An Inclusive Litany


Sandra Harding, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delaware and author of The Science Question in Feminism wonders why others do not take seriously feminist charges of "rape themes" rampant in the work of Sir Isaac Newton, while they do take seriously Newton's metaphors regarding nature as a machine. "Why is it not as illuminating and honest to refer to Newton's laws as 'Newton's Rape Manual,' " asks Harding, "as it is to call them 'Newton's Mechanics?' "

From a prayer given by Richard C. Halverson, the Senate chaplain (approx. $115,000 annual salary), on the floor of the Senate on February 26, 1992:
If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man ... the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity ... it defileth the whole body and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
—James 3:6

God of truth and light, Apostle James vividly describes the destructive nature of words, spoken and written. Having been uttered or printed, they cannot be retracted. Thank you, Lord, for a free press, for men and women dedicated to getting the facts and keeping the people informed. Thank you for their untiring effort and faithful commitment to their mandate.

But gracious Father, investigative reporting seems epidemic in an election year—its primary objective to defame political candidates. Seeking their own reputation, they destroy another's as they search relentlessly, microscopically for some ancient skeleton in a person's life. Eternal God, help these self-appointed "vacuum cleaner journalists" to discover how unproductive and divisive their efforts are.

At the National Press Club, outgoing chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts John Frohnmayer compared his ouster by President Bush to Munich in 1938. "If the National Endowment for the Arts gets picked off, public broadcasting is next, and after that research funds for universities, and after that research funds for science... There will be no end to it. It's the Sedetenland now, Czechoslovakia next week, and after that Poland."

A report in the Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida:
Shelly Gonzalez of Coventry Court, Ocean City, said someone stole a $300 Gucci purse and $270 in food stamps from her home on Dec. 4 or Dec. 5.

An Easter egg hunt in East Millcreek, Utah, was nixed by the Salt Lake City County Health Department. A health official, accompanied by several deputy sheriffs, arrived at Evergreen Park the morning of the hunt and told organizers to call it off: They lacked a special events permit and eggs placed on the ground were unsanitary. So children cried as adults gathered up the eggs.


An account of a panel discussion on the duty of art to history, featuring film director Oliver Stone, The New York Times, May 5, 1992:
In a crowd-pleasing recitation, he went over the experience of working on "J.F.K.," one that has shaken him so deeply, he said, that he has wondered aloud about the version of American history given in the books he read as a youth.

Disillusionment evidently has been a bitter pill. "I've come to have severe doubts about Columbus," he said, "about Washington, about the Civil War being fought over slavery, about World War I, about World War II and the supposed fight against Nazism and Japanese control of resources."

Careering toward a climax, Mr. Stone apparently decided to drive his car right off the cliff. To thrilled applause, he concluded, "I don't even know if I was born or who my parents were."

[Ed.: It's not that people who opt for elaborate conspiracy theories believe things too easily, it's that they have difficulty believing the most basic truths and feel compelled to produce alternatives.]

An electronic message posted via the "Athena" network at MIT:

Signs of the brewing interest in the upcoming s/m study break have reached me by phone, computer, and direct communication... We will play a game of show and tell—EVERYONE IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO BRING IN HER OR HIS SEX TOYS AND ANY OTHER EROTICIZED OBJECTS. We will get a chance to ask the questions we've never dared to ask. We will get a chance to reveal all. We are hoping to have a LIVE S/M SCANDALOUS DEMONSTRATION. As I write, rumors that a very cute blond boy with a slight southern drawl will be fisted before your eyes, as well as rumors that a Morrissey-type poet with art-fag hair will be suspended by ropes and whipped, have not been verified...

Your master,

P.S. The AIDS Quilt will be shown at Tufts this Saturday and Sunday from 10-9 in Cousen's Gym on the Medford Campus...

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Long Beach, California, initiated "drive-by drills" to teach students to duck and cover to avoid stray gunshots from drive-by shootings.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, actress Melanie Griffith explained why making the World War II spy movie Shining Through was such a learning experience for her: "I didn't know that six million Jews were killed. That's a lot of people."

In an attempt to deal with decreased imports of Soviet fuel, the government of Cuba bought and distributed to its population tens of thousands of Chinese bicycles. In the first six months of 1991, forty people died in bicycle-related accidents in Havana alone.

"Inquiry" Editor Barbara Reynolds in USA Today, August 16, 1991:
How can you who protest abortion be so certain that we aren't swimming toward a fate worse than death? Is homicide in the womb, swift and merciful, not better than the slow death that lies ahead for some of us once our lives begin?... Better to die now, before we can feel real pain, than to enter a world where life is so painful it's criminal to be born.

In Greenfield, California, town planners now require builders to put two bicycles in every new home. The town wants to reduce smog by encouraging people to bike. Greenfield has one stoplight, 8,000 residents, and a city council with too much time on its hands.

The Oregon legislature is considering a bill that would require people living in houses designated as historical monuments to open their homes, free of charge, to the public.

In Racist Stereotyping in the English Language, Robert B. Moore argues that the word "tribe" should be avoided because it "has assumed a connotation of privitiveness or backwardness."

Just as the New York Transit Authority is preparing to cut back rush-hour subway service, close auxiliary token booths, and pare major bus routes in an effort to cut costs, it has set aside $10 million to replace the windows in its Brooklyn headquarters. That's about $7.1 million more than the authority will save by making the service cuts. There are approximately 1,100 windows in the massive Brooklyn building, making the cost per window around $9,000. Transit employees interviewed by Newsday said they don't understand why the windows are being replaced. "What's wrong with the windows we have? They open. They close. You can see out of them. What do we need new ones for?" According to a report the authority sent to the Legislature to justify the capital budget, the windows are "drafty and allow water seepage during heavy rains."

Elsewhere, Transit Authority officials disagreed with Angela D'Urso, a Manhattan legal secretary, on the possible need for capital spending at a station that she claimed had exposed electrical wires and... missing windowpanes. To prove her point, D'Urso snapped some pictures. Problem is, she violated an obscure Transit Authority rule that prohibits taking photographs in subways. So two Transit Authority officers slapped her with $75 in fines. When she said she couldn't afford that, she received another $50 ticket for breach of peace.

Two former Oregon prison inmates filed a class action lawsuit against the state for segregating inmates by race, a practice that corrections officials say alleviates racial tensions. The case was settled out of court for $375,000, and will be distributed to more than 630 black inmates who were in the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution and the Oregon State Correctional Institution between 1984 and 1991.


The Seattle Times reported that some federal agencies may erect hundreds of outdoor "shelters" for their employees who smoke—at a cost of around $8,000 each. The shelters would probably resemble bus stop shelters, to accommodate smokers in the cold or rain.

In a study of 51 different dogs at veterinary centers, as well as the medical records of another 83 dogs, a Colorado State University researcher has found that dogs with short noses, such as Pugs, were at a 50 percent greater risk of developing lung cancer if their owners smoked.


Attacking the pop primatology of the PBS show "Life on Earth," Donna Haraway, Professor at University of California Santa Cruz, calls David Attenborough's encounter with a gorilla "an orgy of touch with a blackjack male." When Attenborough cautions that despite its peaceful nature the gorilla is "lord of the forest," Haraway brands the statement, "the theater of male exhibition." In another context, she analyzes the tin can from which chimpanzee specialist Jane Goodall eats, finding that it is a sort of time capsule preserving "pork, beans, and the social relations of industrial capitalism enabling the colonial 'penetration' and division of Africa."

Esquire correspondent Doug Stanton describes his experiences at a New Warrior Weekend Adventure retreat, October, 1991. A staff member whose "warrior name" was "Scowling Beaver" has just juggled two oranges in front of "Jackrabbit," one of Stanton's fellow attendees. "I want my balls back, Mother!" Jackrabbit bellows. In response, Scowling Beaver orders the other weekenders to form a human barricade around Jackrabbit. Stanton picks up the action:
"Give 'em to me you bitch!" Jackrabbit screams. He crashes into us with a sweaty whump, reaching for the oranges, blood draining from his face. We stop him. He backs up, rockets ahead again.

"I can't go on," he groans.

"You can do it!" we yell.

"MOTHER OF GOD!" He's never felt this strong before! He's always been an accountant, and now the Wildman's energy beats in his heart, his guts, his balls! No, wait, not his balls, his mother has his balls. She turned him into a wimp, always told him to be a good boy, never let him piss in the sink. He raises his left hand—his sword!—and charges, panting like a plow horse, busting through the knot of men, emerging on the other side.

He halts, stunned, spins on his feet, and stares murderously at the oranges, like a psychopath in a fruit market. Scowling Beaver hands over the fruit, what he's paid $550 for at the door.

"I got 'em back! I got 'em back!" Jackrabbit shouts gleefully.

He hops to the stone ledge, sticks a plastic baseball bat between his legs, and waves his new weenie at us, his exhausted face streaming with joy.

"This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen," Stanton concludes.

A message from Spike Lee, left on the answering machine of an editor of the Campus Life section of The New York Times, who, in an article about a course that Lee was teaching that semester at Harvard, incorrectly stated that Lee "does not have a college degree":
This is Spike Lee. How you doing? Look, how in the hell are you going to write some bulls*** that I don't have a f***ing college degree? I got a f***ing master's from New York University and an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College. How's the f***ing New York Times gonna write some bulls*** that I don't have a f***ing college degree? You know you motherf***ers ought to do some f***ing research or whatever you call that s*** before you write some f***ing bulls***, all right? I got a f***ing master of fine arts from f***ing NYU. I want a motherf***ing retraction. All right, motherf***er?

When the moot court board of the New York University Law School tried to assign a case on the custody rights of a lesbian mother, they were forced to withdraw it after receiving protests that "writing arguments [against the mother's side] is hurtful to a group of people and thus harmful to all of us."

When eleven members of a bagpipe band from British Columbia attempted to cross the U.S. border en route to Spokane, Washington, to march in the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade, they were stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol. Because the pipers were getting free hotel rooms for participating in the parade, they were viewed as having come into the country to work as illegal migrant laborers. A spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service told the Spokesman-Review that federal laws against such remuneration are designed for the "protection of labor in the United States."

The Black Letter "X" Society Voice is a two-page newsletter published by students at Fordham Law School in the Bronx, dedicated "to provoking thought... by any means necessary." It professes to defend "those interested in enlightening and diversifying this white/male/catholic dominated bastion of anglo-anarchy."

After the school newspaper, the Advocate, criticized the Black Law Students Association, The Black Letter warned that "this kind of s***, perpetuated by you and your like, will no longer be tolerated and will be dealt with accordingly."

After a former member of the Advocate's editorial board was overheard saying that he might have to go underground for fear of being lynched, The Black Letter responded: "Well, Danny O'White Boy, lynching is in fact an atrocity perpetuated primarily on people of color by pigmentless (and usually hooded) forefathers. Quite frankly the brothers would much prefer just to run across you on the street one night and engage in a philosophical discussion on the State of the Endangered White American. NOT!"

After praising a black woman on the board of the Fordham Law Review, the newsletter says, "The next white boy to disrespect and/or touch her without her permission... will suffer the dire consequences. That's not a threat—it's a promise!!!"

In October 1991, Representative Leon Panetta of California proposed the "Fresh Cut Flower Import Regulation Act" to impose import quotas on daisies, roses, and other flowers. Panetta implied that Colombian flower growers, who have "a growing season that is ideal for production throughout the year," possess an "unfair competitive advantage" over American growers. His bill mandates that each imported flower have a label on its stem stating its country of origin.

Steven Perruccio, president of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent, which represents 7,000 state workers, has been on paid leave from his job as a storage supervisor for the Department of Administrative Services for six years. He collects $28,000 for the state job as well as $58,000 for his union post, and the union reimburses the state for half of the state salary.

Perruccio says the leave of absence was the state's idea and that it actually saves money. Before the leave, he says, he would simply take time off from his job "for union business." Three other union officials have similar arrangements, and two of them receive small union stipends.

State officials had previously denounced the arrangement as "morally reprehensible and unethical," but efforts to change it were unsuccessful. Commenting on the arrangement, Peter Allen, manager of the Connecticut Office of Labor Relations, is somewhat stoical: "It's part of a labor agreement. It doesn't matter what I think."


The Sons of Italy offer a scholarship program to students with almost any degree of Italian-American heritage. When they tried to apply their awards to students at California State University at Northridge, however, they were told that the school would not accept any racially or ethnically conscious scholarships unless they were meant for African American, Native American, or Hispanic students.

Texas state lawmakers voted on whether the passing grade on a mathematics test for high school seniors should be temporarily lowered. If the grading standards were not relaxed, thousands of seniors would not pass out of high school that June.

Laguna Beach, California, prohibited a family from moving into their new home because city inspectors decreed that the owner had painted his house the wrong shade of white.


The Whole Earth Review, Summer 1991:
Two systems of weed control are before the world. One looks to the annihilation of species and varieties with killer technology. The other suggests a natural balance with energized crops protecting themselves against uneconomic weed competition. One accepts a byproduct of instant death, lingering illness and a cancerous legacy... One system delivers to farmers pauperism, ignorance, depopulation and barbarism. The other increases wealth, intelligence, and civilization.

The Parks and Recreation Department of the city of Hollister, California, decided to sponsor a course by a woman who taught people how to cure illnesses such as cancer and diabetes by holding rocks.

In the wake of the House Bank affair, Rep. Jack Brooks (D-TX) was pessimistic about the future. Without interest-free overdraft protection for their checking accounts, Brooks said in the New York Times, congressmen will either be "living in sleeping bags and sleeping in their offices and riding bicycles to work" or "they'll be right-wing extremists getting chauffeured around in Cadillacs."

New York Newsday reports that the Sanitation Department had been storing rock salt where the city's Department of Transportation turns ground glass from a recycling program into material for paving. Somehow the two substances got mixed up, and following a snowfall city trucks sowed Brooklyn streets with glass. "The most pathetic thing about this incident is that nobody found having glass on the street unusual," columnist Gail Collins wrote. Desensitized Brooklynites assumed the glass came from vandalism and accidents, she wrote. "This is what we get for recycling," one disgruntled resident told Newsday.

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, authors of No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the 20th Century, suggest in the New York Times that the traditional fairy tale Snow White be used "to explore alternative sexualities." In the new version, when the Queen asks the Magic Mirror who is the fairest of them all and receives the reply "Snow White," rather than deciding to kill her in jealousy, as the traditional tale has it, the Queen realizes she loves Snow White "with a love surpassing the love of man." The revised tale ends "in a blissful union between the Queen and Snow White."

Thomas Knox, a deputy mayor in Philadelphia, has an important job. He's responsible for reviewing all the city's boards, departments and commissions for efficiency. He has organized a group of more than 100 business executives—on loan from major businesses in the area—who will analyze the computer systems, the revenue department, telecommunications and other aspects of city government, and report back to him. He's doing all this on his salary of $1 a year. But even Knox can't get around the personnel officials. First he had to fill out a tax form so the appropriate taxes would be taken out of his biweekly check. Then he was instructed to fill out time sheets each day. Now he receives a check for 4 cents every two weeks. But he can't cash them: The checks are too small. "I've got them here in my desk drawer," says Knox. "To cash them, [the bank] said it cost something like 39 cents." When asked if that isn't the epitome of efficiency, Knox replies, "That's what I said." The deputy mayor says he's been trying to have the checks stopped. "The problem ... is in order for the computer not to put out the check for 4 cents, they'd have to reprogram it. And ... it would cost a lot more money to reprogram it than it would if they kept issuing the check. So I keep getting checks for 4 cents."