An Inclusive Litany


In an Australian rainforest, the Daintree Eco Lodge provides "marble-floored, air conditioned treetop lodges, complete with minibars and in-room movies, for as much as $900 a night," the Wall Street Journal reports.

After James Byrd was dragged horribly to his death by a gang of ex-convicts in Jasper, Texas, Duke historian John Hope Franklin, who chaired President Clinton's advisory board on race relations, dismissed any particular importance to the racially motivated crime. "I don't mean to sound callous," Franklin told the Associated Press, "but that's nothing new." Racist incidents happen all the time, he said, citing "the burning of black churches in recent years" as evidence. [sic]

Franklin also spoke of a more mundane act of ubiquitous racism. "A black high school student... worked for weeks on a paper for class and submitted it to his white teacher. It was a first-class paper. You know what she said? 'Who wrote this paper for you?' He was destroyed completely by a casual comment by an insensitive teacher," Franklin said. "He was dragged through the streets and killed, too." Franklin related the same story ten months prior at a nationally televised forum in Little Rock, noting that the child subsequently quit school and started living on the street.

After reading of the incident, Charles Geshekter, professor of African history at California State University, wrote to Franklin to find out when and where the incident occurred and what was done to discipline the teacher. "I was appalled to learn about this incident," he wrote. "As a university instructor and a member of the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, I am always distressed to hear about such incidents. Thank you very much for providing me with more particulars." But after five months, Franklin had not replied to the query, so Geshekter wrote to him again. "I realize that you are extremely busy... but I wonder if you would please take the time to answer my questions."

After five more months, Franklin replied to Geshekter. "I can provide no more details about the incident," Franklin wrote. "I do not feel free to reveal the name of the school or the name of the young student who was tragically mistreated. I do not wish to expose either him or his family to further unauthorized disclosure." It was Franklin, of course, who initially disclosed the story. "As a fellow historian deeply concerned about race matters and historical accuracy," Geshekter wrote back, "I was distressed that you would voluntarily 'cite' such an inflammatory 'incident' to a member of the press... yet be unwilling to provide further specifics." Franklin did not reply.

After several Iranian diplomats and journalists were taken hostage by the Taliban, Islamic fundamentalists in neighboring Afghanistan, the Iranian Foreign Ministry complained that this action violated international law.

Democratic national chairman Steve Grossman, introducing President Clinton at a September 14 $50,000-per-couple fund-raising lunch in New York City:
You have demonstrated at least in my adult lifetime a higher commitment to the kind of moral leadership that I value in public service and public policy than any person I have ever met.... Our prayer for you today and for the first lady and for the vice president and for Tipper is that you will continue to provide the kind of moral leadership to this country that has enriched the life of virtually every citizen.

[Ed.: Disagreeing with this assessment, Ross Perot declared to an Atlanta convention of his Reform Party that Bill Clinton has "a defective brain." "The part of the brain that controls morality and honesty never got connected. The president is mentally and emotionally unstable," Perot said.]


In order to attract non-millionaire residents, the town of Aspen, Colorado, now offers public housing assistance even to those whose income is as much as $115,000 a year.

A footnote from the Starr report:
1128. In claiming that this statement was true, the President was apparently relying on the same tense-based distinction he made during the Jones deposition. See Clinton 8/17/98 GJ at 59-61 ("It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the—if he—if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.... Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.")
...and from the president's videotaped testimony:
If the deponent is the person who has oral sex performed on him then the contact is not with anything on that list, but with the lips of another person.

NBC's Gwen Ifill during live MSNBC coverage while the Starr report was being unloaded from two vans and delivered to Congress, September 9, 1998, a few weeks after an attack by a deranged gunman upon the Capitol that killed two:
Already, some of the more thoughtful members of the House and Senate have admitted, yes, they expect to be overwhelmed. There's very little they can do about this, when someone drives, as one House Judiciary Committee member put this some weeks ago, a truck bomb up to the steps of the Capitol and just dumps it on them. Now this is probably not the most advisable comparison when you consider what happened on these very steps not so many weeks ago, but it is in some ways, politically, a very violent action for Ken Starr to leave this on them weeks before an election when they're trying to decide how to deal with it.

The harassment code at George Mason University has been modified to include such offenses as "staring" at a homosexual couple holding hands or thinking that a homosexual might be attracted to you. The code of the University of Maryland bans "holding or eating food provocatively," "kissing sounds," "telephone calls of a sexual nature," "idle chatter of a sexual nature," "sign language to denote sexual activity," and "gender-biased communications about women or men... that ignore or deprecate a group based on their gender." Bowdoin College forbids "telling stories of sexual assault which minimize or glorify the act," which presumably includes many literary classics. "No one," warns the code, "is entitled to engage in behavior that is experienced by others as harassing." This includes "leering, staring, catcalls, vulgar jokes, language, photographs or cartoons with sexual overtones" and even "terms of familiarity." Michigan State University warns that "eye contact or the lack of it" may represent harassment. The University of Connecticut bans "treating people differently solely because they are in some way different from the majority, ... imitating stereotypes in speech or mannerisms, ... [or] attributing objections to any of the above actions to 'hypersensitivity' of the targeted individual or group."


The Boston Globe, July 11, 1998:
Take Chad Joiner's series of photographs, "Abject and Adolescence." These close-up images of bed linens are saturated in more ways than one. The pale shades of the sheets fill the frames of these photographs, becoming a world unto themselves. They are also stained with urine, blood and semen, and burned with cigarettes. They chart the life of the body, in bed and often unconscious, secreting and expelling and leaving its mark. It's both compelling and discomforting—someone else's dirty laundry turned into art.

At Duke University, someone hanged a black doll along with a sign reading "Duke hasn't changed" near a gathering place of the Black Student Alliance, also defacing a granite bench dedicated to the Class of 1948 with black paint. After an agonizing week following the apparent hate crime, the truth came out: the perpetuators were not white racists, but black students seeking to create an impression of racism on campus. Still, many defended the perpetrators, as did Worokya Diomande in Duke's student newspaper, the Chronicle: "The idea behind the act is being overlooked (as is usually the case). The University has not changed. Blacks are allowed to be enrolled here, but the idea is the equivalent of the transition from field slave to house slave."

At Eastern New Mexico University, crude posters started to appear: "Are you sick of queers polluting this great land with there [sic] filth? I thought so. Want to do something? Join the Fist of God. With his might, we can ride [sic] the world of there [sic] sickness. Ask around. We'll find you." Identifying eight homosexuals on campus, the poster concluded: "Take us seriously, or we'll begin executing one queer a week following this list." The four men and four women soon received threatening e-mail and letters. Miranda Prather, a lesbian teaching assistant whose name topped the list, reported that a masked assailant had slashed her cheek with a kitchen knife. But as part of the ensuing investigation, police examined surveillance footage of a laundromat near where one of the threatening fliers had been posted, which revealed Ms. Prather to be the culprit. Police later found a knife in her apartment that matched the wounds on her cheek. An editorialist at the Amarillo Globe-News wrote, after Prather's hoax had been revealed: "Hatred is polluting with filth. Instilling terror is polluting with filth. Bigotry is polluting with filth.... Few of us are as blatant about it as the Fist of God. Yet hatred and intolerance are there."

At the University of Georgia, uncloseted homosexual resident adviser Jerry Kennedy reported that his door, which had been covered with gay-activist literature, was set on fire. The Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Student Union urged the president of the university to create a hate-crime task force and to obtain a faculty adviser for their group, and wrote chalk messages around the student center reading, "Stop burning down our doors," and "Are you next?" Asked what he thought of the group's response, Kennedy commented, "It makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing, and I appreciate the support." But suspicions grew after his door was set on fire two more times. The student newspaper Red & Black reported that of the fifteen hate crimes reported since 1995, Kennedy had been the target of nine of them. The head of the campus police said, "He's certainly had more [harassment] than anyone else I've known of." Police soon arrested Kennedy, charging him with arson and making false crime reports, and a student suspected of setting one of the fires was exonerated. Still, a faculty member dealing in race discrimination told the Red & Black that she "hoped the Kennedy case would not hinder dialogue about homosexuality."

And at North Carolina's Guilford College, Student Senate president Molly Martin reported being assaulted in her office late one night by an assailant who knocked her unconscious, opened her blouse, and wrote "nigger lover" on her chest. The attack occurred a week after anonymous letters and fliers criticized Ms. Martin for appointing two black students to the Senate and for leading the effort to create a full-time director of African-American affairs position the previous semester. Following the incident, the college pledged to hasten its selection process for that position, as well as inaugurate a series of campus dialogues and curriculum changes to address racial issues. But police could not recreate the incident satisfactorily, noting that Ms. Martin did not show anyone the alleged writing on her chest before she erased it, that she said she cleaned up the damage to her office before reporting the incident to campus security, that she refused medical attention and asked security not to report the incident to police, that she showed no signs of the sort of bruising that would have knocked her unconscious, and that it would be highly unusual for such an assailant to unbutton her blouse rather than simply rip it off or pull it down to write on her chest. Martin later withdrew from the school, sending an open letter to the campus apologizing "for acts that were inappropriate and that were injurious," which referred only to her inability to perform her duties properly as Student Senate president, not to any wrongdoing on her part. The college continued its plans to address the issue by revising its curriculum, hiring more minority faculty, and even founding an institute on race relations.


To remedy what appear to be nationwide lapses in sexual knowledge, the French Health Ministry produced five short sex-education films that were sufficiently graphic to be considered hard-core pornography. As one film director explained, "I had to show that if a man has sex with two women together, he must use a different condom with each one." Men's ignorance in that circumstance, said a Health Ministry spokesperson, is "a big problem."

After a water main burst, causing the destruction of thousands of cartons of books stored in the basement of the Boston Public Library, about 25 distraught librarians sought out on the city's grief-counseling services. A library executive told the Boston Globe, "It's a process just like when someone dies."


Our Times, a weekly supplement of the Los Angeles Times, July 2, 1998:
Members of the city's Social Services Commission are asking the City Council to remove longtime homeless activist Jennafer Waggoner from the panel because of her poor attendance.

From July 1996 to April 1997, attendance records show Waggoner went to 10 of 22 meetings and left three early, which count as absences. The commission, which aims to voice the concerns of homeless and other underrepresented people, voted June 22 to ask the council to remove her....

Waggoner said a major reason she cannot attend meetings is because she is unable to get enough sleep because police constantly wake her up and ask her to move.

Lt. Gary Gallinot of the Santa Monica Police Department said officers routinely ask the homeless to move out of parks and other public areas.

He said he did not think Waggoner had been approached by police in recent months because they have been looking for her since two warrants were issued for her arrest for failing to appear in court on citations.

Santa Monica police issued one to her for destroying park foliage. Gallinot said he believes it was for sleeping in a bush.

On Capitol Hill, the House gift shop banned the sale of foreign-made merchandise after two members of the Union of Needle-trades, Industrial and Textile Employees discovered congressional T-shirts that were assembled in Honduras.


The state of Oregon paid $124,700 to a Virginia firm for a disaster preparedness plan that would keep the state's lottery system up and running in the event of a major earthquake. Following criticism over misplaced priorities, a lottery spokesman said keeping the games going is important because it generates $1 million a day in revenues for the state.

Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's "The Big Show," to Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren, August 18, 1998:
Can Ken Starr ignore the apparent breadth of the sympathetic response to the President's speech? Facially, it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses. If he now pursues the President of the United States, who, however flawed his apology was, came out and invoked God, family, his daughter, a political conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink, would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?


A summer press release from Alliance for Survival an antinuclear organization based in Santa Monica, California:
A "Nuclear Chocolate" meltdown will be held at the Alliance for Survival's Santa Monica office on Thursday, July 9, to support the boycott of Nestlé, the manufacturer of the "Nuclear Chocolate" candy bar that is being sold as a promotion for the film Armageddon. Anti-nuclear activists who feel the Nuclear Chocolate candy bar desensitizes children and adults to real nuclear dangers will conduct the meltdown in our office kitchen and will use the melted candy to create a chocolate-worded message to Nestlé reading, "NO NUCLEAR CHOCOLATE!" The melted-chocolate message will then be delivered to Nestlé's Chocolate and Confection Division in Glendale.
Nestlé USA's press release in response:
Nestlé is a food company; we make food and do not take a position on the issue of nuclear arms. Nuclear Chocolate is a promotional product. The word "nuclear" is used in a fun, "cool" manner. It is a common synonym among today's youth for words like "electric" and "awesome." The product is simply a chocolate bar and is intended to deliver fun and excitement to those who eat it.

The Equal Opportunity Commission in Perth, Australia, rejected a racial harassment claim by an American who said co-workers constantly referred to him as "the Yank" and "the f***ing Yank," forcing him into psychotherapy.


Questions fielded by the hot line at the Society for Human Resource Management included: "Can I fire an employee who brings an unassembled bomb to work?" "Can we fire an employee who just ran over a customer with a forklift?" and "Do we have to allow an employee to bring in snakes because his psychiatrist feels it will help him with his phobia?"

The Department of Transportation has sent guidelines to airline companies proposing they set up peanut-free zones on all flights. Under the guidelines, if a passenger asks for a peanut-free seat, no peanuts could be served in that row, nor in the row ahead of it or behind it. The proposal came in response to complaints, filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, from people with food allergies. Allergy symptoms include runny eyes, hives, swollen lips, choking, and in extreme cases, death. Mitch Head, spokesman for the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, described the guidelines as "taking a sledgehammer to a gnat," and said that people who are allergic to peanuts are almost always born with the condition and are well aware that they should not consume the nuts. But allergy sufferers say even the smell of peanuts causes them problems.

The New York Times also reports that many schools have banned peanut-butter sandwiches altogether for fear that allergic children may trade away the hypoallergenic lunches supplied by their parents for their friends' tastier sandwiches. An activist group, the Food Allergy Network, has reportedly encouraged parents to raise concerns about this danger. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded the death of only one child since 1995 and 88 deaths overall in the United States over 17 years—not just from peanuts but from all food allergies combined.

In California, twelve Safeway employees filed grievances with the National Labor Relations Board, complaining that the supermarket chain's policy requiring female clerks to smile and make eye contact with customers has caused them to be propositioned and even sexually harassed by customers who mistake their friendliness for flirting.

In his quest for a job as a subway motorman, 450-pound Dwayne Richardson successfully sued New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority for discrimination after he failed a physical by becoming exhausted after a three-minute walk. It's doubtful he could even fit inside many New York subway cabs, which are about the size of a phone booth.


Deborah Gaines sued Boston's Preterm Health Services clinic, four years after John Salvi III attacked the clinic in a brutal shootout that left two people dead. Gaines, who witnessed the attack while she was waiting for an appointment to have an abortion, did not reschedule the procedure and instead gave birth to a daughter, Vivian, seven months later. Her suit alleges that due to the post-traumatic stress she suffered, Gaines was unable to return to a clinic setting, gave birth against her original intentions, and thus deserves compensation from the clinic for the cost of raising her daughter, who has learning disabilities and is hyperactive. Gaines says she had to quit her job and put her three other children into day care to take care of her daughter's special needs, and she says she sought the abortion while on welfare at a time when she wanted to take the GED and get her life back together. Gaines alleges that the clinic should have had better security following similar attacks upon abortion clinics. But alas, the two guards on duty at the time have also sued the clinic, alleging emotional trauma.

Yet another health threat, noted in a Reuters dispatch from Washington, D.C., September 2, 1998:
Children, pregnant women and the elderly should not eat alfalfa sprouts until growers find a way to reduce the risk of a deadly bacteria that infects some sprouts, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday. California health officials had urged vulnerable consumers to stop eating sprouts because of three food poisoning outbreaks in the state. Sixty consumers in California fell ill after eating tainted sprouts during the summer, officials said.

[Ed.: The Centers for Disease Control estimated that alfalfa sprouts caused 20,000 cases of salmonella poisoning among Americans in 1995.]

A meditation on the painful limits of social policy, from a brochure, titled "Shoot Smart Shoot Safe: Tips for safer crack injection," distributed along with clean needles to the addicts of Bridgeport, Connecticut:
Get your stuff ready:
  1. Have a cooker, water, syringe, citric or ascorbic acid, cotton, and alcohol wipes ready.
  2. Put crack and citric or ascorbic acid (about a pinch to a slab) in cooker. Add plenty of water (about 30-40 I.U.). Smash and mix well.
  3. Add cotton and draw up into syringe.
Get a vein ready:
  1. Tie off, find a good vein, and clean with an alcohol wipe.
  2. Inject; make sure you are in a vein, register, look for blood backflow in syringe.
  3. Slowly push plunger in for injection. This helps to avoid vein trauma and collapse.
  4. Withdraw needle. Apply pressure for about a minute. Use clean gauze, tissue, cloth, or whatever you have handy.
Take care of yourself:
  1. Drink plenty of fluids. Juice, water, Gatorade, whatever you can.
  2. EAT—nutrition is important.
  3. Take a vitamin. Extra vitamin C is a plus.
  4. Take care of your veins. Rotate injection sites, use an antibiotic ointment on your injection sites.
  1. Never share a syringe or cooker.
  2. Always use a new syringe with every injection.
  3. Rotate veins. Use different veins often.
  4. Always clean injection area with an alcohol wipe before injecting.
  5. Use only citric or ascorbic acid to dissolve crack. Avoid vinegar or lemon juice; these can lead to serious infections.
If speedballing:
  1. Prepare you dope as normal.
  2. Add crack, citric acid and follow steps in #2.