An Inclusive Litany


In Cincinnati, taxi driver Hassan Taher refused to allow Annie McEachrin's dog into his cab, which led her to sue him. McEachrin is blind and requires a guide dog. But as a Muslim, Taher considers dogs unclean, and he insists that by refusing to allow the dog, he was practicing his religion.

"There is a new book out I commend to you," President Clinton commented, "by Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins called Natural Capitalism." The book the president apparently takes seriously recommends drastically curtailing nearly all forms of resource and land use. According to the authors, "Of the $9 trillion spent every year in the United States, at least $2 trillion annually is wasted." As "waste," the authors count spending on law, litigation, accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, and recordkeeping. The authors also regard much health care spending as wasteful, complaining that the sector sucks up "$69 billion [annually] on obesity, $274 billion on heart disease and strokes, and $52 billion on substance abuse." The authors also declare that "[t]he total hidden social costs of driving, not paid by the motorist, total nearly $1 trillion" annually.


From an August Justice Department report detailing federal inmates' use of telephones to facilitate crimes while in prison. As a result of a class action lawsuit, phone privileges are now virtually unlimited. While all calls are recorded, prison officials monitor only 3.5 percent of them.
Inmate bilked trucking companies out of funds (approximately $100,000) available to truckers on the road, using three-way calling and outside contacts to cash the checks.

Inmate used phone to direct the importation of heroin from Pakistan to New York.

Inmate defrauded females he met through "lonely hearts" ads. He claimed to be a white-collar criminal with much money on the outside that he needed the females to help him access.

Phones were used to assist in planning construction of explosive device.

Organized-crime-member inmate schemed with co-conspirator on the outside to re-encode magnetic strips on counterfeit credit cards.

Inmate used phones to communicate to co-conspirators concerning a multi-kilogram cocaine deal. Also used a cellular phone, provided by correctional officer, to arrange the murder of the judge in his pending case.

Inmate used phone to arrange with his mother to procure someone to murder the girlfriend of one of the witnesses in his case.

Inmate laundered $175,000 to pay his attorney fees, using other inmates' phone accounts and call forwarding.

Inmate used the telephone to arrange a drug delivery to a tree outside the institution to be picked up by an inmate while working as a member of the grounds crew.

Inmate had his corporate secretary forward calls for hours each day to conduct a bank-fraud scheme that involved buying and selling airplanes.

Kerry B. Grandahl, filed a federal suit against the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences, claiming her chronic depression is a protected disability that caused her "exam phobia" and poor scores, leading to her wrongful dismissal from the five-year program.


Jerry Riscoe, who owns a bar in Harmar Township, Pennsylvania, is leading an effort to stop construction of a church next door. He says he has nothing against the Jehovah's Witnesses who planned to build it, but he worried that they would eventually start complaining about him, and would enjoy an unfair legal advantage. Riscoe said he found it "strange that Pennsylvania has a law prohibiting a bar from being built next to a church, but... nothing to stop a church from being built next to a bar."

Editors of the New York Times must find other hobbies now that it may no longer use the term "voodoo economics." According to its latest editorial style sheet, "Voodoo is a religion with many followers in African and the West Indies, not to mention the United States. They are offended by disparaging uses of voodoo to mean irrational beliefs."

Writers at the Times also may not refer to a woman as a housewife or homemaker. But the style sheet also prohibits disclosing a man's occupation without also disclosing his wife's situation in life, even if she is a housewife or homemaker.


A conference on violence against women sponsored by the World Council of Churches got off to a shaky start when many Third World women shared their accounts of sexual abuse and forced prostitution. But Western women offered their own perspectives. American theologian Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz noted that women who invent their own theology often suffer "institutional violence." Worship of the goddess Sophia was often met by narrow-minded criticism from mainstream religious leaders, leading to "theological silencing." As Ms. Isasi-Diaz put it, "Being silenced, being ignored, not being valued... this is what violence is all about."

Mexican officials ordered Chato, a Rottweiler guard dog, to be put to sleep after he mauled and killed a robber who was trying to make off from a luxury home with stolen goods.


In a Kansas school, 13-year-old T.J. West was suspended for intimidation and racial harassment after idly drawing a picture of the Confederate flag on a scrap of paper.

A story by Christopher Beamon, a seventh-grader in Ponder, Texas, written for a class assignment, to write a scary story for Halloween. Good job, Chris! After the parents of students named in the story expressed concern Beamon might harm their children, he was picked up by police and held in a juvenile detention facility for five days. Before he was jailed, Ms. Amanda Henry gave Chris an A-plus for effort and creativity. Christopher, who doesn't think he did anything wrong, says he wants to be writer someday.
My flashlight went out and I heard someone right behind me and I turned in a very slowly scared way and boom the lights came on and the door bell rang. I walked very slowly and creepy and turned the knob ding dong the door bell went again. I said just a minute and I will be right there and I looked through the little hole in the door and Robin said Boo. I told him to come in and have a seat and we both wated and wated for Ismael because he was supposed to bring the oz so we could get high but a half an hour later still no Ismael so I got the Idea of freeon and we grabbed a bag and a knife and ran out back to the airconditionar. We through the bag over the nostle and covered it tightly and used the knife to press the volv. We started to hear something after we got high so we ditched everything we quickly run to the door to see who it was and there wasn't anybody there then we heard someone at the back door to see who it was I thought it was a crook so I busted out with a 12 guage and Ismael busted out with 9 mm and we step off the porch and this bloody body droped down in front of us and scared us half to death and about 20 kids started cracking up and pissed me off so I shot Matt, Jake, and Ben started laughing so hard that I acssedently shot Mrs. Henry. Ismael saw someone steeling antifreeze so Ismael shot over ther neer the airconditionar and hit somebody. They also scattered out and went home and my mom drove up and everything was back to normal but they didn't have any heads.


Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, quoted on sexual harassment concerns in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal:
The right wing has cut off the opportunities for women to get ahead by trying to kill affirmative action everywhere. And now they're trying to cut off from us sleeping around to get ahead. You know, there have been some perfectly good big salaries, big titles that have come as a consequence of little liaisons like this. And now those right-wing nuts are going to slam that door, too.

Thirteen-year-old Benjamin A. Ratner was suspended from the Blue Ridge Middle School in Purcellville, Virginia, because he had a knife in his locker. A girl in his class had brought a kitchen paring knife to school, tucked inside a notebook binder, and later passed Benjamin a note suggesting that she might use it to kill herself. Benjamin says he persuaded the girl to give him the binder with the knife, which he never actually saw. He said he then planned to bring the knife home to his mother so she could take it to the girl's parents and talk with them about seeking help for their daughter. Benjamin put the notebook in his locker, which he concluded was a safe place because no one else had his combination. But the girl told two friends, and they told school officials. Both he and the girl were suspended immediately for ten days, and Benjamin's suspension was later extended for over three months because he failed to turn the knife in immediately. One of the school's disciplinary panel members said, "We have to send a message to all of the students that we're serious about their safety."


In the midst of an exhibit at London's Tate Gallery that featured artist Tracey Emin's own plain rumpled bed, it took a few moments for politely applauding art patrons to realize that the two Chinese men who had suddenly stripped to their waists and jumped onto the bed were not a part of the exhibit. The pair had painted their bodies with terms such as "Communism," "Internationalism," and "Anti-Stuckism," trampolining on the bed while pouring vodka onto the sheets.

After an initial pause, security guards wrestled the two men off the artwork, but its sheets and pillows were left in hopeless disarray. The pair, who had been trained in London's finest art schools, claimed their actions represented performance art that exemplified the concept of "Anti-Stuckism." One complained after his arrest, "the way they treated us visual artists was ignorant."

A New York art exhibit displaying various working guns and that invited visitors to take a live bullet with them as they left was shut down by police. The exhibitor, Mary Boone, was charged with criminal weapon possession and unlawful possession and disposal of ammunition, charges that were later dropped in exchange for a promise to knock it off.


An Associated Press dispatch, November 27, 1999:
A Canadian tourist who claims that his penis was crushed by a faulty toilet seat at a Starbucks Corp restaurant has sued the giant coffee retailer for $1.5 million, his attorney said Monday.

"Our client, Edward Skwarek, was in a seated position on the toilet when he turned to retrieve the toilet paper in back of the seat when the seat shifted causing his penis to be caught and crushed between the seat and the bowl," said Richard Robbins, the lawyer for Skwarek, 37, of Toronto.

The suit, filed Nov. 26 in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges the coffee house was careless in "allowing a defective toilet seat to remain open... causing a hazardous and unsafe condition... in its public restrooms." ...

The suit also claims that as a result of Starbucks' carelessness, Skwarek suffered a "crushed penis, Peyronie's disease, retrograde ejaculation with consequent substantial reduction in sperm count, infertility, severe bruising to his penis and sexual function impairment."

Peyronie's disease usually causes deviation of the erect penis to one side...

Skwarek seeks $1 million in damages and his wife $500,000 because she has been "deprived of his services."

School officials in Cobb County, Georgia, ripped reproductions of the famous 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware from fifth-grade history books because, as a school principal explained it, a watch fob resting on the general's thigh looked suspiciously like "George Washington's private part."

Officials in Muscogee County dealt with the same problem simply by painting over the offending detail. "We said some kids will never even notice it, but there's always going to be the one or two who are going to get everything started," explained an administrator.

After the school board of Decatur, Illinois, decided to expel six students for going on a violent rampage at a football game, Jesse Jackson appeared on the scene to denounce the application of zero-tolerance laws to what he regarded as a minor scuffle, "something silly, like children do." Jackson, however, had been terribly misinformed, as became obvious when a videotape of the horrifying gang melee turned up. Jackson, however, declared that the students, all of whom are black, were being singled out because of their race—explicitly linking Decatur to Selma, Alabama, and to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. When the controversy initially started, an exasperated school superintendent Kenneth Arndt blurted out that three of the students were "third-year freshman" and that the group as a whole had missed more than 300 days of school. As a result, Jackson's allies sued the school for $30 million for breach of privacy.


A program for a film series sponsored by Princeton University:
The Fall 1999 Film Series
Sponsored by the Program in African-American Studies, Princeton University and Co-Sponsored by the Black Graduate Caucus

Begins Wednesday, November 10th.

November 10—8:15 pm * The Superwoman in Black Action Films...
Foxy Brown
Directed by Jack Hill (1974, 92 minutes)
Foxy Brown is a 1970s black action—"blaxploitation"—film which stars Pam Grier. According to one critic, Grier's performance is "endowed with a violent sensuality." "Foxy Brown" is the film's heroine who personalizes her vengeance against drug dealers, murderers, and anyone who seeks the oppression of her brothers and sisters.
Discussion led by Donna Jones (Assistant Professor, English and African-American Studies)

November 17—8:15 pm * Racism & Homophobia
Tongues Untied
Directed by Marlon Riggs (1989, 55 minutes)
This highly acclaimed film by Emmy Award-winning director Marlon Riggs combines poetry, personal testimony, rap and performance to describe the racism and homophobia that confront black gay men.
Discussion led by Fred Wherry (Graduate Student, Woodrow Wilson School)

December 1—8:15 pm * Beauty and the Black Female Body
The Life and Times of Sara Baartman—"The Hottentot Venus"
**Best Documentary, 1999, Milan Festival of African Cinema
**Best Documentary, 1999, FESPACO, Pan-African Film Festival
Directed by Zola Maseko (1998, 52 minutes)
Using historical drawings, cartoons, legal documents, and interviews with noted cultural historians and anthropologists, this documentary deconstructs the social, political, scientific and philosophical assumptions which transformed one young African woman into a representation of savage sexuality and racial inferiority.
Discussion led by Noliwe Rooks (Visiting Professor, African-American Studies) & Stephanie Smith (Graduate Student, English)

December 8—8:15 pm * Black Manhood in Rap & Reggae Cultures
The Darker Side of Black
Directed by Isaac Julien (1995, 59 minutes)
This investigation of the "darker" side of contemporary black music takes a close look at Rap and Reggae—particularly the complex issues raised by both genres, such as ritualized machismo, misogyny, homophobia, and gun glorification. With scenes from dance halls and hip hop clubs in London, Jamaica, and the USA, this film uses music video clips and interviews with Cornel West and other cultural critics to challenge assumptions about black manhood/masculinity/sexuality.
Discussion led by Lyndon Dominique (Graduate Student, English) and Keith Mayes (Graduate Student, History)

December 15—8:15 pm * Interracial Romance
The Politics of Love: In Black and White
Directed by Ed Burley and Chris Weck (1993, 33 minutes)
The first documentary to explore the personal and political implications of [black-white] interracial romance in America. The film's two directors—one black, one white—uncover unspoken community norms and submerged issues of identity.

The Potluck and the Passion
Directed by Cheryl Dunye (1992, 30 minutes)
A commentary on [black-white] interracial lesbian relationships and the historical relationships of African-American women to issues of race, sexuality, and gender.

Seoul II Soul
Directed by Hak J. Chung (1998, 25 minutes)
This film by a Korean American filmmaker takes a close look at interracial romance and biracial identity by focusing on a very engaging family—the Yates household, which consists of the father, a black Korean War veteran, the mother, a Korean war bride, and their three Afro-Amerasian children.
Discussion led by Anastasia Curwood (Graduate Student, History) and Scott Lucious (Dissertation Fellow, African-American Studies)
Screening Location & Time:

Rocky Mathey Theater
Wednesdays @ 8:15 pm

All screenings followed by an open discussion
Juice and cookies served

Admission: Free

For more information e-mail Scott Lucious:

"Black sexuality," according to Cornel West, "is a taboo subject in America primarily because it is a form of black power over which white America has had little control..." In Race Matters he argues that "Americans are obsessed with sex and fearful of black sexuality. The obsession has to do with a search for stimulation and meaning in a fast-paced, market-driven culture; the fear is rooted in visceral feelings about black bodies and fueled by sexual myths of black women and men. The dominant myths draw black women and men either as threatening creatures who have the potential for sexual power over whites, or as harmless, desexed underlings of a white culture."

The screenings and open discussions throughout this film series call attention to the need to demythologize and rethink black sexuality.

On September 26, 1998, police in Rogers, Arkansas, discovered the body of Jesse Dirkhising, a thirteen-year-old boy who had been tied up, raped, and murdered, in the apartment of two homosexual men, Joshua Brown and Davis Carpenter, who are now awaiting trial for the crime.

The boy's murder, which received virtually no national media coverage, occurred approximately one month prior to the brutal murder, in Wyoming, of Matthew Shepard, a young homosexual man, at the hands of three parolees who thought he was making a pass at them. That crime received massive attention, and much criticism was leveled at the religious right, who were said to bear moral responsibility for the crime. Denver Post editorialist Sue O'Brien explained the disparate coverage thus: "Jesse Dirkhising... wasn't being punished because he was young, or male, or straight or gay. He was simply there." Indeed.

One of Shepard's killers, Aaron McKinney, said that a combination of "gay panic" syndrome and the drug methamphetamine made him kill Shepard, and that he was thus not responsible. But as prosecutor Cal Rerucha pointed out, gay panic apparently had no role in the numerous other violent offenses against heterosexuals perpetrated by him and his cohorts.

From a ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott, in response to a lawsuit initiated by lawyer Richard Ganulin that challenged federal recognition of Christmas as a holiday under the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The following are the first five stanzas of the ruling's nine-stanza introductory section:

The court will address
Plaintiff's seasonal confusion
Erroneously believing Christmas
merely a religious intrusion.
We are all better for Santa,
The Easter Bunny too,
And maybe the Great Pumpkin,
To name just a few!
An extra day off
Is hardly high treason;
It may be spent as you wish,
Regardless of reason.
One is never jailed
For not having a tree
For not going to church
For not spreading glee!
The court will uphold,
Seemingly contradictory causes,
Decreeing 'The Establishment' and 'Santa'
Both worthwhile claus(es).