An Inclusive Litany


"CBS This Morning" co-host Paula Zahn, referring to Dan Rather as he reported live from Wilmington, North Carolina on August 30, 1993, as Hurricane Emily approached:
Harry, I don't want to take away from the severity of what you two were talking about, but please pass along to Dan he looks great in his jeans today.

Prompted by racial and ethnic violence directed against grocers in various cities, the city of Chicago proposed that grocers be required to pay a $20 fee for a sensitivity training course at a local college that would include lectures on "Valuing Diversity in Chicago," "Chicago—Who Lives Here and How Do We All Get Along" and "Good Customer Service Is Good Business." According to Alderman Eugene Shulter, "Some of these businessmen need to have a greater understanding of the cultural differences in our great city, and have a greater appreciation of them."

Philip Fazio, president of the Illinois Food Retail Merchants Association, criticized the proposal and told the Chicago Tribune that the public hearing on the issue occurred without the knowledge of any grocers he knew of. "These regulations are silly," he said. "If you don't treat your customers well, you won't be in business. But telling people to go to school is ridiculous." The city eventually abandoned its plans as "too ambitious," but Shulter said there were now plans to put together a video of the course that would be broadcast over cable television and be available for rent. "We want to help these businessmen help themselves," he said.


In California, Philip Hart has sued Cult Awareness Network, an organization that tracks religious cults and provides support for former cult members, for discrimination. He claims that he wasn't allowed to join because he is a practicing scientologist.

Officials in Encinitas, California, confronting the problem of beach erosion, said they were considering replacing lost sand with ground glass.

In August 1993, Seal Beach, California, ordered a homeowner to remove a six-foot dome atop his house, even though the city's planning department had explicitly approved the house and dome design three years earlier. (The homeowner had built the dome so that his children could learn about astronomy.) The city council ordered the destruction of the dome in part because it did not comply with zoning rules enacted after the dome's construction. The owner estimated that removing the dome would cost him $13,000.


New York City has announced that anyone with a college degree applying for the jobs of staff analyst or caseworker will automatically get 70 bonus points on the civil-service exam and that anyone with any degree of experience will get 30 more. Seventy is passing, and 100 is the maximum score on the exam.

After the Christian Action Network sponsored an exhibit of NEA art in the Capitol, featuring tax-subsidized artists such as Joel-Peter Witkin and his photograph "Testicle Stretch with the Possibility of a Crushed Face," House Speaker Tom Foley sent uniformed guards to dismantle it after having been open for fifteen minutes.

Witkin, who uses corpses as his medium, has also displayed "still lifes" of a head on a plate as a vase containing a flower arrangement and a dead baby surrounded by grapes. Another of Witkin's photographs, "Le Baiser" ("The Kiss"), featured an old man's head that had been cut into left and right halves. The two halves were then turned together so they touched and photographed to appear as though they were kissing.

Witkin's corpses were acquired—it's unclear exactly how—from the anatomy department of the University of New Mexico Medical School. Upon learning of his activities, University officials dissociated themselves from Witkin, who then looked south to Mexico to purchase the corpses—not exactly what NAFTA supporters had in mind.

[Ed.: Sculptor Anthony-Noel Kelly was arrested in London in April, 1997, for assembling a thoroughly derivative work involving 30 human body parts that may have been obtained illegally.]

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, poet and men's-movement pioneer Robert Bly asserted that if the U.S. followed the example of the ancient Mayans in Guatemala, no controversy would surround the issue of the ban on gays in the military. The highland Mayans, he said, recognized four stages for the growth of men—the boy, the warrior, the community man and the "echo" man stages. The warrior is "not considered a complete male." Only after being a community man, whose job is to take care of widows and orphans, can one attain echoness. An "echo" is "not exactly a man or a woman but a person who hears."

Senator Sam Nunn, Bly declared, seems "caught in an incomplete warrior phase, oppositional and polarized." Because the military establishment, which is likewise stuck in the warrior stage, wants "all shining of the feminine in the soldier to be invisible," Bly concluded that the new "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards gays "may quiet some of the fears of the soldiers just reaching warrior state; it saves them from daily reminders of their fragility."

Besides the Mayans, Bly mentioned three Americans who achieved "echo" status: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. President Clinton "floats somewhere between the warrior and the community man; he isn't secure in either, but he could fight harder for the community." Bly concluded that "the process of male development must not rest solely in the mentality of warriors" such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Joint Chiefs, he commented, keep themselves from imagining a wider vision in which "we can bless the warriors, as well as the gay men and women, and keep the sad and echoing face of Lincoln before us."

Letter to the editor, San Francisco Chronicle, June 1, 1993:
On a false spring day months ago, I bought a pair of sandals. They were made of richly polished, smooth leather and reasonably priced. Best of all, they were comfortable and an ideal accessory for the months ahead.

But the weather turned cold again and the sandals languished in their box until I, the ultimate shopper, contemplated returning them. Summer seemed so far away.

But by late April, winter had passed, and it was definitely time to take the sandals out and wear them. As I unwrapped the tissue paper, I suddenly noticed the stamp on the soles: "Made in Bosnia."

I stared in disbelief. Could there really be factories in that distant land where shoes were being made while anarchy reigned? And could I, in good faith, wear them?

Which side of the conflict would I be supporting by my action? What had happened to the factory and the people who worked there?

I didn't wear the shoes. I can't. They're back in their box, in my closet, waiting. For what? I don't know.

In 1986, developer David Lucas paid more than $900,000 for two South Carolina waterfront lots, planning to build a house for his family on one lot, and a house to sell on another. Eighteen months later, the South Carolina General Assembly passed the Beachfront Management Act, prohibiting development past a certain setback line, and effectively making his property worth less than nothing, since he still had to pay taxes and insurance on it.

After exhausting his bureaucratic options, he took the South Carolina Coastal Council to court for compensation. A state trial court ruled in his favor and awarded him $1.2 million, but he lost on appeal in the state Supreme Court. He appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, he prevailed in what is widely regarded as one of the most important Supreme Court decisions of the century, extending Fifth Amendment "Takings" clause protection to property owners whose land has been devalued as a result of government regulations. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the South Carolina Supreme Court for the calculation of damages, and Lucas decided to settle for $1.5 million to cover the cost of the two lots and to pay his bankers and lawyers.

Once in possession of the lots, the Coastal Council's views changed. After nearly five years of legal combat, the council said it really doesn't make sense to maintain the lots as "open space" or "erosion control." The lots are surrounded by other houses, a spokesman for the council explained, and the beach is private. In order to recoup the $1.5 million awarded to Lucas, some of which came from the council's budget, the council plans to sell the lots—for development.


The jury of a two-day mock trial organized in New York by the American Bar Association found Julius and Ethel Rosenberg not guilty of plotting to supply U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, a charge for which the pair was convicted in 1951 and executed in 1953.

The trial used a real set of lawyers, judge and jury, but the Rosenbergs were played by actors who, in their roles, emphatically denied committing espionage or even of belonging to the Communist Party. The real Rosenbergs took the Fifth Amendment on those questions. One juror said her own decision to acquit the pair was based on emotional testimony from the actress who played Ethel Rosenberg. When asked whether she was a spy, the actress insisted: "Absolutely not, on my oath. I am a mother, not a spy." The real Ethel Rosenberg gave no such testimony, and she was convicted in part because her own brother, David Greenglass—a machinist at the bomb project at Los Alamos, New Mexico—testified that the Rosenbergs recruited him to provide sketches of the bomb.

ABA organizers pointed out that the event not only served as a recreation of the famous 1951 trial, it showed what might have happened if the couple had been tried under today's legal standards. Some testimony allowed in 1951 was barred during the two-day mock trial because of changes in constitutional standards. For example, prosecutors now could not point out that Ethel Rosenberg pleaded the Fifth Amendment rather than tell a federal grand jury whether she had ever met admitted spy courier Harry Gold.

[Ed.: Enough, already! Even Alan Dershowitz believes the Rosenbergs were guilty of committing espionage!]

In Arizona, local authorities are insisting that Maricopa County's Little County Church pave their parking lot, or face closure. The tiny Baptist congregation, which comprises only three families, voted to shut down the church rather than pay $16,000 to pave the lot. Minister Michael Fahrer points out that the county roads leading to the church are not paved, either. "It's absolute lunacy... We asked the county, 'When are you going to [pave the roads]?' And they said, 'Well, we can't afford it.' " Part of the $16,000 cost consisted of complying with environmental regulations, which require a flood control plan, including a water runoff and flood ditch. "This is in the middle of the desert," he says. "They also insisted [upon] enough space for 19 cars despite the fact that we only have 16 people. Now doesn't that violate all common sense?" The church will probably be converted into a store, says Fahrer, who adds that he doesn't know if the store's parking lot will be paved.

MTV created a new program called "The Real World," a real-life soap opera that documents what happens when several young men and woman live together in the same house, but the concept of reality is stretched a bit thin. The cast of characters includes an aspiring rapper, a country singer, and a stand-up comedian who, along with their multicultural friends, live in a 5,000-square-foot Venice Beach home, with a rent estimated by the Los Angeles Times at $5,000 a month. The house includes $100,000 worth of furniture and amenities, including a $2,800 pool table, a $1,200 saltwater aquarium, and a $6,395 hot tub. MTV also hired a muralist at $400 a day to create a Matisse-like ambiance. Each member of the household received a $300-a-month stipend just for being there.

After the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin changed the nicknames of their athletic teams so that they did not refer to Native Americans but rather to burrowing rodents, both universities announced that they would no longer compete against universities sporting "offensive" monikers.


In New York, state Assemblyman Daniel Feldman has called for a new law banning discrimination against people based on their weight or their height. Feldman was moved to introduce the bill based on complaints from fat women that they are discriminated against in employment and harassed on buses by fellow passengers. Some fat people, Feldman said, even complained that their doctors had blamed their obesity for various health problems they suffered and told them to lose weight.

Howard Fineman and Eleanor Clift in Newsweek, August 9, 1993:
Clinton is giving the best evidence yet of his approach to leadership. It's about understanding, not threats; accommodation, not confrontation; about getting people (at least Democrats) to sing the same song. The style is reminiscent of another patient, nonjudgemental figure given to hugging in public: Barney the Dinosaur.

A painting of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington dressed in women's underwear was forcibly removed from its exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago by several city aldermen. Acting in their defense, Lewis Myers Jr., now deputy director of the NAACP, argued that removing the painting did not violate the artist's First Amendment rights but rather benefitted him by publicizing his work and allowing him to reach "not hundreds, but millions of people."

After local news stories featured 15-year-old Monique Landers of Wichita, Kansas, who ran a small business in which her friends would pay her $15 for a three-hour hair-braiding session, angry hair professionals complained to the State Board of Cosmetology—you need a license if you accept money for touching hair. The board notified Landers that unless she immediately ceased her braiding, she would face 90 days in jail.

In a meeting at a Tampa, Florida, church, representatives of the Union of Independent [Ku Klux] Klansmen and the all-black Pan-African Inter-National Movement vowed to work together to create an independent African nation for African-Americans. The groups agree that integration in the United States is impractical and that relocation payments should be made to African-Americans as restitution for historical oppression.

Following gunman Gian Luigi Ferri's rampage through the San Francisco law offices of Pettit & Martin, in which the disgruntled former client killed eight people and wounded six before killing himself, California Bar Association president Harvey Saferstein called for an end to lawyer jokes. "There's a point at which jokes and humor are acceptable and a point at which they become nothing more than hate speech." Although Saferstein conceded that no direct link between lawyer jokes and violence towards lawyers has ever been established, he said jokes "could have an effect upon a fringe case" such as Ferri. Saferstein vowed that the Bar Association will fight antilawyer sentiment, and he called on California Governor Pete Wilson to pass legislation giving lawyers the same protection afforded to minorities. He compared lawyer jokes to racist humor, saying both target a specific class of people.


Organizers of "religion week" at George Washington University are reported to be a little mystified and disappointed that the event was so sparsely attended. Only twelve students showed up for one night's interreligious symposium on "responses to homosexuality." Another event was a musical theater adaptation of the Garden of Eden, "Guarding the Garden: An Eco-Feminist Portrayal of Genesis." The week also featured an environmental seder, and concluded with a screening of the Monty Python film, The Life of Brian, which many Christians regard as blasphemous. The week was sponsored by various groups, including Hillel, the Ecumenical Christian Ministry, Students for Environmental Action, Wimmin's Issues Now, and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance.

The Hon. Barney Frank (D-MA), in The Congressional Record, May 27, 1993:
Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot about the gag rule. Well, I was reading a book the other day about how things are done, and it talked about how to become a sword swallower. You have to learn how to master your gag reflex and suppress it.

But my colleagues on the other side have gone it one better: they have a gag reflex they can turn on and off. Sometimes, they can swallow easily, sometimes they cannot.

Anita Hill, in a speech at a Georgetown University Law School conference on "Race, Gender and Power in America," analyzing her role in the Clarence Thomas confirmation controversy:
Because I and my reality did not comport with what they accepted as their reality, I and my reality had to be reconstructed by the Senate committee members.


In Teheran, Iran, morals police began a crackdown against infractions of the Islamic dress code by arresting over 800 women for wearing sunglasses.

After Okamoto Industries, a Japanese company, won a three-year contract to supply Michigan public health clinics with condoms, users complained that the condoms were too small, break easily, and come in only one color, blue. Republican State Rep. Beverly Bodem also complained about the impact on domestic industries. "She felt that if the state is going to purchase products for use, they should be from the state of Michigan," said Bodem spokesman Chris Higgins, "or at least from the U.S."

Sgt. Robert Guidara, a supervisor in the Tampa Police Department's antidrug department, has come under criticism because city records indicate he is Hispanic although he was born in Rome to Italian parents. Despite the perception that Guidara opted for the classification in order to increase his opportunities for promotion, Guidara thinks he is being unfairly criticized, telling the Tampa Tribune that the city's public relations department initiated the switch in order to look good statistically. "Through their own recruitment effort, I agreed to it."

According to federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, an individual's race or ethnicity is not a matter of blood: "An employee can be included in a group [to] which he or she appears to belong, identifies with or is regarded in the community as belonging," despite any "anthropological origins." Because Guidara's wife is Hispanic, he sees his transformation, which happened shortly before he was promoted to sergeant in 1989, as falling within legal bounds. Phil Goldman, an EEOC official in Florida, told the Tribune that it would be "totally inappropriate" for the city to persuade an employee to change his ethnicity. The sergeant himself is even more adamant: "I am proud of who I am and of my selected ethnic affiliation." To prove this, Guidara went so far as to enroll in a conversational Spanish course.

[Ed.: Transmigration of racial categories can be thought of as a creative market response to the distortion introduced by affirmative action.]

Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR), in a letter to his Jewish constituents, "felt so swept up in the legitimacy of Israel's cause" that he apparently forgot that he was not himself Jewish. In the January 1992 letter, he wrote: "You and I must help Israel resist pressure to trade our historic Jewish homeland for Arab promises... Only during the diaspora, when we were dispersed to other homelands, did the Jewish people become a minority in our own homeland. It was not our fault that we were kicked out by the Babylonians in the 6th Century B.C., or by the Romans shortly after the start of the Christian period... And don't ever say we left voluntarily."

The University of Arizona has come under fire from environmentalists and local Indian activists over a telescope it is building. Originally, the facility was to be named after Christopher Columbus, but some people were incensed that the university would honor the man responsible for the rape of the Americas and the genocide of the red man. So officials have announced that the facility will be called the Large Binocular Telescope.

Following a Supreme Court ruling that ritual sacrifice of animals is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment, Santeria priest Rigoberta Zamora commemorated the decision by slitting the throats of 19 goats, rams, chickens and other birds in his Miami apartment. A thank-you note would have sufficed.


A sample of poetry written by federal legislators, and published in the Congressional Record:

"For Kevin"
(Sen. William Cohen, R-ME, on his son)

...I watch you turn
in the membrane
of your sleep,
a flutter of infinity
roars in my ears
but makes no sound.
I wonder
does my father
stand mute
in his flour-filled days
that shrink to their
cosmic conclusion
and hear this drip
of the universe?

"The Man Who Loved The Senate"
(Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, on the late Senator Jacob Javits)

...Born to poor
Jewish immigrants
On Manhattan's
Lower East Side,
He overcame poverty
To become,
As he was fond
Of saying,
"A Senate Man"...
The deliberative process,
The discussion,
"The finding a way,"
As he put it,
Intrigued him.
He knew well the rules
Of the Chamber,
Cherished its traditions,
Respected its moods,
He had all the qualities
Of a Senate Man...

"The Marigold"
(The late Sen. Everett Dirksen, D-IL)

...It marches through spring, summer,
And autumn until the frost of early winter
Takes its toll... robust, rugged, bright,
Stately, single-colored, and multi-colored,
Somehow able to resist the onslaughts of insects...
What a flower the marigold is.

"Hooray for the Whips"
(Rep. Major Owens, D-Brooklyn)

...Are we
PAC asses for the classes
Or strong mules for the masses
I got a whip
You got a whip
All of God's children
Got a whip
Whip for who
Whip for what
Do your duty
Please beat my butt
Whip hard
And make it pay
We need education oats
We need health care hay.