An Inclusive Litany


The Washington Post, August 9, 1995:
The Food and Drug Administration's Board of Tea Experts ... yet again has managed to sniff at its critics politely, pour itself another cup of oolong and beat Washington budget-cutters.

Taxpayers will likely pick up about 60 percent of the board's $200,000 tab in the next spending year so they can be guaranteed that imported tea is up to certain standards of "purity and wholesomeness."

Joseph P. Simrany, president of the Tea Association of the U.S.A. [said,] "It's the first line of defense relative to keeping bad tea out of the country."

From a news release of the National Association of Attorneys General, listing 1995's top ten frivolous lawsuits filed by convicted prisoners:

  1. Donald Edward Beaty v. Bury: A death-row inmate sues corrections officials for taking away his Gameboy electronic game. (Arizona)

  2. Inmate, calling himself a sports fanatic, complains that, as a result of cruel and unusual punishment, he was forced to miss the NFL playoffs, especially between Miami and San Diego, San Diego and Pittsburgh, and Dallas and San Francisco. (Arkansas)

  3. Brittaker v. Rowland: Inmate says his meal was in poor condition. He claims his sandwich was soggy and his cookie was broken. (California)

  4. Jackson v. Barton: Prisoner who killed five people sues after lightning knocks out the prison's TV satellite dish and he must watch network programs, which he says contain violence, profanity and other objectionable material. (Florida)

  5. Spradley v. Rathman: Prisoner sues to be served fruit juice at meals and three pancakes instead of two. (Florida)

  6. Brown v. Singletary: Prisoner sues to be given Reeboks, Adidas, Pony or Avia high-tops rather than inferior brand sneakers issued by prison. (Florida)

  7. Beverly v. Groose: Suit says inmates working in prison law library should be paid same rate as attorneys. (Missouri)

  8. Young v. Murphy: Prisoner sues for not receiving scheduled parole hearing, though he was out on escape when the hearing was to be held. (Mississippi)

  9. Murderer sues for $25,000, claiming a "defective" haircut resulted in lost sleep, headaches and chest pains. (New York)

  10. Trice v. Reynolds, et al: Ex-chef sues because the food was bad, yet he wanted bigger portions. (Oklahoma)


An employee of New York's state-funded Legal Aid Society tried to incite prisoners to force a "lockdown" in all maximum-security prisons. This was to commemorate the 1971 Attica riot and to protest conditions in New York prisons.

In Little Rock, Arkansas, Joshua Martinez shaved his head in solidarity with his mother, who lost her hair due to chemotherapy. Apparently, some kids didn't appreciate this show of devotion. They decided Josh must be one of those nasty skinheads they've heard so much about and beat the crap out of him.

Professor Diane Davis of Old Dominion University in Rhetoric Review, Fall 1995:
The building frustration over this impasse for feminists has been evidenced lately in the promotion of Lorena Bobbitt to near demigod(dess) status. The rabid celebration of Bobbitt for having had the ovum(?) to bobbit(t)-off with a kitchen knife is symptomatic of an epidemic of feminist ressentiment that's as infectious as the flu. But it seems to me that what's worthy of celebration in the Bobbitt bobbing has nothing to do with the rape or the mutilation, with the repayment of a violation with a violation. What's worth celebrating here has nothing to do with revenge. The following is a slow-moed creative re/viewing of Lorena's story that lets the spotlight fall precisely on what our logocentric perceptions have no capacity to recognize. Recognition, in this instance, calls for the engagement of an/Other sensibility entirely. Lorena, this essay suggests, should indeed be celebrated—not because she cuts it off, not because she keeps it—but because she pitches it. And in pitching it, she dis/covers a way out of the binary system all together, and so a way out of phallocentrism. Let's zoom in on her dilemma.
[Ed.: Not only did Ms. Bobbitt cut off her husband's penis, she threw it out of a car window just past a "No Littering" sign.]

A week after the temporary shutdown of the federal government, approximately 200 National Park Service employees flew to Orlando, Florida, at public expense for a "training workshop" on how to become better tour guides. There they were treated to backstage tours of the Magic Kingdom and spent time unwinding at Sea World. When not unwinding, they attended such lectures as "The Power of Magic in Shaping History" and "Goofy (and Educational) Nature Songs."


The Library of Congress exhibited a series of photographs depicting southern plantation life, from the point of view of slaves as represented in their narratives. But immediately after the exhibit went up, about twenty black employees objected. The pictures of white overseers on a plantation reminded them, they said, of the white "overseers" at the library. The exhibit eventually had to be moved to the Martin Luther King Memorial Library.

New York legislator Michael Nozzolio became somewhat upset when he discovered that the state spends $700,000 a year on hormone pills for about 70 prison inmates who are changing their sex from male to female.

A new depiction of the comic-book heroes the Lone Ranger and Tonto features the two characters as equals who squabble over ethnic sensitivities ("I'm not your Indian"), and presents Tonto as an activist for Native Americans who disdains the term "Indian" as politically incorrect.

From a correction in the New Yorker regarding a statement by former Secretary of Education William Bennett in an article by Michael Kelly:
In criticizing the political views of Patrick Buchanan, Mr. Bennett said, "It's a real us-and-them kind of thing," not, as we reported, "It's a real S&M kind of thing."


In a measure to excise gratuitous religious references, Stanford dormitory gift-givers are no longer referred to as "Secret Santas," but rather as "Secret Snowflakes." In one dorm, they are referred to as "Equally Accepting Nondenominational Gift Bearers."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, quoted just hours after the acquittal of O.J. Simpson, said: "O.J. can now be a big force, in my judgement, in taking the lead against domestic violence."

Mr. Simpson, apparently with less ambitious plans, issued the statement: "When things have settled a bit, I will pursue as my primary goal in life the killer or killers who slaughtered Nicole and Mr. Goldman."

Sportswriter George Vecsey in the New York Times, October 19, 1995:
So now we have the politically incorrect World Series. The series should be about long-suffering Cleveland or long-suffering Atlanta finally winning another World Series.

Instead, this so-called World Series—another outdated concept—is going to offend millions of Americans whose roots go back before the Mayflower and all the other ships.

The only way newcomers tend to notice American Indians is from the growth of casinos on tribal lands. I don't list gambling among the top thousand admirable human activities, but I won't demand that American Indians stop running gambling joints until Trump and Bally and municipalities do.

My real question is, what do we do about these demeaning nicknames for the next week or ten days? I cannot twist my sentences enough to refer to "the team from Cleveland" and "the team from Atlanta" but I respect the writers and even entire newspapers that will perform that enlightened act of contortion.

Serving three life sentences for three murders, Massachusetts prison inmate Anthony Jackson won a procedural motion on appeal, thus keeping alive his lawsuit against the prison system for refusing to assign him to a no-smoking cell.


Dean Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle of the Office of Race Relations and Minority Affairs at Harvard University called for a ban on 1950s nostalgia parties because racism was rampant in America at that time.

Heileman Brewery was banned from selling Crazy Horse beer in Minnesota when state public safety commissioner Michael Jordan ruled that the brand implies an association with the Indian leader.

The Chumash Indians of southern California are demanding that the town of Malibu require that oceanfront building sites get an inspection for Indian burial grounds, which can be carried out only by a certified Indian at rates up to $46,000.

In Bailey, Colorado, two local whites, one of whom claims a Chaddo Indian grandmother, are suing in U.S. district court after neighbors in the residential area objected to the pair's starting raging fires in the yard of their home in enactment of a "Lakota sweat lodge rite."

The Department of Education ruled after a year-long investigation that Chief Illiniwek can remain the University of Illinois's Native American mascot. A group called Native American Students, Staff and Faculty for Progress had filed a lawsuit alleging that the chief and the name of the university's athletic teams, the fighting Illini, caused them to suffer verbal harassment at sporting events and created a "racially hostile environment." If the Education Department had concurred, the university would have been at risk of losing federal aid.


In a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, an Alabama state court ruled that a convicted arsonist did indeed receive a fair trial despite the fact that Circuit Judge Roy S. Moore began each court session with a prayer and also had the Ten Commandments displayed on the wall.

Michigan's Mackinac Center has announced the results of its Outrageous Law Competition. Among the winners: the city of Harper's Woods, which forbids the painting of songbirds; the Village of Lyons, which makes it unlawful to allow an indecent exposure of any animal where they may be seen by passers-by; and the state of Michigan itself, which forbids people from placing the insignia of organizations to which they do not belong on their cars. That means an awful lot of Detroit Tigers fans are breaking the law.

Something to think about from the Atlantic Monthly, June 1995:
Paid maternity and parental leaves and safe, affordable day care, which are taken for granted by citizens of other nations, remain out of reach in the richest economy in the world.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Chicago firm of Daniel Lamp Co. in 1991, despite the fact that it employed a 100% minority work force. The company had the wrong mix of Hispanics and African-Americans.


Less than three months after he had sold federal land worth $1 billion in mining rights to a Danish company for $275, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt was forced to sell another $2.9 billion piece of land in Arizona for $1,745. Babbitt is required to make these sales under the Mining Act of 1872, which western senators refuse to change. In 1994, under the same law, Babbitt signed over land containing about $10 billion in gold to a Canadian company for about $10,000.

Freshman orientation at Williams College, Massachusetts, features a "Feel-What-It-Is-Like-To-Be-Gay" meeting. Representatives of the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Union tour the freshman dorms and require students to declare, "Hello, my name is ____________, and I'm gay!"

A typical school year features the following celebrations: National Coming-Out Week, Women's Pride Week, Students of Mixed Heritage Week, Queer Pride Week, Bisexual Visibility Week and Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

[Ed.: Some female students complain that they are compelled to use unisex toilets and showers in order to make them feel "less self-conscious about their bodies."]