An Inclusive Litany


In a letter to Jack Draper, owner of Crazy Larry's Waterbeds in Evansville, Indiana, Richard Allen, community services director at Evansville State Hospital, complained of the use of words such as "nuts" or "crazy" in advertising because they are offensive to the mentally ill and their families. "Unfortunately, people who suffer from a mental illness face undue discrimination, are made fun of and generally stigmatized simply because they have a disease society doesn't tolerate well or doesn't fully understand," Allen wrote. "May I suggest some sensitivity for Americans who have a mental illness?"

John Roberts on the "CBS Evening News," May 30, 1994:
With the Memorial Day weekend, you've been hearing plenty of stories about summertime health hazards to watch out for in the weeks ahead. Some of those hazards, though, may be less obvious than others. For example, a day at the golf course. There's fun, sun, exercise, and nature—and just maybe, a toxic cocktail right under your nose. If you took all the golf courses in all the land and put them together they would equal the size of Delaware and Rhode Island. But the chemicals needed to tend those 3000 square miles of grass are raising fears the links may be lethal.


The Northern Express:
The House Appropriations Committee's report accompanying the 1994 defense appropriations bill directed the Defense Department "to increase its purchases of Jumbo, Colossal, [and] Super Colossal ripe olives in future solicitations of olive purchases."

Approximately 20 deaf protesters demonstrated in front of Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario against the use of bionic ear implants for children. Their argument is that the implant, in reducing or eliminating deafness, robs children of the right to be part of deaf culture. Protester Regent Gendron was quoted as signing, "I've grown up being deaf, and I haven't missed anything."

The following questions appeared on a sixth-grade math test given to thirty students at Horatio N. May Elementary School in Chicago:

  • "Raoul is in prison for six years for murder. He got $10,000 for the hit. If his common-law wife is spending $100 per month, how much money will be left when he gets out of prison and how many years will he get for killing the bitch that spent his money?"

  • "Jose has 2 ounces of cocaine and he sells an 8-ball to Jackson for $320, and 2 grams to Billy Joe for $85 per gram. What is the street value of the balance if he doesn't cut it?"

  • "Johnny has an AK-47 with a 40-round clip. If he misses six out of 10 shots and shoots 13 times at each drive-by shooting, how many drive-by shootings can he attend before he has to reload?"

  • "Rufus is pimping three girls. If the price is $65 for each trick, how many tricks will each girl have to turn before Rufus can pay for his $800-a-day crack habit?"

  • "If the Crips are driving a car at 65 m.p.h. towards the Bloods, who are driving a car in the opposite direction at 40 m.p.h., how many shots will the Crips and Bloods exchange before their assault weapons jam?"

Parents say first-year teacher, Charles Routen, 45, should be fired. The school's 11-member Local School Council voted to dismiss Routen, but Board of Education spokeswoman Lauri Sanders said only the board has that authority.

Teachers say the test sounds like a parody that has been circulating among educators for months. "I don't think anyone really took it seriously," said Russ White, superintendent of schools in Wilmington. But, White added, "I can't imagine a teacher actually giving it to a class." Charles Johnson of the Chicago Associated Press opined, "He was obviously rather incompetent."

Cynthia Bailey, whose son is in the class, said Routen admits making a mistake and has offered to quit. "He went on to say that he felt that maybe this was the only way he could relate to the children," she said.

"I don't see anything wrong with the test," said student Natasha Chambers, 13. "He wrote one problem [about the number of bullets in an AK-47 rifle] on the board, and then said we didn't have to take it. Most of us took it."


Kimberly Mark filed suit against Laura Davis, the author of a book she read, The Courage to Heal Workbook, claiming that the book falsely induced her to believe that she had once been molested. Specifically, she claimed that after reading the book, she came to believe that she had four hundred personalities and that she had suffered Satanic ritual abuse at the hands of her father and others, causing her to falsely accuse innocent people of abusing her.

According to the Sarasota, Florida, Herald Tribune, school officials in Sarasota banned a second appearance by Motown singer Smokey Robinson at a high school anti-drug rally because his first speech featured a few references to how religion and God had improved his life. "We respect his belief but it's not something we can allow other students to hear and be a party to," said Mary Watts, assistant superintendent of Sarasota School District.

After Colin Ferguson opened fire on a carload of Long Island Railroad passengers, killing six people, attorney William Kunstler prepared an insanity defense that featured "black rage" as the reason for Ferguson's diminished capacity. Ferguson had left behind a note, which displayed clear hatred of white people. When informed that Ferguson came from an upper-middle-class Jamaican family and did not suffer any discrimination himself, Kunstler identified the overall history of slavery as the culprit, rather than any specific indignity Ferguson may have experienced.

Even Colin Ferguson was not impressed with the strategy. In a series of letters to the Nassau County Court written several months after the crime took place, Ferguson complains that "The 'black rage' defense is nothing more than Kunstler and Kuby [a second attorney] satisfying their own dishonest political agenda. They don't want to try the case on the facts."

Ferguson was later judged mentally competent to represent himself in his own trial, at which he attempted to subpoena President Clinton and also contended that another passenger did the shooting after stealing the automatic weapon the dozing Ferguson happened to be carrying in a bag.

In an Associated Press interview, Ferguson denied he was a racist. "[Racism] destroys the very fiber of your being, any kind of hate based on race," he said. "We can always absorb disagreement without inflicting wounds on anyone."

After conducting research on cow flatulence, The Environmental Protection Agency has now granted Utah State University half a million dollars to determine how much methane is released into the atmosphere when cows burp. The study will help determine how much this burping contributes to global warming.


The Chicago Tribune:
A Scottish bank which provides photo IDs for check-cashing ... offers transvestites two, one showing them dressed as a man, the other as a woman.

The London Observer:
The European Community has ruled that stale bread is "waste," and that it therefore cannot be fed to swans without a $3,000 license.

A 17-year-old senior at El Capitan High School in San Diego showed up for classes one day with a gun in his car and parked the car in the school parking lot, which would normally be grounds for expulsion. But lawyers for the student argued that the boy suffers from "attention deficit disorder," which may have caused him to "forget" that he had a gun in his car. Since federal courts have ruled that a student cannot be expelled for problems caused by a disability, the student must be allowed to attend special education classes while his case is under appeal. School officials said the incident was the first they had heard of the boy's disability.

In an article for the New York Law Journal, attorney Elliott Silverman and psychiatrist Stephen Coleman argue that one's failure to file income tax forms may be due to a form of procrastination syndrome. "Failure to file is a crime only if done 'willfully,' i.e., with the specific intent to violate the law. Accordingly, evidence that a failure to file is the result of mental illness, rather than an intent to disobey the law—assuming, of course, that the evidence is accepted by the jury—is a valid defense to a prosecution for a failure to file, even if the mental illness does not rise to the level necessary to support an insanity defense." Coleman comments that the patients he studied "share a common personality type called obsessive compulsive. They are often highly ambitious, competitive, hard-working, perfectionistic, hypercritical, detail-oriented people. They tend to procrastinate, have an inability delegate and lack the ability to relax easily."


The Student Lawyer:
West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Richard Neely advertised for a law clerk "capable of applying feminist criticism, Critical Legal Studies' technique, and structuralist and deconstructionist textual theory to workers' compensation statutes and Article 9 of the U.C.C." He received numerous applications.

A jury in Napa, California, awarded $500,000 in damages to former winery executive Gary Ramora who had accused his daughter's therapists of implanting "memories" of childhood incest into her mind.

Florida State placekicker Scott Bentley says he wanted to protect himself from potential charges of date rape when he secretly videotaped a sexual encounter he had with a woman. After she found out about this, Bentley pleaded no contest to illegally recording the encounter. He also admitted showing the tape to three friends so that they would be witnesses to the fact the sex was consensual. Bentley was fined $500 and sentenced to 40 hours on a road crew.


From a news briefing by Christine Shelly, the State Department's deputy spokesman, to a reporter who asked whether there had been a "clear statement of [the administration's] policy on settlements in the occupied territories." Shelly's response appeared in the Washington Post, March 14, 1994:
Well, I think our position on settlements is well known. It certainly comes up from time to time in the context of, you know, testimony and other things. We do—the briefers—also, from time to time, get those questions as well. As to—you know, nothing has changed on that in terms of our position and, you know, I think it's—you know, I can refer you to, you know, to probably previous statements by officials on that. But I don't have anything—you know, I mean, you know, our—I think—I don't have—you know, I—we—usually we try to have, you know, a little bit of something on that. I'm not sure that it's going to be, you know, specifically what you're looking for. You know, generally speaking, our position on the settlements is that it's the Palestinians and Israelis have agreed that the final status negotiations will cover these issues and, you know, that's—that's also our view.

The National Endowment for the Arts funded a March 5, 1994, performance of Ron Athey at the Fifth Annual Minneapolis/St. Paul Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Film Festival. Athey's performance, as described by Mary Abbe of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, caused one member of the audience to pass out: "Athey, who has AIDS, pierced various parts of his body with hypodermic and acupuncture needles, sliced a design into the back of fellow performer Darryl Carlton, passed bloodstained towels over the audience on clotheslines, and drummed while two female assistants danced until bells sewn to their skin broke free and blood oozed out." At one point in the show, Athey pierced his head with acupuncture needles and wrapped a wire around them to create a "crown of thorns," to signify that homosexuals and AIDS victims suffer the same persecutions as did Jesus.

Many among the audience were unprepared for such a message. One spectator described a scene in which "people knocked over the chairs to get out from under the clotheslines," noting that the bloody towels appeared to be paper and "looked like they were going to drip or fall apart." However, preperformance publicity warned of "erotic torture" and "bondage and discipline technique," adding that "viewer discretion is advised."

Kathy Halbreich, director of the Walker Art Center, where the performance was held, defended Athey's show. "You can describe any action out of context and make it seem sensational and without meaning," she said. Rich Danilla, supervisor of AIDS epidemiology at the Minneapolis County Health Department, added that there "would be no risk unless the cloth was dripping with blood and then dripped into your eye or mouth." As for Athey himself, he calls the reaction further proof that society is "extremely homophobic" and "extremely AIDS-phobic."

[Ed.: Athey, who has metal bolts in his nipples, commented on other forms of piercing, "I don't like d*** piercings too much, because if you're giving head to people who have them, the metal bangs against the back of your throat."]

A disabled woman sued a ski resort because it did not provide wheelchair access to the highest slopes so that she could enjoy the view.


Newsweek Senior Editor Joe Klein on "Face the Nation," commenting on sexual harassment allegations made against President Bill Clinton, May 8, 1994:
Are we in an era of government by Geraldo? Have we created an atmosphere where no one with any interesting aspects of their past is going to want to get involved in politics? Are we going to look back on this time 100 years from now the way we look back on Salem? ... We're going to wind up with government by goody-goodies, government by people who have done nothing in their life except walk the straight and narrow, who have no creative thoughts. We're going to look back on this 100 years from now and say we drove some of our best people out of politics. In the 20th century, having an interesting sexual history is a leading indicator of success in the presidency.

[Ed.: A couple of years later, Mr. Klein became notorious for his role as author of the anonymously penned novel Primary Colors, a thinly veiled burlesque of the Clinton campaign's various foibles. Could it be that Mr. Klein has changed his mind?]


Connecticut officials have called off a guns-for-goods swap campaign. People were buying cheap handguns and immediately turning them over to police for more valuable gift coupons. One man turned in 39 Chinese-made rifles worth $70 each and received a certificate worth $100 for each, netting a profit of almost $1,200.

The New York law that mandates individuals to buckle up when in automobiles, moving or not, has now been applied against lovers in parked cars—doing everything but wearing their seat belts.

Ingrid Newkirk, chairwoman of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, denounced mass murderer John Wayne Gacy, who was scheduled to be executed the following week. Rather than comment on Gacy's murder of at least 33 people, she focused on the fried chicken Gacy had ordered for his last meal:
We understand things when they occur to us—we don't want to be killed, but then we require somebody else to lose their life for nothing more fleeting than a taste....

It's a cut and dried issue in the case of animals killed for the table—it's just a habit, and we don't need them and we don't have to take their lives. We don't have to cut their lives short, and so that's something that everybody should be able to agree on. The only reason people don't is because they have a taste for meat.


ABC World News Tonight reported that a federal program that grants monthly checks of $465 to parents who have children with disabilities was being defrauded. Some parents apparently told their kids to act crazy in school, to not answer questions, to nod off, and in general to feign Attention Deficit Disorder. The child would then simply have to blow up uncontrollably in an interview, and his parents would then get $465 a month.


In the last decade, Ronald Williams claims that Revlon's Flex hair conditioner burned his head, glass in a container of Dannon yogurt cut his mouth and paralyzed his lip, a Magnavox television set caught fire and burned his clothes, a can of Rise shaving cream exploded in his face, and a Nuprin pain reliever damaged his liver and left him in a coma.

Luckily for those companies, U.S. District Judge John S. Martin Jr. wasn't having any of it. According to the New York Times, the judge considered Williams's credentials—the plaintiff is serving two life terms plus 200 years for killing a West Virginia police officer in 1975 and a West Virginia state trooper in 1979—and the fact that Williams failed to present any evidence of his claims. Martin then dismissed the complaints.

Upon hearing Martin's decision, Williams vowed to file two new lawsuits, for unspecified reasons, against Reebok and Chase Mart.


From the official transcript of the first-ever on-line White House news conference, held in January 1994 by Vice President Al Gore over the CompuServe network. Three hundred computer users took part in the forty-five minute conversation, which was moderated by Bill Allman, a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report. Gore first appears on page sixteen of the transcript:

(Ricardo Bunge) Mr. Allman, I'm not seeing anything I type...
(Jim Casey) Thx.
(Larry H. Lewis) is this working?
(John C. Burns) why am I not posting
(Rebecca Winters) Oh, now it is.
(Annette Leonard) isthis working?
(Zach) Can everybody hear/see me all right?
(Josh Harris) buffer
(Byron Odwazny) hello/status
(Jim Casey) Yes zach
(Zach) Thanks.
(Ben Huntoon) implementation of Internet technology among
(Ben Huntoon) wealthy and poor school districts?
(STEVEN R. KOSS) should I see my # and name after hitting return?
(Hugh McArthur) ??
(Jim Casey) Steven: No.
(Sara Arnold) Hi.
(Betty Knight) This is a test
(Dion Douglas) No name will be returned after typing words
(george smart) this thing is going very fast
(Hugh McArthur) \test
(lou) buffer hellocan y
(Martin Vasko) josh...yes
(Alex Calvo) Bill, I feel I must apologize for all of us...
(Zach) So, Mr. Allman, how did you get him to agree to do this conference?
(Amy Harmon) hi
(Paul De Groot/Canad) [D
(Paul De Groot/Canad) [D
(Arthur Goldstein) Hello
(Robert Pellegrini) hello, is the VP there yet???
(mike powers) Annette: DOn't KNow
(Betty Knight) Hi
(Al) Hi
(jacqueline a close) hello
(Susan Finster) A transcript of the conference will be available in the US News Forum.
(george smart) Please anyone — confirm you wee me
(Larry H. Lewis) Do we have to ask superhighway questions?
(Edward Felker) [~[v:~rq
(John C. Burns) \/buffer
(deibert) hi everybody
(Bill Allman/US News) the moderator this afternoon. Vice President
(Bill Allman/US News) Gore will join us online from his office
(Bill Allman/US News) in the West Wing of the White House in a
(Chrysanne Poole) 0//send hello
(Bill Allman/US News) "question" [/question], which will put you in
(Bill Allman/US News) the question queue. When you get the message
(Bill Allman/US News) that it is your turn to ask a question,
(Bill Allman/US News) please begin by telling us where you are
(Bill Allman/US News) from. It is not necessary to state your
(Josh Harris) How does this conference work?
(Gary E. Hogsten) Hello from hellohello
(Bill Allman/US News) name, as this appears automatically. You
(Jonathan Fligner) Hi Bill
(Bill Allman/US News) should keep your question as short as
(Bill Allman/US News) characters long — followed by carriage
(Bill Allman/US News) be online shortly. This conference is also
(Bill Allman/US News) being broadcast live on C-SPAN cable television.
(Bill Allman/US News) Thank you.
(rivi) S5iG>U | 3#R(iLejC63

Selections from the Dictionary of Cautionary Words and Phrases, published as part of the Multicultural Management Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia's School of Journalism, "dedicated to turning today's journalists into tomorrow's multicultural newsroom managers":
Can be considered offensive when referring to a minority, particularly a black person, and his or her ability to handle the English language. The usage suggests that "those people" are not considered well-educated, articulate, and the like.

A negative generalization of persons without morals and/or ethical standards or judgements. Many times directed at forceful women. Do not use.

Implies a monolithic culture in which people act, think and vote in the same way. Do not use, as in Asian, Hispanic, black or gay community. Be more specific as to what the group is: e.g. Black residents in a north side neighborhood.

A term of endearment objectionable to some. Usage such as "He was a dear man" or "She is a dear" should be avoided.

Dutch treat
To share the cost, as in a date. Implies that Dutch people are cheap.

Fried chicken
A loaded phrase when used carelessly and as a stereotype, referring to the cuisine of black people. Also applies to watermelon.

Ghetto blaster
A large portable stereo popular with all youth. Offensive because it is culture specific and stereotypical. Use portable stereo or boom box.

Golden years
Avoid, as this characterizes people's later years as uniformly idyllic.

An Italian first name offensive when used to denote membership in the Mafia. Also used as a description of street punks.

A gay young urban professional. The generic term is Yuppie, which, if used, refers to all young urban professionals.

An offensive term meaning to cheat, derived from gypsy.

A derogatory term for those of the Jewish faith. Avoid this and any other derogatory term for jews.

[Ed.: Jesse Jackson, take note.]

Illegal Alien
Often used to refer to Mexicans and Latin Americans believed to be in the United States without visas; the preferred term is undocumented worker or undocumented resident.

Refers to people of the Jewish faith. Some people find use of Jew alone offensive and prefer Jewish person. Not a synonym for stingy. Always used as a noun, never a verb.

[Ed.: Michael Jackson, take note.]

Mafia, Mafiosi
A secret society of criminals and its members. Do not use as a synonym for "organized crime" or the "underworld."

Peg leg
Use prosthesis or artificial limb. Also avoid hook.

As in public housing project, has come to denote race. Use public housing development or subsidized housing.

Qualified minorities
Do not use in stories about affirmative action. Unnecessary description that indicates minorities are generally unqualified.

Rubbing noses
Allegedly an Eskimo kiss. However, Eskimos don't rub noses and object to the characterization. Do not use.

Senior citizens
Do not use for anyone under 65. In general, avoid ageism by giving ages where relevant. Do not describe people as elderly, senile, matronly or well-preserved. Also do not identify people as grandparents unless it is relevant to the story. Do not use dirty old man, codger, coot, geezer, silver fox, old-timers, Pop, old buzzard. Blue-haired is objectionable when used to characterize older people.

A guttural sound used to mimic American Indian speech. Highly offensive. See "American Indian."

Uncle Tom
Refers to a black person who allegedly has abandoned his/her culture. Objectionable because no person or group can appropriately attach judgmental terms to others. Just as objectionable: Banana when referring to Asian-Americans who have allegedly abandoned their culture, Coconut for Mexican-Americans and Oreo for black Americans.

Refers to those who mimic a style or behavior of another group or want to be a member of another group. Use advisedly. For instance, a person dressed in red or blue isn't necessarily a wannabe Blood or Crip gang member. Nor is the person necessarily a gang member. Also use the term gang member advisedly for the same reasons.

Without rhythm
A stereotype about whites. Implies that others have rhythm, also a stereotype.

the preferred term for a female adult. Girl is appropriate only for those 17 years old and under. Avoid gal and lady. Also avoid derogatory terms for women, such as skirt, broad, chick, bimbo, babe, ball and chain, and little woman. Also avoid adjectives describing female physical attributes and mannerisms such as pert, petite, foxy, buxom, fragile, feminine, stunning, gorgeous, statuesque, or full-figured.