An Inclusive Litany

11/29/01

On November 27, 2001, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Owasso Independent School District v. Falvo, a case that will decide whether it is unconstitutional for students to be compelled to call out their grades in class, and thus be embarrassed.

From the lead news item on the front page of the University of Pittsburgh's daily newspaper, the Pitt News, November 29, 2001:
Wearing a three-foot, five-pound double dong around his neck, Todd Wonders, a representative from Dvdadultempire.com, advised students to start small when it comes to anal penetration.

If you've never put anything in your ass before, you don't want to start with this, Wonders said, gesturing to the two gigantic members hanging from his shoulders.

Sex Toys 101, sponsored by Rainbow Alliance as part of World Aids Week, sought to inform students of some of the dangers of sex toys. Wonders, along with co-worker Lauren Calloway, informed students about the different kinds of sex toys and how to use them safely....

According to Calloway the best kind of dildo to use is one made out of silicone.

You can hand it down from generation to generation, she said. And it's dishwasher safe.

Silicone tends to warm up to body temperature with use, Calloway said, plus it's very flexible and transmits vibrations well. According to Calloway, they are also ideal for anal penetration as they are flared out at the bottom and cannot get lost in the rectum....

Wonders talked extensively about anal penetration. According to him, the most appropriate object for beginners to place in their anus is a finger—preferably their own.

If you're really inexperienced with anything anal, start small, Wonders said. Also, you can never use enough lube, especially when it comes to putting things in your ass....

Many students turned out for the event, most of them curious about the different kids of sex toys.

"I'm very interested in sex toys," said freshman Crystal Sickles. "I've never experienced any type of sex toy, so I wanted to come and try it out."

Above all, Calloway and Wonders stressed the importance of safe sex. Because this event was a part of World Aids Week, they urged students to know the sexual history of their partner and to always use some sort of protection even when it comes to sex toys.

11/28/01

Ann Karpf in the Guardian, once more with feeling, November 28, 2001:
They say death is a great leveller. They're wrong. Inequality pursues us after life too. Consider Ground Zero. While international attention has shifted to Afghanistan, the vast project of body-part retrieval in Lower Manhattan is probably the most exorbitant expenditure on the dead in our lifetime, and yet remains almost entirely exempt from criticism or debate. Ground Zero has been cordoned off, not only physically, but also politically and financially, though it's a provocative message to the rest of the world, where death comes cheaper.

This is the largest attempt to identify the dead through DNA sampling. In the application of technology to grief, up to a million tissue samples will be examined by forensic pathologists, radiologists, anthropologists and dentists trying to match DNA material from victims' toothbrushes or relatives' mouths with fragments recovered from the twin towers. It's as if the scale of the operation has had to mirror the heft and girth of those buildings. Since this folly is in its early stages (projected time-scale: two years), it's impossible to say what it will cost. At some point a courageous person may call a halt, but there may be further costs, as the many professionals involved will need post-traumatic stress counselling....

Here's a consumer's guide to our hierarchy of death. If you want yours to signify in the media and public debate, and your relatives to be decently compensated, make sure you a) are white, and b) a westerner, c) die quickly, dramatically, and spectacularly (not slowly of a disease of poverty or occupational illness), and that d) your death is witnessed by millions, preferably on television; e) if possible, own a mobile [phone].

11/26/01

Naomi Klein in the Guardian, yet again, November 8, 2001:
What do you call someone who believes so firmly in the promise of salvation through a set of rigid rules that they are willing to risk their own life to spread those rules? A religious fanatic? A holy warrior? How about a US trade negotiator? Tomorrow, the World Trade Organisation begins its meeting in Doha, Qatar. According to US security briefings, there is reason to believe that al-Qaida, which has plenty of fans in the Gulf state, has managed to get some of its operatives into the country, including an explosives specialist. Given these threats, you might think that the US and WTO would have canceled their meeting. But not these true believers.... Trade negotiations are all about power and opportunity and for kamikaze capitalists, terrorism is just another opportunity for leverage.

Having been corrected by an alert reader, the Minneapolis Star Tribune will once again refer to the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, a nickname that as it turns out does not refer to Native Americans, but to the color of the player's socks.

Norman Mailer addresses the Cross Border Festival in Amsterdam, October 29, 2001:
The WTC was not just an architectural monstrosity, but also terrible for people who didn't work there, for it said to all those people: "If you can't work up here, boy, you're out of it." That's why I'm sure that if those towers had been destroyed without loss of life, a lot of people would have cheered. Everything wrong with America led to the point where the country built that tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed.

And then came the next shock. We had to realize that the people that did this were brilliant. It showed that the ego we could hold up until September 10 was inadequate.

Americans can't admit that you need courage to do such a thing. For that might be misunderstood. The key thing is that we in America are convinced that it was blind, mad fanatics who didn't know what they were doing. But what if those perpetrators were right and we were not? We have long ago lost the capability to take a calm look at the enormity of our enemy's position.

[Ed.: In a letter to the Boston Globe the following March, Mailer criticized columnist George Will for comparing President Bush's speech patterns to Ernest Hemingway's often terse writing style. "You can't stop people who are never embarassed by themselves," wrote Mailer, who of course has never written or uttered anything that might cause him embarrassment.]

In response to a five-year lobbying effort, the Postal Service released a stamp with Arabic writing commemorating Islam's two most important festivals, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The stamp must be reissued three times for it to earn a permanent place in the United States Holiday Collection. But it was unfortunately released a few days before the attacks on New York and Washington, at which point it became very unpopular, not least among postal workers threatened with anthrax exposure. Things got so bad that Aly Abuzaakouk of the American Muslim Council said that September 11 "has become a catastrophe for the stamps, too."

[Ed.: During the stamp's unveiling ceremony, Rep. Tom Davis (D-VA) announced: "This stamp is an appropriate symbol of the values American Muslims represent. I look forward to buying a whole sheet of them and sending them on my Christmas cards."]

Michelangelo Signorile in the New York Press, again, Vol. 14, No. 47:
Flash! This just in: All the while that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban has been protecting Osama bin Laden, Italy has been harboring another omnipotent religious zealot, one who equally condemns us Western sinners and incites violence with his incendiary rhetoric. Yes, right there on the European mainland! Meet John Paul II, Christian fundamentalist extraordinaire and a man who inspires thugs across the globe who commit hate crimes against homosexuals, a form of terrorism if ever there was one.

11/23/01

The Harvard Crimson reports that in a Kennedy School lecture, professor Cornel West said that "America has been 'niggerized' by the terrorist attacks," comparing subsequent national anxieties to African Americans' long history of coping with terror and death. "West drew some of his strongest crowd reaction when he expressed a slight indignation over politicians' sudden infatuation with spending in the wake of the attacks," reports the Crimson. " 'Sounds an awful lot like reparations to me,' West said to shouts of 'Amen!' from the crowd. 'I didn't think America was into reparations.' "

Professor West was originally scheduled to talk about hip-hop culture, about which he presumably has much to say since he released his very own... unusual rap album called "Sketches of My Culture," which he identifies on his website as "in all modesty... a watershed moment in musical history." On one of that album's tracks, he calls for a moratorium on the N-word, advice he obviously fails to heed. A sample rap from the album: "Time gets interwoven to refrig and / or oven with variance coming after centuries of scientific observation. Heliocentric puts specific comprehension to circular flow with mass bind of mind velocity."

Mr. West later made the news when he complained bitterly of being criticized in a private meeting with Lawrence Summers, Harvard's incoming president. Summers chided West for his involvement in extra-academic pursuits, not only the rap CD but also for his involvement heading up Al Sharpton's exploratory effort to run for president. Summers encouraged West—one of the most highest-paid Harvard professors despite his growing reputation as an intellectual lightweight—to produce a major academic work, one that would be more likely to be reviewed in academic journals than in the popular press. Also, Summers took West to task for giving out too many A's in his introductory class in African-American studies, an inflationary trend for which Harvard is well known. Naturally, these criticisms were interpreted to have racial overtones, with most of the members of the African-American studies department threatening to move to Princeton, and it was not long before Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton offered their special assistance in resolving the dispute. Sharpton, in particular, threatened to sue Harvard for damaging his presidential hopes. As often happens in these situations, Summers apologized for offending West, also offering a long-awaited-for ritual endorsement of affirmative action.

Humera Khan in the Guardian, again, November 21, 2001:
The issue of the burka in Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the Muslim world, is not about the garment itself. Women wore such clothing even before Islam and will continue to do so as a matter of choice.

Those western women like Mrs Bush and Mrs Blair, ostensibly offended by the sight of such attire, must learn to accept that the sight of scantily clad women has the same effect on many in the world. In both extreme cases one must understand the notion of choice.

While the Taliban were imposing their beliefs and reducing freedom on one side, the same can be said of the male-dominated and often misogynistic fashion industry on the other. The question of which is the more ruthless form of persuasion, the lashes of the Taliban or the multimillion-pound advertising flashes of the fashion industry, remains a moot point.

A similar sentiment, from an op-ed by Joan Jacobs Brumberg and Jacquelyn Jackson in the Boston Globe, November 23, 2001:
Now that the Taliban's horrific treatment of women is common knowledge, dieting and working out to wear a string bikini might seem to be a patriotic act. The war on terrorism has certainly raised our awareness of the ways in which women's bodies are controlled by a repressive regime in a far away land, but what about the constraints on women's bodies here at home, right here in America? ...

Whether it's the dark, sad eyes of a woman in purdah or the anxious darkly circled eyes of a girl with anorexia nervosa, the woman trapped inside needs to be liberated from cultural confines in whatever form they take. The burka and the bikini represent opposite ends of the political spectrum but each can exert a noose-like grip on the psyche and physical health of girls and women.

[Ed.: That last article also featured the following sentence: "The unrealistic body images that we see and admire every day in the media are literally eating away at the female backbone of our nation."]

11/21/01

With spectacularly bad timing, the New York Times ran a sympathetic profile on September 11 of Bill Ayers, a former leader of the terrorist Weather Underground and now author of his exculpatory memoirs, Fugitive Days. Justifying his past actions, Ayers told the Times, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."

After the September 11 attacks, the Barnes & Noble book chain, which regularly hosts book signings, received numerous complaints from people who thought appearances by unrepentant terrorists should be canceled. But the company's Vice President, Mary Ellen Keating, denounced these complaints as "censorship" and said that to drop Ayers "would be to give in to our fears, and ultimately to validate the position of our enemies."

[Ed.: Ayers's book starts with the words, "Memory is a motherf***er," which, as Slate's Timothy Noah observes, "establish[es] the book's literary tone and unreliability in one compact sentence."]

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance protested the movie "Shallow Hal" for its often humorous portrayal of fat women, despite the movie's ultimately sympathetic message that beauty is not determined by outer appearance. (In the movie, which itself is shallow, Jack Black plays a character who only lusts after supermodel-thin women, but he is hypnotized by a motivational speaker into seeing a morbidly obese women as if she were Gwyneth Paltrow.) NAAFA spokeswoman Maryanne Bodolay said: "Putting thin performers in fat suits is no different than putting white performers in blackface."

11/19/01

Katha Pollitt, again, in the Nation, November 19, 2001:
9/11 and its sequelae have definitely rehabilitated such traditional masculine values as physical courage, upper-body strength, toughness, resolve. The WTC attack is men vs. men—firefighters v. fanatics. (It would seem positively ungrateful to ask why, in a city half black and brown, the "heroes" were still mostly white, and, for that matter, still mostly male.) You can see the gender skew everywhere—in the absence of female bylines in Op-Eds about the war, in the booing of Hillary Clinton during the Concert for New York at Madison Square Garden, in the slavish eagerness of the media to promote the callow and inadequate Dubya as a strong leader whose "cockiness" (interesting word) and swagger are just what Americans need in the hour of crisis.

According to Ellen T. Harris, Professor of Music at MIT, the composer George Frederick Handel was gay. Harris reaches this conclusion based not on any new revelations into Handel's personal life, about which little is known, but on "the clear homosexual subtext" she detects in his operatic works. As evidence, Harris notes that much of Handel's music is punctuated by long silences. "It is quite striking and very emotional," she declares. "It denotes something that cannot be said—love that dare not speak its name, if you like."

Gloria Steinem reacts to the presidential radio address being delivered for the first time in history by the First Lady in her husband's stead. The New York Times, November 11, 2001:
"I can't think of any motive other than the gender gap," she said last week. "But they should understand that the gender gap is smart, and can tell the difference between rhetoric and reality."

Women might also remember back 20 years, she said, when the United States was supplying arms to the mujahedeen, or the "freedom fighters" trying to rid Afghanistan of its Soviet invaders. The Soviets built schools and educated women, actions that the fundamentalist mujahedeen despised. Many of those mujahedeen now make up large parts of the Northern Alliance, America's current ally, and the Taliban.

11/15/01

In order to prevent racial backlash, the Muslim Council of Britain demanded that the BBC stop referring to Osama bin Laden as an "Islamic Fundamentalist" rather than an otherwise motiveless "terrorist."

The BBC actually stopped using the word "terrorist" to describe the attackers, a policy already in place at Reuters. "However appalling and disgusting it was, there will nevertheless be a constituency of your listeners who don't regard it as terrorism," says Mark Damazer, BBC's deputy director of news. "Describing it as such could downgrade your status as an impartial and independent broadcaster."

11/14/01

In Germany, a 47-year-old judge sued the Coca-Cola company after developing diabetes, having convinced himself his consuming two bottles of the soft drink a day for many years, induced the disease. The judge plans to file a similar lawsuit against the manufacturer of Snickers, Milky Way, and Mars Bars.

Families of five Columbine High School shooting victims filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of an antidepressant drug one of the perpetrators, Eric Harris, was taking at the time of the massacre, and which is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.

A federal judge denied the city of Houston's request to throw out a lawsuit from a former ambulance driver who was fired after he stopped for donuts while transporting an injured patient to the hospital. He claims that had he been white rather than black, he would not have been disciplined as severely for the lapse.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a man who was denied a job at an oil refinery after company doctors warned that since he had a chronic case of hepatitis C, he was especially susceptible to liver injury and even death following exposure to chemicals.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, while not allowed conjugal visits, male prison inmates serving life sentences in California have a "fundamental" right to procreate aided by artificial insemination and overnight delivery services, but that female inmates do not—yet. Also left unclear is the question of whether inmates may exercise the right to inseminate women to whom they are not married. (Note that of 90 Ninth Circuit rulings reviewed from 1996 to 2000, the Supreme Court reversed 77 of them.)

The National Labor Relations Board ruled that, contrary to years of employment harassment law, "abusive language, vulgar expletives, and racial epithets" on the part of union representatives are protected by federal law and should not be viewed by employers as grounds for discipline, because they are "part and parcel of the vigorous exchange that often accompanies labor relations." At issue was a case in which a union representative who, in a communication with management, grabbed his crotch and said, "suck my d***, you b****."

A class-action lawsuit against the producers of the ABC game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" that had previously been dismissed may get a new hearing following nonambulatory golfer Casey Martin's disability-rights victory over the PGA Tour. To qualify for the show, would-be contestants must answer questions within 10 seconds, using the keys on their push-button telephones. Plaintiffs allege that's not enough time for people with disabilities to react. (Qualifications have already been relaxed so that more female contestants would appear on the show.)

After a California woman plunged to her death from an amusement ride, her family sued the manufacturer, which claimed she was too large to be belted properly but that any restriction based on girth would have been met with lawsuits.

11/13/01

Marcelee Gralapp, director of the Boulder, Colorado Public Library, refused staff requests to hang an American flag from the library's entrance because "It could compromise our objectivity. We have people of every faith and culture walking into this building, and we want everybody to feel welcome."

At the same time, the Boulder Daily Camera reports that the library was displaying a work of art, as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, called "Hung Out to Dry" that "features colorful ceramic penises hanging from knitted cozies clothes-pinned to a cord strung between a wall and a column. One end of the cord is tied as a noose."

The sculpture was later stolen by an angry local resident named Bob Rowan, who left an anonymous note attributing the theft to "El Dildo Bandito." Since Rowan later turned himself in and told police he intended to return the penises to the artist, Susanne Walker, it was unclear whether police would charge him for a crime if the artist was unwilling to press charges.

Barry Satlow of the American Civil Liberties Union insisted that since he violated Walker's First Amendment rights, Rowan be charged regardless, observing that "this is the way domestic violence has historically been treated, with police declining to arrest or charge unless the victim chose to press charges." While Walker said she was not sure whether she should redisplay the work and thus invite more backlash, Satlow said he hoped the penises would be put back on display. "If not, the self-appointed censor and vigilante, like the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center, will have achieved more than he could on his own."

11/12/01

Reporting that California Latinos have shown more hostility towards Arabs and Muslims than other groups, here is Yvette Cabrera in the Orange County Register, November 12, 2001:
Psychotherapist Mayra Prado believes the root of the problem is precisely our historical experiences.... If anybody has been at the receiving end of hatred, it has been Latinos, Prado says.

"People who tend to be on the receiving end of ostracism, it's almost like when the next group is identified, it's a relief," Prado says. "It's, 'Now I'm part of the American mainstream; now I'm part of the group that's hating that other group.' Of course this creates more hatred and more chaos in the world. It doesn't help."

On September 26, in an effort to display solidarity with Muslim- and Arab-Americans who might be victimized by reprisals, President Bush met publicly with prominent Muslim and Arab leaders, proclaiming that "the teachings of Islam are teachings of peace and good." But somebody apparently forgot to perform a background check first.

To the president's left sat Dr. Yahya Basha, president of the American Muslim Council, whose leaders have repeatedly referred to Hamas as "freedom fighters." To the president's right sat Muzammil Siddiqi, president of the Islamic Society of North America, who the previous fall had told a crowd chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans that "America has to learn if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come." Also in attendance was Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. On the afternoon of September 11, Al-Marayati told a Los Angeles radio station that "we should put the State of Israel on the suspect list."

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 12, 2001:
A Pennsylvania legislator has announced she will seek a second term next year even though she claims in a $7.5 million lawsuit that she "needs help with reading and understanding material and carrying on conversations" due to brain and other injuries she suffered in a car wreck.

Rep. Jane Baker, a 56-year-old Republican, says in her lawsuit that the injuries make her "virtually unemployable" outside the Legislature.

11/11/01

Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, November 11, 2001:
According to William J. Bennett, the nation's leftward-leaning colleges and universities are "imprecating American history and our founding." In his eagerness to prove his accusations, he takes to task one of the nation's most eminent American historians, Eric Foner of Columbia University, for questioning the apocalyptic rhetoric of the White House.

Bennett errs even more greatly by castigating Foner and others for participating in a public debate over the recent tragic events and in impugning their patriotism. Need one remind him that there is nothing more American and democratic than free speech?

—Manisha Sinha
Associate Professor
University of Massachusetts
Amherst

You decide. Here is the quote that Bennett reproduced, the very first sentence of Eric Foner's essay in the London Review of Books, October 4, 2001:

I'm not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House.

Writing in the Spectator, British therapist Theodore Dalrymple said that a misguided sense of multicultural tolerance led most of the nation's health officials to ignore widespread physical abuse of women when those women happened to be Muslim immigrants. Dalrymple writes that he has known of many cases in which young girls are taken on holiday by their families to Pakistan and forced to marry men they have never met. Girls who refuse are beaten and starved into submission, and sometimes killed.

If all goes to plan, the girl is pregnant by the time she returns to Britain so as to make it easier for her husband to obtain a visa. "When the husband arrives," says Dalrymple, "he behaves himself well for a year; that is to say, the year in which his wife has the legal right to object to his permanent leave to stay." After that, he starts to beat her, often savagely, and the beatings do not stop. If she tries to leave, her parents disown her, and community members refer to her as a prostitute. Since she has not been allowed an education or a chance to form friendships with non-Muslims, she typically endures her fate.

11/10/01

At a city council meeting in Sacramento, California, council member Lauren Hammond castigated Robert Pacuinas, a Sacramento lawyer, for emphasizing a point by saying "I think we should call a spade a spade." Hammond responded: "You made an ethnically and racially derogatory remark and I hope you think about what you said. It is not appreciated. It is no longer a part of modern English. The phrase just isn't used in good company anymore." But in fact, the phrase is at least 500 years old, and refers to a digging implement. The Greek biographer Plutarch used a similar expression.

11/9/01

At an "Emergency Town Hall Meeting" broadcast on C-SPAN on October 31, members of the New Black Panther Party—unaffiliated with the original, defunct Black Panther Party—held a rather interesting "Forum on U.S. Anti-Terrorism Efforts and Muslims" that received scant attention from the press despite the fact that it was held at the National Press Club.

Imaam Abdul Alim Musa, an ex-con and former cocaine dealer, said the 19 hijackers deserve praise for rising "to the level of martyrdom, which is the highest level in Islam." But he also declared that the United States, who supposedly "sunk their own battleship, the Maine" to start the Spanish-American War and staged the Gulf of Tonkin incident to start the Vietnam War, similarly falsified the terrorist attacks as part of a conspiracy to justify a war on Islam.

International party chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz declared that "September 11th was America reaping the results of her worldwide crimes." According to Shabazz, Muslims were being made scapegoats: "World Trade Center blows up, blame it on Osama bin Laden. Pentagon attacked, blame it on Osama bin Laden. Bush... slips on some soap in the shower, blame it on Osama bin Laden. Mr. Bush's wife won't sleep with him at night, blame it on Osama bin Laden." Shabazz identified a different set of culprits responsible for the attack: "Since Bush got in office the whole world has gone awry.... We don't blame it on bin Laden, we blame it on Bush. We blame it on Bush senior, who was a dope dealer.... We blame it on camel-breath honky from Texas Lyndon Baines Johnson.... The world needs to know George Washington was a terrorist. Thomas Jefferson was a terrorist.... I bear witness to Ho Chi Minh. I bear witness to Mao Zedong... Che Guevara... Ayatollah Khomeini... Fidel Castro... I know these names will get me in trouble."

Marilyn Killingham, a "Human Rights Activist" with the Republic of New Africa, explained the attacks as a result of people whose sufferings were ignored: "Sometimes you have to do something when people ignore your suffering, you have to use the politics of visibility... that was nine-eleven-oh-one, the politics of visibility." Amir Muhammad asked, "How long can a nation that refuses to deal with reparations... go on?"

For his part, Mohammed Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. (which President Bush visited soon after the attacks in order to demonstrate solidarity with American Muslims) didn't blame America, but rather, the "Israeli Zionist Jews." Shabazz concurred: "Israeli agents committed sabotage and blame it on the Muslims... that's what happened in (the embassy bombing in) Kenya."

As the event neared its end, Shabazz even said there were several trecherous spies in the audience, all white: "We have the enemy in here as well, with your stone faces... sent in here... They have assassins out there... it's no joke... they even did it to one of their own: John F. Kennedy."

Canada's Kitchener-Waterloo Record reports: "Oktoberfest revelers say attending Kitchener-Waterloo's annual beer blowout seems more important than ever after the terrorist attacks that killed thousands in the U.S. last month." According to Dorothy Hillgartner, who attended the nine-day Bavarian beer festival, "If we don't go out, the terrorists will have won."

Douglas Valentine on CounterPunch.com, again, November 8, 2001:
This ability to commit the most horrific acts of terror, and successfully blame them on its enemies through black propaganda, is what makes the CIA's inclusion in the OHS [Office of Homeland Security] so dangerous. This one-two punch, in conjunction with the CIA's expertise at "provoked responses" and "false flag recruitments," also makes the CIA itself a prime suspect in the terror attacks of 11 September, and the current propaganda campaign being waged in America now, as a pretext to threaten terror against the Bush Administration's domestic political opponents, as well as to win support from the terrified middle class for the illegitimate Bush regime.

Amanda Williams, an eighth-grader at Five Forks Middle School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, was suspended for nine days after she was served grape juice and subsequently joked that she was drinking wine. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that county policy prohibits students not only from possessing drugs and alcohol, but "any substance under the pretense that it is in fact a prohibited substance."

11/8/01

The Campus Chronicle of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, reports on education faculty member Barbara Love, who attended the United Nations Conference on Racism in South Africa, November 2, 2001:
Love was disappointed that the United States pulled its official delegation out of the eight-day conference on the fourth day over language about Israel that U.S. officials called "hateful." ...

She also has been disappointed that she hasn't seen links in the media between the United States' behavior and the recent use of airplanes as bombs and dissemination of anthrax.

"I have been waiting to hear whether any news commentator would make a connection between the refusal of the U.S. government to sit at the table to talk and these acts of terrorism," she said. "If you won't sit down at the table, what is left is to fight. Our refusal to sit at the table and talk in the world community about racism and oppression should be reexamined on many levels."

Norah Vincent in the Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2001. (Ms. Vincent responds to a Wall Street Journal column in which Gregg Easterbrook examines the concept of prior restraint.)
Yanking advertisements from network television shows should also be unconstitutional. This happened recently to Bill Maher, host of the late-night talk show "Politically Incorrect," after he said a few politically incorrect things about the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack.

Why do I believe that rescinding ad revenue constitute censorship? Don't advertisers have the right to advertise when and where they please?

Because Maher's show depends on advertising money for its survival, the advertisers were not just registering their discontent (they could have done that in a written statement), they were knowingly jeopardizing the show and thereby attempting to silence the speaker by forcing him off the air.

Of course, there is no law that prevents advertisers from revoking their support for shows. But if we are going to remain true to the spirit of the 1st Amendment, we should pass one.

11/7/01

The women's studies department at California State University at Hayward will now offer a course on "The Sexuality of Terrorism."

11/6/01

Sharon Lerner in the Village Voice, October 31-November 6, 2001:
A year ago, when women's rights and peace advocate Hibaaq Osman was giving a speech at the United Nations, she cited only one cause for which the use of military force might be justified: to oust the oppressive Taliban regime from Afghanistan. Now that the bloody effort is under way, however, Osman, who heads the Center for Strategic Initiatives in Washington, feels differently.

"I said it, but I was just making a point," a distraught Osman recalls. "This predicament is a test for feminists. We have seen our worst nightmare—women being dehumanized and shot in public—and it makes us more radical. It makes us angry enough to entertain the idea of war. But do I support war?" Osman pauses to consider her own country, Somalia, with its brutal history, before bursting out with an emotional "No. No. No. War is not OK under any circumstances," and then concluding, "The whole thing simply breaks my heart."

11/5/01

A department store in Cornwall, England, was prevented from posting a job ad for an in-store Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, because to do so would discriminate against women.

A spokeswoman for Woolworths says the retailer is stocking a "Mother Christmas" outfit in addition to "Father Christmas" to avoid sex discrimination lawsuits based on EU regulations.

England's Luton Borough Council removed references to Christmas in its end-of-year festival, renaming the Christmas lights ceremony "Luminos" after a word in the Harry Potter book series. And in Glasgow, Scotland, the end-of-year gathering formerly renamed "Shine On" has once again been renamed "Winter Festival."

[Ed.: To avoid any mention of Christmas, the city of Pittsburgh now refers to its end-of-year celebration as "Sparkle Days."]

11/4/01

Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, November 4, 2001:
We the people of the United States have suffered a terrible wound with the injuries and death of many thousands of our people, as well as hundreds from many other countries.

Now that we have treated the injured and mourned the dead, and while we attempt to bring to justice the perpetrators of this crime against humanity on Sept. 11, it is imperative that we rethink how we have looked at the new world order and reevaluate the way in which we have been rushing toward corporate globalization, seemingly without regard for its negative, even disastrous, effect on many millions of people in other parts of the world.

Corporate globalization as it is being pursued now, along with its attendant free trade policy, will lead to further unrest among the exploited working populations and to further degradation of the environment.

Unless we reorder our priorities, I fear we are destined to experience more than one catastrophic event. We cannot continue indefinitely to use a disproportionate share of the world's natural resources without generating more hatred from the dispossessed and poverty-stricken people (many of whom live in countries from which we have extracted valuable resources) of the rest of the world. Nor can we expect that our quick resort to war will solve these basic problems; it will, rather, more likely exacerbate them.

So let us bind up the wounds we have suffered and move forward, resolving to use some of our wealth, technical abilities, and the goodwill of our people to improve the lives of those billions who have not yet shared in what we consider the basic necessities of life. The alternative could be that this war will be a "war to end all peace" for many years to come.

The United States, its economic entities, and its people need to be benefactors, rather than exploiters, of the impoverished people of the world. If we help them to achieve better living and social conditions, we will be doing more for peace and stability than we can hope to accomplish by waging war. Let us join together with other nations to create a more just world irrespective of our differing cultures.

—Dana Snyder
Amherst

[Ed.: At a Washington news conference, Ralph Nader said that as a result of the terrorist attacks, "There is a whole range of power grabs going on. There is an escalation of the corporate takeover of the United States. The ground and soil are ripe for a revolt by the American people."]

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Philadelphia law firm Sheller, Ludwig & Badey has been involved with about two dozen cases relating to well-known side effects from taking Cipro to supposedly ward off anthrax infection.

11/3/01

Having banished any further threat of bioterrorist attack along with all forms of infectious disease, and having addressed the "epidemics" of gun ownership, tobacco use and domestic violence, the Centers for Disease Control has now released a report in conjunction with the Sierra Club, concluding that suburban sprawl is a public health hazard. According to the report, automobile-driving suburbanites don't get enough exercise walking to shops or work the way many city dwellers do. The conclusion runs counter to another CDC finding that suburban areas boast better public health indicators than either urban or rural areas. Writing in the Rocky Mountain News, Vincent Carroll also notes that Colorado has the country's lowest rate of obesity despite having some of the most sprawling suburbs.

[Ed.: The British Medical Journal later devoted one of its issues to the subject of war, identifying its origin as inequality and poverty.]

11/2/01

United Press International reports that the Afghan Defense Council, a pro-Taliban group based in Pakistan, "has pledged to 'provide lifetime financial support to those who die fighting the Americans.' "

After the Postal Service took the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control to buy nearly 5 million face masks to prevent postal workers from contracting anthrax, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration blocked their use. The Washington Times reports: "According to OSHA officials and regulations, the workers must undergo hours of training and pass a 'fit test' before they can be allowed to use the protective masks, which are like those worn by construction workers who install drywall and can be purchased at hardware stores."

From a mile-long essay by Jean Baudrillard in Le Monde, November 2, 2001:
Because with its unbearable power [the West] has fomented this violence pervading the world, along with the terrorist imagination that inhabits all of us, without our knowing. That we dreamed of this event, that everyone without exception dreamed of it, because no one can fail to dream of the destruction of any power become so hegemonic—that is unacceptable for the Western moral conscience. And yet it's a fact, which can be measured by the pathetic violence of all the discourses that want to cover it up. To put it in the most extreme terms, they did it, but we wanted it.

[Ed.: Baudrillard earlier wrote a book with the interesting premise that The Gulf War Did Not Take Place.]

11/1/01

Asked on a radio show whether he was "pro-choice or anti-choice," Illinois Republican Senate candidate James Oberweis said: "That's obviously a tough question, but the honest answer is I've been a lifelong Catholic, still am. Obviously I have concerns about that particular issue. However, I think that right now we're getting a very, very strong symbol in the Taliban of what can happen if we try to impose our religious beliefs on others."

Aaron Sorkin, producer of NBC's "The West Wing," speaking at a forum at Occidental College, October 22, 2001. (Bill Maher, host of ABC's "Politically Incorrect," aroused great anger when he insisted that "We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly.")
Bill Maher has been getting a pounding because on his television program he said something that some found controversial.... [S]ponsors began removing their advertising from the show, and now ABC, the network that he's on, is saying that they may not do the show. We've heard this song before, right? In the fifties there was a blacklist, and it ruined lives.... Well, we're there, right now. It's happening all over again.

San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit system approved payment of over $1 million to compensate a construction firm working on an airport extension project, where work was stopped for almost three weeks for an investigation after an endangered garter snake was found flattened at the site.

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, seventeen-year-old Christian Silbereis earned a top prize at a Community High School costume contest as well as a two-and-a-half-day suspension when he showed up dressed as a giant vagina. More than a simple adolescent prank, however, Silbereis said his mother, midwife Rosalyn Tulip, created the costume the previous year and wore it to a party. When he asked if he could borrow it, Tulip warned that it might make people feel uncomfortable, but she would support his decision because it encourages people to talk positively about their bodies. But in fact, many staff members said they felt demeaned by the costume. "It's just another body part," Silberis said. "They teach us about it in school.... I just don't see what the big deal is. I mean, what if I was wearing an elbow costume? That's part of the body. Would they suspend me then?"

Jeanette Winterson in the Guardian, October 16, 2001:
My friend Ruth Rendell was in conversation at the Cheltenham Literary Festival last weekend. Her sell-out audience was conservative and over-50. Someone asked a question about pure evil, citing the terrorist attacks on America as an example. With great presence, Rendell replied that we could not categorise such attacks as evil, since they were carried out from the highest motives and in the name of freedom. The audience hated this reply—there was a collective and audible shudder. Yet who reading Bin Laden's speeches can doubt it? There is no cynicism in the man—he has never heard of a spin doctor.... We need not sympathise with him to recognise a gulf between the pragmatic concerns of the west and the fervent beliefs of the east. How to bridge east and west is the question—and bombs are not the answer.
Arundhati Roy, again, in the Guardian, again, October 23, 2001:
Enduring Freedom for some means Enduring Subjugation for others. The International Coalition Against Terror is a largely [sic] cabal of the richest countries in the world. Between them, they manufacture and sell almost all of the world's weapons, they possess the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction—chemical, biological and nuclear. They have fought the most wars, account for most of the genocide, subjection, ethnic cleansing and human rights violations in modern history, and have sponsored, armed and financed untold numbers of dictators and despots. Between them, they have worshipped, almost deified, the cult of violence and war. For all its appalling sins, the Taliban just isn't in the same league.