An Inclusive Litany


The American Civil Liberties Union is spearheading an effort to keep professional baseball teams from giving an admissions discount to people who present a church bulletin.

Promotional material for the Bonds Between Women and Water conference, to be held at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, September 28-30, 2000:
The Bonds Between Women and Water will bring together scholars, artists, policy makers, and members of the community to explore the multiple and diverse ways women and water are connected. The theme of the conference will stress the bonds between women and water, and how those bonds find expression in cultural, artistic, and spiritual ways that enable compassionate action on behalf of both women and water. It will also explore the treatment of both women and water in patriarchal culture and the impact of this on the health and well-being of women and water regionally, nationally, and globally. Plenaries, panels, and special programs will present and weave together the practical, spiritual, scientific, medical, recreational, cultural, and artistic interconnections of women and water. Possible topics will include: the role of women as water gatherers; water quality and women's health; water goddesses in world religions; water as a spiritual symbol in women's lives; images of women and water in art, poetry, and music.

This highly interdisciplinary conference will include concurrent sessions in a variety of disciplines: Women's Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy, English, Religious Studies, Public Policy, Biology, Medicine, Environmental Studies, Geography, Engineering, Interdisciplinary Studies, etc. Because of its setting in Duluth, Minnesota, the conference will highlight regional water issues affecting women, as well as the natural setting of the conference—the many rivers and streams and aquatic life of Duluth, and of course, Lake Superior. Also, regional artists, musicians, poets, and dancers will give expression to the connections of women and water in live performances of their works. But the conference will also be national and international in scope, showing the interconnections of women and water around the globe.

The Boston Herald, March 28, 2000:

As long as cowboys and cops have captured the imagination of kids, the finger gun—thumb up, index finger out—has been a trusty sidearm in the minds of American school children.

But in a nation shocked and on-guard after a series of school shootings, that innocent gesture prompted a swift response from the principal of the Blackstone Elementary School in Boston, officials said yesterday.

The students in a second-grade classroom were responding to a visiting drama teacher and play-acting to show different emotions in a class last week, Boston School Department spokeswoman Tracey Lynch said.

When asked to show anger, one child raised a hand, fingers pointed in the shape of a gun. Three more copied.

The teachers told the children that the gesture was not an appropriate response to anger. One educator reported the incident to Principal Mildred Ruiz-Allen.

Before class was over, Ruiz-Allen visited the children to talk to the kids and stress that the finger gun—and what it might represent—was not appropriate outside of the classroom drama lesson.

"When she heard about it, the principal went to the class before it was out and met with the kids to talk about what was appropriate and what was not," said Lynch. "She wanted the kids to be able to distinguish between play acting and know the gesture was not suitable outside of their lesson."

[Ed: The same week, four kindergartners in Sayreville, New Jersey, were suspended for playing cops and robbers, also using their fingers as guns.]


Lawrence Barichello of Toronto, Canada, leads an anticircumcision group called "Intact," and is looking for men to join in a class-action lawsuit against doctors to compensate for emotional injuries resulting from their being circumcised. "No detail is too small," he says. "If someone taunts you in the locker room about your penis, write down what they said and how you felt about it." Participants are limited to men circumcised as an infant by a doctor "for nonreligious reasons."

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed suit against the federal government, claiming that by serving milk its school breakfast program is racially biased because a greater percentage of black children are lactose intolerant.

On February 20, a headline in the San Francisco Examiner read, "Priest's Healing Hands Credited with Miracles." The same day, in a story by the same writer, the same newspaper's headline read: "Priest Admits Touching Boys."

Fearing lawsuits, the management of Boston's famed Fenway Park ordered vendors to stop tossing their small bags of peanuts across rows of seats to buyers. Rob Barry, who has been doing just that for the last 19 years, says he may now have to retire.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's Yeskey decision, which extended disabled-rights law to prison inmates, an inmate sued when guards "reduced his daily allotment of undergarments from five to one." Another inmate challenged the denial of conjugal visits from his HIV-positive partner. Another lodged an ADA complaint against his rejection for a physically strenuous boot camp program, despite the fact that he has no hands.


Ed O'Rourke sued Tampa Electric and half a dozen bars and stores that sold him liquor over a 1996 incident in which he broke into a fenced, gated, and locked substation and climbed up a transformer in what he called a "drunken stupor," receiving a 13,000-volt blast.

At the University of North Carolina, a new student organization called Fighting Legitimized Oppression of Women (FLOW) has issued statements against synthetic tampons because of the small risk to women of toxic shock syndrome, and because their manufacture adversely affects the environment. A campus demonstration featured FLOW members wearing tampon tiaras made of 100% cotton passing out organic "Glad Rags," and a celebration of women's monthly cycle featuring "music, dancing, and vulva cookies."

Letter to the editor, the Clearwater Times, January 4, 2000:
Couldn't help but feel good about your Clearwater front page article on Dec. 27 about moving the osprey nest, until I took a closer look at your photo.

Could it be that K.D. O'Connor, the person from Florida Power who has relocated hundreds of nests of these federally protected birds, has been blowing cigarette smoke in their faces for the past 11 years?

I wonder what the effect of secondhand smoke (although from the pictured proximity it could almost be firsthand) has on these poor creatures.

—Sheila Cole,

Course description for "How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation," a fall offering by the English department of the University of Michigan:
Just because you happen to be a gay man doesn't mean that you don't have to learn how to become one. Gay men do some of that learning on their own, but often we learn how to be gay from others, either because we look to them for instruction or because they simply tell us what they think we need to know, whether we ask for their advice or not. This course will examine the general topic of the role that initiation plays in the formation of gay identity. We will approach it from three angles: (1) as a sub-cultural practice subtle, complex, and difficult to theorize, which a small but significant body of work in queer studies has begun to explore; (2) as a theme in gay male writing; (3) as a class project, since the course itself will constitute an experiment in the very process of initiation that it hopes to understand. In particular, we'll examine a number of cultural artefacts and activities that seem to play a prominent role in learning how to be gay: Hollywood movies, grand opera, Broadway musicals, and other works of classical and popular music, as well as camp, diva-worship, drag, muscle culture, style, fashion, and interior design. Are there a number of classically "gay" works such that, despite changing tastes and generations, ALL gay men, of whatever class, race, or ethnicity, need to know them, in order to be gay? What roles do such works play in learning how to be gay? What is there about these works that makes them essential parts of a gay male curriculum? Conversely, what is there about gay identity that explains the gay appropriation of these works? One aim of exploring these questions is to approach gay identity from the perspective of social practices and cultural identifications rather than from the perspective of gay sexuality itself. What can such an approach tell us about the sentimental, affective, or aesthetic dimensions of gay identity, including gay sexuality, that an exclusive focus on gay sexuality cannot? At the core of gay experience there is not only identification but disidentification. Almost as soon as I learn how to be gay, or perhaps even before, I also learn how not to be gay. I say to myself, "Well, I may be gay, but at least I'm not like THAT!" Rather than attempting to promote one version of gay identity at the expense of others, this course will investigate the stakes in gay identifications and disidentifications, seeking ultimately to create the basis for a wider acceptance of the plurality of ways in which people determine how to be gay. Work for the class will include short essays, projects, and a mandatory weekly three-hour screening (or other cultural workshop) on Thursday evenings.

[Ed.: A $35 "laboratory fee" is required.]


Environmental Activists launched a class-action lawsuit again Monsanto, the largest producer of genetically modified seeds, arguing the company misled farmers by saying the seeds were safe and would be accepted by the public, who instead were scared out of their wits by the same environmental activists.

Chess players competing at a tournament on the Spanish island of Menorca were required to provide a urine sample for drug testing.

In South Carolina, officials at Bob Jones University dropped its ban on interracial dating in the wake of criticism following Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush's visit to the school. Explaining the policy change on CNN's "Larry King Live," university president Bob Jones III said the ban was part of the school's stance against a "one-world order" that would witness the blending of governments, ethnic groups, and religions, and that would signal the coming of the Antichrist, to which the school remains opposed.

Hispanic employees won a lawsuit against an Avis Rent A Car in San Francisco after a supervisor persistently abused them using racist epithets and insults. In upholding the damages, the California Supreme Court issued a list of offensive words that may no longer be used in any way in any workplace in the state, not even jokingly among Hispanics themselves. The American Civil Liberties Union supported the restriction.


The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 15, 2000:
California Gov. Gray Davis, who earlier angered legislative leaders by saying their job is to "implement my vision," insisted yesterday that judges he appoints should "reflect the views I've expressed" or resign.

"I've let every judge know that, while they have to follow the law ... they're there because I appointed them, and they need to keep faith with my electoral mandate," said Davis, who was in Washington for the National Governor's Association conference....

"All my appointees, including judges, have to, more or less, reflect the views I've expressed in my election," he said. "Otherwise, democracy doesn't work...."

Pressed on the issue, Davis said: "My appointees should reflect my views. They are not there to be independent agents. They're there to reflect the sentiments that I expressed in the campaign...."

"Judges obviously have to follow the law," he said. "But in interpreting the law, I expect then to keep faith with the representations I made to the electorate...."


Anti-drunk driving activists denounced a new ad campaign by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Aimed mainly at college students and released just in time for St. Patrick's Day, the ad features people who have replaced their milk mustaches with beer foam. PETA argues that drinking beer is healthier than milk and that the dairy industry is cruel to cows.

The previous fall, PETA received an angry letter from the National Organization for Women because another of its ads featured a close-up of a woman's unshaven panty line along with the tag line: "Fur Trim. Unattractive."

The Surgeon General released a report concluding that "one in every five Americans experiences a mental disorder in any given year, and half of all Americans have such disorders at some time in their lives." Mental disorders are defined as "alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior that cause distress or impair a person's ability to function," including "depression, attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder, and phobias."

[Ed.: The purpose of the report, in case you didn't catch it, was to increase anxiety levels.]

San Francisco's Commission of Animal Control and Welfare voted to ban calf-roping and steer-wrestling at rodeos because the animals "are not willing participants."

From an NBC News report:

Tom Brokaw, anchor:
It is no secret, of course, that this economy has generated enormous new wealth in America, sudden wealth that changes lives dramatically. But having it all can generate some unexpected problems that send many of the newly rich running for a therapist.

Jim Avila, reporting:
It's an unusual virus with unusual symptoms. The hot zone: California's Silicon Valley, where experts say 60 new millionaires are created every day. Symptoms: too much money, too much loneliness. After treating many patients, psychologists have a name for it: sudden wealth syndrome and a center to study it.

Joan DiFuria, of the Money, Meaning and Choices Institute, which facilitates charitable contributions:
An array of symptoms may be that they're embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, sometimes in denial with their money.

A sense of isolation, imbalance, brought on by sudden riches and nothing meaningful to do.

David Seuss:
I remember thinking, "Gee, I wish I could have a meeting now, but there's no one at home to have a meeting with."

CEO David Seuss says he suffered through it, making millions at his computer software company in the '80s, selling [the company], and swearing never to be the boss again. Too much pressure. But ten years later he's back, running Northern Light, an Internet search engine, unable to join the idle rich.

It's not being a leader was the thing that I missed the most.


In Mississippi, Republican legislators drafted a law that would make it illegal for sexually aroused men to appear in public. The law, targeted at lap-dancing establishments, would forbid the "showing of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state."

The Monterey County Herald, December 23, 1999:
From Marina to Monterey, they're trying to fight city hall. And when city hall fights back, they seek a few kind words, support and advice from each other.

Whatever their cause, be it to make government spare cypress trees in Marina or preserve Carmel's historic buildings, there is a place to turn when the bureaucrats don't seem to be listening: The Support Group for People Civically Abused.

What constitutes civic abuse? Any time government turns its back on you, according to Barbara Evans who is spearheading the group.

Marylou Whitney, an heiress to the Vanderbilt fortune, withdrew her financial support from New York's Whitney Museum over a politically inspired piece planned for its prestigious 2000 Biennial exhibit. "Sanitation," by German-born New York artist Hans Haacke, consists of a wall of garbage cans with speakers blaring the sound of marching jackboots, a reproduction of the First Amendment and, set in an old German typeface favored by the Nazis, quotations from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other Republicans. (Giuliani had recently angered many in the art world after he attempted to withdraw city funds from the Brooklyn Museum over its controversial "Sensation" exhibit.)

The Whitney received harsh criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, which charged that the work trivialized the Holocaust. Objecting to the politicization of art Haacke's piece represents, Mrs. Whitney said she was aware that her withdrawal of a planned $1 million endowment might "turn him into a martyr," and "cause people to line up for six blocks to see this trash," but that "you have to stand up for what you believe."


The Supreme Court invalidated a long-standing Hawaii law authorizing a quasi-governmental "Office of Hawaiian Affairs" to disburse public funds to people solely on the basis of whether they could trace their ancestry to the pre-1778 inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiians without the requisite "blood quantum" were not allowed to vote in statewide elections for the OHA board of trustees.

Oddly, the Clinton Justice Department had sided with Hawaii's losing argument: that some exceptions to the Fifteenth Amendment might allow ballot restrictions based on race. Following the vote, Hawaii officials reassured reporters that only the state's voting scheme had been struck down. The ruling did not affect the state's race-based spending programs, none of which were challenged in this case.

[Ed.: Congress later voted to circumvent the court's ruling.]