An Inclusive Litany


The vice chairman of the United States Postal Service stated that African Americans are over-represented among postal workers in major cities, often at the expense of Latinos. Tirso del Junco, who is himself Hispanic, said that postal service management in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami "is driven by blacks—they must open the doors of opportunity to everyone," reported the Los Angeles Times. Postal Service officials denied del Junco's accusations and argued that hiring is based on the results of a test open to anyone. "The managers do not control the hiring of employees—the register controls it," said Charly Amos, the Postal Service Manager for Affirmative Action.

Rapper Ice-T, in an interview with Black Elegance magazine, nostalgically reflected on his life as a Los Angeles pimp before he became famous: "Bein' a pimp was real cool, rollin' around with 20 Gs in my pocket, fly perm dipped, and gold jewelry hangin' down, because I was like a psychiatrist to the prostitutes."

A September fundraiser for Senator Edward Kennedy's 1994 reelection bid was held at the house of Brad Whitford, a member of the Boston-area rock group Aerosmith. At the event, Kennedy was asked to name his favorite Aerosmith song. Seeing that his boss was stumped, an aide yelled, "Walk This Way," one of the band's most popular numbers. Kennedy missed the reference and began walking toward the aide.

Missouri attorney general Jay Nixon has compiled a list of the "Top 10 frivolous lawsuits" filed by Missouri prisoners. Included in the list: one prisoner filed a suit claiming that the cost of junk food in a prison commissary is too high; another charged that the limit on Kool-Aid refills is cruel and unusual. A convicted murderer wanted the state to give him an axe so he could build a "sweat lodge" in which to conduct American Indian ceremonies. A prisoner sued the Buchanan County jail for making escape too easy (although he broke his leg during a failed attempt), while another complained that nicotine patches are not provided free to inmates who want to quit smoking. One lawsuit demanded that prisoners be served butter and not just margarine, while another argued that "male inmates should be allowed to wear female apparel such as bras, panties, lipstick, and artificial fingernails. Another lawsuit demanded that convicts working in prison libraries should be paid the same rate as attorneys. The No. 1 lawsuit, and the only one among them not to have been dismissed yet: a complaint that there are no salad bars or brunches on weekends and holidays.

In their book Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies, Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge, both university professors and self-described feminists, report on the use of acronyms as a form of shorthand among some academic feminists. IDPOL, or "identity politics," represents the belief that people and their ideas are defined entirely by membership in an oppressed or oppressor group. TOTAL REJ represents the contention that "our culture... is so infused with patriarchal thinking that it must be torn up root and branch if genuine change is to occur." WORDMAGIC signifies the effort to uncover the supposedly masculinist roots of words and phrases most would consider gender-neutral, such as "the thrust of an argument." BIODENIAL represents the idea that biology is completely unrelated to male or female experience, such as the assertion that "the pain of childbirth is socially constructed by patriarchy and would not happen in a feminist society."

Peter Jennings on ABC Radio, November 14, 1994, commenting on the recent election that brought the Republican Party control of the House, Senate, and many governorships:
Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It's clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It's the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week... Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old.


When Crystal Storm came to Philadelphia to earn a living as a nude dancer, she advertised her measurements as 121-24-36. Officials from the weights and measures division of the Department of Licenses and Inspection came calling to make sure her license was in order, for which they had legal authority ever since nude dancing became a licensed profession. They measured Ms. Storm's bustline and determined that her claims were not true: her bust measured a mere 50 inches. Ms. Storm claimed the quoted measurement was in centimeters, to which Department official Frank Antico said, "That's deceptive advertising."

An electronic message posted to several news groups in the world-wide USENET forum:
(Leor Jacobi)

I just found out that the makers of Teva sandals are being BOYCOTTED by the AFL-CIO for their union-busting activities, so I am strongly urging all vegans to NOT BUY THIS SANDAL.

I can see no reason why we should support companies who exploit humans or animals.

If you're interested in other vegan sandals and can't find them, Aesop, P.O. Box 315, North Cambridge, MA 02140, has a complete catalog of vegan footwear.


The Boston Sunday Herald, November 20, 1994:
A Somerville house painter was weak but still dedicated as he entered the second week of a hunger strike aimed at forcing his cable company to carry a Portuguese channel in Cambridge and Somerville. "I'm tired and cold," Manuel Bonifacio said yesterday. "The doctor is going to check me to make sure everything is OK so far."

Bonifacio, 39, the host of "Here We Speak Portuguese" on local-access stations in Cambridge and Somerville, has subsisted on juice and water since he began his hunger strike. Four other hunger strikers are making the same demand in New Bedford and Fall River. So far, cable officials have only encouraged Bonifacio and the others to eat.


Illinois state motor vehicles officials refused to grant the automobile of a Chicago man a license, because state law requires that all cars pass an emissions test. Since the car was electric and had no emissions, there was no way to test it.

The following letter to the Wall Street Journal (August 31, 1994) concerns the story of Frank Balun, a Hillside, New Jersey man who set a passive squirrel trap for a rat that had been eating his garden vegetables. After the rat became trapped, Balun called the state Humane Society to pick it up. However, the rat started to struggle to escape from the trap, so Balun hit it on the head with a broom handle, killing it.

Balun was then charged with "needlessly abusing a rodent" by the Humane Society, whose director said, "It may only be a rat, but it's a living creature, and there is no reason to abuse a living creature." If convicted, he faced a $10,000 fine.

The charge was eventually dropped following widespread public ridicule and enthusiastic support from Health Board chief Angelo Bonano, who called the charges "absolutely preposterous," adding, "we encourage people to kill rats because they carry disease!"

Note the spurious name at the end of the letter:

With respect to your defamatory editorial that attempted humor over the wanton and vicious murder of a poor defenseless rodent (or the Latin mus as the name "rats" prefer to call themselves) at the hands of a white human male who is 100 times the size of the victim, I must protest ("Oh, Rats!" Aug. 11).

It is well and good that you beat your breasts in justification that the "grandfather" was only protecting his grandchildren, but this is at the expense of another fact. The poor murdered creature was simply foraging for food to feed her own family, certainly less a threat than, say, a raccoon. Would you express a similar satisfaction had farmer MacGregor caught and killed Peter in Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit"? I rather doubt it. But Peter was a rodent, too.

MUS, or "rats," if you insist, have a particular problem. They are not considered attractive because of their long and hairless tails. Their close cousins, mice on the other hand, receive greater understanding, and even respect. A mouse was responsible for creating a multibillion-dollar international company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Sadly, due to human prejudice as exhibited by your editorial, this would not have been the case had he been named "Dickey Rat."

"Oh, Rats" can be said as a curse, but it can also be expressed as a plea for mercy, compassion and understanding. It would be best for all to remember we are all God's creatures, and therefore not editorialize that some exterminations are more justifiable than others.

—Billion Basp
MUS Anti-Defamation League
New York

The Washington Post, November 17, 1994:
[D.C. mayor-elect Marion Barry] is devoting long hours to examining the District's budget, for which deficit projections have worsened dramatically in recent weeks.

Taking the lead in that effort are former city administrator Elijah B. Rogers and former deputy mayor Ivanhoe Donaldson, who pleaded guilty in 1985 to stealing $190,000 in city funds.


The Washington Times, August 26, 1994:
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, says he owns an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and keeps it in his Washington home....

The AR-15 is classified as a "machine gun" under the D.C. law. In other words, it's illegal to possess such a powerful weapon in the nation's capital....

Mr. Rockefeller was busy working on the crime bill yesterday and had no immediate comment.

Following a year of $500 million in losses and the start of a new year that found the Postal Service running expenses of $215 million more than expected, Postmaster General Marvin Runyon announced the possibility of large cash bonuses for his top managers if the total loss for the current year could be kept to only $1.3 billion.

Under heavy criticism for allowing members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and diplomats to park for free at reserved parking spots at Washington airports, the Senate voted to change this practice. Signs that previously announced reserved parking for Congress, the diplomatic corps, and Supreme Court justices have been replaced by signs reading simply, "Reserved Parking/Authorized Users Only." Still, the only authorized users are members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and members of the diplomatic corps.

Amidst the overall collapse of the Cuban economy, the Cuban government recently began a crackdown on those it believes has have earned too much money in the small private sector. So far, more than 370 people have been charged with "illegal enrichment."

Daimion Osby, a black 18-year-old who shot two unarmed blacks in a Fort Worth parking lot in 1993, got a deadlocked jury after his lawyer argued that he suffered from "urban survival syndrome"—the fear that inner-city residents have of other people in that area.

"Roid rage," mood swings associated with steroid use, was used to defend 19-year-old Troy Matthew Gentzler, who admitted tossing rocks at passing cars near York, Pennsylvania, injuring several.

In Los Angeles, Moosa Hanoukai had his charges reduced from murder to voluntary manslaughter after beating his wife to death with a wrench. His lawyer said that Hanoukai's wife had psychologically emasculated him—calling him names, forcing him to sleep on the floor—thus destroying his self-esteem.

A form used by Michael Hunter during training sessions for dormitory resident advisers and desk attendants at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, New Jersey:
I, (name), hereby have permission to be imperfect with regards to homophobia and heterosexism. It is O.K. if I don't know all of the answers or if at times my ignorance and misunderstandings become obvious. I have permission to ask questions that appear stupid. I have permission to struggle with these issues and be up front and honest about my feelings. I am a product of this homophobic/heterosexist culture, and I am who I am. I don't have to feel guilty about what I know or believe, but I do need to take responsibility for what I can do now:

  • Trying to learn as much as I can.

  • Struggling to change my false/inaccurate beliefs or oppressive attitudes.

  • Learning what I can do to make a difference.


Landlords in Provo, Utah, who rent apartments to Brigham Young University students are discriminating against non-Mormons in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, ACLU lawyers charged in a lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court. By conforming with BYU's off-campus housing policy, which strictly segregates male and female tenants, the landlords are also discriminating on the basis of gender and family status, the complaint charged.

Jonathan Alter in Newsweek, September 19, 1994:
On the day her resignation was announced in the New York Times, Anna Quindlen's column was a perfect illustration of why newspaper readers will miss her so much. The ostensible subject was the Barbie doll. Before Quindlen's 1990 debut, explaining "why there's no PMS Barbie" might have been considered beneath the standards of the Times op-ed page. Now it's another example of the new standard she set.

A television station in Jacksonville, Florida, cancelled the Reverend Jerry Falwell's show after receiving numerous complaints from viewers. In recent months, Falwell has become obsessed with Bill Clinton's sexual improprieties, discussing them in some detail on his show. One woman said that she complained after her 9-year-old son asked what oral sex was after hearing Falwell discuss it.

From Enforcement Guidance on Preemployment Disability-Related Injuries, a set of guidelines issued in May 1994 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The guidelines show employers how to conduct job interviews in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act:
Under the law, an employer may not ask about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability until after the employer determines that the applicant is qualified for the job and makes a conditional job offer. This is to ensure that an applicant's possible hidden disability is not considered by the employer. Employers may ask, however, about an applicant's ability to perform specific job-related functions.


R [interviewer] may ask an applicant questions such as, "Do you regularly eat three meals per day?" or "How much do you weigh?" Such inquiries are not likely to elicit information about a disability because there are a number of reasons why an individual may or may not regularly eat meals or may have a high or low weight. R may not ask questions such as, "Do you need to eat a number of small snacks at regular intervals throughout the day in order to maintain your energy level?" Such inquiries are likely to elicit information about a disability (e.g., diabetes).

R is hiring a word processor and asks an applicant how he broke his arm. This is not prohibited. However, R may not go on to ask how extensive the break is, when the arm is expected to heal, or whether the applicant will have full use of the arm in the future.

R may ask an applicant, "How many Mondays or Fridays were you absent last year on leave other than approved vacation leave?" R may not ask, "How many days were you sick last year?" or "How many separate episodes of sickness did you have last year?"

R may ask an applicant with one leg who applies for a job as a telephone linesperson to describe or demonstrate how she would perform her duties, because R may reasonably believe that having one leg interferes with the ability to climb telephone poles.

Members of the California Psychological Association have agreed to provide free psychotherapy to people who turn guns in at local police stations. Anyone who brings a gun to a Contra Costa County police station through 1994 will receive a coupon entitling the bearer to $300 worth of psychological care—either individual, marital, or group therapy. The program is the brainchild of psychologist David O'Grady, who says the program should appeal to women who feel insecure and "want other means of coping with their fears" and to men "who know hey have problems controlling their anger and want better skills."

National Public Radio reporter Sunni Khalid on C-SPAN's "Journalists Roundtable," October 14, 1994:
I think there's a big difference when people told Father Aristide to sort of moderate his views; they were concerned about people being dragged through the streets, killed and necklaced. I don't think that is what Newt Gingrich has in mind. I think he's looking at a more scientific, a more civil way of lynching people.

Promotional jacket text for Ariel Dorfman's The Emperor's Old Clothes: What the Lone Ranger, Babar, and Other Innocent Heroes Do to Our Minds. Dorfman is also the author of How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic.
Nothing could seem more innocent than Babar the Elephant, the Lone Ranger, Donald Duck, or the Reader's Digest. Yet, in this daring book, Ariel Dorfman explores the hidden political and social messages behind the smiling faces that inhabit those familiar books, comics, and magazines. In so doing, he provides a stunning map to the secret world inside the most successful cultural symbols of our time.

Dorfman first examines the meteoric rise of Babar the elephant from orphan to king of the jungle and the way stories like his teach the young a rosy version of underdevelopment and colonialism. He then turns to purely American comic-book figures and shows how Donald Duck, the Lone Ranger, Superman, and other heroes offer a set of simple, disarming answers to the deepest dilemmas of our time without ever calling an established value into question. Along the way, with wit and wily style, he raises a series of always provocative questions: Why does the Lone Ranger really have that mask? Why do Disney comics teem with uncles and nephews but no mothers and fathers? How could a comic book help overthrow a government? How does an "adult's" magazine like the Reader's Digest continually transform us into children?

Here is a book that will appeal to those who want to understand the connection between politics and culture, between Ronald Reagan and Mickey Mouse, between economic theories of development and children's literature. It is for those who are fascinated by the mass media, for parents and teachers who are worried about what their children are watching and reading, for anyone who wants to understand the way ideas are produced and manipulated in the twentieth century.