An Inclusive Litany


An unusually dumb statement from Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) in the Washington Post, March 17, 1996:
Some time ago, Eastman Kodak brought a case against Fuji for dumping photographic paper in the United States—at 360 percent below cost! As a result, we will soon dedicate a $200 million Fuji facility in Greenwood, S.C. Protectionism not only saves jobs, it creates new ones.

Time reporter Elaine Shannon talks about the Unabomber on C-SPAN's "Sunday Journal," April 7, 1996:
He (Ted Kaczynski) wasn't a hypocrite. He lived as he wrote. His manifesto, and there are a lot of things in it that I would agree with and a lot of other people would, that industrialization and pollution all are terrible things, but he carried it to an extreme, and obviously murder is something that is far beyond any political philosophy, but he had a bike. He didn't have any plumbing, he didn't have any electricity.

Five members of the Placer County Board of Supervisors in Auburn, California, received death threats over the board's decision to approve a Wal-Mart store in the area.

After John Castillo was born blind with underdeveloped eyes, a tragic condition called microphthalmia, his parents sued the DuPont corporation for $4 million. The boy's mother argued that her son was stricken in utero after she was briefly enveloped in a cloud of the DuPont fungicide Benlate that was discharged by a nearby farmer. The jury found in favor of the Castillo family, despite testimony from the farmer and supporting purchase and planting records confirming that he was not using Benlate at the time of the alleged incident. Even if he had been, thorough studies by the Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization and other scientists worldwide failed to link Benlate with any adverse health effects. The jury did, however, hear "expert" testimony concerning one test, that was not published or peer-reviewed, in which the human equivalent of two gallons of Benlate was pumped into rats' stomachs.


As part of a sketch parodying far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, French television entertainer Patrick Sebastien sang a song called "Casser du Noir," which translates roughly to "Beating Up Blacks." He and the broadcaster were fined $6,000 not for mocking racists, but for "provoking racial hatred."

A proposal for Social Security reform on the editorial page of the New York Times, March 27, 1996:
Private accounts would be enormously expensive to administer, as millions of workers would continuously be directing small amounts of new money into stocks and bonds. By tying retirement benefits to the individual's own contributions, the plan strips away much of Government's ability to subsidize low-income families.

A better plan was proposed by a group led by Robert Ball, a former Social Security Commissioner. This group also would invest a substantial fraction of payroll taxes in the stock market. But in this plan, the Government, not individuals, would do the investing—saving overhead costs and preserving the option to redistribute retirement benefits to poorer workers. Under this plan, Government would invest passively—putting money in funds that mirror all companies represented in the stock market—in order to keep politics out of retirement decisions.

Homeless activist Barbara Riverwomon in the San Jose Mercury News, April 3, 1996, commenting on a plan to shelter homeless people in state parks around Santa Cruz:
One of the intriguing things about this plan is that it will create a truly integrated community, with rich people as neighbors to the poorest. They will all be sitting around open campfires, living in tents and delighting together at the beautiful trees and ocean and bird songs. Is it so wrong to take a tiny step in the direction of a society which I think all of us secretly dream of? It's worth a few bumps in the road.

Officials in an Illinois suburb decided to rename their "Adopt-a-Hydrant" program, under which children volunteer to keep neighborhood fire hydrants clear of obstructions, after receiving protests by adoptive parents that the name demeans the process of adopting children.

In Oklahoma, a group calling itself Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, along with local newspapers, found itself named as a defendant in a class-action suit. Opponents had deemed libelous the citizens' campaign for a state referendum to limit lawsuits.


Having previously offered separate housing for blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and American Indians, New Hampshire's Dartmouth College will soon consider a petition submitted by Political Queers, a homosexual student group demanding separate housing space for gays.

The Washington Post, March 14, 1996:
Six human rights activists from the United States, Mauritania, and Sudan called on African Americans, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. media yesterday to wake up to black slavery in northern Africa and to end the political silence they said effectively condones its existence....

The chief witness was William H. Twaddel, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, who in somewhat elliptical testimony declared that "I don't think anyone is enslaving anyone in Mauritania" but added later, "I'd feel very uncomfortable saying that [slavery] didn't exist." ....

Twaddel's testimony was seconded by former representative and Congressional Black Caucus chairman Mervyn M. Dymally of California ... who appeared as a $120,000-a-year lobbyist for the Mauritanian government.... He said, "I don't deny that there may be the appearance of slavery" in Mauritania, but said one has to be careful when one calls it "black slavery. General Colin Powell wouldn't be considered black in Mauritania," he said, and neither would most Jamaicans.

The Department of Labor ruled in 1993 that government-employed firefighters are barred from offering their services at no cost to volunteer fire departments in their own community. The ruling came in response to complaints by paid firemen in Montgomery County, Maryland, that they lost overtime wages when other firemen volunteered in their spare time.

A California guide to the teaching of mathematics advises teachers, "Your job is... not to judge the rightness and wrongness of each student's answer. Let those determinations come from the class..."

A paper provided by the Chemical Injury Information Network of White Sulphur Springs [!], Montana, lists more than 100 symptoms that may result from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, otherwise known as "chemical hypersensitivity," "environmental hypersensitivity," "total allergy syndrome," "cerebral allergy," "chemical AIDS," "20th century disease," and "idiopathic environmental intolerance." These symptoms include sneezing, itching, twitching, numbness, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, earache, chest pain, easy bruising, high or low blood pressure, sore muscles, cramps, eczema, "heavy eyes," blurred vision, dyslexia, frequent urination, genital itching, PMS, backache, nausea, belching, constipation, hunger, thirst, headaches, apathy, forgetfulness, insomnia, IQ drop, depression, bitter or sweet slime in mouth, heat sensitivity, cold sensitivity, stiffness, swelling, neck pain, anxiety attacks, agitation, liver pain, hair loss, premature gray hair, brain fog, and genital sweating. A note at the bottom of the page adds: "Unfortunately this is not a complete list of symptoms."

Janet Cooke is back in the news. Ms. Cooke won a Pulitzer Prize in 1981 for a series of columns in the Washington Post about a tragic eight-year-old heroin addict named Jimmy. It was later discovered that "Jimmy" did not exist and that the whole story was fabricated. After Cooke was drummed out of journalism and her prize revoked, she spent some time living in Paris, then turned up at a $6.15-an-hour department-store clerk job in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was in an interview there that Cooke told GQ magazine that her tendency to tell tall tales developed as a defensive measure against a stern, ill-tempered stepfather. She has since sold the film rights to her life story for $700,000.

The state of Texas unanimously passed a resolution to honor Albert De Salvo: "This compassionate gentleman's dedication and devotion to his work has enabled the weak and the lonely throughout the nation to achieve and maintain a new degree of concern for their future. He has been officially recognized by the state of Massachusetts for his noted activities and unconventional techniques involving population control and applied psychology."

The resolution was proposed as a hoax to demonstrate how easy it is to pass legislation without proper scrutiny. Albert De Salvo was the Boston Strangler.


UCLA's Armand Hammer Museum was the site for an exhibit called "Sexual Politics." The show featured a special section called "cunt art," which included Judy Chicago's "Entering the Mystery Through the Blue Rock Cunt"; "Love Story," featuring a man firing a gun into a woman's anus; "Red Flag" and "Menstruation Bathroom," both celebrations of the tampon. The show featured Annie Walsh's "This Summer I Learned a New Way to Masturbate," Hannah Wilke's "Seven Untitled Vaginal-Phallic and Excremental Sculptures," Karen LeCocq's "Feather Cunt," and Nicole Eisenman's "Amazon Competition," which depicted a group of women castrating a man, a "revenge fantasy" which "signals a new approach to Women's position in Western patriarchy in the work of younger feminists." Carolee Schneemann's "Infinity Kisses" includes 136 photos of a woman cavorting erotically with a cat as "a playful alternative to conventional heterosexual eroticism." Museum officials commented that response to the show has been overwhelmingly positive; while some negative statements appeared in a comment book, curator Amelia Jones said "most of those were written by men."

UCLA also mounted an exhibit on "Asian Pacific Islander Sexuality" as part of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The exhibit featured works of student artists "visually exploring the sexual politics of genitalia" and was designed to offer a chance for Asian students to "go beyond 'standards' and freely explore their own issues." The show featured "Post Fu Manchu Tic Tac" (an enormous, erect penis with the caption "This Ain't No Tic Tac"), "Look Ma, No Hands" (a black and white photo of a naked man and his erection, complete with magnifying glass), "Arena" (a woman rising from a toilet, with a magazine spread of two women beheading a man on a nearby counter), an untitled painting of a red-haired woman pointing an automatic pistol at a man's head while blood oozed from a bullet hole in his temple, and a ceramic sculpture of a smiling and bare-chested woman looking down at a severed penis while holding a pair of scissors in one hand and a frying pan in another.

An unusual editorial in UCLA's Daily Bruin indicates the depth of feeling the show aroused. Freshman Edward Hsu took two pages to consider stereotypes concerning the endowment of Asian males, as well as to mull over his own personal insecurities. "I look down and he's there—my Mr. Wang," he writes. "He's not tiny, he's just crushed. Funny, huh? Go ahead, laugh! All yellow people have crushed wangers, right? Laugh!!! Laugh because it's true. Laugh because it's funny to crush Mr. Wang; crush him into submission.... I really don't care if you think my penis is dinky or daring—as long as you've seen it. And while your eyes are open, see me as I am ... At times I can be limp; I may look like a wimp; like all I know is 'Submit!' But listen, but look, and see my balls, and how I stand tall—an Asian erection."

The New College of California School of Law has bestowed an honorary juris doctor degree on Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death-row inmate fighting his conviction for killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982.

[Ed.: The facts of Jamal's case have never been credibly disputed. Working at the time as a radical journalist and cab driver, Jamal happened to be driving by as he saw officer Faulkner pull over his brother, William Cook, for a traffic violation. Jamal ran across the street and shot Faulkner in the back. Faulkner was able to return fire and hit Jamal in the chest, after which Jamal stood over Faulkner and shot him four more times. When police arrived on the scene, they found Faulkner dying of his wounds, and Jamal sitting on a curb nearby, wearing a holster, his .38 caliber revolver at his feet with five spent cartridges in it.]

Northern Pennsylvania's Mansfield University posted an ad for a computer programming job, requiring a technical degree and two years' experience with UNIX and "in-depth" knowledge of AIX, SCO and other systems, as well as skills in software control, installing upgrades, and "network topologies." The posting also included the following statement: "Mansfield University is an affirmative-action employer and encourages the applications of women, minorities and the physically and mentally challenged."

The European Union has released 50 pages of regulations to harmonize inter-European standards for condoms. They include instructions for opening a condom package: "Move the condom inside the package such that it is away from the area where the package is to be torn. Tear the package and remove the condom.... Unroll the condom ensuring that it is not excessively stretched in any direction."

Diagrams illustrate how condoms are to be tested for durability and strength, as follows:

Most of the prose details inspection procedures, which must be conducted "visually under normal or corrected vision": "Each lot shall be sampled in accordance with ISO 2859-1 general inspection level I, but utilizing a minimum sample size and corresponding acceptance/rejection numbers equivalent to sample size code letter M." Furthermore, the air-flow calibration test is to be conducted with "a volume flow rate at ambient temperature and pressure (Q) in cubic decimetres per second as follows":

The Memphis Commercial Appeal, June 10, 1996:
The state historian, the president of the Arkansas NAACP, and the former president of the Regular Arkansas Baptist Convention don't share President Clinton's "vivid and painful memories" of Arkansas church burnings.

"I've never known of a black church being burned in Arkansas,' said John Ferguson, the director of the Arkansas History Commission.

Clinton used his weekly radio address Saturday to decry a rash of at least 30 burnings of black churches in seven Southern states since early last year. He also recounted what he said was his experience in his home state.

"In our country during the '50s and '60s, black churches were burned to intimidate civil-rights workers. I have vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child," Clinton said. Clinton was born in 1946 and grew up in Hope and Hot Springs. However, neither Dale Charles, the president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, nor Rev. O.C. Jones, former president of the Regular Arkansas Baptist Convention, a group of 530 black churches, could recall any church burnings in Arkansas during the civil-rights era.

A spokesman for the White House had no immediate response Sunday.


When the Artkraft Strauss Sign Corporation agreed to fabricate and install a set of 15-foot metal letters on the roof of a factory building in New York City, its president, Tama Starr, had to sign a 101-page contract, including 20 separate documents spelling out affirmative-action requirements. One document required iron workers on the job to be 58.53 percent minority and 7.63 percent female, while another document required that the contractor "will not discriminate ... on the basis of ... race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, handicap, marital status, sexual orientation or affectional preference."

"Today" co-host Bryant Gumbel questions Tim Russert on a report showing Medicare would go broke a year earlier than expected, June 5, 1996:
Tim, curious. Would we still be having this discussion if everyone hadn't attacked the President's health care reform plan for political expediency about two years ago?


Former U.S. News & World Report White House reporter Matthew Cooper in the New Republic, June 3, 1996:
Dole has certainly shown understanding for the handicapped, sponsoring legislation like 1990's Americans with Disabilities Act.... But how far does Dole's empathy extend? He's helped the disabled but fought family and medical leave that would guarantee employees the right to care for a disabled loved one. He's been soft on the workplace and highway safety regulations and gun-control measures that would prevent many disabling accidents.

The New York Times, April 21, 1996:
Judy Collins, the singer, and Louis Nelson, a designer of everything from album covers to the Korean War Veterans Memorial's mural wall in Washington, met on April 16, 1978. They were introduced by friends during an equal rights amendment fund-raiser at the Ginger Man restaurant, which had changed its name to the Ginger Person for the evening.

A feminist and a supporter of women's rights, Ms. Collins pursued him. "She called me the next few days every day," said Mr. Nelson, 59. "I was flabbergasted that she would be interested in me. She was a star. I owned all of her records."

A few days later they went out for dinner, and they "talked about all those things like, you know, the handle of a cup and the rim touching your lips, and purple and green," he remembered. They have lived together ever since.

These days, their social schedule is glamorous. During a recent week, they went out to dinner with Patricia Duff and Ron Perelman on one night, Princess Margaret the second and Erica Jong the third. Yet in many ways, they still seem like a young, open-minded, down-to-earth couple from 1978.

They share a rambling [rent-controlled] Upper West Side apartment filled with colorful candles, guitars and oil paintings by friends, not necessarily framed. They spend weekends in their house in Connecticut, where she likes to record dreams in her journal while he paints watercolors and listens to the wind chimes.

In conversation, they talk about angels, peace, the design of toasters, therapy and the importance of equality in relationships. In a recent interview, they were even careful to talk for equal amounts of time. "If we go out to dinner, I pay one night, he pays one night," said Ms. Collins, 56. "We don't carry scales, but we share equally."

Joseph Ray Terry was awarded $150,000 in damages and back pay after a Memphis district court judge ruled that he had been discriminated against by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with investigating workplace discrimination. Terry, a white Louisiana-trained lawyer, applied in 1984 to be a district director, but in the years that followed he was repeatedly passed over for promotion in favor of blacks—one of whom did not even possess a high school diploma. As part of the settlement, Terry will be granted the district-director position he has long sought.

In the state of Connecticut, groups wishing to hold a rubber-duck race must obtain a permit, have each duck inspected, and ensure that the ducks are environmentally sound. The state's Division of Special Revenue issued two pages of regulations on the subject, including requirements to give each contestant a diagram of the "natural stream of water," which "has a steady current" on which the race is to be conducted and which shows the starting and finishing points.

At a meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called in response to a series of rapes in the Cambridgeport neighborhood, police Sgt. Joseph McSweeny was publicly upbraided for circulating a picture of a suspect named Santiago Grenados, who was wanted in connection with one of the rapes, and who was later indicted.

While women in the neighborhood demanded that the police pour resources into investigating the sexual attacks, some felt that police were racist in giving out information about Grenados, a Latino man of dark complexion who is from El Salvador. Although police had issued a warrant for his arrest, some were outraged that police would pass around his picture in connection with a crime for which he hadn't been convicted. Cathy Hoffman, who serves the city as the Commissioner of Peace and Nuclear Disarmament [$51,000 salary], complained that "to pass around a picture of a man of color doesn't speak to the problem and can promote racial fear or racism."

Police spokesman Frank Pasquarello commented that McSweeny was right to show pictures of the suspect to neighborhood residents. "If we were looking for a black or a white man we would have circulated their pictures too," said Pasquarello. "We were looking for a Hispanic man from El Salvador."