In a related matter, Consumers Union is urging parents to throw out their plastic baby bottles because one study has suggested a substance called bisphenol-A (BPA) could cause damage to the reproductive systems of male mice born from pregnant mice who were fed minute amounts of BPA, and that traces could also leach from bottles containing heated formula, potentially leading to "developmental" disabilities in children. While Consumers Union noted that parents would have to return to using traditional glass bottles, they offered no comment on the comparative risk of handing a baby such a heavy, breakable object.
An Inclusive Litany
District court judge Lawrence Kahn ruled that the case can proceed only if it focuses on individual state bureaucrats for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Otherwise, the state "may seek to take advantage of a sovereign immunity or state's-rights defense to avoid accountability in federal court for violations of federal civil-rights laws, environmental laws and safety or health laws, among other areas."
A planned Hawaiian luau at Dartmouth College was cancelled after students complained it was ethnically insensitive.
The party, which was to be held last weekend, was cancelled after a student sent an e-mail message to everyone on campus describing the party as an act of "bigotry."
Plaintiffs argued that GM could have designed a safer fuel tank for only an extra $8.59 per vehicle, but chose not to do so because it had a corporate policy of not spending more than $240 per vehicle to improve fuel system design, a theory that no witness confirmed. The judge barred evidence on the blood alcohol level of the drunk driver, evidence that a passenger in the Malibu who blocked exit from the car after the crash was also intoxicated and tested positive for cocaine, favorable statistical evidence on the Malibu's safety history, and even prevented GM from showing that the alternative fuel system design advanced by the defense was actually used on a production vehicle that went on to fail a government safety test.
Public office should no more prevent a President from seeking psychotherapy than it should prevent him from seeking chemotherapy. And the Clintons, of all people, should know that better than anyone—they've made mental-health care a political cause. In the 1992 campaign they joined with Al and Tipper Gore to court boomers by talking openly of their past experiences with family counseling, occasioned by the drug bust of Mr. Clinton's half-brother and the hospitalization of the Gores' son after he was hit by a car. "By not confronting problems early," Mr. Clinton said all too prophetically at that time, "you end up making things worse."
Similarly—and just two months ago—the Clintons and the Gores held a full-day White House Conference on Mental Health. The supposed point of that event, they said, was to counter the myths of mental illness, thereby encouraging the frightened or embarrassed to seek help. "Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all," said Mr. Clinton in a radio address. If mental illness is left untreated, he said at the conference, "the loss of human potential is staggering."
For all his lofty preaching to the rest of us, perhaps it was fear of just such bias that explains (but does not excuse) his inability to seek treatment for his own condition, even at the cost of putting himself and everyone around him through hell. Perhaps he felt that while a sports hero like Mark McGwire of a TV news star like Mike Wallace or even the country's most popular fictional Mafia boss, Tony Soprano, can flourish after going public with their mental-health histories, such revelations still condemn a chief executive to charges of weakness. But isn't it weaker to let one's emotional problems metastasize rather than address them? What does it say about our culture that it may be easier for a President to live down having oral sex with an intern in the Oval Office than having oral discourse in a doctor's office? ...
The more obfuscation and fear that surround mental illnesses of all types and their treatment, the less hope we have of ameliorating public policy and prejudices that leave these illnesses undertreated, untreated and mistreated. At the gravest end of the mental-health spectrum, this failure produces catastrophes that are fast becoming a fixture of the evening news.
In the aftermath of Columbine, no one stated our predicament more acutely than Dr. W. Walter Menninger, of the famed clinic bearing his family's name in Topeka, Kansas. Speaking to the American Psychiatric Association in Washington, he pinpointed the national hypocrisy: "We recognize incidents of mental illness, and at the same time we stigmatize people who suffer from it or seek help to deal with it. We say 'seek treatment,' but at the same time we limit access, and availability, and insurance to pay for it, and in the end make it more difficult to get treatment. There is a disconnectedness between what we say we need as a society and what we do as a society."
The results of this schism between words and actions, and the piecemeal mental-health system it leads to, cut across all demographic and cultural lines. As the White House sex farce was preventable, so, conceivably, was the tragic rampage of this week's shooter, the latest human time bomb who appears to have entered that so-called system only to fall through its cracks.
[Ed.: Not long into Clinton's first term of office, Edith Efron wrote a prescient article in Reason asserting that the president was literally dysfunctional, suffering from a cognitive disorder preventing him from acting on a set of fixed priorities.]
New York City Councilwoman Christine Quinn (D), a lesbian, was elected to office last year with the strong support of the large gay communities in the Greenwich Village and Chelsea neighborhoods. Now Quinn finds herself contending with nasty rumors about her private life. According to the New York Post, Quinn dumped her longtime girlfriend shortly after the election and went on a vacation with her consultant Wayne Kowadler. That prompted the rumors—politically damaging in Quinn's district—that Quinn and Kowadler were having a romantic relationship. Quinn spokeswoman Maura Keaney maintains that Quinn is truly a lesbian and "there's no sexual or romantic aspect to their friendship." Kowadler, meanwhile, told the Post, "I am not now, nor have I ever been, a heterosexual—not that there's anything wrong with that."
The Ann Arbor Coalition Against Rape would like to apologize for the pain that was caused by this year's "Take Back the Night March." A survivor who did not identify as male or female was forced to leave the march by other participants, who perceived this individual to be a man. In order to make the march welcome to transgendered individuals, it was stated that the march was for women as well as those who identify as women. However, this attempt failed, as it excluded individuals like this person who do not fit within male/female gender categories. It was not our intent to overlook violence against transgendered individuals. The planning committee is very sorry for making this grave error and for the pain it has caused. Although the planning committee members change each year, we envision in future years the lessons that have been learned will lead to increased awareness and an atmosphere of safety that includes all individuals, regardless of gender identification.
Coalition Against Rape Ann Arbor
This course investigates pornographic literature as a body of discursive practices whose "materials," according to the cultural critic Susan Sontag, comprise "one of the extreme forms of human consciousness." The pornography we study is an art of transgression which impels human sexuality toward, against and beyond the limits which have traditionally defined civil discourses and practices—defined, that is, by regimes of dominance and submission, inclusion or exclusion, in the domains of... emotional pleasure. Our examination accordingly includes the implication of pornography in so-called perverse practices such as voyeurism, bestiality, sadism, and masochism, and considers the inflections of the dominant white-heterosexual tradition by alternative sexualities and genders, as well as by race, class, age, mental and physical competence. We also attempt to identify the factors, intrinsic and extrinsic, which align the pornographic impulse with revolutionary or conservative political practices. But our primary focus is on pornography as radical representations of sexuality whose themes are violation, degradation, and exposure.
The university issued the following statement in response to controversy over both the content of the course, readings for which ranged from the Marquis de Sade to Hustler magazine, and its final student assignment: to "create your own work of pornography," in the words of Hope Weissman, the course's instructor. To fulfill the requirement, one young male student showed a video of his face while he masturbated. Ms. Weissman explained that in her teaching style, "I don't put any constraints." [sic]
This Spring semester the College of Letters offered for the second time a course on pornography. The course included a student project as its final assignment. Before members of the class, one female student executed a project in which she invited her classmates to hit her with tiny harmless whips that she provided. Two friends tied her to a board, with her back to the class. She was dressed in slacks but no blouse. At her invitation, some of her classmates did—hesitantly, feebly, and to the general amusement of everyone—gently whip her.
No members of the class were at risk. Nothing more serious than ideas were at stake.
[Ed.: The controversy came at the same time Mount Holyoke started offering an uncredited class on strip dancing, which culminated in performances at a local topless bar.]