An Inclusive Litany


An ex-employee petitioned the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a suit against the Buckeye Cellulose Corporation of Georgia, claiming that the company's policy of terminating employees for "absence and tardiness" was racially biased because it had a disparate impact on blacks.

A Denver teacher sued for racial discrimination when she was dismissed from her job after school officials caught her helping a student involved in a fight to hide a knife, and after she pled guilty to Medicaid fraud.

The Postal Service was sued in 1990 by a job applicant whose driver's license had been suspended four times, and who claimed that the agency's policy of not hiring individuals as mail carriers whose licenses had been suspended unfairly discriminated against blacks—even though carriers must drive government vehicles to deliver the mail.

The Internal Revenue Service was sued for discrimination after it fired a black secretary who refused to answer the telephone.

The City of Houston was sued for racial discrimination by a white employee who, as a federal judge noted, was "repeatedly out of the office for long stretches of time without explanation, slept frequently at his desk, and shirked direct requests from his supervisors."

Noticing mounting losses from shoplifting, the Drugs for Less chain began putting anti-theft tags on the items that its records showed were most likely to be stolen. Among the tagged items are batteries, diapers, condoms, and hair-care products. But black leaders say that the store discriminated against minorities because the tags were used on items often purchased by blacks.

Phil McCombs in the March 30, 1994 Washington Post Style section:
To watch this President connect with people emotionally is an awesome thing. It's a raw, needy, palpable, electrifying thing that happens. There was no smile. It's as if he's soaking up the people like he's soaking up the sun, with the warmth pouring deep and direct into his political soul and recharging him, refilling him somehow once again with his own humanity and some sense of his role in the destiny of his country. Then, the hunger slaked, the great beast of Need fed once again, it seemed you could almost see the gratitude pouring off his brow like sweat as he made his way.


In Calaveras County, California, Bob Shepard and his wife Connie were arraigned on charges that they unlawfully milked slime from four toads for the liquid's psychedelic effects.

Following complaints from students who were exposed to sexually graphic material in classes, the University of Iowa Board of Regents has imposed a policy requiring teachers to tell students if their courses will include such material. University teachers have termed it "censorship" and said that it abridges their academic freedom, and some members of the faculty have accused the regents of homophobia. The films that prompted the complaints showed men having sex with each other.

From a press release issued in November, 1993, by Meadowbrook Press of Deephaven, Minnesota, to promote The New Adventures of Mother Goose, a book of "alternative" Mother Goose rhymes by Bruce Lansky. According to the press release, Lansky undertook the revisions because the traditional versions are "mean-spirited, sexist, and violent":

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin
And there he kept her very well.

Message: It's all right for husbands to control their wives.


Peter, Peter, sugar eater,
always wanted food much sweeter.
Adding sugar was a blunder—
now he is a toothless wonder.


Georgie Porgie, puddin' and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.

Message: Boys will be boys. Teasing girls is okay. What girls want doesn't matter.


Georgie Porgie, what a shame
kids call you such a silly name
Now, I think you know it's true
that teasing isn't nice to do.

Graydon Snyder, Theology professor at Chicago Theology Seminary, has used the same ancient Talmudic tale for 34 years to illustrate to students the difference in the way both Christians and Jews are judged in the eyes of God: A roofer falls on a woman in such a way that they accidentally have sex. "The New Testament says if you think about doing the act, you've done it," Snyder said. "The Talmud says if you do the act, but didn't think about it, you didn't do it."

He has used the tale, that is, until a student filed a complaint that it was inappropriate and that she was offended by its sexual content. "She said in the complaint that men are always saying that they don't intend to do any harm and in fact they do," Snyder said.

The seminary's sexual harassment task force placed Snyder on probation and distributed letters telling the seminary's 250 students and faculty that he had been punished and why. The panel ordered Snyder to get therapy and advised him not to be alone with students or staff members. He is still teaching at the seminary, but not the introductory Bible class.

Claiming that his academic freedom had been abridged, Snyder filed a lawsuit against the school and the disciplinary panel in Circuit Court, asking for unspecified damages. "If I told a dirty story or made sexual advances, I could understand," Snyder said.


Since 1979, California's Council for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education has accredited More University in Lafayette, California, to grant Bachelor's and Master's degrees in the humanities and communications, and Ph.D. degrees in "Lifestyles" and "Sensuality." Courses include:

Basic Hexing:
This course describes hexing as a conceptual game that every human being plays, and of which a very few people are aware. It provides the students with the history, technique, structure and applications of hexing. The extent to which one can control his hexing is the extent to which one has power in his universe. (2 days; $250)

Basic Oestrology:
Describes the frame of reference that explains human existence. ($300)

Inhibited sexual desire is the most widely reported sexual difficulty in the nation today. "Aphrodisia" is a weekend of illuminating information and functional practices that provide the student with overt control over what is considered the most elusive aspect of sensual pleasuring. (Basic Sensuality and Basic Communication prerequisites; $360)

Weekend with Vic:
A totally unstructured weekend in which the instructor [founder Victor Baranco] will answer any and all questions asked. The content of this course is totally dependent on the student's ability to have [sic]. (Prerequisite: 2 courses; $360)

Mutual Pleasurable Stimulation of the Human Nervous System:
A six-week course that meets for one three-hour session per week. Limited to married couples or consenting adults who agree to be laboratory partners for the duration of the course. Extensive examination of certain conditioned societal limitations on sensory awareness, including sex practices, partner exchange, emotional involvement related to sexing, oral-genital relationships. (Prerequisites: Basic and Advanced Sensuality; $375)

Expansion of Sexual Potential:
This program is designed to introduce the student to the nature of his/her own sexual potential. In a clinical setting, under the hands-on guidance of agreed-upon, selected members of the Department of Sensuality, individuals or couples are led in the exploration of the parameters of their sexual response. Social and sexual resistance to the expansion of this potential and its attendant terrors are identified, and appropriate methods of overcoming these barriers are demonstrated. Subjects are instructed in techniques of training partners in both causative and effective roles, and detailing methods for survival sex practices are presented. (5 prerequisites; $10,080)

Oliver Stone reportedly has a new movie in the works called Noriega, with Al Pacino in the title role. The view of the Panamanian dictator will be "somewhat sympathetic." Screenwriter Lawrence Wright says, "This is a film about Noriega's spiritual journey."

Frances Bobnar of Adamsburg, Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Lottery Commission, claiming that she and family members have spent over $150,000 on lottery tickets during the last ten years but have never won.


From the "Athlete Registration Book" for Gay Games IV, an international sports competition for gays and lesbians to be held in New York City in the summer of 1994:

In order to be treated according to their [chosen] gender identification, participants must provide proof of compliance with the following policies:

  1. Proof of a completed legal name change to match the desired gender role.

  2. Letter from a medical physician stating that the participant has been actively involved in hormone treatment for a minimum of two full years without any time lapse. The letter must also explain the participant's current health condition.

  3. Letter from a professional mental-health therapist stating that the participant has been actively involved in psychotherapy for a minimum of eighteen months. The letter must also state that this participant has emotionally and psychologically transitioned into the desired gender role and why it would be impossible or severely detrimental for this individual to participate in his or her biologically born gender.

All individuals will have a right to appeal an adverse decision to the Board Gender Identification Committee.

[Ed.: The question of whether university athletic departments comply with Title IX law becomes that much more complicated.]

The Syracuse New Times, January 16-26, 1994:
It's the most wonderful time of the year—for seeing hundreds of Christmas trees laying on the side of the road.

Gee, I know they look beautiful decorated for the holidays. I also know how fragrant a fresh cut tree can be. I know they are raised on a farm just for the purpose of being used as temporary decor. I know that in Onondaga County there are fantastic options for disposal of a live tree, like collections at local malls or having it made into mulch for your garden. I have read an article about using a disposed Christmas tree as "shelter" in your yard for wildlife.

I know that using a live tree with roots involves extra work and less time that the tree can actually be kept in the house. I know that an artificial tree lacks the je ne sais quoi of a live tree. I also know that this world needs all the trees we can get and that it takes years for a tree to reach 5 or 6 feet.

I know that "tradition" is not a good reason for this mass waste of a natural resource. What I don't know is, why am I the only one who seems upset? Because even if they plant two trees for every one they cut, it still is a waste for a beautifully healthy tree to be cut down, decorated, then discarded after a week or so. The worse [sic] part is that naturalists, environmentalists and outdoors people are the worse [sic] offenders; they often do the tree cutting themselves as an annual ritual.

Anyone else bothered by all this?

In Concord, New Hampshire, Tiffany Tropp complained when she heard some classmates singing Christmas songs in the halls of her junior high school. Tiffany, who is Jewish, told the principal it made her feel uncomfortable, and he told the students to stop. At that point she claims that other students teased her and that one classmate told her that Christmas is about peace and love, then shoved her into a locker.

USA Today:
Political correctness is transforming the way deaf people sign. No more twisting a pinky finger next to the eye to represent slanted eyes to sign "Japan" or using a limp wrist to sign the word homosexual, says Patricia Fedelum of the Deaf Hearing and Speech Center in Detroit. Politically correct signers now use both hands in the shape of the Japanese archipelago to sign "Japan" and sign the letter Q for "queer."

From a memo by National Park Service Director Roger Kennedy urging his underlings to hire a job applicant named John Trevor:
Surely, we must be able to find a use for a Swahili-speaking person who has Peace Corp[s] experience, is a cum laude in English from Harvard and has a biological background in data manipulation... Unfortunately, Mr. Trevor is white, which is too bad.

A Penn State professor has deconstructed the advertising strategy of the Benetton clothing chain. In "Colonial Discourse and the Politics of Colorful Sweaters: Benetton's 'World Without Borders,' " Henry A. Giroux argues that the company's statements concerning its social conscience (typified in its advertising by startling images of a nun kissing a priest on the lips, colored condoms floating through the air, a bloody baby still attached to an umbilical cord, and a man dying of AIDS) represent a shrewd, carefully planned advertising ploy. "The moral high ground that Benetton wants to occupy appears to be nothing less than an extension of market research," writes Giroux. "Popular culture becomes the pedagogical vehicle through which Benetton addresses the everyday concerns of youth while... blurring the lines between popular cultures of resistance and commercialization." Behind Benetton's radical face, Giroux comments, is a company that provides few benefits and little job security and thwarts employee efforts to unionize. The ostensible "rejection of commercialism, nothing-is-sacred attitude depoliticizes the images. It suggests they are concerned with social responsibility when they are concerned with making money," says Giroux.

[Ed.: A 1997 edition of Benetton's magazine Colors features a new twist in its unique ad campaign: graphic pictures of road kill, grossly misshapen creatures like a five-legged cow and a "Chernobyl pig," and feces of various animals.]

Gary Thomas, a University of Minnesota cultural studies professor and author of Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology, writes that gay liberation means that "manliness, that always vulnerable plenitude in constant need of discursive renaturalization and reinforcement, that illusion on which modern patriarchal control is so utterly dependent, will be finally unmasked as the truly 'unnatural' and 'perverse' image that it is."

Thomas also wonders whether the great baroque composer George Frideric Handel was gay: "Handel, whose life coincided with these revolutionary paradigm shifts, whose texts are in many ways complex and eloquent negotiations of them, and who is therefore the first modern composer whose sexuality could pose a 'problem' in the terms that it did, strikes me as an [example] of this coercive double-bind. Like the oratorio whose musical 'body' betrays the masks of its ideological appropriation, and the masculine persona whose mythic solidity belies its neurasthenic vulnerability, Handel's physical and musical bodies impede the suture required to maintain the safe and comforting, disciplined object we've come to know as his image."


In New York City's School District 7, where most of the students live in poverty and share outdated textbooks or use workbook photocopies for their schoolwork, school district officials rang up $323,000 in expenses for conferences in Hawaii and St. Thomas.

A New York City high school now has a "grieving room" where students can mourn slain classmates.

Bernard Shaw, anchoring a CNN special on Rodney King, February 23, 1994. The second quote is from the same show, seconds later:
To his family, to his friends, he is not Rodney. They call him by his middle name, Glenn. He hurts inside. He's changed outside. Slimmed down, his 210 pounds resembling those of a pro football wide receiver. He leads his family with serious focus.

. . .

The past for him has drawn an unwanted spotlight of troubles... There was the alley incident with Hollywood vice police, who claimed King tried to run them down after allegedly picking up a transvestite male prostitute... King was arrested after his wife called the police to say she had been injured and feared for her life.

[Ed.: Interviewing Mr. King on the fifth anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, CNN reporter Anne McDermott pointed out that he now thought the police were improving, "But what about the rest of us? Us blacks and whites and browns and yellows? Are we improving?" King replied: "As far as individuals, we have a lot of work to do. A lot."]

Newsweek movie critic David Ansen, March 14, 1994:
Both Greedy and The Ref find comic pay dirt in the spectacle of blood relations uncorking their revulsions and resentments in open insult. You could read them as belated tantrums against the patriarchal, money-obsessed Reagan '80s.


Suzanne White on the op-ed page of The New York Times, February 10, 1993. The Times describes Ms. White as the "author of three books on Chinese astrology."
Tonight at midnight, we ring in the Chinese New Year. Good riddance to a Rooster year—notorious for sending us on a harrowing ride to hell and back and then forcing us to start over from scratch—and welcome to the Year of the Wood Dog. Whenever the Dog comes to power, we can look forward to 12 fractious months of recovery. In Dog years, the weather calms down and the political climate heats up.

Bill Clinton, born a Leo in 1946, is a Fire Dog. A Leo and a Dog: that's our President. The Dog symbolizes caring, protection and justice; he is the devoted guardian of the hearth. If you don't believe me, watch him bounding, Labrador like, on his morning run. Observe his tail-wagging, I'm-so-glad-to-see-you grin when he greets his constituents. How about that wrinkled bulldog brow as he ponders his next move, the dogged determination to win and the willingness to lead the pack? It's uncanny: he's the archetypal Leo/Dog...

The President's archrival, Bob Dole, was born a Virgo in 1923. This makes him a Water Pig—more pure than Ivory soap...

George Vecsey on the sports pages of the New York Times, February 6, 1994:
By being whacked on the knee, by falling to the ground, by crying in pain, she has subliminally reminded Boston people of, yes, their slain Irish prince, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who never got to perform the triple axels everybody knew were in him. But by surviving with a certain girlish grace that cannot be totally taught, even by the wizards of Pro-Serv, Nancy Kerrigan has also reminded people of, yes, the woman who carried on when the Boston Irish prince was murdered, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

As has come to be custom for most legislation, the $11 billion California earthquake relief bill only earmarks $8.6 billion in disaster relief. The rest goes to such projects as $1.4 million for Maine potato farmers, $203 million for highway "demonstration projects," $1 million for senators to hire lawyers to defend themselves against civil rights suits, and $10 million to renovate New York's Penn Station.


Walter Cronkite on CNBC's "The Dick Cavett Show", March 4, 1994. The second quote is from the same show, minutes later:
I think one of the absolute worst historical sins committed in recent years was that Oliver Stone thing on J.F.K., the assassination of J.F.K. That totally distorted a major historical event. It indicted people for whom there's no evidence that indictment is required. It suggested conspiracies that nobody has ever established or proved.

. . .

Some of us were called in by Caspar Weinberger, when he was Secretary of Defense. This was after Grenada, after the Grenada invasion, which again was not covered. We don't know the full story today. No reporters got in for three days. I don't know whether we really found a warehouse full of AK-47s there or not. Maybe we planted them there. I'm not saying we did, but we had three days to do it if we wanted to because we had no reporters get there at the beginning.

Letter to the editor, Earth First!: The Radical Environmental Journal, June 21, 1993:
Earth First!ers are known as the activists among environmental activists, the ones who don't compromise. While others content themselves with composting and recycling, Earth First! is out there taking direct action. But being part of this society demands endless and constant compromises of my environmental ethics. Every time I use electricity, flush the toilet, or get in the car, I am knowingly contributing to the degradation of the environment.

I want to stop compromising. So I wish to propose an experiment in living authentically "in place," as humans did for 99.99 percent of our history. I want to start a small hunter-gatherer tribe, which will use only the resources within its range. Is American land still able to support a small population of omnivores as large as humans? Have we so domesticated ourselves that, like chickens, we can no longer live in "the wild"? These are legitimate questions.

The ideal experimental group would be made up of between ten and twenty men and women of various backgrounds and ages. Some will be knowledgeable in primitive technology, some in plants and animals, some perhaps in healing. I'd suggest we have a shaman; we seem to need an earth-based spirituality to keep from degenerating into earth-rapers.

The experiment should run for at least two years. That will give us four seasons of trial-and-error learning and then a second chance to do better. We may also need an additional year of prep time to replace our manufactured tools and clothes with made-in-our-place ones.

If you are interested in joining the "tribe," please write to me.