An Inclusive Litany

12/31/00

Kentucky gynecologist Harold Crall had to surrender his medical license in 1994 after having what he called "inappropriate contact with the female patients." The licensing board later let him resume practicing medicine, but only if he worked in the state corrections department and never saw another female patient.

Crall is now suing his insurance company for $8,700 a month because, he says, he is a sex addict. While the American Psychological Association does not yet recognize sexual addiction as a legitimate disorder, Crall's psychiatrist says, "There is no question in my mind, as with all addictions, a sexual addiction is a disease with genetic predisposition."

12/30/00

Napster, Inc., sued a souvenir apparel company for trademark infringement for allegedly selling T-shirts and other items bearing its logo without its consent.

12/22/00

In London, one of the artworks being considered for this year's prestigious Turner Prize is Tomoko Takahashi's "Load of Old Rubbish," which consists of a load of old rubbish. The piece is said to remind the artist of "the trauma of taking her driving test."

The Canadian National Post, December 22, 2000:
Frosty the Snowman, though nurturing with children and susceptible to mild spells, reinforces gender stereotypes and male domination of life outside the home, a British academic says.

Tricia Cusack, an art historian with the University of Birmingham who studies popular imagery, says British and North American culture represent snowmen as larger, older male figures whose place is outside the home, often in public places such as parks and schoolyards.

As such, they are relics of life before the sexual revolution, Ms. Cusack argues, as they are cast in contrast to the image of females as mothers and domestic providers.

"The snowman is, of course, white and invariably male," Ms. Cusack told BBC Radio in a special program earlier this week.

"[His] ritual location in the semi-public space of garden or field imaginatively reinforces a spatial social system, marking women's proper sphere as the domestic-private and men's as the commercial-public.

"It presents an image, however jocular, of a masculine control of public space."

Ms. Cusack's assessment stems from a paper she wrote on snowmen two years ago in which she explored their historical and social meaning through the ages.

The piece, published in New Formations, a journal of popular culture, concluded that the typical snowman—with his hat, scarf and jolly countenance—is a festival figure representing carnal enjoyment.

"Like Father Christmas, he is round, fat and smiling, suggesting overindulgence," she says. "The classic carnival figure is a fat, lusty eater and drinker."

Those qualities also conjure notions of a well-fed, dominating, patriarchal male, she says.

The notion of snowmen as social icons first struck Ms. Cusack while she was shopping for Christmas cards, many of which bore images of the rotund, happy, distinctively male snowmen.

"I wanted to investigate why this figure was always depicted as male and what it was supposed to represent at Christmas time." ...

12/18/00

The German Cartel Office ordered Wal-Mart and two German competitors to raise prices because other stores might otherwise not be able to match them. The relevant law was enacted in 1933, eight months after Adolph Hitler came to power, and was designed to protect small shopkeepers against the spread of large, often Jewish-owned, department stores.

[Ed.: In June, 2001, Germany abolished another Hitler-era law that limited store discounts and banned "buy two, get one free" offers.]

A Fresno, California, elementary school principal asked his choir director not to allow the secular song "Jingle Bells" as part of "winter" recitals for fear of offending the school's non-Christians.

In Newport Beach, California, parents had to take down the colored lights they used to decorate Mariners Elementary School, after other parents threatened to sue.

In an effort to "practice diversity," the city of Eugene, Oregon, banned Christmas trees from public spaces.

And a school principal in Cobb County, Georgia, told teachers to avoid even uttering the word "Christmas."

From a reader survey in the spring issue of Transgender Tapestry magazine:
I am:

male
female
male to female
female to male
helping professional
other

And I consider myself a:

man
woman
third (4th, etc.) gendered
nongendered person
intersexed person
cross-dresser
transvestite
transgenderist
I do not consider myself transgendered
I'm not sure whether I'm transgendered
pre-operative transsexual
postoperative transsexual
nonoperative transsexual
androgyne
butch
femme
other

My sexual orientation is:

heterosexual
bisexual
gay man
lesbian
asexual
pansexual

I am attracted to (check all that apply):

women when I present myself as a woman
men when I present myself as a woman
men when I present myself as a man
women when I present myself as a man
transpeople
the individual, regardless of their gender

In Michigan, a decision by the Marquette school board to stop using the image of a Native American as the symbol of its sports teams resulted in a large protest led by Native Americans.

12/13/00

According to the new sexual misconduct code at Columbia University, alleged violators are not allowed to confront their accuser or obtain witnesses on their own behalf. They are not allowed to hear hostile witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, or hear testimony from the accuser. They are not allowed to call into question the mental state of the accuser. Nor are they allowed to have an attorney present, and outside the courtroom they are enjoined from discussing the case.

Writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a group of pediatricians and neurologists conclude that Winnie-the-Pooh probably suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and should be put on a low-dose regimen of Ritalin as soon as possible. According to the article, Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood exhibit a variety of disorders described in the American Psychiatric Association's authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Piglet has an anxiety disorder whose symptoms include blushing and stammering, and he should be taking anti-panic medication such as paroxetine. Eeyore suffers from "chronic dysthymia" and should be taking an antidepressant such as fluoxetine. Owl is "obviously bright, but dyslexic." Tigger is hyperactive and shows a "recurrent pattern of risk-taking behaviors," like clambering tall trees and eating haycorns and thistles, though the authors disagree on whether he needs a stimulant or a sedative. And while Christopher Robin does not yet have a diagnosable condition other than that he lacks parental supervision and talks to animals, his haircut and clothes illustrated in the Milne books lead the doctors to believe there may be "possible future gender identity issues."

While the article is no doubt tongue-in-cheek, its authors insist there's a serious underlying point. "These characters manifest some pretty significant disorder patterns," says principal author Sarah Shea, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "Sadly, the forest is not, in fact, a place of enchantment, but rather one of disenchantment, where neurodevelopmental and psychosocial problems go unrecognized and untreated."

12/11/00

From a review of Robert Service's new biography of Lenin in the Washington Post Book World, October 15, 2000:
Service also treats the key question of Lenin and violence in superficial fashion. Service is shocked by Lenin's belief in the use of state-administered mass violence to achieve political ends. Do only totalitarian dictators believe this? No: The most admired 20th-century political leaders—Churchill, say, or Roosevelt—not only believed the same thing but are celebrated for it. What is the difference between them and Lenin? Mainly this: He believed in the legitimacy of class war while they believed in the legitimacy of national war. For a political end such as the defeat of Nazism or Imperial Japan, most of us accept mass violence and the death of innocent people as a justified means.

Monterey Peninsula College professor David Clemens proposed a new course, "English 38—More or Less Human? A Study of Literature, Technology, and Human Nature." Students enrolled in the course would read contemporary classics such as A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? They would watch movies such as The Manchurian Candidate, Blade Runner, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, all the while pondering the question: What is a human being and what isn't?

However, the Curriculum Advisory Committee quickly rejected the course proposal because it violated Item 14 of the college's Course Proposal Outline, which requires that all new courses "include a description of how course topics are treated to develop a knowledge and understanding of race, class, and gender issues." In particular, Professor Clemens was told by Pat Lilley, chairwoman of the committee, that he wasn't using his course in a way that would expose the habits of "sexist males."

Andrew Sullivan in the Sunday Times of London, November 11, 2000:
The great divides that have left the whole nation in limbo

The election shows how America is split between town and country, man and woman, black and white.

If you can, cast your mind back to what India looked like before Pakistan and Bangladesh split off. A vast subcontinent, overwhelmingly Hindu, was framed by a Muslim necklace.

Now look at the current electoral map of the United States. It's a vast continent, overwhelmingly conservative, with a liberal fringe up and down the Pacific Coast, sprawling along the Canadian border with a blob around Chicago, and then on to the northeast corridor and further south to Florida's easternmost shore.

If last week's election proved anything, it is that America is currently two nations, as culturally and politically alien as they are geographically distinct. You have the coasts and the heartland, cities and countryside, elites and masses, men and women. In each pair, one means Republican, the other means Democrat.

Sullivan again, writing for a different audience, on a different continent, in the New York Times, November 26, 2000:
Two Nations, Undivided

If you take a look at that remarkable postelection map, in which all of George W. Bush's states are red, and all of Al Gore's states are blue, you would be forgiven for thinking that we live in essentially two nations. A friend recalled the map of pre-independence India: a vast, red Hindu subcontinent adorned with a Muslim necklace in the regions that would shortly become Pakistan and Bangladesh.... The professional political classes' careers were at stake, but many others saw it as a bitter fight over not very much.... The distinctions between the major candidates were, on a cosmic level, trivial... It's easier, of course, to put them into neat, little boxes: red and blue, right and left, heartland and coasts. But if this election showed anything, it is that the political need for this simplicity is almost proportional to its disappearance in our lives.

Sullivan, back in the Sunday Times of London, the same day:
Gore plots next step in 'legal coup'

This endgame is enough to make any fair-minded person realise that Gore is a danger to the country and the constitution. He is beginning to make Richard Nixon look magnanimous and Bill Clinton look honest. I once believed that he was a good man, of serious purpose and honest intent. That belief is no longer tenable.

He is a coldly ambitious man who is prepared to hold the country hostage to this trauma indefinitely and destroy his party's slow march back to the centre of American politics in the process.

We should all be praying that he does not make it to the White House.

Again, Sullivan, the next day in the New Republic:
Chill

So relax and enjoy. As I write, I still don't know who will be president-elect. But you know what? It doesn't matter that much. The differences are now so small that it will matter little who walks away with the Oval Office.

12/10/00

After four violent incidents (one fatal) erupted at a football game at California State University in Sacramento, controversy erupted because one of the alleged perpetrators pictured in the school newspaper, in a dangerous choke hold while resisting arrest, was Latin American. As a result, Latino students stole 3,000 copies of the State Hornet, used them to barricade the paper's editorial offices, then presented a list of nonnegotiable demands, including a permanent ban on publication of any material depicting minority members in a negative light.

Throughout this uproar, university president Donald Gerth remained silent, even when the editorial offices received numerous bomb threats and death threats. But a month later, when the ethnic studies department received a bomb threat, he wheeled into action, calling out the campus police, contacting the FBI, and sending out a stern campus-wide letter condemning the threat and demanding tolerance.

12/8/00

After President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa refused to distribute AZT to pregnant women last year because he didn't believe the HIV virus caused AIDS, a South African newspaper polled all 27 of members of his cabinet, only one of whom said that HIV causes AIDS.

This August, the country's health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, forwarded an anonymous memo to various officials, addressed to all African health ministers, that claimed AIDS was being intentionally spread among Africans by Western nations through smallpox vaccines. She also forwarded material cited by the memo, a chapter from a book by William Cooper called Behold a Pale Horse, that claims involvement in the conspiracy by extraterrestrials and the Illuminati.

[Ed.: The following June, several AIDS- and African-advocacy groups called for the dismissal of Andrew Natsios, the new head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Natsios delivered a speech in which he suggested that administering AIDS treatment programs in Africa would be particularly difficult because of a feeble health infrastructure and because many Africans didn't have the clocks or watches necessary to tell when to take medication at specific times in the day. It may be difficult to evaluate those concerns, but note another story, reported on "60 Minutes," of a rape epidemic in South Africa, partly fueled by a belief that you can cure AIDS by having sex with a virgin.]

The prestigious San Francisco Ballet School has been charged with violating San Francisco's new city law against size discrimination after it rejected an eight-year-old girl it deemed too large to meet its criteria for slender dancers who are likely to go on to become professionals.

12/7/00

When the American Kennel Club warned that certain dogs were "not good" for children, Carl Holder of the Dachshund Club of America responded: "To say that all these dogs are 'this' and these dogs are 'that,' that's racism, canine racism."

[Ed.: Nicholas Dodman, author of Dogs Behaving Badly, says dogs that bite small children aren't necessarily vicious, but may suffer from "interspecies dyslexia," an inability to distinguish genuine threats.]

The Washington Post, December 7, 2000:
Bill Clinton says he would have been tempted to run for president again if the Constitution would have let him. And, he says, he would have won....

He adds that, as life expectancy rises, there may be a reason to change the 22nd Amendment, which limits presidents to two four-year terms.

12/6/00

The London Daily Telegraph reports the discovery that neo-Nazis have been infiltrating the European animal rights movement, apparently motivated by Adolph Hitler's well-known vegetarianism and opposition to animal testing.

Oberlin College will now offer credit for a course called "The Life and Times of Drew Barrymore." The weekly course is available through the Experimental College, a student-run department whose past offerings have included the study of the soap opera "Days of Our Lives," the "Art and Science of Home Brewing," and "Whiskey Appreciation."

12/4/00

Rather than spending thousands complying with the new Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, many websites have adapted by removing content intended for young children.

Following pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Park Service agreed to dismantle a popular 66-year-old memorial in California's Mojave Desert to local veterans of World War I, because the memorial is in the shape of a cross.

The questionable results of the presidential election could not hold a candle to the even more dubious Senate election in Missouri, where the incumbent Republican John Ashcroft conceded to his Democratic challenger, Mel Carnahan, even though the latter had died long before Election Day. Not for nothing is Missouri known as the "Show-Me State."

[Ed.: In St. Louis, a petition was filed requesting extra time at polling stations, on behalf of a man who supposedly complained he couldn't vote due to long lines, but who in fact was also dead.]

Following the election, ABC News reported that its poll showed "at least 57 percent favor a quick end to the impasse." But "at the same time a majority says the most important thing is not speed, but accuracy." A CBS poll from the same day showed that "pressure is building for the resolution of this election without end." But CNN reported that its poll showed that "the American public is not overly concerned about the situation and, in fact, is becoming less concerned as time goes on." A Gallup poll showed that the public favored including hand-counted tallies in the final tally, by 23 points. But, "perhaps a little paradoxically," an equally large percentage also said a machine recount is more accurate than a hand count.

"This is a replay of Selma, Alabama, all over again," said Jesse Jackson of the election in Florida, an extension of the "blood of blacks and Jews" spilled in 1965. Jackson repeatedly claimed blacks were discouraged from voting, and that elderly Jews ("Holocaust survivors") who may have been confused by their punch-hole ballots were targeted for "disenfranchisement," even in Democrat-run counties that had a strong interest in their votes, and who had approved the design of the ballots, ostensibly to make the print easier for senior citizens to read. "Something systematic was at work here," said Jackson. "It was large and systematic."

After cataloguing such statements, New York Times reporter Lynette Holloway wrote: "Mr. Jackson has been careful not to be inflammatory, which may be one reason the Democratic National Committee has changed its mind about his involvement."

[Ed.: Jackson also told Fox News that Bush "would preside but not govern because he took this [election] by Nazi tactics." Lewis Myers, Jackson's attorney, said his comparison of Bush to Nazis had been "taken out of context." Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager, told the press that "in disproportionately black areas, people faced dogs, guns, and were required to have three forms of ID." While this statement has no basis in fact, the NAACP's National Voter Fund ran ads during the campaign on black radio stations, making a similar claim that "There are many ways intimidation was, and still is, used to keep African Americans from voting. Mobs, guns and Jim Crow. Ropes, dogs, lies and hoses." The NAACP also ran a provocative television ad in the midst of the campaign that showed a pickup truck dragging a chain, and that accused Governor Bush of having "killed" James Byrd "all over again" for having opposed a change to the state's hate crimes law following his murder.

Jesse Jackson has been known to draw may other parallels with Selma, by the way. Chocolat, a romantic comedy about a woman who, by making delicious candies, liberates a repressed French village from the moralistic tyranny of its conservative mayor, was "as dramatic as November 7," Jackson told the New York Times. "[It] is really about us going to Birmingham to get the right to vote."

To be fair, Jackson may have been starting to lose it. He soon admitting to impregnating an aide and lying about it, at the same time he counseled President Clinton on his own sex scandal. He also apparently used his organization's tax-exempt funds to relocate the woman and bestow her with a questionable six-figure salary. As a result of the scandal, Jackson promised to remove himself from public life for a period of soul-searching and family healing, which lasted a little less than three days. The aide, Karin Stanford, later sued him over support payments and visitation.

There is now also considerable evidence that Jackson engaged in a pattern of extortion against large corporations, discontinuing public protests over alleged racial bias after they agreed to contribute to his organization. At a press conference, he lashed out at critics who were now scrutinizing some of his more questionable financial dealings: "These groups—they were against us marching for public accommodations. They were against us marching for the right to vote. They were against us marching for open housing. They were against us fighting to free Mandela in South Africa.... They are fundamentally extremist, right-wing groups."]

From michaelmoore.com, the website of filmmaker Michael Moore, November 10, 2000:
South Florida has perhaps the largest population of Holocaust survivors outside of Israel and New York. Is it just me, or do these good people, all of whom have suffered enough in their lives, deserve not only our respect, but our commitment to see that their vote is counted? To many of you, World War II and the Holocaust probably seems like ancient history. The truth is, there are tens of thousands of people who lived through that horror, escaped the ovens, and are now living out their final years in South Florida....

Sixty-two years ago... the Holocaust began in full force on what was called Kristallnacht. The German government sent goon squads throughout the country to trash and burn the homes, stores and temples of its Jewish citizens. Seven years and 6 million slaughtered lives later, the Jewish people of Europe were virtually extinct. A few survived. I will not allow those who survived to come here to this "land of the free" be abused again. They are our fellow citizens in our great democracy, and their voice, if I have anything to say about it, will never be snuffed out.

[Ed.: An NPR reporter tried a similar approach, following the election, when interviewing a group of elderly Polish men who had escaped the Holocaust: "Does it make you disappointed in America to see what's happening? ... When you came to this country, you were coming seeking freedom, seeking democracy.... Is this democracy that we're seeing now?" But the men resisted making such a parallel. "Is here the best," said one.]

Robin Givhan in the Washington Post, November 18, 2000:
University of Massachusetts history professor Kathy Peiss once noted that when women first gained easy access to makeup, it was used as a powerful tool to define and create a public face. Indeed, there is a genre of women who would never consider leaving their homes without putting on their face. (A sub-genre of them even wear makeup to the gym.) It was only after World War II that cosmetics were seen as suspect, as the enemy. Now, "cosmetics are like lightning rods for people's animus," Peiss said. The American public doesn't like falsehoods, and [Florida Secretary of State Katherine] Harris is clearly presenting herself in a fake manner.

One of the reasons Harris is so easy to mock is because she, to be honest, seems to have applied her makeup with a trowel. At this moment that so desperately needs diplomacy, understatement and calm, one wonders how this Republican woman, who can't even use restraint when she's wielding a mascara wand, will manage to use it and make sound decisions in this game of partisan one-upmanship.

Besides, she looks bad—not by the hand of God but by her own. She took fashion—which speaks in riddles, hyperbole and half-truths—at its word, imbibing all of those references to the '70s and '80s, taking styling cues from Versace ads in which models are made up as if by a mortician's assistant, believing the magazines when they said that blue eye shadow was back. She failed to think for herself. Why should anyone trust her?

...and Margery Eagan in the Boston Herald, November 16, 2000:

Most likely, however, [Harris] will be remembered for looking just ghastly Tuesday night. At least by Wednesday her appearance seemed almost—if not quite—transformed.

Like Dr. Richard Sharpe, the transvestite and alleged wife killer. Or Marilyn Manson. Or Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie. Or Cruella DeVil. Or Leona Helmsley on Halloween.

Those were just a few of the comparisons made early yesterday to Harris, who appeared to have piled on 10 tons of mascara, four pounds of lipstick and day-glo blue eye shadow (and what was the deal with the neck?) for her grand moment before every TV camera in the free world.

Much as one would like to blame such nasty lookism on The Evil Patriarchy, I must admit it occurred to me instantly how old and hard she appeared. (Is she really just 43?)

It occurred even to those of us who hope such things are beside the point....

[Ed.: In many of her columns, Ms. Eagan complains that women are unfairly judged by their appearance.]

11/30/00

USAirways admitted it allowed a Vietnamese potbellied pig to ride in first class on a flight from Philadelphia to Seattle after a female passenger produced a doctor's note saying that she needed to be with her "therapeutic companion pet" to relieve her stress. While the note specified a 13-pound pig, it turned out to be closer to 300 pounds. Passengers complained that on landing the animal become unruly and attempted to enter the cockpit until one quick-thinking passenger threw food at it.

11/27/00

It its retraction of a story claiming that global warming was causing ice around the North Pole to melt, the New York Times noted that "about 10 percent of the Arctic Ocean is clear of ice in a typical summer" and "the lack of ice at the pole is not necessarily due to global warming."

[Ed.: Soon after, the Times had to retract another story claiming widespread withdrawal of nationwide community support for the Boy Scouts for their ban on homosexual scout leaders.]

From "Banana Republicans," an MSNBC essay by Democratic strategist Paul Begala, November 13, 2000. Mr. Begala refers to a map showing the disproportionate number of counties won by Gore (blue) and Bush (red) across the nation: 677 and 2,434, respectively.
If you look closely at that map you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynched—dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart—it's red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay—it's red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees: red. The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they're all red too.

A Maryland inmate serving a 45-year sentence for kidnapping and assault sued a typewriter company for $29,000, claiming he would have won parole if his typewriter ribbon hadn't broken while typing his brief.

11/22/00

When rapper Ja Rule was told by his record company that he and his band, the Murderers, would have to remove lyrics about violence against police officers and gays from their album, he accused it of racism because it didn't say anything about the band's equally derogatory lyrics concerning African Americans.

Catalog description for Reading and Writing the Ambiente: Queer Sexualities in Latino, Latin American, and Spanish Culture, edited by Susana Chávez-Silverman and Librada Hernández and published by the University of Wisconsin Press:
In this dynamic collection of essays, many leading literary scholars trace gay and lesbian themes in Latin American, Hispanic, and U.S. Latino literary and cultural texts. Reading and Writing the Ambiente is consciously ambitious and far-ranging, historically as well as geographically. It includes discussions of texts from as early as the seventeenth century to writings of the late twentieth century.

Reading and Writing the Ambiente also underscores the ways in which lesbian and gay self-representation in Hispanic texts differs from representations in Anglo-American texts. The contributors demonstrate that—unlike the emphasis on the individual in Anglo-American sexual identity—Latino, Spanish, and Latin American sexual identity is produced in the surrounding culture and community, in the ambiente. As one of the first collections of its kind, Reading and Writing the Ambiente is expressive of the next wave of gay Hispanic and Latin scholarship.

"North American and European queers have assigned themselves the roles of 'universal' queer subjects. Reading and Writing the Ambiente insightfully challenges that bias. This volume joins and significantly contributes to an emergent wave of queer critique that is calibrated to look beyond the borders that queer theory has set up for itself."

—José Esteban Muñoz, author of Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics

Lucia Love won San Francisco's sixth annual Faux Queen Pageant, which is eligible only to women who impersonate male drag queens.

11/21/00

From a decision by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, August 23, 2000:
The petitioner, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, appeals a decision of the New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (board) awarding workers' compensation benefits to the respondent, Gail Sirviris-Allen, for the disability of major depression. The board found her disability compensable under the workers' compensation statute because it was caused by employment-related stress arising from her supervisor's legitimate criticism of her work performance. We affirm....

11/20/00

Mayor Vera Katz of Portland, Oregon, is leading an effort to modify the city's 1991 ordinance against "transgender" discrimination so that employees could be required to present a "consistent" gender identity. Employees would not have the right, for example, to work dressed as a man one day and a woman the next.

Letter to the editor, the San Diego Union-Tribune, June 8, 2000:
Even though the phrase "political correctness" is ridiculed in some quarters, I'm in favor of the concept. It's frequently nothing more than exercising some kindness, consideration or sensitivity. Perhaps the most common and logical example is the use of "person" in place of the gender-limited "man."

Using "developmentally challenged" to describe some children previously called "slow" probably was a good idea, although it spawned an unbelievable variety of joke spinoffs, such as "vertically challenged" for short people.

I particularly like two fairly recent examples. "The Hebrew Bible" and "The Christian Bible" are better names for the Old and New Testaments for obvious reasons. And historians and anthropologists are leading the way in replacing A.D. and B.C. with C.E. (the Common Era) and B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). This eliminates the unnecessarily narrow, religiously sectarian implications while maintaining the long-established time frames.

—Rocky Velgos
Vista

After 73-year-old Dennis Heiner splashed white paint on Chris Ofili's dung- and pornography-laden depiction of the Virgin Mary at the Brooklyn Museum's infamous "Sensation" exhibit, his lawyers argued that he had a First Amendment right to deface the artwork.

But District Attorney Noel Downey countered with another novel argument: that the vandalism wasn't protected as speech because he went after only one of the paintings rather than the exhibit as a whole. "He might have had an argument if he emptied the shark tank or kicked the bloody head across the floor," said Downey.

The painting has been mostly restored, and the museum provided no damage estimate to the court, perhaps because the controversy triggered by the vandalism caused its value to increase.

Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, November 20, 2000:
Barry Barnett's Nov. 15 letter ("Equal Access to education for men") points out that men are underrepresented in universities and underachieving in elementary and secondary schools. Males, he says, get lower grades and score worse on standardized tests than females. According to him, "the gender gap has reversed."

So how come males still get paid more in the workplace? According to the Census Bureau, in 1998 the average male earned over $36,252 a year, while the average female earned $26,855.

If males are experiencing little success compared to females in school, why is there such a dramatic change outside school?

—Justin Antos
Providence

11/19/00

A Connecticut woman filed a $60 million lawsuit against Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford for making her drive around for two months in fear of imminent tire failure, even though no problem actually occurred.

Topless members of the Boobie Liberation Organization gathered in the November chill of Northamption, Massachusetts, to protest laws preventing women from baring their breasts in public. One woman made a "Sacred Mother Earth costume" consisting of "wooden bowls glued to a painted earth to represent the nourishment that breasts, like the earth, provide for all people."

11/18/00

At a Christie's auction, Felix Gonzalez-Torres's "Untitled (Blood)" sold for $1.6 million. The artwork consists of a curtain of red and clear plastic beads hung from a metal rod. The New York Times reports that the curtain was a "metaphor for human existence, with meanings ranging from hope for luminosity to blood as a lifeline and its relationship to mortality." A Manhattan art dealer commented that "great property from the 1980s is becoming scarce, so when something like the Felix Gonzalez-Torres curtain comes along, it fetches a great price."

[Ed.: Either call it 'Untitled' or call it 'Blood,' but don't go around calling the damned thing 'Untitled (Blood)!']

Letter to the editor, the Springfield, Massachusetts, Union-News, July 5, 2000:
On June 22, an innocent man, Shaka Sankofa, better known to the public as Gary Graham, was a victim of murder in the first degree by Texas Governor George W. Bush.

Does Shaka's death arouse our outrage and sorrow as if he were our son or brother? Do we seek the death penalty for Bush? I certainly do not. Rather, he should receive a life sentence. There is some possibility that time on death row might move him toward change from a power-hungry politician toward becoming an informed and genuinely compassionate human being.

It took far less than 19 years to change Gary Graham from a poor, thoughtless 17-year-old into a mature Shaka Sankofa, devoted to truth and justice for himself and others. But this change was brought about by profound thought, extensive study and communication with others inside and outside of prison—and was based on a native intelligence that seems to be lacking in Bush.

There is a haunting question about the Nazi Holocaust: How much did the German people know about what was happening?

How much do we, the American people, know about our candidate (candidates) for president?

—Margaret G. Holt
Amherst

11/17/00

Reporting on the inspirational-speaker industry, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel noted that virgins made $150 an hour telling other virgins how to remain pure, aided by a $50 million federal program.

Inspired by a book by Inga Muscio, titled Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, Penn State feminists sponsored an all-day "Cuntfest" devoted to the idea that the word used to be a respectable term referring to witches, priestesses, and goddesses, and should be reclaimed by women so that it wouldn't hurt when someone used it. Junior Michelle Yates, who initiated the festival, said: "It would be a beautiful day for a woman to be able to say, 'Thank you. Thank you for calling me a cunt.' " Senior Tarah Ausburn added: "Vagina comes from a word meaning 'sheath for a sword,' and I find that offensive and heterosexist."

[Ed.: 'Idiot,' 'moron,' and 'imbecile' were originally non-pejorative medical terms, and should be reclaimed. In February, Penn State's second annual "Sex Faire" featured amusements such as "orgasm bingo" and "pin the clitoris on the vulva."]

11/16/00

Having spent 78 hours stuck in a swampy, 40-foot ravine after her car was forced off the road by a hit-and-run driver, 84-year-old Tillie Tooter announced her intention to sue the Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department and Florida Highway Patrol for not rescuing her sooner.

The Florida Highway Patrol had been in the area, but found only the other car, whose driver said he thought he had crashed into the barrier wall. Rescue crews searched the area with floodlights, but failed to spot Ms. Tooter's car amidst the dense thicket. A follow-up 911 call from a witness who saw a car going over the barrier was miscommunicated to the officers on the scene.

Tooter survived by capturing rainwater in a steering wheel cover and was discovered three days later by a road worker, with only minor injuries such as numerous mosquito bites. It took search and rescue officers another hour to retrieve her from the thicket. The other driver was arrested for a felony and two misdemeanors.

"We're not seeking revenge here against any state agency," said Tooter's lawyer in bringing the suit. "I feel they do a commendable job, especially Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue that did an outstanding job in her rescue. It's about Grandma Tillie and doing what's in her best interests to protect her legal rights."

11/10/00

From the newsletter of the Monterey County AIDS Project, July-September 2000:
Liquid Latex went off without a hitch on Sunday, April 30. This was the AIDS Awareness Week youth kick-off at the Window to the Bay park in Monterey. The sky was blue, the sun was warm, and the wind kept things exciting. We attracted a diverse segment of the peninsula populous [sic], from toddlers to seniors, homeless to executives, gay teens to Hell's Angels, breakdancers to the rhythmically challenged. It was a wonderful day.

Eight DJs spun house, techno, and trance from noon until eight o'clock. Big Sur Bottled Water, Inc. donated 144 bottles of water, Wholefoods donated a box each of organically grown oranges, pears, and apples. These donations were distributed freely to all those in attendance at the event along with condoms, female condoms, dental dams, lubrication, testing coupons, and informational resources at a booth manned by volunteers from Seaside High School. The Food Not Bombs crew of Monterey County set up a table and distributed information and promotional materials as well.

Thank you Big Sur Bottled Water, Inc., Wholefoods, Food Not Bombs, The City of Monterey Department of Recreation, Positive Theory, and all who made this event possible.

Peace,

—Donovan Ventresca
Youth Outreach Coordinator

From the instructions distributed to voters in Palm Beach County, Florida, November 7, 2000. This was the only bold, capitalized text to appear there:
Note: If you make a mistake, return your ballot card and obtain another. AFTER VOTING, CHECK YOUR BALLOT CARD TO BE SURE YOUR VOTING SELECTIONS ARE CLEARLY AND CLEANLY PUNCHED AND THERE ARE NO CHIPS LEFT HANGING ON THE BACK OF THE CARD.

The Washington Post, November 10, 2000:

Faced with a cliffhanger election, the Democratic Party directed a telemarketing firm on Election Night to begin calling thousands of voters in Palm Beach, Fla., to raise questions about a disputed ballot and urge them to contact local election officials.

The Democratic National Committee paid Texas-based TeleQuest to make the calls Tuesday night—while polls were still open—alerting voters in the heavily Democratic enclave in Florida of possible confusion with the ballots they cast.

"Some voters have encountered a problem today with punch card ballots in Palm Beach County," the script for the call said. "These voters have said that they believe that they accidentally punched the wrong hole for the incorrect candidate."

"If you have already voted and think you may have punched the wrong hole for the incorrect candidate, you should return to the polls and request that the election officials write down your name so that this problem can be fixed," the script said.

If voters were about to go to the polls, the script called for the caller to instruct them to "be sure to punch Number 5 for Gore-Lieberman" and "do not punch any other number as you might end up voting for someone else by mistake."...

"I think those kinds of calls make perfect sense," Nelson said. "In terms of people getting riled up, it would be a tactic that might energize voters who might otherwise not have realized they may have mistakenly voted for the wrong candidate."...

[Ed.: "I don't think we have 3,000 Nazis in Palm Beach County," said County Commissioner Bert Aaronson of the Buchanan votes. However, Alex T. Tabarrok, an economist at the Independent Institute, noted that widely published statistics suggesting a disproportionate number of people voting for Pat Buchanan in Palm Beach County, presumably in error, were a statistical illusion. The statistics compared the total number of people who voted for Buchanan in Palm Beach County with the number who voted for him in other counties, expressing that as an alarmingly skewed percentage. But Palm Beach is an unusually populous county, so one would expect there to be a higher total of Buchanan voters as a result. When comparing the number of Palm Beach residents who voted for Buchanan with the number who voted for other candidates, it turns out that Buchanan received .78 percent of the vote, compared with an average of .46 percent in other counties. Even that averaged share can be misleading, since Buchanan's share of the votes varied widely from one county to the next. In many other counties where there was no question of voter confusion, Buchanan received a much larger share of the vote than in Palm Beach.

In one regard, however, Palm Beach County was statistically anomalous. Gore initially won the county by a 63.8 to 36.2 percent margin. But the state-mandated electronic recount not only added to Gore's totals as can be expected, but added votes to Gore's benefit at the rate of 88.2 to 11.8 percent. An unbiased machine recount should have shown roughly the same ratio of votes, 1.75-to-1, as the initial count. The far more dramatic 7.5-to-1 ratio suggests that chads fell from ballot cards selectively for Gore. Recounts in Dade and Brower counties, on the other hand, revealed the expected proportional additions to the original count. In Duval county, the recount revealed many ballots that were written on rather than punched. This added 184 votes for Gore but only 16 for Bush, suggesting that Gore supporters were less likely to be able to follow simple instructions.]

10/30/00

After a survey showed that 91 percent of the University of North Dakota's student body wanted to keep the school's "Fighting Sioux" nickname, while 9 percent opposed the nickname, an Associated Press headline read: "Survey Shows Mixed Feelings About Nickname."

Peter Jennings on ABC's "World News Tonight," October 17, 2000:
We missed the death of a notable American this week, so we want to catch up. Gus Hall actually died on Friday. The son of a Minnesota miner became head of the U.S. Communist Party at the height of anti-communist McCarthyism in the late '40s and '50s. He spent eight years in prison and a lifetime in the political wilderness for his views here, but he was a... dignitary in the Soviet Union. Even after his friends there abandoned the cause, Hall never wavered and he was 90.

Writing in Salon, Amy Halloran reports on a paper, delivered at a book conference by Peggy Kamuf of the University of Southern California, claiming that reading aloud to children is a violent act, initiating them into the patriarchal construct of the family unit and society at large. According to Kamuf, this initiation is so brutal and painful that most people don't even remember learning to read.

10/24/00

The State of California ruled that former police officer Mathias Bachmeier is depressed and suffers from post-traumatic stress, making him eligible for a $30,000 annual pension. Much of his stress resulted from his conviction for a murder he committed in 1996, for which he is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

After a man with ties to the rap group Made Men was arrested for stabbing a member of the Boston Celtics basketball team, Al Sharpton went to Boston to protest what he said was unfair stereotyping and police profiling of rappers. Sharpton said the suspect was singled out because of his involvement in the hip-hop industry.

10/23/00

The St. Paul Pioneer Press illustrates what has had the Boy Scouts so concerned:
For those of us who remember the Girl Scouts as the quiet girls in class who wore their green uniforms on Wednesdays, encountering Katze Ludeke can be quite an eye-opener. She seldom wears her sash for St. Croix Valley Troop 1256, preferring to accessorize with army boots and a lavender bra strap that slides persistently down her bare shoulder. Rather than stitching doilies and tea cozies, the talented seamstress has created her own costume company specializing in "fetish-wear." Instead of going for the Gold Award—the Girl Scout's highest honor—by reading to senior citizens, Ludeke pushed to start her own support group for at-risk teens called Queer Youth Exist. For her Gold Award application... Ludeke is submitting her work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens, with the support of her troop.

Dr. Richard Zeller, a sociology professor at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, thought it might be a good idea to teach a course on "political correctness." However, his departmental colleagues denied his proposal, as did other departments. In turning down the course on behalf of the Women's Studies department, Dr. Kathleen Dixon declared: "We forbid any course that says we restrict free speech."

The Washington Post, October 23, 2000:
Natural resources are more plentiful [in North Korea] than in South Korea. The economy suffered drastic declines in the 1990s, and a series of natural disasters reduced much of the country to starvation.

10/20/00

At an annual "Cultural Diversity" seminar in Nassau County, New York, the name of corrections officer Patricia Luca and that of another officer were used in a hypothetical scenario in which two colleagues carry on an illicit affair that eventually goes awry, descending into quid-pro-quo sex and jealous violence. Afterwards, the story was posted throughout the department with lewd comments on it, causing her emotional distress and loss of self-esteem, and leading her to sue the department.

10/19/00

Northern California performance artist Dona Nieto, a.k.a. "La Tigresa," says she hopes to slow the frantic pace of logging by baring her breasts and reciting "Goddess-based, nude Buddhist guerrilla poetry" to stunned timber crews. "They stop their chainsaws and they stop their trucks and they pay attention," observed Nieto.

In an interview with The Advocate, President Clinton said homosexuals defended him during his impeachment because they understood what it was like to be publicly humiliated and abused, the same thing that prompted so many African-Americans to defend him.

10/16/00

A report by the British government's Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain recommended not to use the word "British" to describe residents of the United Kingdom, since it does not reflect the island's cultural diversity.

The London Daily Telegraph reports that a vegetable stand was raided and scales seized because the owner, who is now facing criminal charges, did not sell his goods using metric measurements as mandated by new pan-European laws.

The California Interscholastic Federation ruled that Quan Vu of Santiago High School cannot play field hockey because you have to be a girl to play field hockey.

"Girls can play guys' sports, like wrestling and football, but I can't play field hockey," commented the 17-year-old boy, who was co-captain of the team. "It doesn't make sense. An athlete is an athlete."

The decision cited a rule barring boys from playing a girls' sport "unless opportunities in the total sports programs for boys in the school have been limited in comparison to the total sports programs for girls."

More from Nicholas Lemann's priceless interview with Vice President Al Gore in the New Yorker, July 31, 2000:
I became interested in more complex metaphors and their explanatory powers when I was writing Earth in the Balance. In particular, in my effort to try to understand the origins of our modern world view, and its curious reliance on specialization and ever-narrower slices of the world around us into categories that are then themselves dissected, in an ongoing process of separation, into parts and sub-parts—a process that sometimes obliterates the connection to the whole and the appreciation for context and the deeper meanings that can't really be found in the atomized parts of the whole—and in exploring the roots of that way of looking at the world, I found a lot of metaphors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that came directly from the scientific revolution into the world of politics and culture and sociology. And many of those metaphors are still with us.

[Ed.: Following Gore's eventual concession, his aide Carter Eskew commented to the New York Times: "The popular vote was 50-50, the Florida Supreme Court voted 4 to 3, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4.... To [Gore], this is all a fractal, the geometric theory that pieces of the whole, regardless of the scale, reflect the universe. He says it all the time."]

10/14/00

In Arkansas, 70-year-old Betty Deislinger was arrested and fingerprinted because she declined to remove burglar bars from the front of a 1870s house in downtown Little Rock that she was fixing up, as preservation code requires.

10/13/00

One month prior to its excellent, quality work resolving the 2000 presidential election recount controversy, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a man who had been convicted and imprisoned for sexually abusing his eight-year-old stepdaughter did not necessarily pose a threat against his own children, aged three and five, and thus could retain custody of them.

A Massachusetts court ruled that Brockton school officials may not prohibit a 15-year-old boy undergoing a gender identity crisis from attending school in women's clothing, including wigs, dresses, and padded bras.

10/12/00

A North Carolina jury awarded $2 million in punitive damages to a female placekicker who said she was cut from Duke University's Division I football team solely because she is female, despite evidence other kickers were more talented. The coach said he even kept her on the team longer than she deserved because he admired her perseverance and thought it served a useful symbol for other aspiring female players.

10/9/00

Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore called for a release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to counter high prices. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader criticized the proposal as "too little, too late," saying it's "not enough" to lower oil prices.

The Green Party platform calls for a reduction in auto usage on environmental grounds, a point also made by Gore in his book, Earth in the Balance. Of course, there's no shorter route to that goal than higher fuel prices.

10/8/00

In Switzerland, campaigners have collected 250,000 signatures for a petition that would grant pets rights similar to those of children in divorce cases.

In Orange County, California, a court will rule on whether an estranged husband who moved to Montana can claim one of two dogs shared by the couple and receive $25,000 in punitive damages and compensation for loss of companionship. His wife says the dogs should be kept together.

Finally, many more American veterinarians are being sued for malpractice, and their insurers have responded by upping lawsuits' "nuisance value" (out-of-court settlement) from around $200 during the 1970s to $4,000. Caps on damage awards have risen more sharply, from around $300 to five figures. The American Veterinary Association warns their members' increased insurance premiums will inevitably be passed along to consumers, decreasing overall access to veterinary care.

10/6/00

The International Monetary Fund and other international donor agencies are expected to criticize the government of Malawi for its decision to spend $2.5 million on a fleet of 39 government limousines, despite the fact that many of its citizens live well below the World Bank poverty threshold of $1 a day.

During the presidential debates, Vice President Al Gore told the story of Kailey Ellis, a student at Florida's Sarasota High School who had to stand during one of her science classes because there weren't enough desks.

The principal, Daniel Kennedy, later explained that it was the beginning of the year, when schedules were in flux, and they hadn't figured out where to put all the desks they had. The girl could have had a desk if she'd asked for one. The classroom already contained a good deal of new equipment: two wall-mounted television monitors connected to a desktop computer, twelve student computers at six lab stations and many pieces of new lab equipment.

Letter to the editor, the Portland Press Herald of Maine, July 17, 2000:
I can't imagine how anyone can chew on a drumstick again after watching the animated movie "Chicken Run," which opened last week to great critical acclaim.

(The 1995 screening of "Babe," the talking pig, led a number of people to drop pork from their diet.)

The delightful British film recounts the story of a group of brave hens plotting to escape from a factory farm. The story is both poignant and funny, and the characters quickly earn their empathy.

I was impressed how these animals that we view as food share our quest for life and liberty as well as most of our feelings of joy, affection, frustration, sadness and pain.

Thankfully, my local supermarket carries a selection of delicious "mock chicken" foods, which unlike dead chicken flesh are free from saturated fat, cholesterol and salmonella.

I look forward to exploring the many cruelty-free, healthful, dietary options that are available.

—Bill L. Price
Portland

[Ed.: Lest you think this letter represents an isolated rift between man and medication, note that, minor changes in wording aside, the very same letter appeared in USA Today (attributed to Alex Hershaft of Bethesda, Md., July 13), the Omaha World-Herald (Nancy Lynn, Lincoln, July 12), and the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California (Joy Pedroja, Perris, July 14).]

9/30/00

Soon after the American Civil Liberties Union defended the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which had been accused of inspiring the rape and murder of a ten-year-old Massachusetts boy, it sued the city of San Diego for leasing a public park to the Boy Scouts.

9/29/00

Survivors of singer John Denver reached a settlement in their lawsuit against two companies that manufactured and sold a fuel valve that was installed on the do-it-yourself airplane he crashed off the Pacific coast. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that Denver knowingly took off with low fuel in a plane with which he was unfamiliar, and that he lost control of the aircraft when he tried to reach around and grab the fuel lever.

An Ohio appeals court cleared the way for a former clerical worker to sue a mental health agency that fired him because, unlike all other employees there, he had no mental health disability, and no history of one.

Officials in Warwick, Rhode Island, removed a six-foot-high tourist statue of Mr. Potato Head following complaints that it was racist because its skin was brown. The potato statue, one of a series placed around the city, sported a Hawaiian shirt, glasses, hat, a wide grin, and was supposed to have a suntan.

Onna Moniz-John, an East Providence affirmative action officer, complained because she thought the statue resembled antique figures depicting blacks as buffoons. She said it looked like the Little Black Sambo character because the clothes were too small. "If you look at this potato head, the only thing missing is a watermelon," Moniz-John said.

Artist Kathy Szarko of West Warwick, who designed "Tourist Tater," was surprised at the reaction. "He's a potato, that's why he's brown," she said.

9/28/00

Officials at Georgia's Cobb County school district suspended a girl for two weeks because the 10-inch novelty chain connecting her wallet to her Tweety Bird key ring violated the school's zero-tolerance weapons policy.

9/27/00

In Denver, negotiations between Italian-American Columbus Day parade organizers and a group of Native American and Latino protesters broke down after they reached a tentative compromise. In exchange for promises not to protest the event, parade organizers promised to delete any mention of Christopher Columbus.

A Minneapolis woman who took a job at a sex-toy shop filed a lawsuit against the store, claiming a hostile work environment and sexual harassment because of all the lewd talk she had to listen to each day.

9/26/00

In East Sussex, England, the Brighton and Hove municipal council is considering a proposal to allow blind patrons of the local Pussycats Club to touch exotic dancers as a form of handicap accommodation.

9/22/00

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that many high school students from poor families are too proud to apply for free school lunch programs. To maintain current levels of state funding, schools have responded by offering five instead of three main courses and giving away free video games and CD players to students who file a school-lunch application.

Scouring its photo archives for an image of diversity to be used on a brochure cover, the University of Wisconsin wound up doctoring a 1993 photo by inserting a picture of a black student into a crowd of white football fans.

A cartoonist at the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Daily later came under fire for his lampoon of UW's self-described "error in judgement," by depicting the school president in black face.

From a New York Times editorial, July 18, 2000:
The current complication centers on the report in a new book about the Clintons' marriage, "State of the Union," by Jerry Oppenheimer, that she used an anti-Semitic slur in an argument with the manager of her husband's losing Congressional campaign in 1974. Those not present can never be absolutely certain about what was said at the campaign headquarters that day. But the circumstantial evidence inclines us strongly toward believing Mrs. Clinton when she says she never used such language. The alleged remark took place only a year after Mrs. Clinton's expansively humanistic commencement speech at Wellesley and soon after she had worked in a sophisticated legal environment for the impeachment of a president, Richard M. Nixon, who did use anti-Semitic language.

9/20/00

Cinemax is airing a new movie by former humorist Woody Allen, titled Picking up the Pieces. The plot of the film concerns a butcher (Allen) who carves up his wife and buries the parts in the desert. One of the hands, with a stiff middle finger, is discovered by a blind woman who is promptly cured and declares it to be the hand of the Virgin Mary. She goes to a money-grubbing priest, who is having sex with a prostitute, and he advertises the hand as a miracle-working relic that has produced such wonders as enlarged breasts for a woman and a big penis for a dwarf. Along the way, viewers are informed that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' whore and Mother Teresa had "sex slaves."

The Department of Agriculture is considering liberalizing its standard for Grade-A Swiss cheese, allowing bubbles to be as small as 3/8 of an inch rather than the current minimum of 11/16 of an inch.

9/19/00

The Nation, July 10, 2000:
In the wake of Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy's high-profile sexual harassment case against another Army general... the mainstream media have given a substantial amount of coverage to the appalling rates of sexual harassment of women in the armed forces. But you would be hard pressed to find in these news reports any mention of one of the principal spurs to this harassment: the policy on gays in the military, popularly known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

"You can't separate this policy from sexual harassment," says Michelle Benecke, a former captain of US Army defense artillery—and a Harvard-trained lawyer—who is the co-founder and co-director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "A lot of the perception that women in the services are gay stems from the fact that they're not sleeping with anybody in their unit," Benecke says. "The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy pressures young women into sexual activity with their superiors by making them subject to the threat of discharge as gay."

A Danish tax appeals board allowed a massage parlor to deduct the cost of breast implants as a legitimate business expense.

A federal court threw out Julie Hiatt Steele's 1998 lawsuit against Michael Isikoff, a Newsweek reporter who spearheaded coverage of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. Steele contended that Isikoff had no right to report to the public that she had provided him with admittedly false information about Kathleen Willey, one of Clinton's harassment victims. That information, Steele claimed, had been delivered "off the record," and she further claimed that Isikoff had no right to reveal her identity when he discovered she had lied to him.

An account by Eric Muller, a young law professor at the University of Wyoming, originally posted to the Lawprof e-mail list, June 18, 1996:
On my very first day of teaching, in my very first class... I spent a while giving a thumbnail sketch of constitutional history, focusing for a while on the Civil War and the work of the Reconstruction Congress. In doing so, I talked about slavery.

After class, as I was gathering my notes and generally heaving a huge sigh of relief, a student approached me. She told me that I had said some things that had so deeply offended her that she'd been unable to concentrate for the rest of the class, and warned me that I was going to have to be a lot more careful about what I said. Naturally I was mortified that I'd blundered so badly on my very first day, and so apologized profusely. I told her that I'd appreciate knowing what it was I'd said, so that I could be more careful the next time. She told me, and I am essentially quoting, "Slavery was not bad. There were a lot of individual slaveholders who mistreated their slaves, and that gave slavery a bad name. My family were slaveholders, and our slaves loved us. What you gave us was the Union version of the War, but the victors always get to write the history."

I was speechless. I know we live in a relativist world, but I thought it safe to work from the premise that a couple of things, say slavery and the Holocaust, were evil. I guess I was wrong.

9/9/00

While in New York to address the UN summit of world leaders, Fidel Castro, 74, donned battle fatigues to address a rally of cheering supporters in Riverside Church. Reverend Bernard Wilson said he was pleased to host the event. "Riverside has always been on the cutting edge of what is happening in the world," he said.

9/7/00

Ten years after he named a dolphin as a plaintiff in a civil suit, Harvard University appointed Steven M. Wise, author of Rattling the Cage, to teach "animal-rights law," a field that as yet does not exist. Wise is also founder and president of Harvard's "Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights."

By a slim margin, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a 7-year-old girl, suffering from spina bifida and believing a prenatal test may have led to her abortion, may not sue her parents for "wrongful life."

9/6/00

Many New Zealand children are now being required by their schools to apply for a quasi-official license to own toy guns. Children must answer questions and learn rules before they can play gun games, and must carry their licenses while playing.

From "Violence in G-Rated Animated Films," a study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association May 24-31, 2000:

Anastasia (1997)
3 injuries, 2 fatalities
weapons used: body, gun, magic, other

Bambi (1942)
2 injuries, 1 fatality
weapons used: body, gun, other

Beauty and the Beast (1991)
3 injuries, 1 fatality
weapons used: body, sword, gun, other

Duck Tales: The Movie (1990)
1 injury, 1 fatality
weapons used: body, sword, magic, other

Peter Pan (1953)
2 injuries, 1 fatality
weapons used: body, sword, gun, explosive, other

Pocahontas (1995)
3 injuries, 1 fatality
weapons used: body, sword, gun, other

Sleeping Beauty (1959)
1 injury, 1 fatality
weapons used: body, sword, magic, other

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
2 injuries, 1 fatality
weapons used: body, sword, poison, other

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
2 injuries, 2 fatalities
weapons used: body, sword, gun, other

The Last Unicorn (1982)
5 injuries, 3 fatalities
weapons used: body, sword, magic, other

The Nutcracker Prince (1990)
5 injuries, 2 fatalities
weapons used: body, sword, gun, magic, other

The Swan Princess (1994)
9 injuries, 2 fatalities
weapons used: body, sword, magic, other

[Ed.: Another JAMA study from March, 1999 pointed out that many animated characters in G-rated movies use tobacco and alcohol products, needlessly exposing children to temptation.]

8/31/00

At least ten athletes who fell short in their effort to win a spot on the U.S. Olympic team went on to take their cases to arbitration or, in one case, to federal court.

8/29/00

In Wales, a set of vigilantes vandalized the home of a prominent doctor, apparently confusing the words "pediatrician" and "pedophile."

8/28/00

A fountain in a public park in Santa Fe, New Mexico, features a 1979 sculpture depicting a brother and sister playing—the sister aiming a garden hose at the brother, who's aiming a water pistol back at her. But after vandals targeted the sculpture, scrawling "NO GUN" on the boy's leg, the sculptor vowed to chisel off the boy's hand and make him a new one so that he, too, would be holding a hose.

And in Baltimore, plans for a mural of Harriet Tubman at the headquarters of the Associated Black Charities were shelved because she was to be depicted holding a musket.

Nicholas Lemann interviews Vice President Al Gore for the New Yorker, July 31, 2000:
Gore gestured for another piece of paper, and when I gave one to him he bent over the coffee table again and began to draw another diagram.... This second drawing was made up of a circle with twenty little dots floating inside it, connected by wavy lines. "Now, let me come back to your question." He walked me through Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions, apologized for the overused word "paradigm," and explained that every so often an unusually creative scientist finds a new way to connect the dots of unexplained data.... "It appears in fractal theory. If you look at a map of the coastline of New Jersey, and then magnify that a thousand times, the basic design of the ins and outs of the coastline will be the same at every level of magnification. And they call that the self-sameness principle. I don't understand it. It's way beyond my depth. But I do believe there's something about our world that—" He began another long pause. "I'm searching for the right word here—that manifests that self-sameness principle in a lot of different ways. And when we find a brand-new understanding of the world that comes out of a powerful new discovery in science, it often allows us to look at social and political matters and find ways to connect the dots that haven't made sense before." I asked Gore where God fits into all of this. "Give me another piece of paper," he said.

Christopher Daly, writing in The American Prospect:
In fairness to Bush and his supporters, there's no evidence any of them seriously wish to restore the American society that existed before the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865—that is, a society where it was legal for one human being to own another.
Daly "teaches writing and American journalism history at Boston University."

8/25/00

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals outraged New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for using his image in a parody of the dairy industry's popular "Got Milk?" ads. PETA's ad depicts a frowning Giuliani with a milk mustache and asking, "Got prostate cancer?" The ad claims a connection between drinking milk and prostate cancer, which Mayor Giuliani has contracted, based on an extremely tentative study by the Harvard School of Public Health that focused on the health effects of calcium. The milk industry was quick to point out other research suggesting that dairy products help fight high blood pressure, colon cancer and osteoporosis.

[Ed.: PETA also started a campaign to convince parents that feeding meat to their children "constitutes child abuse," and that heart disease, cancer, and strokes were "unequivocally linked" to eating meat.]

8/23/00

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that belief in radically unconventional scientific ideas may merit the same workplace protections as freedom of religion. The issue arose after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office fired one of its patent examiners, Paul A. LaViolette, allegedly because he believes in the existence of alien radio communication, that the zodiac is a "time capsule message" warning of emanations from the galactic center (in the words of his website, etheric.com), and because he has similarly strong views on the Sphinx, the Tarot, Atlantis, and dabbles in the "cold fusion" theory of spontaneous energy generation.

8/21/00

A six-year-old boy in Canton, Ohio, had a doctor's appointment one morning, and could not attend school. The boy's mother put him in the bathtub so that he wouldn't get excited or confused when he saw the school bus go by and leave without him. Sure enough, when his sister said she saw the bus coming, the boy jumped naked from the bathtub and ran to a window to shout to the driver to wait.

Since in so doing the boy had exposed himself, the school later ruled that he had harassed the bus's passengers. The school compelled the boy to sign a statement admitting that he understood the nature of the charges against him.

In Sweden, a feminist group at Stockholm University is leading an effort to ban all urinals from campus, thus compelling men to sit down while urinating. A Swedish elementary school has already removed urinals. While part of this demand stems from concerns about hygiene—the splash factor—the London Spectator reports that another argument is that if a woman can't do it, then men shouldn't, either. Also, "a man standing up to urinate is deemed to be triumphing in his masculinity, and by extension, degrading women."