An Inclusive Litany


Although the death toll for the California earthquake was 61, the state received 388 requests for grants to pay for funeral expenses of quake victims, as well as requests for money to bury pets.

The Syracuse Post-Standard, October 24, 1994:
The American people generally ignore Haiti because it is thought to have no resources of interest to us, except faceless labor. But when events force us to pay attention, Haiti frightens the American people, particularly the American government!

Haiti has a powerful spirit. It is a very holistic, integrated culture, with land, body and language touching each other.

Furthermore, the culture has been oppressed militarily and economically, which has empowered the grass-roots Haitian spirit even more.

With its history closely wrapped in experiences of the land, the animal world and the past, Haiti's particular and unique identity becomes inclusive and multidimensional.

Cynthia and Richard Selfe in The Journal of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, National Council of Teachers of English, December 1994:
Built into computer interfaces are also a series of semiotic messages that support this alignment along the axes of class, race, and gender. The white pointer hand, for example, ubiquitous in the Macintosh primary interface, is one such gesture, as are the menu items of the Appleshare server tray and hand, calculator, the moving van (for the font DA mover), the suitcase, and the desk calendar. Other images—those included in the HyperCard interface commercial clip art collections, and in the Apple systems documentation—include a preponderance of white people and icons of middle- and upper-class white culture and professional, office-oriented computer use. These images signal—to users of color, to users who come from a non-English language background, to users from low socio-economic backgrounds—that entering the virtual worlds of interfaces also means, at least in part and at some level, entering a world constituted around the lives and values of white, male, middle- and upper-class professionals. Users of color, users from non-English language background, users from a low socio-economic class who view this map of reality, submit—if only partially and momentarily—to an interesting version of reality represented in terms of both language and image.

Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine reported that a new fuel would soon be used in U.S. war missiles, including Hellfires, TOWs, and Sidewinders. Among the fuel's benefits were higher performance and less heat—and the fact that it gave off less air pollution on the way to the target.


French authorities have shut down an art show at the Georges Pompidou Center. The artist had put spiders, snakes, and scorpions in cages with various animals that they normally prey upon and was going to let nature take its course. But the city's veterinary service decided that the display constituted cruelty to animals and closed the exhibit.

Blaming her feelings of nausea and disorientation on her colleagues' use of deodorants, soaps, and perfumes, Carol S. Petzold asked her 141 fellow members of the Maryland House of Delegates to respect her allergies by observing a "fragrance free zone" around her. In a letter to her colleagues, Petzold insisted that a fragrance free zone was as important to her "as a wheelchair is to one without legs."

From a list of "violent" or "militaristic" phrases and suggested alternatives, in "Nonviolent Language," a brochure for Canadian teachers, published by the North York Women Teacher's Association of Ontario. The brochure advises teachers to replace common expressions that might "arouse violent images" with " 'catchy' nonviolent alternatives."

Violent Phrase Alternative
Kill two birds with one stone Get two for the price of one
There's more than one way to skin a cat There are different ways to solve a problem
Take a stab at it Go for it!
Get away with murder Avoid consequences
It's an uphill battle It's next to impossible
You're dead meat You're in serious trouble
Kick it around Consider the options
That's a low blow That's outside the rules
Hit them where it hurts Find their vulnerability
Crash the party Show up anyway
Shoot yourself in the foot Undermine your own position
Hit the computer key Press the computer key
Blown out of the water Reduced to nothing

Dan Rather on "CBS This Morning," January 26, 1995, promoting the prime time special on youth violence "In the Killing Fields of America":
He has hope of staying out [of a gang] as long as he has a basketball in his hands.... Without the basketball this kid is running drugs, carrying a gun and soon to kill somebody. And that's true in place after place. Now we get to decide: Do you want a basketball in his hands, to continue trying to convince him to stay out of a gang, or do you want to face him in a dark street some night with a nine-millimeter Glock in his hands?

In Mesa, Arizona, where the Chicago Cubs go for spring training, Mayor Willie Wong raised eyebrows when he suddenly insisted that the name of the neighborhood known as Spook Hill was offensive to African Americans, though it clearly refers to spirits. Wong still managed to enlist the support of the NAACP.

FCC Chairman Reed Hundt told Forbes ASAP that the federal government "should take special steps to include groups that have not been previously included" in owning and staffing telecommunications firms. These excluded groups include "minorities, women, the elderly, the disabled and children."

Former Wall Street Journal reporter Ellen Hume on CNN's "Reliable Sources," January 22, 1995:
I'd say NPR's newscasts are the jewel of public broadcasting—I would say children's programming on television are another—you want to make them more commercial, here's what we're going to see. We're going to see a whole lot more gratuitous pornography of violence. We're going to see a whole lot of celebrity news. And you're going to watch Big Bird chasing Barney with a gun pretty soon.

Former NBC News President Michael Gartner in USA Today, January 17, 1995:
It sure is exciting to think about that balanced budget everyone wants... it's exciting—until you wonder how it will affect you and your family and your neighbors and your town. Then, it's scary. For that big government that everyone is complaining about finances and awful lot of important things.... Without it, a lot of poor children wouldn't have breakfasts. A lot of professors wouldn't have grants. A lot of needy people wouldn't have medical care—or food....

What Congress should do, of course, is raise taxes. It obviously won't, though, so budget-balancers are left with no choice but to shrink many services my neighbors and I have come to rely on.... We might ask: is big government really bad? Is Newt Gingrich really good?


The National Park Service spent tens of thousands of dollars to defend its decision to prevent a woman masquerading as a man from participating in an official Civil War reenactment event at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. The woman, who has studied the Civil War extensively and who was unexpectedly found out after being seen exiting from a bathroom marked "Ladies," claims that she had identified sixty-six women who fought as men during the conflict. A park historian conceded that "perhaps two or three" women were among the 126,000 combatants at the battle on September 17, 1862, but that the female presence was only 3/126,000 or 0.00238 percent.

The following sonnet, "Hypocrisy, American Style," appears in Hints & Allegations: The World (In Poetry and Prose), by William M. Kunstler, published by Four Walls Eight Windows. Kunstler was a defense attorney at the trial of the Chicago 8. More recently, he represented accused Long Island Railroad gunman Colin Ferguson and the men convicted of conspiracy in the World Trade Center bombings. The sonnets in the book comment on a number of political issues, court cases, and personalities, including Huey Newton, Anita Hill, Abbie Hoffman, Marion Barry, Mafia boss Joe Bonanno, and even O.J. Simpson. Kunstler, who has been writing sonnets for more than fifty years, supplied the introduction to the poem that appears below.
During the 1992 Presidential Campaign, Bill Clinton, in a speech to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition in Chicago, blasted Sister Souljah, a black rap artist, who had written songs that supported the so-called rioters in South Central Los Angeles after the return of the verdicts acquitting all the police officers charged with beating Rodney King. Not to be outdone, Vice-President Dan Quayle ripped into Ice-T, another black rap performer, for creating lyrics criticizing police officers. It all goes to show that both Republican and Democratic Parties will pander to white voters whenever it serves their purpose.

When Sister Souljah spoke in irony,
Reacting to rebellion in L.A.,
The Democrat sensed opportunity
And shocked the Rainbow with a bitter "Nay!"
Then, Mr. Quayle, not to be left behind,
Claimed Ice-T was one of the nation's blights
For rapping cops were something less than kind
When they had Third World suspects in their sights.
The honkies urge the blacks to sing their songs
Like "We Shall Overcome" and all the rest,
And recommend that everyone belongs
To groups that say nonviolence is the best.
The words of rage are never nice to hear,
But white America must lend and ear.

[Ed.: As the Los Angeles riots were underway, Sister Souljah commented that "if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?" Likewise, Ice-T's criticisms of police include the lyrics, "die, die, die, pig, die."]

The New York Times ran the following correction: "A chart in The Week in Review on Sunday showing the corporate holdings of Rupert Murdoch's company, News Corp. Ltd., referred incorrectly to five units. Barnes & Noble Inc. was never owned by Mr. Murdoch or any of his companies. The San Antonio Express-News was sold by News Corp. in 1992. Fox Television Stations has 184 affiliates, not 140. The Herald & Weekly Times Ltd. is in Victoria, Australia, not London. Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. is an airline, not an air cargo carrier."

After five years of deliberation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission decided that manufacturers of five-gallon buckets—deemed a danger to small children who might fall into them and drown—would only be required to affix warnings to them rather than redesign them entirely.


A transcript of the exchange, at World AIDS Day, that finally led to the dismissal of Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, December 1, 1994:
Dr. Rob Clark (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues):
It seems to me the campaign against AIDS has already destroyed many taboos about discussion of sex in public. It seems to me that there still remains a taboo against the discussion of masturbation. And please forgive me for trying to do my tiny bit by announcing that I masturbate and I do want to ask you what do you think are the prospects [for] a more explicit discussion and promotion of masturbation.

Surgeon General Elders:
I think you already know that I'm a very strong advocate of a comprehensive health education program, if you will, starting at a very early age. I feel that it should be age appropriate, it should be complete, and we need to teach our children the things that they need to know. And we know that many of our parents have difficulty teaching certain things and for that reason to make sure all of our children are informed I've always felt that we should make it a part of our school. I feel it's the only institution we have where all of the children go. And at present in our schools it's very incomplete and only five percent of schools have a comprehensive program. As per your specific question in regard to masturbation, I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality and it's a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we've not even taught our children the very basics. And I feel that we have tried ignorance for a long time and it's time we try education.

[Ed.: In 1997 came word that Elders was hard at work on a book called The Dreaded M Word, written to "get rid of the myths and lies" that surround masturbation. According to Elder's co-author, Barbara Kilgore, "It's not a how-to manual.... We don't have anything new on masturbation. We didn't do any basic research. We've just taken what people—like scientists and other experts—have done and we've brought it together in a little book that can be easily read by average folk." Commenting on the book's potentially wide audience, Kilgore notes, "Everyone touches themselves some way or another."]

Eight men have filed claims against Jenny Craig Inc., charging that female co-workers sexually harassed them. One man says that co-workers complimented him on his impressive biceps, nice eyes, and "tight buns." He further complained that most of the workers were female and that female-style talk filled the workplace: "It was, 'Who to marry? Who is pregnant? How to get pregnant? I have my period.'—girl talk."

New York City's Borough of Manhattan Community College advertised two new scholarships, one of which was the Ho Chi Minh Scholarship Fund, carrying a stipend of $250. The scholarship's mandate was "honoring and promoting the legacy of the Vietnamese freedom fighter" and "promoting awareness about global history and struggle of People of non-white color."

The other was the Assata Shakur Scholarship Fund, named after the woman whose "slave name" was Joanne Chesimard. In 1973, Shakur/Chesimard was a member of the reconstituted Black Panther Party when she was wounded in a robbery and shoot-out on the New Jersey Turnpike that left a state trooper dead. The scholarship application says that Shakur was convicted on "flimsy charges in 1977"; she later escaped and fled to Cuba. This scholarship's mandate was meant to "honor her life," encourage students to "take Ethnic Studies classes" such as Haitian and Puerto Rican Studies, and "create awareness around the struggles of People of non-white Color."

Following a barrage of telephone calls and telegrams protesting the scholarships, the New York Times reported that the scholarships were to be renamed. College officials did not say whether the eligibility requirement of a 2.0 grade point average would be raised.

A Montreal man pulled a 65-year-old woman from a wheelchair and sexually assaulted her. After he was convicted, the Canadian Supreme Court ordered that he be granted a new trial. The court ruled that the man's claim that he was too drunk to know what he was doing was a valid defense and he should be allowed a chance to prove it.

A few weeks later, in Alberta, Canada, a man was acquitted for assaulting his wife, based explicitly on the Supreme Court's ruling.

A Maryland woman released from prison as part of a mass amnesty because she suffered from "battered women's syndrome" at the time of her crime had hired a hit man to kill her husband, with whom she was not living at the time, and even collected on his life insurance. The Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch reported that of the 25 women pardoned by outgoing Gov. Richard Celeste in 1990, 15 said they had not been physically abused. Six had discussed killing their husbands beforehand, and two had even tracked down their estranged spouses to kill them.

A Los Angeles jury found a man guilty of a charge less than murder because he had supposedly bludgeoned his wife to death only after years of psychological abuse and only because his religion forbade leaving her.

The day after New York Governor George Pataki proposed that convicted rapists be forced to take an AIDS test (to let victims know if they are at risk), Brooklyn Assemblyman Joseph Lentol was critical. He accused Pataki of trying to "demean" sex criminals.

In its eagerness to meet a 43 percent female hiring goal, the Forest Service released a announcement for firefighting positions that stated, "Only Unqualified Applicants May Apply." A second announcement specified, "Only applicants who do not meet [job requirement] standards will be considered." The Washington Times noted, "An internal Forest Service document indicates that, in some cases, critical firefighting positions were left vacant or filled with unqualified temporary workers because no women applied for the posts."

In San Francisco, a proposed ordinance sought to allow transsexuals and transvestites choice on which public restroom or dressing room they preferred to use. However, as the Los Angeles Times reports, proponents argued that in cases where "nudity" could be a factor, men and women would still have to observe traditional protocol when going to the bathroom.

In a January conference in Chicago, the American Historical Association hosted discussions and heard papers such as the following: "Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century France"; "Pointy Penises, Fashion Crimes, and Hysterical Mollies: The Pederast's Inversions"; "Configurations Within a Pattern of Violence: The Geography of Sexual Danger in Mexico"; "Old Missus and Dixie: Gender and Social Inversion in Blackface"; and "Under the Skirts: Menstrual Products in American Advertising."


An Alabama waitress who was fired for poor performance made a disability claim because she suffered from recurring panic attacks that caused a personal "meltdown" when the restaurant was crowded.

The Chicago office of the EEOC launched a full-scale investigation into the claim of a woman supposedly passed over for a promotion because she notified the company interviewer about her disability: a microchip embedded in her tooth that enabled her to communicate with other people far away.

A man who was fired when he brought a loaded gun to his job claimed that he was entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act because he was receiving psychiatric care.

An employee who tried to get back pay from his company after supposedly firing him for "whistle-blowing," had, as it turns out, taken it upon himself to spread poison ivy on a toilet seat used by his boss, resulting in an injury that required two months of treatment.

In order to protect the purity of French culture, the Commissariat General de la Langue Francaise prosecutes French companies that do not provide French translations of English words in publicity material. In one case, a fast-food restaurant chain was fined for advertising "hamburgers" rather than steak hache. For the sake of Gallic simplicity, a jet must be called an avion a reaction, and le bulldozer has been officially changed to le bouldozeur.

Vol Stephen Davis III, a bulk-seat salesman for Continental Airlines, sued the corporation for failing to prevent female coworkers from "sexually harassing" him by "openly complaining about their lack of a sex life with their husbands" and by placing "pencils with erasers shaped like penises" in his office. According to Davis, he had to obtain psychiatric counseling as a result of the harassment.

Promotional jacket text for Jacques Derrida's The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, published by the University of Chicago Press. The inside of the book is no more helpful:
You were reading a somewhat retro loveletter, the last in history. But you have not received it. Yes, its lack or excess of address prepares it to fall into all hands: a post card, an open letter in which the secret appears, but indecipherably. You can take it or pass it off, for example, as a message from Socrates to Freud.

What does a post card want to say to you? On what conditions is it possible? Its destination traverses you, you no longer know who you are. At the very instant when from its address it interpellates, you, uniquely you, instead of reaching you it divides you or sets you aside, occasionally overlooks you. And you love and you do not love, it makes of you what you wish, it takes you, it leaves you, it gives you.

On the other side of the card, look, a proposition is made to you, S and p, Socrates and plato. For once the former seems to write, and with his other hand he is even scratching. But what is Plato doing with his outstretched finger in his back? While you occupy yourself with turning it around in every direction, it is the picture that turns you around like a letter, in advance it deciphers you, it preoccupies space, it procures your words and gestures, all the bodies that you believe you invent in order to determine its outline. You find yourself, you, yourself, on its path.

The thick support of the card, a book heavy and light, is also a specter of this scene, the analysis between Socrates and Plato, on the program of several others. Like the soothsayer, a "fortune-telling book" watches over and speculates on that-which-must-happen, on what it indeed might mean to happen, to arrive, to have to happen, or arrive, to let or to make happen or arrive, to destine, to address, to send, to legate, to inherit, etc., if it all still signifies, between here and there, the near and the far, da und fort, the one or the other.

You situate the subject of the book: between the posts and the analytic movement, the pleasure principle and the history of telecommunications, the post card and the purloined letter, in a word the transference from Socrates to Freud, and beyond. This satire of epistolary literature had to be farci, stuffed with addresses, postal codes, crypted missives, anonymous letters, all of it confided to so many modes, genres, and tones. In it I also abuse dates, signatures, titles or references, language itself.


[Ed.: D'ya wanna know the creed'a
Jacques Derrida?
Dere ain't no reada
Dere ain't no wrider

—Peter Mullen,