An Inclusive Litany


New Mexico police have invented a drug courier profile to justify stopping drivers who showed "scrupulous obedience to traffic laws."

An August 28 White House press release in support of a bill to give the federal government power to freeze the assets of corporations accused of violating environmental laws bragged that the bill "will ensure that the assets of environment criminals can be secured even before conviction..."

The Washington Post, October 25, 1996:
Name the presidential candidate whose former organization has an office in a building that is not accessible to the disabled.... Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. Nader has left Public Citizen, the organization he founded, but it maintains the office on the third floor of a small building on [Capitol] Hill that has no elevator.

A source said the organization years ago looked into installing an elevator but found it would be "prohibitively expensive."

[Ed.: Public Citizen itself later faced charges by the Federal Election Commission that their nonprofit funds, often allocated for the cause of campaign finance reform, were improperly funneled into a 1992 partisan political campaign to oust Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich.]

The Maryland Senate passed a bill that would prohibit negative comments about locally grown asparagus. When opponents objected that the law would compromise free-speech rights, proponents responded that the law would only cover malicious remarks known to be false.

In Sex Scandals: The Private Parts of Victorian Fiction, University of Maryland English professor William A. Cohen declares Charles Dickins' novel Great Expectations to be a "masturbatory fantasy."


Following three highly publicized murders at automatic teller machines, Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas proposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew for ATM transactions. But critics say the curfew would strand people in need of a taxi and cause people to walk around with more cash than they need, just in case.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has demanded that Anheuser-Busch cancel and ad campaign that features bullfrog characters because a large percentage of children tell pollsters they recognize the characters. MADD calls the frogs the Joe Camels of beer ads.

Newsweek, January 27, 1997:
Park a BMW in Berkeley, get a ticket. That's the idea behind a new fund-raising campaign that targets luxury cars to help raise money for the homeless. "Drivers for Dignity" is blanketing the city's swankiest cars with fliers made to look like Berkeley parking tickets. Inside each "ticket" is a request for $300. So far, the campaign has drawn several angry phone calls—but no cash. "We're not saying people shouldn't be able to drive a nice car," says Sally Hindman, who hatched the fund-raising idea. "I just think people need to be called to responsibility for their lifestyle."

As part of the debate over what role human rights abuses should play in American relations with China, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) gave a speech at the Asia Society calling for a bilateral commission to study "the evolution of human rights in both countries over the last 20 to 30 years." Such a commission "would point out the successes and failures" of both sides: "both Tiananmen Square and Kent State."

[Ed.: Ted Turner drew the same comparison while plugging the CNN documentary series Cold War in 1998: "We are often judgmental about people that are different from us... and we don't even understand what their problems are... A lot of students got killed at Tiananmen Square, but I remember several students got killed at Kent State. And, remember, they have a lot more students than we do. We shot down our own students.]

A recent movie, The People vs. Larry Flynt, depicts Hustler publisher Larry Flynt's legal battle with Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell. Falwell sued the pornographic magazine in 1988 after it published a parody that suggested that Falwell had sex with his mother, a case that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. The film makes the important yet somewhat beguiling point that free speech rights must be extended to the least savory members of society for everyone else to be truly free. Correspondingly, the film depicted Flynt as a martyr to the First Amendment cause, having also survived a 1978 assassination attempt that left him paralyzed.

The original publicity artwork drove home the point, depicting a crucified Flynt superimposed over a naked woman's genitals—a publicity campaign that was cancelled in the face of the ensuing predictable uproar. The film cast the character of Flynt, played by actor Woody Harrelson, as a mischievous yet charming and intelligent scamp, following the "rapscallion tradition of Huckleberry Finn," according to co-producer Oliver Stone. Although the film characterizes Flynt as suffering from incidental drug addiction and more than his share of arrogance, the tone is one of sympathy due to Flynt's sacrifices to the First Amendment cause.

Perhaps so as not to burden the audience with evidence of Flynt's unsavoriness, the film's depiction of him as a poor young boy in rural Kentucky omits what Flynt's own autobiography catalogs as an important formative event: when he deflowered a hen. Enticed by the promise of the bird's yolk sack, which he heard was "hot as a girl's p***y" but better, since chickens "wiggled around a lot more," Flynt proceeded to "thrust away." When he was finished, Flynt worried that his grandmother would notice the hen "staggering, squawking and bleeding," so he snapped the bird's neck and threw it in a creek.

Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard noted many other omissions and inconsistencies in the film:

  • Flynt's amphetamine habit that began in the 1960s, though the film made it seem as though he needed to control the pain after he was shot.

  • Flynt's association with organized crime in order to distribute his magazine.

  • Flynt's discharge from theNavy because he had "shown much evidence of emotional instability in the past" and was judged to have a "characteristic sociopathic personality."

  • Flynt's role as pimp to a number of prostitutes out of his Dayton, Ohio, bar, as well as selling amphetamines to local truckers. Police familiar with him at the time recount an occasion when Flynt shot a black man in the foot for not taking his hat off while hanging out at his bar. "They were pimping my girls," he said, meaning trying to take over his criminal operation.

  • The allegation by Flynt's daughter Tonya (by second wife Peggy) that he molested her repeatedly between the ages of 10 and 18. Tonya claims that Flynt's sexual abuse made her psychotic and dependent on antidepressants. Still, she says, "He's the one portraying cut-off body parts and severed nipples and clitorises with fishhooks in them [in the pages of Hustler]. Who's got the mental problem here?" When Flynt learned Tonya intended to write an unflattering book about him detailing her abuse allegations, he twice threatened to kill her in a manner that might stifle her free speech rights.

  • Flynt's marriage proposal to his stepdaughter Judy (also Peggy's daughter) at a time when she still believed him to be her biological father.

  • Flynt's stormy relationship with his fourth wife, Althea, a sexually promiscuous drug addict who eventually died of AIDS. Flynt cuffed and beat her, and once fired a .38 Smith & Wesson at her. Flynt also filed for divorce, and she left him on several times, despite the film's illusion of loyalty between the two. When Althea died, a nurse—not Flynt—discovered her body drowned in her bathtub. Flynt was bedridden and in a drug haze at the time. Flynt secured a mail-order bride three months after Althea's death.

  • An audio tape made by Althea documenting that Flynt asked his 13-year-old daughter Theresa to take her panties off so he could see her naked.

And on, and on...

In 1992, Laura Kipnis, a film studies professor at Northwestern University, published "(Male) Desire and (Female) Disgust: Reading Hustler," a paper in which she hails Flynt as "a one-man bug up the nation's ass" for having championed "those narratives exiled from sanctioned speech and mainstream political discourse." According to Kipnis, Hustler's "transgressive" subject matter—dismemberment, deformity, gang rapes, "assholes, monstrous and gigantic sexual organs," and "anything that exudes from the body: piss, s***, semen, menstrual blood... and especially farts"—represents rage at being unable to penetrate privileged classes, not necessarily rage at being unable to penetrate women. Even Flynt's gaping, unretouched crotch shots should be interpreted as political statements, undermining bourgeois conventions of privacy in the bedroom and the Oval Office alike: "The veiled 'private' body is analogous to the hidden government (the Iran-Contra scandal was a shining moment for Hustler), analogous to the hidden sources of wealth of the ruling classes, which secretly the rest of us are paying for through our labor."

Ms. Kipnis also later objected that the film by Milos Forman and Oliver Stone glossed over the truly transgressive and shocking nature of Hustler's content. Kipnis later shifted her attention to other interests: presidential adultry and "the problem of Bill Clinton's thighs."

[Ed.: Following the film's release, the American Lung Association presented an award to actor Woody Harrelson for portraying Flynt as a positive nonsmoking character. In the film, Flynt discourages his wife from smoking, yet both characters are depicted as heavily addicted to drugs and indifferent to sharing needles to inject them.

During 1998's impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, Flynt was credited with leaking allegations of adultery that forced House Speaker Bob Livingston to resign after a brief tenure.]


In New Jersey, 77-year-old Grace Heck was prohibited from building on land she had bought for her retirement because the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that there was an endangered species of plant "within five miles of the proposed project site."

An account of the Modern Language Association's annual meeting in the Washington Post, December 30, 1996:
For years, there have been grumbles from the old guard about what they see as a predominance of presentations on feminism, "queer theory," canon reformation. As one of these fellows put it this weekend under the cloak of anonymity: "It's very difficult to find a session with a paper that even mentions a text."

But what's happening is that the texts that do get mentioned are often by very contemporary multicultural writers. The record for this is probably the paper on "A Special Haunting: Gus Lee's 'Tiger's Tail.' " The novel was published last April. So much for letting the passage of time determine the classics.

"Why should books written in the contemporary moment be deprivileged, seen as less in what they communicate, simply because their authors aren't dead?" Paschal asks. But the paper she delivered here was not quite as breathlessly up-to-the-minute.

Called "Dramatizing the Intellectual," it was about three '60s playwrights. "Everyone has a bad memory about the '60s," she says. "It all blurs—the texts into the events into where you were at the time." Usually, she both reads and, where necessary, performs her talks. This time, suffering from the flu, she merely read.

A federal jury found that ABC's "PrimeTime Live" had committed fraud and trespassing in its undercover investigation of the Food Lion supermarket chain, and awarded the company $5.5 million in damages. Two ABC producers had lied about their professional backgrounds in order to get jobs as food handlers at a Food Lion store. They were assisted by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which provided them with fake references. (The union had previously led an unsuccessful effort to organize the store's workers.) The producers secretly videotaped the Food Lion workplace with the aid of cameras hidden in their wigs. Using this footage, "PrimeTime Live" reported that Food Lion sold tainted meat. The ensuing bad publicity led Food Lion to shut down 84 stores over the next two years, throwing thousands of employees out of work.

While the legal issue centered on the ABC producers' lying to Food Lion when they got their jobs and whether news reporters are allowed to break laws when reporting a story that others must adhere to, videotaped outtakes of the hidden-camera footage were more damning, suggesting grounds for a charge of libel. One showed an ABC producer taking chickens whose "sell-by" dates had expired and putting them up for sale, then telling another producer to videotape them. Another outtake showed a producer ignoring instructions from legitimate employees on how to handle food. In another, one producer sells a piece of moldy kielbasa to another producer several times for the benefit of the camera.

One piece of videotape that did air showed a dirty meat slicer, even though it was the producer's job to clean it. In another, an employee talked about how she had cooked a batch of out-of-date chicken; in the excised footage she said she brought the matter up with her manager, who directed her to throw the chicken away, which she did. Many of the discarded sequences featured producers' frustration at their inability to come up with incriminating footage. After several days of work as a deli clerk, one producer saw a Food Lion employee start to clean a meat slicer. "Oh damn," the producer exclaimed, followed by a long, drawn-out "Sh**."


The Environmental Protection Agency notified Formal Ware Rental Services of Tulsa, Oklahoma, that it would be held responsible for the cleanup of a local Superfund site. The only evidence linking the clothing rental company to the site was the fact that it had once paid someone $14 to haul trash there.

A Boy Scout troop was labeled as a "potentially responsible party" to finance the cleanup of a Superfund designated scrap yard in Minneapolis.

A court ruled that a New York butcher shop owner was liable for the cleanup of the Ludlow Sanitary Landfill because the glue on the boxes he threw in his dumpster contained hazardous materials.

Several churches and local schools were identified as the target of lawsuits to finance the cleanup of a Superfund site in Gray, Maine.

San Diego's Naval Training Center is due to be closed next year, and the Army's Fort Sheriden, near Chicago, officially closed three years ago. But the Pentagon continues to spend millions of dollars for new construction of these and other bases that are closed or are soon to be closed. The Pentagon explains that its hands are tied because contracts for construction of the bases were made before they were put on the closing list. A Navy spokesman commented, "[The taxpayers] are going to have to pay for it anyway, so why not complete [it]?"

From a letter sent by Congressman Joseph K. Knollenberg (R-MI) to the Department of Agriculture, requesting less government intervention in pet-snack manufacturing:
I am writing to you on behalf of Mr. R. Miles Handy II, President, Oink-Oink, Inc. [of Detroit]. According to Mr. Handy, the United States Department of Agriculture was allowing Oink-Oink to purchase pork penises for use as a pet treat. They were purchasing the raw product from Iowa Packing Company. After several months of doing so, the U.S.D.A. began to "dye the raw penises green." As a result of this, Oink-Oink, Inc., is unable to use them because of this discoloration. I would greatly appreciate your comment on this situation.

Five months after becoming two of the first four women to enter the Citadel Military College, two female attendees left after they were forced to sing obscene songs, drink iced tea until they vomited, then had their sweatshirts doused with nail polish remover and ignited—all of which were a tradition in Echo company, of which the girls were members.

Commenting on what she regarded as her shabby treatment in her farewell statement, one of the girls asked her male classmates to "take a long look at how they view their girlfriends, wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters."

[Ed.: The New York Times reported that first-year cadets must memorize ritualized answers to questions posed by upperclassmen. For example, the question "How is the cow?" (which means "how much milk is left in the carton?") must be answered with: "Sir, she walks, she talks, she's full of chalk, the lacteal fluid extracted from the female of the bovine species is highly prolific to the Nth degree, sir!" with N representing the number of glassfuls left in the carton. Any other answer by the cadet would be punishable.]

When the administration of Dartmouth College banned songs with religious content from the official Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony, the Glee Club that traditionally gathered around the tree to sing carols had to resort to secular songs such as "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." The next night, however, the group reappeared at the tree unofficially and, joined by hundreds of students in a driving blizzard, sang "Silent Night," "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing," and "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen."

A document distributed by the Presidential Inauguration Committee offers, with no apparent sense of irony, "a helpful hints reference guide for politically correct speech when interacting with individuals with disabilities." Distributed to volunteers, the document emphasizes that "in speaking or writing, remember that children or adults with disabilities are like everyone else—except they happen to have a disability." Volunteers are advised not to say "handicapped or disabled child" but instead "child with disability." Similarly, don't say "retarded" but "person with retardation." Don't say "confined to a wheelchair" or "wheelchair bound" but "uses a wheelchair." Don't say "normal" or "healthy," but rather "non-disabled."


Newsweek Wall Street Editor Allan Sloan on Social Security reform proposals, January 20, 1996:
It's one thing for someone like me, who makes a very good living, to bet on the stock market. I can afford to lose. But betting the federal budget on stocks is madness. And forcing millions of people who don't know stocks from smocks to let the market determine whether their retirement dinners will consist of cat food or caviar doesn't seem like the way we should treat people.

David Peterson sued the governor of New Mexico after he gave his girlfriend money to buy clothes, and she gambled it away instead. Governor Gary Johnson has been a strong supporter of gambling on Indian reservations.


Max Boot in the Wall Street Journal, February 2, 1997:
At 2 a.m. on Nov. 20, 1990, two New York state troopers were patrolling a desolate stretch of road about 30 miles north of New York City when they observed a U-Haul van whizzing along at 70 miles an hour. They were suspicious not only because of the early hour and the high speed, but also because deer hunting season had just started. Hunters often come up from New York City, and sometimes carry illegal firearms.

So after pulling over the van, one of the troopers asked driver Leonardo Turriago, "Do you mind if we see what's in the back of the truck?" He replied, "Sure, I'll show you." When the trooper got into the trailer, he found several boxes and asked Turriago to open them. "Sure," he replied again. Turriago seemed to have trouble opening one of the boxes, but as soon as it clicked open he took off running. When the trooper lifted the lid, out popped a pair of human legs.

After Turriago and two companions were apprehended, investigators discovered that Turriago had killed the victim over what he called "a drug thing," first shooting him in the face, then repeatedly striking his head with a hammer. Turriago and the others were transporting the corpse from New York City for disposal in the countryside.

A slam-dunk case for the prosecution, right? Wrong. A 4-1 majority of the state appellate court ... decided that the evidence and the defendant's confession weren't admissible. Ah, but didn't Turriago give permission for the cops to search his van? In the judges' view, it didn't matter: "When a motorist, stopped for some minor traffic infraction on a lonely stretch of road in the dead of night, is approached by two imposing State Troopers—the very personification of state authority on the highway—one of whom leans over the car and asks, 'Mind if we look in the trunk?', can the forthcoming affirmative response truly be regarded as the product of free will?"

...Turriago isn't placing his faith in the appellate process, though. He's just been charged with hiring a hit man to eliminate potential witnesses against him.


A federal judge ruled that the Iowa State Penitentiary violated the rights of an asthmatic mass-murderer by refusing to provide him with personal cable TV in his cell, because the TV room was too smokey.

The Boston YMCA is being sued for $20 million by a deaf lifeguard who was dismissed after the YMCA, seeking to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, established clearer guidelines on who could be a lifeguard.

According to the Recorder, a California legal newspaper, "Attorneys cited for transgressions ranging from neglect of their cases to stealing from clients have asserted that their actions are mitigated by mental impairment or substance abuse, and are thus entitled to leniency under the ADA."

The Washington Post, November 9, 1996:
Youth soccer league officials said that the Annandale [Va.] team Matt was joining already had two 8-year-olds and that a new league policy prohibited adding a third.

Then things got messier. Paul Miller, the coach of the team and the one who had urged Matt to join, is also a lawyer. He filed a suit against the league in Fairfax County Circuit Court two months ago, saying that dropping one of the three 8-year-olds from the squad would cause that child "irreparable psychological harm."

After running more than 14 years on Broadway, "Cats" has been sued by an audience member who says she was pawed and humiliated by a cast member during a performance. The theatergoer had an orchestra seat near the aisle, where Rum Tum Tugger danced and cavorted with audience members, apparently too close for her comfort. The suit charges assault, battery, negligence, and the infliction of emotional distress.

A five-year-old girl was suspended from her elementary school for violating its "zero-tolerance" policy on weapons, after bringing in a nail file.


A dispatch from Boulder, Colorado, from the Knight-Ridder news service, February 2, 1997:
The American Civil Liberties Union has taken on a new program by Mothers Against Drunk Driving to put up crosses at the sites of fatal accidents involving alcohol.

"The worst thing, the thing that really got my ACLU attention, was that a sheriff, in uniform, put it up," said Carla Selby, former president of the Boulder County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"What that tells everybody in the world is that the government is favoring, and entangling itself, with a specific religion."

Some topics addressed at the Women's Studies Fall Lecture Series, University of Illinois, Champaign:

  • "Practically Women: Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes and Their Relevance for Understandings of Sex and Gender in Latin America," by Don Kulick, Gender Studies, Stockholm University

  • "The Evolution of Masculinity Studies," by Joe Pleck, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Illinois

  • Readings: Leo Bersani, "Is the Rectum a Grave?"

  • "The Butch Grunt Syndrome: Do Lesbians Talk Like Men?," by Anna Livia Braun
Topics from a graduate student conference held at Columbia University:

  • "Black and White and Hanging Without a Rope: Appropriated Centers and Margins," by Signithia Fordham, University of Maryland

  • "A Cat in the Dark: The Color of Water and Significances of the Reverse Racial Pass," by Philip Brian Harper, New York University

  • "The White to be Angry and Passing: Vaginal Cream Davis's Terrorist Drag," by Jose Munoz, New York University