An Inclusive Litany


The San Francisco Examiner reported that a single homeless man named Diego has cost the city $1 million in "emergency" ambulance rides and medical tests over the past five years.

When the emergency number 911 is called, paramedics who respond must take the patient to a hospital if he or she wishes. There, the patient is given a battery of tests that are mandated by law to guard against malpractice suits. The tests usually run $1,000 and some homeless people call for more than one ambulance ride a day.

Usually, Good Samaritans will call 911 if they see someone lying on the street. The Examiner reported that one homeless man with a neck brace was taken to the hospital 127 times in 30 days because he would drink until he passed out on the sidewalk.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has decided to stop referring to its missions as "manned" and "unmanned." NASA will now refer to missions as being "habited" and "unhabited," or "crewed" and "uncrewed."

In the "User's Guide" to the Bias-Free Word Finder: A Dictionary of Nondiscriminatory Language, author Rosalie Maggio notes that none other than George Orwell " 'recommended the scrapping of every word or idiom that has outgrown its usefulness.' This dictionary is designed to help you scrap outdated, stereotypical, and damaging language."

So "hit man" is out, in favor of "hired killer," "hired gun," or "murderer." "Low man on the totem pole" is both ethnocentric and sexist, and should be changed to "lowest ranking individual" or "someone with no seniority/clout." "Dirty old man" is both "ageist and sexist," as well as vague. And of course the " 'discovery' of America" is no good. "Only by a strange twist of white ethnocentrism can one be considered to 'discover' a continent inhabited by millions of people."

[Ed.: It's almost beyond comprehension that someone would so badly misinterpret Orwell. Similarly, when 1984 rolled around, many commented that Orwell's famous book of the same name served mainly as a prophecy of computer technology's danger to privacy rights. Nonsense! Orwell was writing about the Soviet Union.]

In the preface to a new book, The Madonna Connection, which features the latest academic word on the pop star and the growing craze for Post-Madonna studies, editor Kathy Schwichtenberg writes: "This volume demonstrates Madonna's usefulness as a paradigm case to advance further developments in cultural theory." Among these developments are Melanie Morton's Marxist view that Madonna undermines "capitalist constructions [and] rejects core bourgeois epistemes" and Professor Marjorie Garber's analysis of Madonna's tendency to grab her crotch: "[It] emblematize[s] the Lacanian triad of having, being, and seeming."


From the Office of the Marshal in San Diego County, California:
Dear prospective juror:

Congratulations on your selection as a trial juror. We sincerely hope your participation in the justice system is informative and rewarding. To that end, we would like to offer some information that will expedite your access to courtroom facilities throughout San Diego County.

Knives with a locking blade or any blade over three inches (3") will not be permitted in the courthouse. Stun guns, mace or other caustic materials are also prohibited. If you are licensed to carry such items, you will be required to leave it with the Deputy Marshals at the screening station and you may recover it when you leave the building. Of course, non-prescription drugs and alcoholic beverages are also excluded.

We recognize the inconvenience this screening represents, but our experience has shown that the enhanced security of the court staff, litigants, spectators and of course jurors, outweighs the delays you may experience...

The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 14, 1992:
A recent report released by the American Association of University Women, "How Schools Shortchange Women," finds that teachers, text books and tests give preferential treatment to elementary school boys...

Unfortunately, this insidious gender bias appears long before our children enter school and pervades even the television show "Sesame Street." Yes, "Sesame Street" is sexist! But, just as the story of the emperor and his new clothes, many of us do not notice the obvious.

The puppet stars of the show, Bert and Ernie, and all the other major "Sesame Street" animal characters, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Kermit the Frog, and Mr. Snuffleupagus are male. Among the secondary characters including Elmo, Herry Monster, Count VonCount, Telemonster, Prairie Dawn and Betty Lou, only a very few are girls.

The female puppets always play children, while the male puppets play adult parts in various scenes... Further, almost all the baby puppet characters on "Sesame Street" are girls... Also, the female puppet characters almost never interact with each other. In sharp contrast, consequential and caring friendship relationships have been fully developed between male puppets: Ernie and his best friend Bert; Big Bird and his closest comrade Snuffie; even Oscar the Grouch and his (male) worm, Squirmy.

[Ed.: The report relies on research by David and Myra Sadker, which demonstrated that teachers gave girls only about an eighth the amount of attention they gave boys. However, critics subsequently pointed out that this increased attention was because boys had to be disciplied for disrupting class far more often than girls. The AAUW's own report from 1990 showed that students overwhelmingly thought teachers praised girls more than boys, and that more girls than boys said they are frequently called in class.]

From Earth in the Balance, by Albert Gore, Jr.:
Insisting on the supremacy of the neocortex exacts a high price, because the unnatural task of a disembodied mind is to somehow ignore the intense psychic pain that comes from the constant nagging awareness of what is missing: the experience of living in one's body as a fully integrated physical and mental being. Life confronts everyone with personal or circumstantial problems, of course, and there are many varieties of psychic pain from which we wish to escape. But the cleavage between mind and body, intellect and nature, has created a kind of psychic pain at the very root of the modern mind, making it harder for anyone who is suffering from other psychological wounds to be healed.


Brazilian Indian Chief Paolino Payakin, who received the United Nations Environmental Award for his efforts on behalf of the environment, disappeared during the Rio Earth Summit because the police were seeking him for raping and trying to murder his teenage housekeeper. According to Brazilian police, Payakin's wife held the 18-year old girl down while he raped her and bit off her nipple. The chief then tried to strangle the girl, but she was saved by a servant who heard her cries for help.

A German magazine also revealed that Payakin had made millions from secretly exploiting the rain forests by selling pelts and skins of rare animals, mahogany, and even gold. The magazine, however, called him "an innocent child of nature corrupted by the bad morals of capitalism."

California farmers have been ordered to destroy millions of pounds of peaches and nectarines because they are slightly smaller than federal standards require and could undermine profits from larger fruit. Dan Gerawan, one of the largest peach, nectarine and plum growers, said he has sold undersized fruit to wholesalers who sell it to family-run stores in inner-city Los Angeles. But the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Attorney's office have threatened court action if he continues. "Consumers are prepared to spend more money for larger fruit than smaller fruit, so why undermine the higher profit margin for the grower?" Eric Forman of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service said in the AP report.

After Donna Miller of Providence, Rhode Island, won $14.7 million in the lottery, she was charged with three counts of welfare fraud and one count of filing a false document. Her caseworker noticed that news accounts about Miller's prize indicated that her husband, Kenneth, was living at home and working as a machinist. The state maintains that Miller fraudulently collected $54,000 in public assistance during the seven years in question by failing to disclose her husband's status. Miller also told the Providence Journal that she spent $20 to $25 a week on lottery tickets for the two years preceding her win.

In a New York Times op-ed piece, Henry Louis Gates, chairman of Harvard's Afro-American studies department, condemned black anti-Semitism but put the ultimate blame on conservatives. "After 12 years of conservative indifference, those political figures who acquiesced, by benign neglect, to the deepening crisis of black America should not feign surprise that we should prove so vulnerable to the demagogues' rousing messages of hate, their manipulation of the past and present."

When Rick Burns, coach for the Mount Holyoke women's soccer team, referred to an opposing player as a "tall woman," he was reprimanded, since the word "tall" implied denigration of those women who are not tall. He was instructed to call tall players "vertically endowed." Burns was also told that using the word "subs" (for "substitutes") was "hierarchical," "demeaning," and implied differences in skill among the players. He was told that the word "others" was more acceptably neutral. His team captain told him there was "some concern" that at halftime he was mentioning one player, who was scoring 60 percent of the goals, too often, at the expense of other participants. When Burns wrote an article about his experiences coaching at Mount Holyoke for a sports journal, it set off a firestorm of controversy, and Burns was denounced as being "sexist."

From Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity, by Michael A. Messner:
Though many of the events in the Gay Games are "conventional" sports (track and field, swimming, etc.), and a number of "serious athletes" compete in the events, overall the Games reflect a value system and a vision based on feminist and gay liberation ideals of equality and universal participation. As Mike T. said,

"You don't win by beating someone else. We defined winning as doing your very best. That way, everyone is a winner. And we have age-group competition, so all ages are involved. We have parity: If there's a men's sport, there's a women's sport to complement it. And we go out and recruit in Third World and minority areas. All of these people are gonna get together for a week, they're gonna march in together, they're gonna hold hands, and they'll all say 'Jesus Christ! This is wonderful!' There's this discovery: 'I had no idea women were such fun!' and, 'God! Blacks are okay—I didn't do anything to offend him, and we became friends!' and, 'God, that guy over there is in his sixties, and I had no idea they were so sexually active!'—[laughs]."


Catherine Stimmel, 15, was expelled from Firestone High in Akron, Ohio, after she attempted to defend herself with a small canister of tear gas against two male classmates who assaulted her. School officials said that carrying a weapon on school grounds violated the code of student conduct, which is grounds for expulsion. The boys who attacked her were also expelled.

Catherine's parents attempted to delay her expulsion long enough to allow her to take her final exams so she wouldn't be failed, but the school board upheld her expulsion. On top of that, the mother of one of the boys who attacked Catherine has filed an assault charge against her for using the tear gas.

Renee Solomon, a 61-year-old professor at Columbia University, was arrested in her office by five armed officers, handcuffed and jailed for four hours in New York. She was accused of killing sparrows that had perched on the ledge outside her apartment in Manhattan.

The birds died after an exterminator applied a sticky repellent to ward off hundreds of pigeons visiting her neighborhood's bird feeders. New York Newsday reported that Solomon had contacted the city's Health Department after her neighbor refused to move the feeders, but that she said the department told her staff cuts prevented it from sending someone to her home. She then turned to her landlord.

The exterminator sent by her landlord laid down a repellent called Roost No More on her windowsill. Later, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received calls that small birds were dying at Solomon's window and notified Solomon that she was using an illegal substance on her sill.

At one point, Solomon told Newsday, ASPCA officer Jose Hernandez even entered her apartment without permission when she was out of town, in order to check up on the repellent. Soon after, two ASPCA officers and three police officers arrested Solomon. She was charged with violating state law by killing the birds—a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The charges were later dismissed for lack of merit. Solomon has since filed a $4 million civil lawsuit against the ASPCA.

Solomon belongs to both the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. "I'm a bird lover," she told the newspaper.

In the February 2, 1989, New York Post, Cindy Adams described a typical party that takes place in the rent-stabilized apartment of Alice Mason, New York's premier real estate broker:
Alice Mason... gave one of those dinner parties of hers that snap, crackle, and pop because so do the guests. Jean Claude Nedelec of Glorious Food always comes in to prepare a fine, hot meal for the more than 50 stars and satellites scattered throughout the living room, dining room and library of her apartment...

Who was there? To name a few—Malcolm Forbes, who arrived on his motorcycle... Countess (Aline) of Romanones, whose navy blue windbreaker over a long, bare, black dress was as chic as any mink or sable, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, Helen Gurley Brown, and David Brown; [Elie and] Mrs. Elie (Marion) Wiesel... Frances Lear of the Lear's magazine Lears...

In addition to the rooms mentioned in the article, the apartment also includes accommodations for maids and butlers. Her landlord, Eugene Martin, said that Jean Claude Nedelec and Glorious Food once overloaded the elevator with so much food that they overrode the brakes, costing him $5,000 in repairs.

Hillary Rodham-Clinton on family values, from "Children Under the Law":
Many of the modern conflicts between parents and children arise because of the 'invention' of adolescence. Children in the Middle Ages became adults at the age of seven... The concept of childhood gradually was expanded until children became more and more dependent on their parents and parents became less and less dependent on their children for economic support and sustenance. During the nineteenth century in this country, the idea of compulsory education provided an opportunity for children to be trained, and took them out of an increasingly smaller work force, so that they would not compete with adults. Child labor laws continued this trend and so did the imposition of age requirements for school attendance... Because children now remain in the family for longer periods, during which they are still dependent but becoming more and more adult, the opportunities for intrafamily disputes have increased dramatically.

During a news conference to announce his support for a constitutional amendment mandating balanced federal budgets, Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ) said, "We're going to finally wrestle to the ground this gigantic orgasm that is out of control."

New York State Bill #A10121A specifies the following as its justification: "This bill amends various sections of the educational law to change the term 'physician's' in the title of physician's assistant to the non-possessive term 'physician'... Justification: Simply stated, a physician assistant is not a physical possession of the physician. The physician holds no ownership rights, or interest over a physician assistant... Thus, the correct terminology in New York State should be physician assistant rather than physician's assistant."


In Cannes, France, black writer-director Spike Lee, miffed because his film Do The Right Thing did not win first prize at the annual film festival in 1989, implied that the judges' decision was racially motivated.


The San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 27, 1992:
On March 9, a San Francisco woman in her 30s was hung from 28 wire-suspended fish-hooks, all pierced through the flesh of her back, legs, and buttocks. This was a women-only event. More than 80 spectators and friends were in attendance at the black-walled South of Market space, drumming, chanting, coaxing her on.

Raelyn Gallina, an East Bay piercer who has a lot of female clients, organized the event and did much of the piercing. "It was women doing it for women," she says. "It was a very powerful experience. There were women who needed to be there. This was a major, history-making thing. There were three videographers and two still photographers. Women would cheer every time a hook went in." ...

Gallina has her own thoughts on the popularity of body play. "Basically," she says, "the world is meaningless. There's just your body and you. That's all you've got."

The Student Senate of the University of Wisconsin voted down a proposal for an all-campus masquerade ball on the grounds that people wearing masks can take advantage of their anonymity to inflict "poking, pinching, rude comments," etc., on women and other groups.

After Simon Unzueta, a teacher in Oxnard, California, was arrested for cocaine use, charges were suspended so that he could enter a "diversion program." He was suspended without pay from his teaching job. Since first-time drug offenders who complete the diversion program can have their arrest records dismissed, Unzueta did both of these things and was reinstated to his teaching job. Unzueta also had the opportunity to sue for back pay, since under California law people suspended from work because of charges that are later dismissed cannot lose pay.

Every Fourth of July, Chicago's Christian Industrial League throws a barbecue, called the Alternative Taste of Chicago, for the city's homeless. After the meal, as a choir sings "America the Beautiful" or "Battle Hymn of the Republic," 50 red, white and blue helium balloons are released.

"The balloons are powerfully symbolic. They represent hope and freedom to these people, who need to think that they can reach for the stars," says Richard Roberts, the league's executive director. "Besides, the kids love them."

This year Roberts did an interview with Chicago public radio station WBEZ publicizing the picnic, and he mentioned the balloon launch. The morning of the Fourth, the league's office was flooded with phone calls from citizens who had heard the radio piece and were irate over damage to the environment from the ceremony. The Chicago Tribune reports that one caller worried that fish and pigeons would choke on the deflated balloons.

Roberts went ahead with the launch. "At first I felt badly," he admits, "but the more I thought it over the more peeved I became" that not one of the protesters showed any interest in the event itself. "Where were these 'concerned' people last winter when we ran out of food at the shelters and were in desperate need for help?"

Callers will be relieved to know that a strong breeze blew most of the balloons into trees on the league's West Side property, where they popped and were collected before they could do damage.

When Philip Orr of Charlotte wrote the Greensboro-based publisher March Street Press asking for guidelines for submitting material for a chapbook series in fiction, he received the following response: "I can't consider your chapbook. As the protest against the re-election of Jesse Helms, I am not accepting manuscripts or distributing books or magazines within North Carolina."

In her book Body Politics, Nancy Henley notes that when a man walks a woman home, gives up his seat, or moves furniture for a woman, he is actually creating a "protection racket" to prevent women from realizing they're fully capable of coping with their environment without male intervention. Likewise, shaking a woman's hand is "a masculine ritual of recognition and affirmation [that] serves to perpetuate male clubbiness and exclude women from the club."

Nevertheless, "guilty men" who are aware of the disadvantageous position they put women in are not much better than "macho pigs," the other of the two categories into which Henley says all men can be divided. Guilty men, "who know and hate that women have been oppressed for centuries," are "no fun at all, because guilt causes low self-esteem and general wimpiness. Guilt makes men clutch their heads and mutter, then fall asleep with their clothes on."


Thomas Bus Service of Burlington, Wisconsin, agreed to pay $1.9 million in damages to Cynthia Ellwood, who was left with severe brain damage after a collision. The collision occurred when Ellwood's husband (with Cynthia in the passenger seat) drove through a stop sign at 50 m.p.h. and ran into the bus. The company settled because liability law in Wisconsin would have made it liable for all of Ellwood's expenses even if the husband were 99% responsible.


In Elements of Nonsexist Usage, Val Dumond warns against using possessive terms such as "my significant other" or "my partner." "When two people marry," she writes, "one does not become the property of the other; one does not belong to the other. Likewise, two married people do not become one, implying two half-people. Two married people become two people sharing their lives."

In New Jersey, a state-sponsored task force charged with finding ways to eliminate sexist bias in the teaching of college-level science discovered that what has been long accepted as the scientific method is itself sexually biased. "[M]ind was male," the group concluded. "Nature was female, and knowledge was created as an act of aggression—a passive nature had to be interrogated, unclothed, penetrated, and compelled by man to reveal her secrets."

Carlos Valdez, a co-sponsor of a school choice bill in Florida, received hundreds of angry letters from children after his article, highly critical of the Dade County School Board, appeared in the Miami Herald. Despite the high probability that the students were coached by their teachers and didn't fully understand what they were writing, the following passages exemplify the failure of Miami's public schools:
"You will regrate stopping all this stuff like summer school while I don't really care if you stop summer school because should not have to go to school in are summer. It is are time but we need are education."

"I think the budget is getting worse so put down the big company with higher money. little company lower value and keep the school for cutting teacher out their job."

An Oregon newspaper stated it will not print the names of sports teams that it finds "offensive to racial, religious, or ethnic groups." This includes such teams as the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Redskins. How the paper can write about the teams without mentioning their names is unclear.

New Era, Windhoek, Namibia, April 30, 1992:
Cuba's economic difficulties are turning the nation into one of the greenest and healthiest in the world... Petrol supply has dropped by two-thirds in the last two years...

Those who do not stick to their allocated quota [of electricity] risk having their power cut off for up to a week, with escalating penalties for consistent offenders.

Three years ago, President Fidel Castro's government introduced a new transport policy for the island that is based on bicycles... City bus services have been cut in half...

The measures, which have made traffic jams a thing of the past and cleaned the city's air, have captured the imagination of environmental groups throughout the world.

In March, a delegation calling itself The World of the Bicycle Group traveled to Havana to see if Cuba's bicycle programme could be implemented elsewhere.