An Inclusive Litany


In an unusual hijacking case, a Cuban plane was diverted and landed at Miami International Airport. All but two of the plane's passengers and crew were aware ahead of time that the plane would be hijacked, and the two were easily overpowered. No charges were filed.

The following was distributed to students at The University of Minnesota Law School in response to "offensive racist graffiti" found on lavatory walls. The pledge was to be signed in front of a witness and returned to school administrators:
As a member of the University of Minnesota Law School community, I, by my signature, state my commitment to tolerance of those with a viewpoint, life-style, or heritage different from my own. In an intellectually vibrant community, the exchange of differing ideas is challenging and important. However, I do not condone acts and expressions of bigotry and hatred. I fully realize that if I do not take leadership in promulgating these values on campus, I will diminish the benefits of my education and severely restrict my personal, professional, civic and social growth and achievement. I take responsibility for educating myself about others different from me and enhancing my awareness and understanding of disability and of the impact of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of intolerance, on society and on me.

The Syracuse, New York, Post-Standard, May 13, 1994:
A Fayetteville psychiatrist who stabbed his wife in the back in 1989 is fit to continue treating patients, a state review board ruled this week.

The ruling marks the end of a three-year battle between Dr. Donald Pirodsky and the state Health Department over whether his license should be revoked, and overturns two unanimous decisions by a lower panel that Pirodsky is not fit to practice psychiatry.

Pirodsky, 49, was charged with second-degree attempted murder for stabbing his wife, Susan, in the back during an argument in November 1989.

According to a New York Newsday report, the New York City Parks Department spent $1,000 on a funeral for a tree. Complete with a five-foot high memorial stone, printed programs, and black armbands for the mourners, the funeral service was attended by about 100 people, 60 of whom were parks workers who were on the clock at the time.

The tree, a 63-year-old blue atlas cedar, died when its roots exploded as contractors were trying to move it to another location to make way for the expansion of the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. During the funeral service, taps was played, "Amazing Grace" was sung, and a eulogy was given by Parks Commissioner Henry Stern. The park's flags were lowered to half-staff.

But the cedar's case is not yet closed. Stern promised that "an inquest will be held to determine the precise circumstances. The matter could be called an accident, a case of negligence, or involuntary tree slaughter."

Sociologist Barrie Thorne has spent the last 20 years studying "cootie games," and in her book, Gender Play, revealed the dark side of this children's pastime. "Girls give cooties to boys more often than vice versa," she writes. She calls cootie games "pollution rituals," and concludes that "in contemporary U.S. culture, even young girls are treated as symbolically contaminating in a way that boys, as a group, are not."

Perry Crays of Michigan was walking on a narrow beam about 8 to 10 feet off the ground when the laces from his right boot caught the hook eyelets from his left boot, causing him to trip, fall, and disable himself. He sued the Meldisco Shoes Corp., supplier of the boots, and K-Mart, the retailer, saying the boots should have been designed differently or carried some kind of warning about possible risks to wearers. A jury found for Crays, and the decision was upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

After Larry and Melissa Longo, of Hightstown, New Jersey, sent their son to school with nine invitations to his upcoming seventh birthday party, his first-grade teacher, Naomi Drewitz, objected upon seeing the guest list and sent the child home with the undelivered invitations. The problem was that no girls were invited, and school policy maintains that all students must be treated equally. After being denied the boys' addresses, the parents had to go down to the school to deliver the invitations personally. Thereafter, the party proceeded as planned. As for those not invited, "The girls didn't care," said Melissa Longo. "They didn't even want to go—except for one girl who likes him."


Before sending troops to Somalia, the United States announced that it was trying to stop rampant theft of food shipments by sending the Somalis food they don't like. Andrew Natsios, assistant administrator of the Agency for International Development, explained that corn and sorghum being sent are ideal for free food distribution because they are nutritious enough to alleviate hunger but not popular enough to command high black market prices.

Previously, Somali farmers complained at a United Nations conference that the massive U.N. food shipments were driving them out of business. Said one Somali farmer, "The poor farmer ... cannot [make the sales] to cover his costs. This will kill him."

Assignments for public school students receiving "Death Education" have included writing their own epitaphs, writing a suicide note, discussing family deaths, making a small model of their own coffin, imagining that they have been buried alive as part of a real-life kidnapping case, discussing lifeboat dilemmas while deciding which of their peers must be left to drown, and discussing overcrowded fallout shelter scenarios from which a member of the student's family must be expelled. The ABC news program "20/20" showed children being taken on a field trip to a morgue, and encouraged to touch the corpses as a way to overcome their inhibitions.

From a color brochure called "50 Ways to Get Political," distributed by the Ben & Jerry ice cream chain. This is number 34 in the list:
Earn less money. The less you earn, the lower your tax rate and the less you support things like nuclear-weapons programs.

"CBS This Morning" co-host Paula Zahn on a study marking one-third of Americans as obese, July 18, 1994:
What is it, do you think, government can do about this? If we declare that obesity is a disease, would that make any difference at all?

Ron Athey, describing his performing arts background in the Los Angeles Weekly:

Four scenes in a harsh life. To open the show, I break out of the modern, primitive mystique by playing a factory worker in a baseball cap, having a drink at a strip club. Enter the fabulous black drag queen Divinity Fudge in a custom-made bikini, a balloon dress, a black and blonde beehive, and red spandex gloves, her feet struggling in a new pair of high heels, bump and grind. As Steakhouse M. Blanker, I pop all the balloons and put the cigar out on Divinity's butt (she asked me to before the show), I smooch her on the legs (and elsewhere), and then throw her to the ground. Julie and Pigpen then come out and strip Divinity down to a man. They strap him in the cutting chair of a human printing press.

. . .

I started performing with my first boyfriend, Ross Williams of the Goth band, Christian Death, in 1981. He was 16 and I was 18. We performed as Premature Ejaculation—that was the name of our repertory company. We wrote and performed and recorded noise. I took to it, but it was so physically destructive that I couldn't keep going—I was smashing myself too deeply, crawling through filthy, broken glass, ingesting decomposed cats. We performed a few times and wrote a lot together. Maybe that was enough.


A California man who had a lawn ornament depicting a Negro jockey placed on his property was accosted by a visitor from Africa, who voiced his displeasure and offense at what he saw as a racist and patronizing depiction of blacks. Rather than take it down, the owner painted it white, so that the statue now depicted a Caucasian jockey. A black minister subsequently complained of the change, saying that the statue depicted an aspect of black history that he felt proud of, since black jockeys were honored pioneers.

Postal inspectors in Boulder, Colorado, used wheelbarrows to remove three and a quarter tons of undelivered mail and a half ton of postal equipment from the property of a fifteen-year veteran postal carrier. Officials were alerted by complaints from his neighbors that bags of paper and bulk mail were piling up in his yard.

Family Life, May/June 1994:
Language is a powerful attitude builder. Whenever we say "water down" to mean to weaken, we're sending a message that shows we don't appreciate how valuable water is. When we use animal names as insults, we're showing disrespect. Snakes are not evil. Worms are not lowlifes. Dogs are not ugly. Sit down with your family and work out some insults that really mean something. Third graders in Bakersfield, Vermont, got into the swing of eco-insults when they invented terms such as "smog brain" and "landfill breath."

A dispatch from President Clinton's advance team (HMX-1 Travel Mission Fax Sheet), May 24, 1994:
On May 24, 1994, three representatives of the White House Military Office traveled to Camp David and a nearby golf course (Holly Hills) for the purpose of advancing the site for possible use by the President. The advance trip was conducted as a result of an invitation received by the President to play golf at the Holly Hills course. An operational meeting was conducted at Camp David prior to inspecting the golf course.

The advance party departed Washington D.C. via a HMX-1 helicopter. The use of the helicopter is in keeping with standard procedures employed for advance trips of this type and was necessary in order to familiarize the aircrew with all aspects of flight times and landing zone particulars.

The senior helicopter pilot who flew the mission is one of the few remaining pilots within the HMX squadron that is familiar with the landing zone at Holly Hills having last flown to the site two years ago. This was a training mission to familiarize the HMX crew with the golf course layout and to verify that safe helicopter operations could be conducted at the Holly Hills Country Club landing zone. The flight times are as follows:

Wash DC to Camp David 30 min
Camp David to Holly Hills 15 min

Members of the advance party did play golf, having received an invitation from the golf pro in order to familiarize themselves with all aspects of the course, especially those aspects actually related to actual time of play and associated impact of security plans.

The actual flight time and associated pilot training is in keeping with standard operating procedures required by the squadron in order the [sic] maintain the highest level of pilot and crew proficiency.

Education Week devoted a full page to a commentary that criticized parents who displayed "My Child is an Honor Student At..." bumper stickers, and lauded other parents who had responded with stickers declaring "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student." That slogan, declared Mark Mlawer, executive director of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, "helped clarify the issue" by expressing the "resentment at the unfairness of the honor roll and at those who flaunt their child's academic feats."

"Both the educational practice of maintaining an honor roll and the parental practice of public proclamations of this status," he writes, "create and reinforce a certain specific of unfairness, one which necessarily causes resentment."


From the cover of a board game manufactured by Identity Toys, recommended for ages 10 to adult:

In THE X GAME you come face-to-face against the powerful 'SYSTEM' in the struggle for liberation. THE SYSTEM is a formidable enemy armed with exploitation, oppression, racism and discrimination. The key to beating THE SYSTEM is collective action—unity!

By unifying efforts, your team can work it's way up to the 3 Levels of Power. The first level is Political Power, the second is Economic Power and the final level is Social Power. Your team must reach all 3 Levels of Power before time runs out—to beat THE SYSTEM. This won't be easy, because while you're trying to acquire Power, THE SYSTEM is moving towards it's goal. And each time THE SYSTEM moves forward—time runs out!

What are you willing to do to stop THE SYSTEM? Will you sacrifice your position? Will you share your move with another player? Or, will you race ahead and leave the others behind? Will you be the one to let THE SYSTEM get the lead? Be careful of the choices you make. Your actions can hurt the team... and help THE SYSTEM.

If your team has a cooperative strategy—you'll beat THE SYSTEM. And everyone wins. If not, THE SYSTEM wins.

THE X GAME is sure to make you think about Malcolm X's philosophy of black nationalism. This is the view that unity is essential to the progress of Black people.

CONTENTS: 4 pawns, 1 SYSTEM token, 1 decal, 20 TAKE ACTION CARDS, 40 MASTER TEACHER CARDS, 1 dice, 4 X dollars, 4 ballots, 1 gameboard, 1 instruction booklet.

From Engendering the Word: Feminist Essays in Psychosexual Poetics, Temma F. Berg et al., eds.:
By writing with and about that which was once unmentionable—menstrual blood, breast milk, wombs, vaginas, the lips of the clitoris—women's language writes the body. The woman's body, no longer idealized, conventionalized, as in men's writing, is apprehended in all its physical difference and is able to disrupt discourse as we know it. Personal and open, the language of woman ... seeks to achieve the fluidity it writes about by making the meanings of words elusive.

During the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, National Public Radio featured an interview with a personnel consultant who asserted that one of the reasons Anita Hill had waited nearly ten years to bring forth her charge of sexual harassment was that she had been "in denial." Not only that, Judge Thomas, in denying the charges, was also "in denial."

Milton Bradley Co. has announced that the upcoming edition of the official Scrabble dictionary will eliminate words that are considered offensive on racial, ethnic, or gender grounds.

The editor of a London newspaper fired the paper's astrology columnist in a letter that began, "As you will already know..."

Lisa Evans, 26, told reporters that she had been fired from an Edmonton, Alberta, adult entertainment club where she worked at a nude peep show "fantasy booth," and that she planned to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. Evans weighs 270 lbs., and management said customers had complained that she was difficult to fantasize over.


If you're a woman being harassed in your workplace, self-proclaimed feminist witch Zsuszanna Emese Budapest has a novel remedy she claims she learned from a high Yoruba priestess, and which appears in her book, The Goddess in the Office. Go to your butcher and buy a pig's tongue, cut it open and rub it with black pepper, write the name of your harasser backward nine times in black ink on a white piece of paper, smear some of your own urine on the paper, fold the paper away from yourself and insert it in the pig's tongue while keeping a mental image of your harasser in mind, press a rusty nail through the tongue, take the tongue "as far as you can get from your house within a reasonable time," dig a hole and bury the tongue, fill the hole, pee on it, "then leave and don't look back." Budapest concludes, "Within a moon the harasser should change his behavior or leave the office."

[Ed.: Ms. Budapest also writes of her encounters with the "Wild Woman," whose image dwells inside the psyches of all women. "Wild Woman represents our bodies, our genetic past, our gender and instincts, and our right brain," Budapest writes. "The Wild Woman loves a ritual, the chanting and the humming, the shared breath." She is also "fond of shopping, because it reminds her of ancient foraging."]

In Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem writes that teenage girls who dot their i's with little hearts and smiley faces are acting in obedience to "a smiling, always cheerful mask" the dominant patriarchy forces them to wear.

In a review of Diana Gazes's $29-a-ticket psychic spoon-bending seminar, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Gazes told the 100 attendees that their powers of concentration would "cause an alteration in the spin of the atoms" of the spoon. To achieve that, the student should grasp the spoon in both hands with thumbs underneath the smallest part of the handle and "apply some downward strength." Not surprisingly, the Chronicle reported, spoons handled in that manner bend fairly easily. As Gazes shouted "Bend! Bend!" the attendees leaped to their feet, one by one, waving spoons, shouting, "I bent!"

After astronomer Carl Sagan complained to Apple computers over the use of his name as the internal code name for a new model of computer, the company said it was dropping the Sagan name and replacing it with "Butt-head Astronomer."

A new book by San Diego researcher Thomas T. Samaras criticizes the negative environmental effect of Americans' historically increasing height. Taller people require significantly more of the earth's resources, writes Samaras. He recommends controlling children's diets to make them shorter and says the ideal adult would be 5 feet tall and weigh 110 pounds.

The 1993 Modern Language Association convention featured topics such as "Between the Body and the Flesh: Performing Lesbian Sadomasochism," "The Poetics of Ouija," and "Transvestite Biography."

University of Rhode Island graduate student W. Reginald Rampone proposed a panel discussion at the MLA's December meeting in San Diego called "Lacking a Member and the Absence of Frontal Male Nudity in Popular Films," or, as he explained, "the dearth of frontal male nudity as an index of male genitalia's inability to measure up to the phallus." Rampone said he decided to explore the subject after removal of frontal male nudity scenes from the movie Sliver sparked controversy.

A White House dispatch, April 29, 1994:

SUBJECT: Policy Concerning Distribution of Eagle Feathers for Native American Religious Purposes

Eagle feathers hold a sacred place in Native American culture and religious practices. Because of the feathers' significance to Native American heritage and consistent with due respect for the government-to-government relationship between the Federal and Native American tribal governments, this Administration had undertaken policy and procedural changes to facilitate the collection and distribution of scarce eagle bodies and parts for this purpose. This memorandum affirms and formalizes executive branch policy to ensure that progress begun on this important matter continues across the executive branch....

As part of these efforts, agencies shall take steps to improve their collection and transfer of eagle carcasses and eagle body parts ("eagles") for Native American religious purposes. The success of this initiative requires the participation, and is therefore the responsibility, of all Federal land managing agencies, not just those within the Department of the Interior. I therefore direct each agency responsible for managing Federal lands to diligently and expeditiously recover salvageable eagles found on lands under their jurisdiction and ensure that the eagles are promptly shipped to the National Eagle Repository ("Repository"). To assist agencies in this expanded effort, the Secretary of the Interior shall issue guidelines.... In particular, the Department of the Interior shall continue to adopt policies and procedures and take those actions necessary to:

(a) ensure the priority of distribution of eagles, upon permit application, first for traditional Native American religious purposes, to the extent permitted by law, and then to other uses;

(b) simplify the eagle permit application process....;

(c) minimize the delay and ensure respect and dignity in the process....;

(d) expand efforts to involve Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals in the distribution process....;

(e) review means to ensure that adequate refrigerated storage space is available to process the eagles;...

We must continue to be committed to greater intergovernmental communication and cooperation....