An Inclusive Litany


At Amherst-Pelham Regional High School in Massachusetts, "spreading sex gossip" is among the offenses defined as sexual harassment, punishable by "parent conference, apology to victim, detention, suspension, recommendation, or referral to police." To U.S. News & World Report columnist John Leo's question concerning what would happen if a student told a friend, "I think Marcie and Allen have something going," superintendant Gus Sayer responded, "That would qualify as sexual harassment."

Santa Barbara animal activists protested the arrival of the Carson and Barnes Five-Ring Circus in nearby Carpinteria, California, claiming that "no animal can possibly learn tricks without being abused." Phillip Aguirre, 13, was one of four activists standing outside the circus' main tent, shouting, "the cruelest show on Earth" and passing out leaflets that claim circus trainers beat and mistreat their animals. Aguirre stated, "I don't think animals should be treated that way. Everyone should be treated equal. It makes people feel different about the circus."

Denise Ford of Animal Emancipation, Inc. of Ventura claimed, "the bull elephants were displaying autistic behavior. They were swaying back and forth very violently. That's a sign of psychological breakdown." She also claimed that the circus animals were denied water. She added that people should not get entertainment for animals, stating "Romans used to watch Christians being thrown to the lions for enjoyment."

Animal trainer Brad Jewell denied these charges, saying that positive reinforcement techniques are used, with the animals being rewarded with treats such as carrots, apples, and lettuce when they get their tricks right.

Ernie Miller, an assistant manager for the circus, also denied the charges of cruelty, saying that the elephants' cages are big enough to be called "elephant condos." He added that it wouldn't make sense for the circus to mistreat these animals; denying them water would be ridiculous, and Miller asked, "why would we put a $75,000 animal in jeopardy? It would be like buying a brand new Mercedes Benz, taking it home, and putting sugar in the gas tank."

Referring to Ford's charges of autism, Miller pointed out that elephants sway back and forth because it's their nature to do so. He added that the circus is expected to generate $15,000 of charitable funds for the Carpinteria library and Girls Inc. He admitted he didn't mind the protesters since "businesswise, I can't complain. They've given us a lot of publicity."

New York Governor Mario Cuomo discusses the World Trade Center bombing in the Federal News Service, February 27, 1993:
As far as apprehension is concerned, we all have that feeling—that feeling of being violated. It is still true that this is the safest place in the world, that you have the best law enforcement people, the best fire service people, the best public employees, the best federal investigative unit in the whole world. All of them working together. You will have now a heightened security in every way that it can be heightened. You have on the state side—I assume this will happen with other governments as well—all state officials working harder to enforce codes, working more diligently at every security measure that you can take. All of that will be done.

And so, what used to be the safest place in the world will be safer still...

After a Philadelphia Revenue Department employee was denied a promotion for routinely missing work to play pinball, his union filed an official grievance. The grounds: the worker was "compulsively and uncontrollably compelled to play" the game. The decision was upheld, but it took four years to exhaust the costly arbitration process.

"We called the stolen car victim and told her we had some good news and some bad news," said El Cajon, California, police spokesperson Debbie Setzer. "The good news is that we recovered your car. The bad news is that we stole it." The woman had left her car parked near the police station; officers thought it was an unmarked police car and drove off in it."

When Richard Osbourn of Casper, Wyoming, bought the adult video "Belle of the Ball," he expected to see the main advertised attraction, Busty Belle, who instead only made a cameo appearance. Rather than settle for a refund of the cost of the video, Osbourn filed a lawsuit against Emporium Videos, claiming that it duped him into buying the video. He is demanding reimbursement of the $29.95 he spent on the video and $55.79 in medical costs he incurred when the "stress and strain of being ripped off" brought on an asthma attack. And, as "compensation for suffering," he'd like an additional $50,000.

At Eastern Oregon State University, Josh Tanner's college radio program was banned due to the explicit material it featured. Tanner ran a Christian music show, and station officials banned the music because their faculty adviser considered it "too spiritually explicit." Tanner says he was told not to say the word "Christian" on the air. The decision, later reversed under pressure from a lawyer, surprised Tanner. "The station plays the vilest things—anything under the sun that is perverted," he says. "So it was a real shock" that the music was nixed for its spirituality.

The Department of Public Affairs of the U.S. Army has printed 80,000 copies of a children's coloring book called "Keeping the Earth Green," which on one page features a happy soldier helping children feed a giant tortoise, and on another page shows a tank crew trying to keep the noise down to avoid disturbing a sleeping owl. "Soldiers take care not to scare or hurt animals that live on the land," the caption reads. "It's part of an environmental stewardship campaign," says Capt. Bill Buckner, a spokesman for the Army's Department of Public Affairs. "The Army's goal is to be a national leader on the issue of the environment." Happily for taxpayers, the book only cost $6,000 to print. Buckner reveals the secret: recyclable paper.

[Ed.: Capt. Bill Buckner is no relation to the bowlegged Red Sox firstbaseman.]


Journalist Terry Anderson, while writing an account of his 6 1/2 years as a hostage in Lebanon, has been trying to dig up information on nine men who held him captive. But when he filed a Freedom of Information Act request, the Justice Department turned it down, explaining that it would violate the kidnappers' right to privacy. The department informed Anderson that it would need either notarized privacy waivers from each of the captors, or proof of their deaths.

Czechoslovakian-born Fred Botur came to New York in 1952, a refugee from communism. In 1965, he started a five-court tennis club in a city-owned armory.

A few years later, the city decided to tear down the armory and gave Botur the boot. He found a new site and opened outdoor courts, planning to add a three-story indoor tennis club. Community groups objected, and the city refused Botur a zoning variance. He had to move again.

Undaunted, he leased a field under a city bridge and built another tennis club. But when Botur's seven-year lease was up, the city called for competitive bids. Someone bid higher, so the city threw Botur out.

Meanwhile, on a junk property leased from the city, he had built a fourth tennis club. Everything was fine until seven years later when he was bounced for an expressway extension. Fourteen years after that, there's no highway construction on the property.

Frustrated by the whims of bureaucrats, Botur bought seven debris-filled acres that he turned into 30 indoor and outdoor courts with clubhouse and art gallery. He has 900 members, employs 55 people and pays more than $1 million a year in taxes.

Botur's been there 19 years, but the bureaucrats are after him again. This time, the city and state have mapped plans to build $2.3 billion worth of apartment buildings, offices and a 350-room hotel—on and around Botur's tennis club.

As the New York government moves to acquire Fred Botur's hard-won enterprise, the Czech government is returning to him family property seized by communists after World War II.

Dan Rather at a May 27, 1993, CBS affiliates meeting talking via satellite to President Clinton about his new on-air partnership with Connie Chung:
If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners... Thank you very much and tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we're pulling for her.


The mother of an 11-year-old boy who was killed by a gun he helped steal has sued the gun's owner for negligence in storing the weapon in an unlocked pickup truck. The mother complains that the owner "enticed" the four boys into stealing the gun because he didn't lock his truck.

Naturalist Gordon Plague of the Science Center of New Hampshire has called for Americans to eat more insects, stating, "If people in this country started eating more insects then it would obviously cut down on the need for beef and for chicken and other meats. And so when that demand went down it would actually also lower the prices of those foods."

Plague pointed out, "we also eat things, worse things, that are relatives of insects like lobsters and shrimp, which are also crustaceans like insects, but for some reason ... don't have that stigma." Nevertheless, Plague admitted that getting Americans to eat more insects would require a "sales job."

Asked about his new personal no-junk-food policy, President Clinton clarified, "I don't necessarily consider McDonald's junk food."

From an article in the Los Angeles teachers' union newsletter:
More than three out of four people, 69% told the L.A. Times pollster that the February 23, 1993, strike would be justified.

As keynote speaker for the "Metaphors, Models, and Measurements for Writing" seminar at the 16th conference of the City University of New York Association of Writing Supervisors, professor Ann E. Berthoff of the University of Massachusetts at Boston spoke on the need for teachers of creative writing to engage their students in nonlinear concept formation. To prove her point, she compared a student's five-paragraph essay on capital punishment to Rodney King's "Can we all get along?" statements at his press conference in Los Angeles immediately following the riots.

"King's bursts of eloquence, his balance between image and topic, particular and universal, reveals a mind and heart that are engaged by their topic," said Berthoff. She went on to point out that listeners and readers are provoked "to ask how come we all cannot work it out."

Berthoff urged her audience to focus on King's "interactive movement between personal and public" that should be encouraged in all students' writing. As proof of King's skills, she presented an excerpt from the speech that included: "You know, I mean we're all stuck here for a while. Let's, you know, let's try to work it out. Let's work it out."

Public interest lawyer Rees Lloyd has filed a lawsuit to stop several media organizations from using the word "welsher" to describe someone who reneges or cheats, because he says it slurs Welsh-Americans. The lawsuit says terms such as welsher are "fighting words," which the Supreme Court has ruled lack constitutional protection.

According to a University of Pittsburgh policy, "Public works of art and other exhibits representing creative efforts, as well as posters, and other visual materials, that are displayed in public areas of the University should, over time, represent all constituencies of this institution by including works by or about the many racial, ethnic and cultural groups that make up the University community for the purpose of documenting the history and celebrating the wealth of diversity" at the school. Provost Donald Henderson asked university deans and directors to take an inventory of artwork under their control, intended to help diversify collections.

Michael Daly in a New York magazine piece, explaining why the looting that occurred during the 1977 New York blackout coincided with a Democratic presidential administration:
In retrospect, the poor might simply have been a few years ahead of their time. They might have just been acting with the passions that would guide the coming decade of conspicuous consumption. Their 25-hour frenzy might only have been their own brief exercise of the principle that Greed is Good.

Students who attend summer school classes at the University of California at Santa Cruz can choose classes from the "History of Consciousness" division such as "Perspectives on Mixed Race," "The Lesbian Novel," and "Feminism and Environmentalism," which puts an "emphasis on feminist and multicultural discourses of ecology, environmentalism, and 'technoscience' developed in feminist and antiracist social movements worldwide." Another course, "Masculinity in America," provides insight into "representations of masculinity and diverse 'men's movements' in American popular and political culture." If the academic content of these courses seems too daunting, students can attend courses like "Narrative Evaluation System," which is "designed to encourage students to pursue learning for its own sake, not simply to achieve grades." If that is too much, students can also get credit for "Field Studies: The Santa Cruz Mountains."

President Clinton's "emergency stimulus" economic package included items such as 30 gymnasiums, 14 jogging paths, 18 parking garages, 30 bike paths, a $30,000 ice skating "warming hut," a $2.7 million movie theater, $200,000 to restore a boat house, and $2.5 million to build a restaurant and alpine slide in Puerto Rico.


When security cameras were installed at the Philadelphia Civic Center, guards refused to look at the monitors. Doing so was not in their union job description, and they would check the screens only if paid overtime. In six months, the extra pay cost the city nearly $70,000. The Civic Center shut off the cameras.

The Hawaii legislature passed a bill requiring stores to place warning labels on war toys on the grounds that such playthings increase "anger and violence" in children.

In a rigged election in 1985, Samuel K. Doe proclaimed himself president of Liberia. In anticipation of protests in the capital city of Monrovia, the government-owned New Liberian newspaper announced that morning: "No Jubilation Allowed in the Streets."

California Governor Pete Wilson issued an executive order banning smoking in a number of public places, including death row.

Can an eight-year-old with Down's syndrome who has an I.Q. of 59 and a mental age of less than four, who is not toilet trained, whose speech is unintelligible, and who persists in loud behavior be appropriately educated in a regular classroom without disrupting the rest of the children? A federal court in New Jersey says yes and has ordered the Clementon School District to "mainstream" Rafael Oberti.

The flight crew of a Miami cargo jet has sued the Drug Enforcement Agency over a botched drug sting. Two years earlier, DEA agents in Belize placed 48 kilograms of cocaine on a DC-8—without telling the crew. When the plane stopped in Honduras on its return to Miami, local police discovered the drugs and imprisoned and tortured the flight drew. The crew was imprisoned for two weeks before U.S. authorities finally acknowledged that they had planted the drugs.

Harry Ross of Skokie, Illinois, runs a mail-order business called Soitenly Stooges, which deals in memorabilia from the comic threesome. He relocated to Highland Park and erected an eight-foot-tall sign depicting Moe, Larry, and Curly. But two Town Council members want to force him to remove the sign. They say, "The character shown on the far left of the sign [Curly Howard] is a slur to African-Americans."

APA Newsletters, Fall 1992, published by the American Philosophical Association:
I am a white lesbian, forty-eight years old and I have a beard. Sort of a double goatee affair that grows on either side of my chin. I have had it for about sixteen years. When I first realized I was growing a beard, not just a few chin hairs, I was shocked. I identified strongly as a feminist, but was not ready for this test of my will and resolve not to appear at least moderately feminine in this world of strict masculine/feminine dichotomies. Besides, until the beard came, I did not realize what deep recesses of desire to be "pretty" in a traditionally feminine way I harbored. The beard, if I let it grow, would certainly end the possibility of a purely feminine appearance for me. It took me over a year to stop shaving it altogether. By then I had moved to liking it a lot and putting some effort into seeing to it that it appeared neat and not unkempt by, for instance, keeping crumbs out of it when I ate croissants.

A story on "Dateline NBC" that reported that GM pickup trucks were prone to fiery explosions upon impact turned out, upon close examination with slow-motion playback, to have been a hoax. The producers of the report had overfilled the gas tank, put on a cap that didn't fit, and to top it off, rigged a couple of model rocket engines on the gas tank to ignite just before impact. In a swift and unprecedented apology, NBC declared that the use of incendiary devices "was a bad idea from start to finish." "This unscientific demonstration," the apology continued, "was not representative of an actual side-impact collision." And: "We have... concluded that unscientific demonstrations should have no place in hard news stories at NBC. That's our new policy."

The Washington Post assured readers, "If you've been dreaming about Bill Clinton, relax. It's perfectly normal." The Post detailed various examples of the kind of dreams that have become all too common:

  • A 25-year-old secretary who described her vision as such: "Bill leaned over and whispered discreetly in my ear that he wanted me to be his mistress."

  • A self-described "techno-hippie" who dreamed that Hillary "had just undergone mouth surgery and she had bloodstains all over her sequined pajamas.... Peter Jennings was there too, doing something fake."

  • A 30-year-old filmmaker envisioned the president as a dentist. "He reaches his arms out towards me, and bends to place his lips near mine.... I think how angry Hillary would be if she found out, and how terrible I would feel—hurting her like that."

  • One woman imagined the president giving her a neck massage. "Usually my dreams are more abstract," she said. "But my neck felt better."

A Washington state transsexual was turned down in his challenge to the dress code of his employer, Boeing. Under the company's code, either gender may wear lipstick, pantyhose, earrings, foundation makeup, slacks, blouses, sweaters, flat shoes, and clear nail polish; however, the man wanted also to wear a pink pearl necklace.

A handbill distributed at California State University, San Marcos:

The newest public university
in the United States,
California State University, San Marcos
announces a
Call for Papers and Performances
for a conference on
"Rage Across the Disciplines"
to be held at
CSU San Marcos on
June 11-12, 1993.

Papers and performances
are welcomed in all disciplines in the
humanities and social sciences.
The topics of AIDS or gay rage,
women's rage, the rage of
ethnic minorities or working class rage
particularly are encouraged.

As part of its efforts to identify various issues and problems, the federal government spends roughly $150 million each year to fund 700 nonstatutory federal advisory commissions. One such commission is the U.S. Board of Tea Experts, including a $68,000-a-year executive secretary position responsible for sampling cups of tea. There's also the Advisory Panel for Animal Learning and Behavior, the Advisory Panel for the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, and the Weather and Climate Coordinating Committee.


A government biologist who was eligible for retirement filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and was reinstated to his position despite the fact that he was taking four months to complete tasks performed in two days by his colleagues. It was determined that his supervisors had failed to define the term "too slow" for him.

Martha Sherrill in the Washington Post, May 4, 1993:
It just happened, slipped out—from deep inside of her—in a quiet but stunning way. It was April and her father was dying in the hospital and Hillary Rodham Clinton was standing at a lectern in Austin: "We need a new politics of meaning," she said. People wondered what to make of this at first. Maybe they still wonder what to make of it. But there in Texas, she finally revealed the biggest piece of herself yet, just said it: In the midst of redesigning America's health care system and replacing Madonna as our leading cult figure, the new First Lady has already begun working on her next project, far more metaphysical and uplifting.

"It's not going to be easy," she said.


"It's not going to be easy," she said, "redefining who we are as human beings in this postmodern age."...

She is both impersonal and poignant, with much more depth, intellect and spirituality than we are used to in a politician... She has goals, but they appear to be so huge and far off—grand and noble things twinkling in the distance—that it's hard to see what she sees.

...and this is Ms. Sherrill in the same publication, two days later:

Way in the future, when she's old and probably legendary, Hillary Clinton wants to be able to look back and feel she led "an integrated life," she says, sitting in her West Wing office last week. She wants to have felt unified, whole. She wants her emotional life and physical life, her spiritual life and political life all to fit together, in sync, an orchestra sitting down to play the same song.

Convicted serial killer Randy Kraft filed a $60 million lawsuit against Warner Books and author Dennis McDougal, arguing that their book Angel of Darkness defamed him. Kraft, who is on death row for the sexual torture-murder of 16 men, said the book is unfair in its portrayal of him as a "sick, twisted" man.

Abigail Trafford in the Washington Post Health Supplement, March 3, 1993:
Debbie, Diane, Janet. What do these women have in common?

Answer: They all turned to doctors to help them die...

But why are there so many women on the list of patients who made medical history with their dying? Where are the examples of Tom, Dick, and Harry in the debate on assisted suicide?

The numbers are still too small to be statistically valid, but as JAMA editor George D. Lundberg points out: "There is a pattern that's beginning to emerge."...

The apparent gender gap in physician-assisted suicides can also be explained by the differences between men and women in the methods they choose to kill themselves. "Men's methods are active and physical," says JAMA editor Lundberg, a forensic pathologist. They commit suicide by gunshot, hanging or jumping off a bridge. They also kill themselves four times more frequently than women. "Women's methods are more passive," he says. They use drugs, which usually require a doctor's prescription.

But there could be other factors at work. The shortage of men on the list may reflect a more subtle and inherent form of sexism in medicine. Lundberg suggests that male patients may also ask physicians to help them die, but doctors are more comfortable writing about women who seek help because it fits the profession's stereotype of the weak, needy patient-female. Given the paternalism of the medical establishment, "men would be more likely to describe a woman requesting assistance than other men," says Lundberg.

Undoubtedly there have been Daves, Dicks and Johns, but it fits cultural stereotyping to publicize Debbie, Diane and Janet.

When the Stanford Irish American Student Association formed to demand a special curriculum devoted to the Irish experience in America, the issue caused a schism among editors of the Stanford Daily, resulting in unusual side-by-side editorials, each argued consistently from multicultural principles as each faction understood them.

Susan Margolis in the San Francisco Chronicle, March 1, 1993:
Remember, near the end of Casablanca, when Ingrid Bergman and her husband ask Humphrey Bogart to give them exit visas so they can escape to safety and keep working to defeat the Nazis?

...Right now, according to recent polls, three quarters of Americans are Ingrid Bergman and her husband. We've all got our personal fights and fortunes to consider, but Bill Clinton, our Bogart, holds everybody's exit visas—his economic plan—which could free us from dictatorship of the deficit and possibly lead to a happy ending...

Maybe, just maybe, Clinton is everything he seems to be: a man disciplined and smart enough to have figured out what he thinks will work and strong enough to be able to take that plan to the people and admit that without their support, he'll fail. In other words, a man comfortable enough with his own power to share his power with the rest of us.

But is he powerful enough to overcome our cynicism? It will be tempting for us to adopt Russ [sic] Limbaugh's glibness, focusing on what's wrong with him and how we don't like the way his plan will touch our lives. Or we can take that leap of faith.

Remember how Casablanca ends? Bogart's power over Bergman and her husband ennobles him. He surprises everybody by deciding to send them off together. He even recommits himself to fighting the good fight. And why? Because as he says at the movie's end, otherwise, his life doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Well, we're living in the '90s and not the '40s. Clinton is Bogart, minus the cigaret and trench coat. Times have changed, styles have changed. But only one man holds the exit visas. And unless we're willing to sacrifice, his presidency won't amount to a hill of beans.