An Inclusive Litany


A customer walked into an Amoco station in West Dundee, Illinois, at 3:30 a.m. on December 6, 1991 and bought a pair of gloves. Minutes later, a West Dundee police officer walked in and told the proprietor that he'd violated a local ordinance forbidding the sale of anything except automotive products between 2 and 5 a.m. The Amoco station could be fined up to $500.

The customer had tried to buy the gloves at the Shell station across the street, but when the clerk there refused to sell them, the customer went to the Amoco instead and bought the gloves there. The clerk at the Shell station then called the police to report a violation of the zoning ordinance.

The University of Arizona's "Diversity Action Plan" expresses concern over discrimination against students on the basis of "age, color, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, Vietnam-era veteran status, socioeconomic background, or individual style."

A reproduction of Francisco de Goya's painting The Naked Maja that hung in a Penn State classroom has been taken down after a female professor complained of sexual harassment. "Any nude picture of a female," she noted, "encourages males to make remarks about body parts."


The city of Huntington Beach, California, forced a homeowner to raze the top floor of his luxury home after it announced that city officials had mistakenly approved, after a lengthy study, his house plans in 1985. The Los Angeles Times reported on the city council members' rationale on the vote: "In rejecting [the owner's] request to allow his home to stand, council members noted that to grant a code variance, they must first determine that special circumstances justify waiving city zoning regulations. The fact that [the] home is already built does not constitute such a circumstance, they said."


Among the items listed in the docket of an upcoming meeting of the Babylon, New York, Zoning Board of Appeals for January 23, 1992 were a person seeking permission to maintain an awning, a person seeking permission to maintain a front porch, a person seeking to "legalize an open porch on the rear of a house at 416 S. Eighth St.," a person seeking permission to install sliding glass doors, a person seeking "to legalize the conversion of a detached garage to a playroom and storage room at 212 S. Sixth St.," and a person seeking permission "to maintain a second kitchen for personal use at 132 Houston St."


Vic Forsythe, president of the Vegetarian Society, in the Orange County Register, October 30, 1991. This commentary following the mass murder of 23 people in a Killeen, Texas, diner:
It seems quite ironic that flesh eaters have been killed en masse while stuffing their faces with pieces of tortured flesh. They then complain about automatic weapons, guns, and knives while they sit only miles away from weapons of mass destruction that could wipe out millions. Yet they continue to ignore the consequences of that quivering piece of flesh right at the end of their fork. Just as vampires, most humans are well suited as a metaphor for the whole human race.

City officials in Santa Clarita, California, invited 50 local hairdressers, manicurists, and makeup artists to a conference dealing with what residents think of city government. The officials claimed that the funds spent on the conference were a wise investment, since citizens confide in beauty professionals.

Launching a study of rhinotillexomania, or nose-picking, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison mailed a questionnaire to 1,200 people containing questions such as, "What finger do you use when picking your nose?" and "After picking your nose, how often do you find yourself looking at what you have removed?"

A California judge ruled that bouncers at a nightclub committed civil-rights violations when they decided who would be permitted to enter the club on the basis of whether prospective patrons were properly dressed. The judge said such practices are "blatant discriminatory behavior."

A press release:

Please join us on Tuesday, November 26, at 4:30 P.M. for a Thanksgiving celebration in honor of our two turkey companions, Mila and Priscilla. Dinner will comprise a potluck of vegetarian dishes and several friends have been invited to share the feast. Our purpose in holding this holiday dinner is to draw attention to the friendly, companionable and affectionate nature of turkeys and to join with others throughout the country who have elected to adopt turkeys rather than eat them.

We adopted Mila and Priscilla in October 1990 from Farm Sanctuary, a non-profit group in Watkins Glen, New York that rescues abused farm animals and gives them permanent homes. Mila and Priscilla live happily with nine rescued chickens with whom they forage, dust bathe, and enjoy full run of our three-acre yard. Please join us for this special occasion.

Protests erupted at the World Series games, where Atlanta Braves fans would, as a gesture of support for their team, pretend to swing a tomahawk. Native Americans considered the gesture offensive, and after some pressure finally persuaded Jane Fonda to stop doing the "chop." Fonda is married to Ted Turner, the communications magnate who owns the team.

Furthermore, doctors warned that the Tomahawk Chop may produce "repetitive motion injuries."

[Ed.: During the tenth inning of the seventh game of the 1991 World Series, Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner fell asleep in the stands.]

Princeton University has a popular new course on the religion of the Pre-Columbian Indian. According to the New York Times, Professor David L. Carrasco "hopes to encourage his class to challenge pervasive stereotypes by introducing them to the spiritual significance of such practices as human sacrifices."

Margie Boule in the Portland Oregonian, October 24, 1991:
"Everyone's so concerned about attractive women being hit on and offered all these jobs in exchange for sexual favors," said a friend, who brought this subject to my attention. "But what about the unattractive women? The other side is being completely ignored.

"For every job that was offered an attractive woman, there may have been a plain woman who was overlooked who was qualified for the job."

I've spent weeks listening to women share painful memories of being hit on by bosses and co-workers. I sympathize. I empathize.

But I never even glanced at the other side of the coin. All along, unattractive women have been paying a high price because they weren't the targets of sexual advances. They were, however, being discriminated against.

[Ed.: Yes, unattractive women who are not targets of sexual harassment may still be the victims of discrimination.]

The University of Iowa's German department has been screening homoerotic films as an educational device to encourage use of perfect German. In one of the films, Taxi Zum Klo (Taxi to the Toilet), a man voids onto another.

At the University of California at Santa Barbara, animal-rights activists said they wanted pets to be referred to as "companion animals." This prompted a frolicsome professor to wonder aloud whether Penthouse magazine's centerfold Pets should be called "Penthouse Companion Animals." Fifteen women promptly filed sexual harassment charges against him.

A New York Times story reporting on a plagiarism case at Boston University—a dean was caught lifting entire passages for a speech from an article—turned out to be plagiarized, in part, from a story that had already appeared in The Boston Globe. The subject of the dean's speech, by the way, was journalistic incompetency.

Promotional jacket text for George Bataille's Inner Experience, a work of nonfiction published by the State University of New York Press:
We receive these hazy illusions like a narcotic necessary to bear life. But what happens to us when, disintoxicated, we learn what we are? Lost among babblers in a night in which we can only hate the appearance of light which comes from babbling. The self-acknowledged suffering of the disintoxicated is the subject of this book...

His is a journey marked by the questioning of experience itself, until what is reached is sovereign laughter, non-knowledge, and a Presence in no way distinct from Absence, where "the mind moves in a strange world where anguish and ecstasy coexist."

After battling King Kong and the Smog Monster in the mid-1960s, Godzilla's 18th film will feature him fighting his toughest enemy yet: Americans trying to force open Japanese markets. In the film, a group of Westerners have unleashed a gargantuan, flying, three-headed creature on Tokyo in an attempt to sell the Japanese personal computers.

Scientists reported that dinosaur flatulence may have caused the Earth's climate to warm, leading to their extinction.

An aspiring artist received college credit for spending a weekend in a gym locker and calling it "a duration-confinement body-piece."

Dr. Leonard Jeffries, chairman of the Afro-American Studies Department at the City University of New York, came under criticism for some of his statements on race. He theorizes that humanity is divided into two principal groups, "sun people" (Africans, Asians, and natives of Latin America and the Caribbean) and "ice people" (the European-American descendants of northern Ice Age peoples). The two groups have diametrically opposed value systems: ice people are materialistic, egotistical, and exploitative, while sun people are humanistic, communal, and caring.

Jeffries was quoted as saying that the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger should be applauded because it deterred white people from "spreading their filth throughout the universe."

William Graves, editor of National Geographic, sued the makers of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, claiming that twelve years prior, after eating a bowl of chili, two martinis, and a glass of wine, he woke up with indigestion and drank some baking soda in a glass of water, causing his stomach to explode.

After an Atlanta scientist collected over ten pounds of bullet shell casings from the city's streets during lunch hours, a police department official said that finding casings of weapons ranging from .22-caliber rifles to AK-47 assault rifles does not necessarily indicate that the city is unsafe. Possibly, he suggested, people are firing their weapons elsewhere and leaving the shells in Atlanta.

The British navy awarded bronze medals for bravery to six parakeets that served aboard a destroyer during the Persian Gulf war and whose job it was to alert the crew to any chemical-gas attack by dying.

Newsweek General Editor Laura Shapiro on performance artist Karen Finley, August 6, 1990:
For the next 90 minutes the woman who has become an unwilling symbol of publicly funded obscenity proceeds to make her accusers look awfully silly.... Midway through the show, and without fanfare, she takes off her dress to reveal a black corset. She pours Jell-O into the bra cups, and sashays around the table with her breasts jiggling obediently.

The American Association of University Women cancelled a conference workshop called "Having It All: How you can juggle career, children, love life, and leisure activities and keep your sanity," because, as the AAUP president explained to NBC's Linda Ellerbee, "we just couldn't fit it in."

In Erie, Pennsylvania, runners became upset about a female competitor who had undergone a sex change operation, and asked for "guidelines for transsexuals in marathon races." "Jane Doe" placed fifth in the six-mile race and has asked the local newspaper not to publish her name. Another runner filed a complaint about Doe, claiming that she is a "male transsexual." Doe replied, "the harder somebody pushes me, the more determined I get. When they started yelling and complaining, I started running more miles and working harder. If there hadn't been any controversy, I wouldn't be working this hard. I had my hormones checked, and there are no male hormones to give me an unfair advantage."

The Moscow motorcycle gang known as "The Cossacks" has eight members. Among them, they own a total of one motorcycle.

Abstract for Gender Symbolism in Food, by Deborah Dale Heisley, Ph.D.:
First, the dissertation investigates gender symbolism of milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables and meat. Milk and eggs are most feminine because they are products of females' reproductive abilities. Produce is feminine, relating to the mythology of the female gatherer, and symbolic of the reproductive nature of "Mother Earth." Fruits are more feminine than vegetables because they are ripened ovaries of plants. Meat is the most masculine. Meat is associated with male provisioning, hunting, and killing. Women are expected to eat produce and men are expected to eat milk, eggs, and meat. For women, nutrition means light and non-fattening. For men, nutrition means nutrient dense and strength-building.... This is consistent with a domination interpretation in which men symbolically dominate women and animals by the totemic oral incorporation of their reproductive capabilities and muscle, drawing strength from this act...

The second section concentrates on specific traits that are seen to be feminine in fruits and vegetables. Feminine traits are the presence of seeds, sweetness, roundness, juiciness, softness, smoothness, smallness and seasonality. Tubers are also masculine. Warm colors are feminine and cool colors are masculine in the produce context.

The third section examines usage of fruits and vegetables from a gender and social class perspective... Professional men eat a less feminine set of items than professional women... Working class women and men do not differ in stated usage, reflecting the working class female's deference to her husband in the area of food.