An Inclusive Litany


The New York Times, October 16, 1993:
After almost 30 years of delays caused by planning and environmental challenges, the last stretch of Interstate 287, between Montville and Mahwah, N.J., is to be opened in the next month, six months ahead of schedule.

A Native American tribe in New York demanded that the famed statue of Theodore Roosevelt that stands in front of the American Museum of Natural History be removed and replaced by another. The statue, which shows Roosevelt on horseback, allegorically riding through time with a Native American man and a black man walking beside him, was deemed offensive because Native Americans and African-Americans are shown in "inferior" positions. The statue was meant to depict Roosevelt as a friend to all races. However, the tribe said that a new statue must show Roosevelt, the Native American, and the African-American at precisely the same height.

Canadian authorities seized two books by feminist author Andrea Dworkin that were en route to a book store. The book allegedly violate Canada's antiporn law, which incorporates the legal theories of Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon.

In 1992, Canadian customs officials seized 8,118 publications. Lesbian bookstores have complained that they have been unfairly singled out for attention.

In a speech to Cuba's National Assembly, President Fidel Castro announced that Cuba now boasted the world's healthiest and best-educated prostitutes. On another occasion, Castro praised Cuba's Olympic team, which he said was the largest of any nation—per capita.


Following the Los Angeles riots, similar rioting occurred in Chicago after the Bulls won the NBA championship, and in Boston at an outdoor rap and dance music concert. The Chicago riots were repeated the following year, when the Bulls once again won the championship.

After Washington D.C. played host to "The Black Family Reunion," a hugely successful outdoor festival in which over 100,000 participants celebrated African-American culture, Ed Murphy, president of the African American Business Association, had one major complaint: 4 out of the 36 food vendors were Asian. Though the food served was consistent with the festival's fare of fried fish and barbecue, Murphy complained of the use of foreign cooking techniques and "Asian spices." According to Murphy, "It sends mixed signals to call it an African-American family reunion and have others serving our food."

Rich Savwoir, owner of the U.S. 1 Auto Parts Store in Bethpage, New Jersey, faces a one-year prison term and a $10,000 fine because he didn't post a sign stating that his store accepts waste motor oil for recycling. Savwoir claims that the sign was down that day because a window washer was working on the store.

Linda Perry, lead singer of the pop group 4 Non Blondes, committed a major faux pax when she performed with the band at the release party for an animal rights benefit album while donning leather pants. According to Rolling Stone, Perry apologized for her gaffe early in the evening. "We're in it [the cause] for the dogs," she said, apparently forgetting about cows and other animals.

Donald Kennedy, who resigned as president of Stanford University amid allegations that he and the university had misdirected federal research money, including $2,000 a month for floral arrangements and bedroom paneling at his home and more than $180,000 on a yacht, is now teaching the course "Professional Responsibility and Academic Duty." Kennedy teaches doctoral candidates about the kind of ethical problems they might encounter as professors and administrators.


Lucinda Franks in The New York Times Magazine, October 10, 1993:
In spite of the confusion these children experience, few would disagree that they are, in many ways, a splendid generation. My son, Joshua, 9, and his friends are amazing in their generosity, sensitivity, ability to stretch across an intellectual canyon and meet adults on their own terms. They have highly developed senses of justice and fairness, rejecting stereotypes and embracing oddities in their peers, whether a hair style or a disability. They are disdainful of smoking and drug use, can sniff out hypocrisy and have social consciences that are poignant. They are so worried about the few trees on their block that last year they formed an earth club to keep them free of litter. At times, the child in our children pokes endearingly through the veneer of sophistication. "Mom, please don't buy Ivory soap anymore" was his most recent environmental request. "Why?" I asked. "Because they shoot elephants to get the Ivory, don't they?" he replied.

Ben Thomas, a Largo, Florida, man with muscular dystrophy, announced that he would file a formal complaint against the upcoming Walt Disney World Marathon. Thomas was denied entry in the wheelchair division because he uses a motorized wheelchair; the USA Track and Field organization specifies that only manual wheelchairs can be used by wheelchair entrants because motorized ones do not present a sufficient competitive challenge. Thomas claims that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires Disney to admit him.


Harvey Van Fossan of Springfield, Illinois, was convicted of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, fined $450, and given three years of probation. Ordered by city officials to get rid of the pigeons that were creating a nuisance on a vacant lot near his home, Van Fossan had killed two common grackles and two mourningdoves with strychnine-laced corn. A neighbor sent the dead birds to the Smithsonian Institution, and after an autopsy, local officials decided to prosecute. Under the treaty, shooting the birds is permitted, but poisoning them isn't. The prosecutor declared this "one of the most important cases" in his office, even though there are more than 400 million such birds in North America.

At the University of Michigan, tenured professor David Goldberg taught Sociology 510, which examined the use and misuse of statistics in social sciences. In class examples, he established that there was no correlation between race and SAT scores or ability to get a loan, and he undermined the assumptions behind the statistic that said that women only made 59 cents for every dollar a man made, showing that women earned different amounts according to lifestyle choices, such as having a child or choosing part-time or otherwise low-paying jobs. Also, a cartoon enclosed with course materials, which poked fun at statistics, showed a caveman chiseling a pair of dice. A woman asks the caveman, "What kind of childish nonsense are you working on now?"

In an anonymous letter, students complained that "Dr. Goldberg used data sets, cartoons, and lectures in order to vent his own political, ideological, and personal frustrations (with affirmative action, for example) on students in the classroom. The obvious target for these attacks were students of color and women." The letter objected to the cartoon as a sexist portrayal of women's mathematical abilities, saying "His use of this cartoon, particularly in conjunction with derogatory comments, constitutes not a form of communication (i.e., giving information), but rather a political act for which he is accountable."

The students did not claim, however, that the statistical examples used by Goldberg were inaccurate. Rusty Bush, who attended the class, argued that in-class examples, although true, may be racist and sexist "if they lack sensitivity and analytical rigor." For example, he says, while Goldberg's statistics on male vs. female pay may be accurate, they fail to consider the institutional sexism inherent in the other factors, such as education, that partially account for the income discrepancies.

Although Goldberg was charged with creating a hostile atmosphere for women and people of color in his class, nobody has suggested that he treats these students any differently. Sociology graduate student Patrick Ball wrote to The University Record: "Legal scholar Isaac Balbus points out that if citizens are fundamentally unequal in some respect, then perfectly due process will perfectly fairly reproduce that inequality. From my understanding of the character of Sociology 510, this is what Prof. Goldberg has done... If students come from traditionally excluded groups, Prof. Goldberg's technique might easily be felt as an academic version of social exclusion, a statistically disguised version of the hate they overcame to arrive here." Not only is equal treatment of all students no defense against charges of racism and sexism, it may actually confirm these accusations.

After fighting attempts to oust him from the faculty altogether, Goldberg finally got his sentence reduced. For students who object to Goldberg's teaching style, he cannot teach any required courses for which there is not another instructor available.

Another professor, Reynolds Farley, suspended his course at the University of Michigan on the history of race relations after examples he used in class to demonstrate the history of racial conflict—a description of Malcolm X that called him a "pimp" and quotations by a nativist senator deriding Mexicans as lazy—offended his students and led to charges of racism. Farley concluded that he could no longer teach the course in such a politicized environment. Asked if he is ready to resume teaching race relations, a subject on which he is considered to be a leading authority, he responded, "After what happened to David Goldberg, I'm not going to petition to return."

Residents of Riverside, California, one of the areas scorched by devastating wildfires, are angry because they had been prevented from creating firebreaks around their homes. The brush is the habitat of the Stephen's kangaroo rat, which is protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Environmentalists dismiss the criticism. "These fires weren't started by the kangaroo rat, and it shouldn't be made a scapegoat for something that happened naturally," said Anne Dennis of the San Gorgonio chapter of the Sierra Club.

California officials studying the cause of those fires also cite opposition to a proposal by city officials to create a three-million gallon reservoir that would have been helpful in extinguishing the fires.

Nicolino, a conceptual artist, has proposed to string 10,000 bras across the Grand Canyon. "It's about the puritanical obsession with the breast," the 53-year-old artist told Denver's Rocky Mountain News. "It's about breast implants and victimizing the health of women. It's about connecting a woman's self-identity to the size of her breasts."

Nicolino has a message for American women: I want your bras. He's got several dozen "bra agents" and says he has collected 1,500 so far. He has already figured out how to put the project in place: Helicopters will lower each end of the bra string and hook them into the sides of the canyon. "I had a fantasy of using blimps to lower [the bras] onto the hooks. That would have been symbolic. But I've been told the winds are too strong."

Park officials are just saying no to the idea. "Grand Canyon National Park just is not an appropriate venue" for a display of undergarments, said acting Superintendent Gary Cummins. But Nicolino has vowed to fight the decision. To raise money for the project, he plans to build two miles of "sand castle breasts" along Northern California's Stinson Beach.

Nicolino denied he is obsessed with breasts. "In my case, it's not that serious," he said. "I can be detached enough to at least be an observer."


Nation of Islam activist and spokesman Khalid Muhammad addresses Kean College, November 29, 1993:
If the white man won't get out of town by sundown, we kill everything white in South Africa. We kill the women, we kill the children, we kill the babies. We kill the faggot, we kill the lesbian, we kill them all. Kill the old ones too ... push them off a cliff in Cape Town. Kill the blind, kill the crippled, and when you get through killing them all, go to the graveyard, dig up the grave, and kill them again.... The so-called Jew is a European strain of people who crawled around on all fours in the caves and hills of Europe, eating juniper roots and eating each other. You [Jews] slept with your dead for 2,000 years, smelling the stench coming up from the decomposing body. You slept in your urination and your defecation.... The so-called Jews are the bloodsuckers of the black nation.... That's why you call yourself Rubenstein, Goldstein, and Silverstein, because you've been stealing rubies and gold and silver all over the earth.... Everybody talks about Hitler exterminating six million Jews. That's right. But don't nobody ask what they did to Hitler! They supplanted, they usurped, they ... undermined the very fabric of society.

From "Teaching Intentional Errors in Standard English: A Way to 'big smart english,' " by Donald A. McAndrew and C. Mark Hurlbert. The essay appeared in the English Leadership Quarterly in May 1993, and was later judged best article of the year by the journal's sponsoring group, the Conference on English Leadership.
Writers should be encouraged to make intentional errors in standard form and usage. Attacking the demand for standard English is the only way to end its oppression of linguistic minorities and learning writers. We believe this frontal assault is necessary for two reasons: (1) it affords experienced writers, who can choose or not choose to write standard English, a chance to publicly demonstrate against its tryanny [sic] and (2) if enough writers do it regularly, our cultures [sic] view of what is standard and acceptable may widen just enough to include a more diverse surface representation of language, creating a more equitable distribution not only of the power in language and literacy but also, ultimately, of the power in economics and politics that language and literacy allow.

Naomi Wolf, from her book Fire with Fire, chides female students who complain of sexual harassment because of Berkeley's infamous "Naked Guy":
He'd offered himself up naked to the female gaze, and in doing this taught himself about the female experience, for he had made himself more vulnerable to the eyes than women were... What could be more tender, more honest? Isn't this just what we say we hope men will do, metaphorically—become naked to us, come to us freely in the responsive skin of their humanity, show us who they are, potent and gentle, shed of costumes and armature? How could women repudiate a gesture like that in the name of 'feminist' delicacy?

The Seattle Times explained in its real estate section that it is obliged under the Fair Housing Act to warn advertisers to stay away from words and phrases that hint at tenant preference "to avoid both civil and criminal liability." The words are: "Adult, Bachelor, Couple, Family (as in 'perfect for family'), Mature, No Children, One Person, Retired (housing for the elderly is sometimes exempted), Sex (may be OK in advertising for roommates), Single, Two People, Christian, Executive, Handicap (as in 'not suitable for'), Integrated, Membership Approval, Mentally Ill, Religious, Religious Landmark (near St. Mark's), Older Persons or Senior Citizens (housing communities designed for elderly may be acceptable), Physically Fit Person, Private (private community—no; private drive—OK), Race, Restricted, Senior Discount."

Gideon Kanner, law professor emeritus at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, also notes that in Oregon and California, ads can say "no smoking" but not "no smokers." According to Kanner, "We're dealing here with ding-a-lings."


After a San Diego police officer was sentenced to fifty-six years in jail for raping women on local beaches, his wife sued the police department for lost income, claiming that the department should have known not to hire him in the first place.

The consumer-affairs commissioner of New York City devoted the efforts of his entire staff to a close examination of the contents of a mail-order lingerie catalog in order to determine whether or not the company used a sufficient number of minority models.

Vogue, December 1993:
[Hillary Rodham Clinton] says she likes her hair short 'for now,' but even it changes—straight for peace, curled and tightly coiffed for health.

The Virginia Times Register, December 4, 1993:
AIDS activist Larry Kramer stormed out on an audience at Yale University after accusing faculty and students of being silent about the AIDS epidemic and telling them: "You disgust me."

The playwright, a 1957 Yale graduate, banged on the lectern Thursday night, thundered "AIDS is intentional genocide!" and told his audience of about 400 to "Go home" before he ducked out a back door.

Biology professor Alvin Novick, who introduced Kramer, said Kramer's speech was informative, inspiring and a work of art.

"The dramatic ending, with his screaming, and banging and telling the group that he hated them was Larry theater," Novick said. "I don't mean that he didn't mean it, but that's his style."

Some outstanding grants that have been bestowed by the National Endowment for the Arts:

  • $1,000 from NEA-funded American Literary Anthology to poet Adam Saroyan for his one-word poem consisting of the misspelled word "Lighght."

  • $50,000 to Living Stage, which performed in public schools and had elementary schoolchildren shout "bulls***" throughout the group's performance.

  • $6,025 to Ann Wilchusky for "sculpting in space," that is, throwing crepe paper out of an airplane.

  • $40,000 to the Gay Sunshine Press to publish "alternative publications," primarily with sexually explicit homosexual themes, including detailed descriptions and illustrations of group sex among men and between men and animals.

  • $30,000 to the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia to put together "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment," a show that eventually went on tour. Photographs included a self-portrait of the photographer with a bullwhip protruding from his rectum, photographs of one man's arm (up to the forearm) in another man's rectum, one man urinating into another man's mouth, a close-up of a man sticking his "pinkie" finger up his penis, and a little girl with her skirt lifted, exposing her genitals. (On viewing the controversial "XYZ Series" at a Washington gallery, one viewer commented, "I've been here four times already and this show disgusts me more each time I see it.")

  • $75,000 to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. $15,000 went to artist Andres Serrano, who was selected for his use of body fluids in photography. "Piss Christ" featured Christ on a cross in a vat of the artist's own urine.

  • $17,500 to the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle for the "Modern Primitives" exhibition, which featured photographs of tattoos and ritualistic body piercing, including genital piercing. COCA also used NEA funds to sponsor an event involving two naked women covered with paint rolling around on paper.

  • $5,000 to Southern Exposure to support a series of exhibitions that included the "Modern Primitives" exhibition described above, plus live shows including an "autoerotic scaffold."

  • $20,000 to Artpark, an arts festival which included a "Bible Burn," the intention of which, in the words of its organizers, was to "create large sexually explicit props covered with a generous layer of requisitioned Bibles. After employing these props in a wide variety of unholy rituals, ... machines will burn them to ashes."

  • $127,000 in 1990 and $125,000 in 1989 to The Center on Puppetry Arts, which featured a puppet show that included oral sex between puppets.

  • $70,000 seasonal support grant to Artists Space, which in turn funded "Degenerate with a Capital D." The exhibit included "Alchemy Cabinet" by Shawn Eichman, featuring the remains of the artist's own aborted baby. Another exhibit was Dread Scott's "What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag" which invited viewers to walk across an American flag spread across the floor.

  • An unspecified amount for a militant feminist show, "Rattle Your Rage," which featured a multimedia collection that shows three male figures down on their knees, hands bound, penises stretched out on a block with the heads of their organs chopped off.

  • $204,390 to the Franklin Furnace of New York City (along with a state grant of $73,370), which put on a feminist performance art exhibition, "The Second Coming." The show included one lesbian inserting her foot into another lesbian's vagina, an 86-year-old woman boasting of sexual escapades with teenagers, priests shown in sadomasochistic situations, and group sex photographs. One otherwise tame photograph of a woman breastfeeding an infant was titled "Jesus Sucks." The title of a photo of a newborn infant with its mouth open suggested that the infant was available for oral sex.

  • Other grants over several years to New York's Furnace Theater, which featured the performance art of Johanna Went. Went relies upon props such as giant body tampons, satanic bunnies, three-foot turds, and dildos. The high point of her show, according to the Village Voice, was her "giant vagina headdress which she squeezed as white liquid gushed from her mouth."

[Ed.: Yes, the NEA also funds art that appeals to mainstream taste. Offensive aberrations are dismissed as infrequent, and endowment board members feign irresponsibility since requirement-free grants are usually distributed to mediating private institutions, not to artists themselves. It is also said the avant-garde is both important and undefinable, raising the question of how board members can forsee which art is worthy without recourse to a dart board. Finally, proponents of arts funding complain that any attempt to impose up-front content restrictions on grants imposes cruel 'censorship.']