An Inclusive Litany


North Carolina authorities used $27,000 in federal crime-fighting grants to commission a study to determine why inmates want to escape from prison.

Defending racial preferences in a Vanderbilt Law Review article, attorney Luther Wright Jr. argued that stricter racial classification systems needed to be enforced to recognize the "permanent importance" of racial divisions in an era of widespread racial mixing. To prevent whites from committing "racial fraud" by attempting to pass themselves off as blacks to secure undeserved entitlements, they should be subject to "fines and immediate job or benefit termination."

[Ed.: Comparing contemporary racial classifications with those of the Jim Crow era, Emerge magazine noted that "American blacks now feel that they have a vested interest in a rule [the one-drop rule] that has for centuries been a key instrument in their oppression," since it maximizes their numbers.]

Excluded from a Take Back The Night march, Jeff McMillan writes in Michigan State University's State News, April 12, 1995:
I try to pride myself on maybe being a little more understanding than the "typical" male who is painted with such care by women who have no comprehension of how much I feel for the feminist movement. I guess pride doesn't doesn't qualify me to "intrude" in a public crusade against violence—presumably because I am a perpetuator of that violence.

It's hard to swallow the idea that, because of my gender, I would make women feel uncomfortable if I were to march with them.... Why am I not allowed to feel the pain, share the rage and march with my sisters to alleviate the pain of future generations?

Two second graders in Massachusetts's North Brookfield Elementary School have been suspended for violating a school ban on "dangerous weapons." The two brought rubber Mighty Morphin Power Rangers swords to class. The pair spent their suspension time playing Nintendo games. Said one, "I've learned my lesson. It would be fun to get kicked out for another day."

A visually impaired employee who uses a Labrador guide dog was told by a federal agency that helps administer the Americans with Disabilities Act that he could not bring the dog with him to work because a co-worker suffers from a fear of dogs.


Following publication of a Los Angeles Times article that touted rock group Van Halen's new "mature and socially responsible" attitude based on the fact that they began each concert with a fervent plea to the audience to support handgun control, an airport x-ray check revealed a 9mm Beretta pistol in lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen's Gucci bag.

In 1992, James Nichols, the Michigan farmer who has been indicted as one of Timothy McVeigh's co-conspirators in the Oklahoma City bombing case, informed the government via the Postal Service that he no longer considered himself a citizen of either the Great Lakes State or the United States. In March 1995, he got back in touch with the government—to complain that he was not getting all the farm aid he was due. According to U.S. News & World Report, Nichols received $89,950 in farm subsidies over six years, making him the fifth-largest beneficiary of such aid in Sanilac County.

"Today" co-host Bryant Gumbel to Senator Ted Kennedy, March 15, 1995:
Janet Reno has asked for an independent counsel to investigate charges against HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown is being investigated. Questions have been raised about Transportation Secretary Federico Peña. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy resigned under pressure, as did Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. The Clinton White House seems to be having a hard time retaining high-profile minorities particularly. Do you think, Senator, they are being held to a higher standard in Washington than their white predecessors?

From a document entitled "Strategic Long Range Planning," from the School District of Lomira, Wisconsin, 1994. The following is a statement of core beliefs under which the district is to operate:

  • Everybody has individual needs.
  • Responsibility for education belongs to everybody.
  • Trust, care, and respect are needed for social harmony.
  • All learners have potential.
  • Everyone has intrinsic worth.
  • Individuals are responsible for the direction of their own lives.
  • Education is worth commitment.
  • Learning is life long.
  • Learning is essential.
  • Every individual makes contributions to society.
  • Change is inevitable.
  • Love is essential to human growth and development.
  • We are part of the global community.
  • Self esteem is a critical part of human growth.
  • Joy and humor enhances [sic] the journey of life.
  • The spectrum of human emotions is an essential part of life.

Owners of the ship once known as the Exxon Valdez have applied for a federal subsidy. SeaRiver Financial Holdings, an Exxon subsidiary, says that since the ship has been banned from Alaskan waters following a disastrous oil spill, they have had to use it in international shipping. The subsidy is available from the Maritime Administration for U.S. ships engaged in overseas trade.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the Orange County, California, taxpayers had to pay for special private schooling for a high school student suffering from "attention deficit disorder," despite his alleged extremely disruptive behavior. School officials said the boy peddled cigarettes on campus, set fires, threatened to kill classmates, and kicked his pregnant mother in the stomach (sending her to live outside the family home for several months purely out of fear of her son). Said a state education official explaining the court's ruling, "What really matters is the individual needs of the child."


The Metro D.C. Environmental Network's Green Calendar & Environmental News Digest, April 1995:
Recently, Americans of many political persuasions have plunged into a spirited public policy debate concerning crime and violence, but environmentalists have stayed largely on the sidelines. Our discussions of crime have focused on corporate crimes such as the Exxon oil spill or environmental crimes such as illegal dumping. Even the environmental movement's growing concern with social justice has not extended very far into criminal justice.

But it should.

Crimes such as rape, robbery and murder pose a large and direct threat to the natural environment by forcing people to make lifestyle choices that poison the Earth and consume more resources. Fear of crime deters people from walking or biking, and motivates people to use taxis and private cars rather than buses and subways. Merchants resort to over packaging to reduce the risk of theft and product tampering. People leave their lights on when nobody's home, sometimes with the aid of electrical appliances to turn on the lights automatically. But crime's largest environmental impact is to drive people out of cities, which are very energy-efficient compared to suburban and rural areas. Since 1980, over 100,000 people have left D.C. for the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, clogging the roads with commuters and spreading development over areas that were woodlands, wetlands and farmlands just twenty years ago.

The other reason ecologists should get involved with fighting crime is that we have over 25 years of experience in protecting people from stupid and greedy behavior that threatens their health and safety. Some of the same ideas that can protect people from pollution can also protect them from crime.

For example, there is growing acceptance of the idea that neighbors have a right to know when a sexual predator is released into their community. This is a logical extension of communities' right to know if there are toxic wastes in their environment, a right ecologists have demanded for years.

Environmentalism also suggests an approach to gun control. Our society has not banned cars, but it has made them less harmful to the Earth by using available technology to increase fuel efficiency and decrease emissions. Guns, too, could be made safer. With existing technology, it would be easy to create guns that could not be fired without an access code. This would prevent criminals from using guns stolen from honest people, and would reduce the number of fatal accidents involving guns. An environmental approach to gun control would also allow victims of armed crime to sue manufacturers and retailers when they allow their guns to fall into the hands of criminals, just as environmentalists demand the right to hold the producers of toxic waste responsible for the damage their creations cause. Until now, crime has not been addressed as an environmental issue, but the parallels between environmental justice and criminal justice cannot be ignored. The solutions to many of America's urban problems could be found in ecological thinking.

From an amendment proposed by Duncan Scott, a New Mexico state senator, to a bill addressing the state's licensing guidelines for psychiatrists and psychologists. According to Scott, a Republican, the proposal was intended to draw attention to the rise of "insanity pleas in criminal trials." The amendment was approved by the state senate but was rejected by the New Mexico House of Representatives in March, 1995:
When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant's competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts.

Additionally, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to wear a white beard that is not less than eighteen inches in length, and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand.

Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding the defendant's competency, the bailiff shall dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong.

Thomas Burns, a guidance counselor at Stafford High School in Hartford, Connecticut, sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act after he was fired following his arrest for cocaine possession. Burns's lawyer said that since Burn's cocaine dependence was a disability, the school had discriminated against him.

In Santa Monica, California, a deaf woman sued Burger King, claiming that its drive-through windows illegally discriminated against deaf people. Burger King settled the lawsuit by agreeing to install visual electronic ordering devices at ten restaurants.

A Madison, Wisconsin telephone operator sued her employer for refusing to make reasonable accommodations for her narcolepsy. The woman was routinely late for work, and had sought permission to continue arriving late owing to her "disability."

In Tampa, Florida, Joe Hindman was fired from GTE Data Services after he was found to have robbed purses in the office of thousands of dollars and was caught bringing a loaded gun into the office. Hindman sued the company, claiming he was disabled because of a chemical imbalance caused by the prescription drug Prozac. Federal Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich ruled that the company violated the man's civil rights, saying, "When poor judgement is a symptom of a mental or psychological disorder, it is defined as an impairment that would qualify as a disability under the ADA." To allow Hindman to continue working at the company, Kovachevich ruled, the company should have tried to find some "reasonable accommodation." Kovachevich's decision was later overruled.

A Suffolk University professor sued the law school, claiming that she had been denied tenure because she suffered from an illness that results in lethargy and decreased productivity.

A clerk-typist in the Howard County, Maryland government was fired after repeatedly directing rude outbursts and denunciations at her supervisors. She claimed in her suit that the firing violated her civil rights. Because she is a manic-depressive, she claimed that her employer was required to strip her job of all its inherent stress.

A motorist who was ticketed by a Topeka, Kansas policeman for not wearing a seatbelt claimed that he could not wear one because of claustrophobia, and sued the city for violating the ADA. A judge later dismissed the suit.

A New Orleans television broadcaster, Lynn Gansar, received an endorsement from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to sue her employer for refusing to give her extensive time off to try to get pregnant. This put the station—"because of her pregnancy-related condition," the agency wrote—in violation of the ADA. A jury later rejected her demands for back pay and severance pay.

A federal judge rejected the suit of a postal worker who had destroyed property and endangered his supervisor, and then claimed to be suffering from "explosive personality disorder."

Florida district appeals judge Eugene Garrett was nabbed shoplifting a VCR remote control. When the Florida Supreme Court ordered Garrett removed from the bench, Garrett appealed the ruling, citing the ADA. Garrett claimed he was disabled because he was "depressed" that his daughter failed to get into law school and his son was also getting poor grades.

A former FBI communications officer was fired after his supervisors concluded that his paranoia and inability to perceive reality interfered with his ability to handle confidential documents. A federal judge noted that his employee "at one point felt he had died and gone to hell. He feared that a nuclear holocaust was imminent, and he called the Strategic Air Command in Omaha to issue a warning." The employee sued, claiming discrimination against his "bipolar mood disorder."

The American Psychiatric Association defined "disorder of written expression" (i.e., bad writing) and excessive use of caffeine as potential illnesses. The Employee Relations Law Journal noted that the following personality disorders may be protected under the ADA: Antisocial Personality Disorder (a pattern of disregard for, and violation of the rights of, others); Histrionic Personality Disorder (a pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking); and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy).

[Ed.: Willingness to litigate may well be the next 'major life activity' to be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.]

A 15-year-old Illinois boy was arrested by police for wearing what they called a "gang symbol"—a small Star of David on a necklace. A two-year-old town statute says it's illegal to "wear known gang colors, emblems, or other gang insignia."

The Australian immigration office has ruled that Charlene Boot, an American woman, has to lose at least 24 pounds before she can join her new Australian husband as a permanent resident. Australian officials employed a mathematical formula that used her body weight as one of the variables to determine whether she was likely to become a liability for that country's health care system.

Costa Rica's Supreme Court ruled that the country's hit-and-run driving law was unconstitutional because it punished the driver who caused the accident if he fled. The Court reasoned that, because murderers and other criminals cannot be punished for leaving the scene of a crime—because of their right not to incriminate themselves—hit-and-run drivers can take off as well. A driver involved in an accident but who was not at fault may still be required to stop.


New York City landlords who subject tenants to substandard facilities and inadequate service can find their tenants' rents rolled back by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal. However, the DHCR doesn't appear to have any way of distinguishing trivial complaints from substantial ones, such as lack of heat or water. Thus, the DHCR ordered rent rollbacks in cases in which a dust ball was found under a radiator in an outside hallway, a scorch mark was found on a kitchen countertop, and a doorman was caught not wearing a hat. In one case, the DHCR ordered a rollback after tenants complained about the heavy iron front door that had been there for fifty years.

The Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1995:
Keith Broadwee's body pops up in each body of work he makes. In the past, it has served as a canvas for his juicy, pseudo-Expressionist paintings; as a stage on which finger-puppets frolic; and as a prop in do-it-yourself photographs of modern masterpieces. This time around, Broadwee turns himself into a human spray-gun, squirting colorful streams of paint out of his derriere.

At Ace Contemporary Exhibitions, the largest gallery contains the result: 50 abstract canvases, ranging in size from 2-by-3 feet to 6-feet-square, saturated with gallons of paint in a rainbow of colors and an impressive variety of splatters, stains, stripes and runs. Four giant photos and two videos show the artist hard at work in his studio.

Before you discover how these paintings were made, they appear to be a competent homage to a slew of minor Modernists. Boadwee's abstractions recall Sam Francis' joyous bubbles of color, Morris Louis' snappy peninsulas of pigment and Yves Klein's luxurious monochromes.

Only after you learn that every drop of paint and gestural flourish on Boadwee's canvases was applied via his backside does his art's kick begin to be felt.

The State Department sent its annual human rights report to Congress, which included Syria on the list of oppressive nations. One of the reasons Syria made the list was that they had no laws mandating access to public buildings for the handicapped.

An exhibit at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., came under criticism from World War II veterans and military historians for its treatment of the 1945 atomic bomb attack on Japan. The exhibit, critics said, lacked context and depicted the use of atomic weapons and other American actions during the war in an overly harsh light while glossing over the many atrocities committed by Japanese troops. A subsequent story reported on the controversy surrounding the exhibit of the airplane that dropped the first bomb over Hiroshima. Illinois' Crystal Lake Northwest Herald carried the story under the headline: "Atomic Bombers Criticize Enola Homosexual Exhibit."


June Manuel, who was fired by Westlake Polymers Corp. for excessive absenteeism, including four days' leave when her cat died and seven weeks following the removal of an ingrown toenail, sued to get her job back under the Family and Medical Leave Act.


Harvard University recently graduated 84 percent of its seniors with honors. Harvard's average grade is now an A- to B+. At a panel discussing inflated grades, a Harvard senior commented, "In some departments, 'A' stands for 'average.' " 36 percent of Cornell's grades are now A's, a rate that has doubled from 1965 to 1993. The rate at which Cornell offers C grades dropped over the same period from 40 percent to 12 percent. Princeton offers A grades to over 41 percent of its students. At Brown University, anything below a C grade is not entered on student transcripts. "When you send in your résumé, do you put down all the jobs you applied for and didn't get?" asks Dean Sheila Blumstein in defending the policy. "A Brown transcript is a record of a student's academic accomplishments."

[Ed.: In giving in to pressure to inflate grades, Harvard political scientist Harvey Mansfield supplied students with two grades: one of which went on their transcript, and the other of which he thought they really deserved.]


After Congress ended a decades-old honey subsidy program, beekeepers responded by asking the International Trade Commission to approve duties on Chinese honey under a Cold War-era law allowing sanctions on communist countries. China supplies 20 percent of America's honey. The ITC agreed to 25 percent tariffs, but that wasn't enough for beekeepers. They accused the Chinese of dumping honey below cost in the United States, and the Clinton administration then proposed tariffs of up to 157 percent.

The Portland State University Daily Vanguard:
"Trees are smarter than people sometimes," said PSU President Judith Ramaley at the gathering.

The tree was planted as a memorial for the victims of the bombing and to give respite to the Arab and Muslim communities who may have felt excluded from the national day of mourning on Sunday, April 23, [ceremony coordinator Bishara] Costandi said.

Even William Kunstler, a leftist lawyer famous for defending unsympathetic high-profile cases, has his limits. Kunstler ruled out representing Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh, claiming, "this crime is so evil, so senseless, I wouldn't want to engage my talents in defending this client." Besides, Kunstler has been kept busy representing the alleged World Trade Center bombers.

At Tidewater Community College in Virginia, students can fulfill the requirements of a course by visiting an adult bookstore, watching an X-rated movie or going to a gay bar.

Stanford University, which has cut millions of dollars from its budget, paid more than $1 million for memorabilia from Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. The memorabilia consisted of old sneakers, trimmings from Ginsberg's beard and the butts of marijuana cigarettes, among other things.