statement that it was not unusual for the defendant in this case to have been driving in his underwear. Arrisgado, who is half-Filipino, had said in his closing argument, "What's so odd about that? It's the Filipino bathing suit... Big deal." Milks also called Arrisgado sexist for assuming a female postal service worker was a man: during jury selection he had used the term "mailman" when referring to a female coworker of a member of the jury pool. Arrisgado was fined $125 for his offenses.

Following severe flooding in the Mississippi River basin, Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen said the flood "may stimulate the economy." "A lot of concrete will be poured," he said. "You have to look at all the jobs that will be created to repair the damage."

[Ed.: This is a variation on the classic economic fallacy identified by Frederic Bastiat in 1850: Someone breaks a window, and the politician points out what a good thing this is for the community, since it gives the glassmaker a job.]

From a memo sent by Darlene Lieblich, the head of Fox Television's Broadcast Standards & Practices department, to Sheldon Bull, the producer of Satellite News, a Fox sitcom in development. As a result of this memo, a line in the show's pilot that read "Dammit!! Stupid, idiot, moron, jerks!!" was changed to "Dammit!! Stupid, mallet-head, brain-dead, jerks!!"
Dear Mr. Bull:

This will confirm that I have received and read the 5/3/93 draft of the Satellite News pilot and have the following comment:

"Idiot" and "moron" (page 3) are clinical terms which can cause great pain to the families of those afflicted with mental illness. Please find alternatives; words such as "wuss," "wimp," "bozo," "yahoo," and the like come to mind.

Yours truly,
Darlene Lieblich

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms now distinguishes between vodka and "flavored vodka" that contains added citric acid, and has developed a method for telling the difference. "During the comment period, ATF secured an outside testing firm, Odor Science and Engineering (OS&E), to conduct independent testing on sensory threshold levels for citric acid addition to vodka." The taste panel was made up of "ten experienced sensory panelists," under a methodology known as "Standard Practice for Determination of Odor and Taste Thresholds By a Forced-Choice Ascending Concentration Series Method of Limits" (ASTM Procedure E-679).

The code of conduct in the Katy, Texas, school district, required reading for students in grades 1-12 and their parents, prohibits sexual conduct, sexual intercourse and deviate sexual behavior in public, as well as "any act involving contact between the person's mouth or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal or fowl." Facing criticisms from parents, school district officials explained that they reproduced the wording of the Texas Penal Code's provision on public lewdness to make sure that it would not be liable in cases of sexual lewdness, no matter how depraved the behavior.

10/4/93

Reacting to complaints from animal-rights activists, the city of Los Angeles has announced that it will no longer trap coyotes—even with harmless "live capture" traps and even if the animal is suspected of having rabies. "I've been waiting for this moment for 23 years," said Lila Brooks, director of the California Wildlife Defenders. Next on her agenda, no doubt, is protection of the cats and dogs routinely preyed upon by the coyotes.

Nine female students at the College Park campus of the University of Maryland took the names of male students from the student telephone directory and listed them under the headline "Notice: These Men Are Potential Rapists." They then tacked up 86 of these fliers on campus to increase awareness of sexual abuse of women.

Many of the male students were angry. But one female student told the campus newspaper: "I don't think we've done anything wrong. The word 'potential' was used. That's not accusatory at all."

In the trial of the four youths accused of beating truck driver Reginald Denny at the outset of the Los Angeles riots, defense attorney Earl Broady said that his client was, in reality, trying to protect Denny. According to Broady, when the videotape is closely examined, one can see that his client "put (his) foot gingerly on the neck... and he was doing something to protect Denny from further assault." Broady continues by saying that his client was not at the intersection that day to "harm or rob people," rather he was merely upset with the injustice linked with the Rodney King case.

In California, the wife of a man paralyzed in an accident caused largely by the fact that he had been drinking was awarded $1.6 million from the maker of her husband's car for "loss of consortium," or conjugal relations.

In Alabama, high school students were paid $4.25 an hour to attend school. With 360 hours of class, that made out to $1,530 annually per student. "One of the problems many of these teenagers will face is the flashy money to be made from drugs," teacher Chris Lampley told the Dothan Eagle in explaining the reasons for the Stay in School program, funded with a grant from the Job Training Partnership Act. "How can you compete with that lifestyle?"

On MTV's "The Week in Rock," Snapple co-founder Arnold Greenberg denied two rumors plaguing the beverage company: "One [rumor] is that we support the KKK, [but] the most vicious rumor... is that we donate money to right-to-life causes."

The less vicious of the two rumors started when someone thought a graphic of a ship pictured on Snapple's ice tea labels was a nefarious depiction of a slave ship, while in fact it represented the Boston Tea Party. Also, the small letter "K" enclosed in a small circle that appears next to the graphic supposedly represented a shorthand code for "Ku Klux Klan." In fact, it indicates that the product has been approved as kosher.

The rumors may have started because of Snapple's distinctive strategy of advertising on radio talk shows, which often feature stridently conservative hosts.

10/1/93

After construction of the 17-ton Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory satellite went 15 percent—or $40 million—overbudget, NASA sent a $5 million bonus check to the contractor. NASA has also sent a bonus check to a contractor that has run a project 142 percent overbudget.

Course description for "Problems in the History of Food in America," offered at Yale University:
Examination of food in its many contexts—environmental, social, political, economic, moral—in order to explore the complex underpinnings of an everyday meal. Topics include food production, household labor, dieting, dining manners, food stamps, and global hunger.

William Horton interviewed by Jeffrey M. Elliott in The Nation, August 23-30, 1993:
JE: When you finally did speak out, you took strong exception to being referred to as "Willie" Horton. Why?

WH: The fact is, my name is not "Willie." It's part of the myth of the case. The name irks me. It was created to play on racial stereotypes: big, ugly, dumb, violent, black—"Willie." I resent that. They created a fictional character—who seemed believable, but who did not exist. They stripped me of my identity, distorted the facts and robbed me of my constitutional rights. No one deserves that.

The public does not know the real William Horton. I think I'm intelligent, sensitive, caring, and honest. I'm certainly more mature than when I was originally incarcerated. I understand myself better. I know who I am. I'm certainly wiser today. I read more, care more, feel more.

[Ed.: In the same hard-hitting interview, Horton denies having committed the murder that originally landed him in prison in Massachusetts, admits using a weekend furlough program as an opportunity to escape, denies having thereafter committed rape and assault on a young couple in Maryland, but admits he "flipped out" and stole the car in which he was eventually found.

After Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis released Horton on furlough, Tennessee Senator and future Vice President Albert Gore, a rival contender for the 1988 Democratic Presidential nomination, was the first politician to raise prison furloughs as a political issue. Thereafter the story was picked up by Republicans in what many considered to be a racially charged campaign ploy.]

9/28/93

A New York man convicted of five mugging charges sued Arsenio Hall for $250,000, alleging that the comedian's remarks about his prominent ears—the subject of much public interest after his picture was published following his arrest in a subway mugging—subjected him to ridicule.

Antioch College has enacted the following rules for students who want to engage in sex: Anyone who initiates a "sexual activity" must seek verbal consent as he or she moves through each "level of sexual intimacy." Anyone who drinks alcohol or takes drugs is regarded as being incapable of giving consent, and sex with such a partner is statutory date rape. Students are required to attend mandatory workshops at which they learn how to ask for verbal consent. "May I sit down next to you? Is it okay to kiss you? Can I put my arms around you now? Do you mind if I unbutton...?"

The official rules also scrupulously covers group sex scenarios, referring to the "person(s)" and "individual(s)" who must seek consent, or perhaps simultaneously, from whom such consent must be received.

Following Antioch's institution of the guidelines, Newsweek sent a photographer to the campus to take pictures for a story they were doing on "Sexual Correctness." After setting up her equipment outside the campus student center, the photographer began to hear a large group of people screaming. Within minutes she was surrounded by 200 students who called her a "media demon," a "capitalist pig," and yelled for people to throw stones at her head.

[Ed.: As the New Yorker pointed out, Antioch's requirement of constant chatter between sex partners during foreplay aids and abets men who are adept at using persuasive language to seduce women.]

At a 1991 administrative law trial of the Greyhound bus company following a strike, the National Labor Relations Board argued that the company illegally fired workers who abandoned their buses and walked off the job in mid-route. NLRB lawyers argued at length that Greyhound had committed an illegal "unfair labor practice" by firing two strikers who were convicted and sentenced to jail for shooting at a Greyhound bus that was carrying passengers. The NLRB argued that the workers were engaged in union activities during the strike and shooting and thus that their activities were protected under federal labor law and that Greyhound owed them back pay—including the time they spent in jail.

9/23/93

The Washington, D.C., public school system paid Abena Walker $164,739 to create a curriculum featuring "African-centered methodology" for the district's teachers. Training was to take place at the Pan-African University, which, as it turns out, was an unaccredited and unlicensed school whose only academic degree ever awarded, a master's, had gone to Ms. Walker herself—the school's founder.

9/20/93

From a leaflet handed out to potentially immune deficient partygoers at "The Morning Party," an all-day, primarily gay, beach dance party that takes place annually on Fire Island to raise money for the Gay Men's Health Crisis:
Consider the following information when deciding whether or not you're going to take drugs: Ecstasy ... is popular among many today for use while dancing in clubs—or on the beach... When you use it, barriers disappear and you feel less inhibited. Don't let a latex barrier disappear in the process... [Ecstasy] also causes a rise in body temperature, so it's important to stay cool—something difficult to do when you're dancing for hours in the sun... 'K' (ketamine) is a 'dissociative anaesthetic' with 'analgesic' properties. This means that it removes you from reality and yourself—just what you'd expect from a horse tranquilizer... As with Ecstasy, little is known about the long-term effects of 'K' or its interaction with HIV... If you see people who are visibly too high heading toward the surf, keep an eye on them, go with them or bring them to the attention of a GMHC volunteer... If your drinking or drugging is getting you wasted or out of control, you may be destroying your ability to protect yourself and your partner. When you have sex on alcohol or any party drug—Ecstasy, 'K' or cocaine—use a condom.

In an eighth grade multiculturalism assignment at Sidwell Friends in Washington D.C., where Chelsea Clinton attends school, students were asked to write an essay on "Why I Feel Guilty Being White." A sixth-grader who stood up at a school-wide meeting held during the L.A. riots to express his fear of the rioters was later forced to apologize to his black classmates.

Judy Enright, a 54-year-old artist in Brighton, Michigan, displayed a painting of the mythical phoenix—adorned with real feathers. "I love recycling materials," she says. But on the third day of the exhibit, the painting was confiscated by three agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service. "These men came in and, without telling me who they were, said they were taking it," Enright recalls. They said she had used eagle feathers illegally. Enright says she got most of the feathers from her yard and that two were gifts from professors in art school—one came from an old hat and the other from the wing of a female pheasant. "But when you collect feathers for nine years, you have no idea what you have," says Enright.

She was told that her painting had been sent for testing, and soon she was in Detroit defending herself in federal court. At the hearing, a federal agent conceded that the feathers were not from eagles. Still, Enright got a lesson in federal bird-watching: "This is a shock to me. You can't pick up a blue jay feather, or a cardinal feather or a robin feather. It's illegal to pick up one single migratory bird feather in your back yard. That's against a 1918 law."

Both felony and misdemeanor charges against Enright were dropped, but she still can't get her painting back. "If they don't donate it, they can destroy it," she says. But the government insists that the work must be donated to an institution that is both a public museum and research operation. Why? "It's in the law," says Enright. "Can you believe it?"

In North Carolina, the House of Representatives' Agriculture Committee wants to spend $200,000 on a study of hog farm odors.

The request was inspired by efforts of citizens groups to eliminate the unpleasant smells that accompany hog raising, says Walter Cherry, executive director of the North Carolina Pork Producers Council. These efforts led to a bill that might have shut down the $1 billion-a-year industry. "It had 22 pages of government regulations," Cherry recalls. "It was so restrictive that our farmers could not have abided... and been able to operate."

Hence a compromise, which if passed would vault North Carolina State University to the forefront of scientific study of hog odors. "Very little, if any, research has been conducted on [hog] odor," state Rep. Vance Alphin, the Democrat who came up with the proposal, told the Charlotte Observer.

Susan Sontag led an effort to perform Samuel Beckett's absurdist play Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo. At the time, the city was under seige by Serb forces and subject to daily shelling and sniper fire, and the theater itself was a shambles from an earlier mortar attack.

9/13/93

California state senator Tom Hayden, a former SDS leader during the sixties, has announced that his marriage vows to actress Barbara Williams, exchanged before a Buddhist priest, included a pledge to preserve old-growth forests. Williams told the Associated Press, "Marriage is similar to old-growth—you have to be especially loving and vigilant to help it survive and grow."

Hayden's ex-wife Jane Fonda is now married to media mogul Ted Turner, who offered this view on logging: "What we have to do is just go back to quit using chain saws and mechanical equipment and cut the trees and let them cut the trees the old way with a crosscut saw, and by God you would have to have five times or ten times as many people to cut the same number of trees as today. So you would employ more people and also you wouldn't be using, uh, you wouldn't be putting, uh, the stuff into the atmosphere because you wouldn't be running equipment."

[Ed.: On another occasion, Mr. Turner told a forum of foreign journalists that Americans include "some of the dumbest people in the world."]

The Washington City Paper reports that the head of that city's department of finance and revenue, Sharon Morrow, has issued instructions forbidding employees from wearing red high-heeled shoes to work, from using their feet to flush office toilets, from drinking coffee at their desks from cups without lids, and from including sentences in official correspondence to the effect that "If you desire any further information, please call me."

The New York Times, July 18, 1993:
The blues are more commonplace in winter, and behaviorists have found that deprivation of sunlight in the winter months can cause a form of depression labeled season affective disorder.

But more recently a condition that is believed to be caused by prolonged exposure to high heat and humidity has been described by researchers at the clinical psychobiology branch of the National Institute of Mental Health.

The "summer blues" causes sufferers to become lethargic and have difficulty functioning at work and home... The problem is not a result of exposure to too much sunlight on long summer days, said Dr. Normal E. Rosenthal, a researcher at the mental health institute, but probably has to do with irregularities in areas of the brain, most notably the hypothalamus, that help regulate body temperature.

Just as the winter malady can be cleared up with exposure to artificial sunlight, the summer blues can be chased away if individuals cool down by remaining in air-conditioned environments or spending summers in colder climates, he said.

The Washington Post, July 25, 1993:
The University of Utah recruited then-consultant Ira Magaziner, now head of President Clinton's health-care task force, as its "point man" to hawk cold fusion in Washington. He did a fine job, pleading the case for funding by invoking the familiar Japanese threat to American competitiveness and asking for millions "for the sake of my children and all of America's next generation."

In Running with the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music, Robert Walser, assistant professor of music at Dartmouth College, wrote that "[h]eavy metal is, inevitably, a discourse shaped by patriarchy. Circulating in the contexts of Western capitalist and patriarchal societies, for much of its history metal has been appreciated and supported primarily by a teenage male audience... lacking in social, physical and economic power but besieged by cultural messages promoting such forms of power... as the vital attributes of an obligatory masculinity." But according to Walser, even heavy metal has a softer side. "If in some ways heavy metal replicates the ruthless individualism and violence that capitalism and government policy have naturalized, it also creates communal attachments, enacts collective empowerment, and works to assuage entirely reasonable anxieties."

A women's studies seminar at Swarthmore College condemned feminist Naomi Wolf's book The Beauty Myth—a sweeping critique of traditional ideals of feminine beauty—because the very act of writing is "exclusionary to women who cannot read."

Pennsylvania House Speaker H. William DeWeese received criticism after it was revealed that he spent more that $3,000 of public money for pens and tote bags emblazoned with his name that were distributed to tourists at the Capitol during DeWeese's first four months serving as speaker. Press Secretary Tim Potts dismissed the criticism, saying "It is frankly remarkable, that you look at a $15 billion enterprise and argue with something people want and enjoy."

The Texas Supreme Court allowed a man to seek visitation and parental rights for a child he conceived with a woman who was—and still is—married to another man. In doing so, the court invalidated a law that said a woman's husband is presumed to be the father of her child. The court rejected the woman and her husband's argument that the Texas Family Code "protects the child from delegitimation," ruling that "the social stigma of illegitimacy has diminished."

When John Gammon was sleeping in his cabin in upstate New York, he was awoken by a black bear. Gammon fired a warning shot to frighten the bear, which was pulling the plywood from the cabin door, but that didn't deter it, so he shot the bear, killing it. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation then charged him with illegally taking a bear during a closed season, with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, and with reckless endangerment, the last two charges both misdemeanors that could land Gammon behind bars.