An Inclusive Litany


Former NBC News reporter Bob Herbert discusses proposed funding for midnight basketball leagues in a New York Times column, August 17, 1994:
Programs designed to aid inner city youths... are not pork.... "Pork!" scream the demagogues. "Give us the death penalty!" The next time you or a loved one find yourself trapped in the nightmare of a violent crime, ask yourself if it wouldn't have been better for the "perp" to have been off playing basketball somewhere. You may find yourself suddenly in favor of even an imperfect attempt at prevention.

In Great Britain, hard-core juvenile criminals were sent abroad with social workers, at taxpayers' expense, for such rehabilitative exercises as a boat ride on the Nile, swimming with the dolphins off Ireland, skiing in the Pyrenees, Hiking in Portugal, and bungee-jumping in Australia. Objecting to what critics referred to as "Crooks' Tours," Home Secretary Michael Howard denounced the program's administrators as "having more money than sense."

Lawyer's Weekly USA, June 6, 1994:
"I conclude that [a Postal Service supervisor] became fearful of [an employee] and believed that [he] was mentally imbalanced and capable of" violence, the court said...

The court said it would have been permissible to fire the employee "for his irascibility alone." However, the Post Office tolerated his irascibility for some time and only fired him when his boss became afraid that he was capable of a shooting spree. This was discrimination based on a perceived handicap, the court said.

Former NBC News president Michael Gartner in USA Today, September 27, 1994:
[Hillary's] role has been a success. She awakened the nation. She educated the nation. She enlightened the nation.... For when a nation gets two leaders for the price of one—a Franklin and Eleanor, a Bill and Hillary—it can tackle twice as many problems, find twice as many solutions, make twice as much progress.


At the close of the first year of the Clinton administration, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget received an envelope that was stamped SPECIAL, PRIORITY, and SPECIAL HANDLING, and that was taped shut. Inside was an envelope stamped PROPERTY OF U.S. GOVERNMENT and VIA COURIER that was taped shut. Inside that was another envelope stamped SECRET three times. Inside the final envelope was a letter from a Cabinet official concerning the appointment of an aide to become a member of the President's Management Council. The council was entrusted with implementing the administration's reinventing government plans.

As part of freshman orientation at the University of Pennsylvania, trained facilitators provide students with, as the Facilitators' Guide calls it, "examples of racial, gender-related, religious, and homophobic incidents of harassment that have taken place at the University over the past few years." The odd purpose of discussing these examples (the more serious of which are listed below) was to show incoming freshmen how pervasive discrimination was at Penn.

  1. A white student punched a black student in an elevator.
  2. "Racist and sexist slurs" were yelled at a fraternity party when "African-American strippers" had been hired to entertain the members.
  3. A lecturer "continually referred to African-American students in his class as 'ex-slaves.' "

Physics professor Michael Cohen protested that, of the three incidents, an investigation had determined that the punching incident simply did not happen. Another investigation determined that the fraternity party involved no racial slurs; the strippers were both black and white. As for the third incident, an investigation had concluded that the lecturer in question had only referred to African-Americans as "ex-slaves" once in his twenty-two years of teaching, and then only to point out that he, too, was an "ex-slave" as part of the same sentence.

Freshmen at Penn are also expected to participate in an ongoing series of seminars held inside residence halls. Among them are Cultural Perspective and Discrimination; Race and Masculinity; The Roots and Manifestations of Racism; Fear of Difference: The Importance of Racial Identity for All Students; Latinos and Bicultural Stress; Preventing Harassment: Everyone's Responsibility; Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals in Protestantism; Gays and Lesbians in the Jewish Community; Who Is a Sexual Minority?—Everyone; Liberating Women Through Religion; Violence Against Women; Acquaintance Rape: A Workshop for Men; Lies I Use to Prove my Masculinity; and The Challenge for the White Male.

When journalist Richard Bernstein visited campus, he was handed a flyer calling on Community House to observe "Gay Jeans Day" as part of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Awareness Week. The flyer was issued by Liz Golden, the program assistant for diversity education, who explained that "I have taken it upon myself to ask all people to show their support for gay civil rights by wearing jeans on March 28." (The number of students who don't wear jeans is ordinarily quite low, of course.) Golden went on, "The purpose of having an In-House version of this campuswide event is to personalize it and make it more visible both to those who do and don't support the notions of Gay pride and personal freedom." Moreover, the week after Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Awareness Week, "there will be a program to deal with what came up for House members in response to the Day. The program will be required for RA's [resident advisers], Managers and the Diversity Board Members."

What actually came up one year was several student protesters who stood near the gay and lesbian participants, and who held out a placard declaring: "Heterosexual Footwear Day—Wear Shoes if You Are a Heterosexual" and "Don't Bend for a Friend." The Penn administration put this on the list of "incidents of harassment" to be read to freshmen in years to come.

A female political science professor interviewed for the book Professing Feminism received a paper from a student consisting of a single sentence: "Freud was a cancer-ridden, cigar-smoking misogynist."

Several weeks after a forty-year-old woman was killed by a mountain lion in the Sierra Nevada mountains, a trust fund set up for the woman's two children had received $9,000, while a fund set up for the cub of the lioness, which was tracked down and killed a week after the incident, had received $21,000.

When the Board of Health of Northampton, Massachusetts, proposed a ban on roosters in residential areas because of their loud crowing early in the morning, some residents objected (half-seriously) that the ban discriminated against males because it did not include chickens.


The Detroit News:
Joanne Flynn, a former vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co., sued the company alleging that she was denied a promotion and then fired because of her gender. The person who got the promotion and who eventually booted Flynn was Doris Smith—another woman. A federal jury found the firm guilty of gender discrimination.

In Port Bolivar, Texas, Marinus Van Leuzen, a 73-year-old immigrant from Holland, decided to build his retirement home on some property he had owned for more than 20 years, less than half an acre of land. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, however, determined his property to be "wetlands," and that as part of the construction he deposited "illegal fill material" on the property—even though the Corps' authority extends only to the filling of "navigable water" of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act.

As part of the court order, Van Leuzen must post a billboard (six feet off the ground, 10 feet high, 20 feet across) announcing his crime, and must put $350 a month into a special account for eight years. At the end of this eight years the money will be used to move his house. During the intervening years Mr. Van Leuzen must also spend a significant portion of his life savings to "restore" the land to its "pre-adulterated" condition, when it was home to a muddy bait camp: a cross between a campground and a fishing bait store, complete with outdoor latrines and scattered beer cans. Most nearby residents considered the bait camp an eyesore; few, if any, regarded it as an ecologically valuable wetland.

In downtown Boise, Idaho, Hanover Construction Co. needed a permit to fill in 26 square feet of "wetland" caused by a leaking pipe. After waiting 450 days for the Army Corps of Engineers to make a decision, the company gave up and withdrew its application. The town of Tiverton, Rhode Island, had to wait nearly two years for a permit from the Corps to fill in 44 square yards of wetland for a mosquito-control project.


President Clinton's 1994 crime bill included a provision for midnight basketball leagues, which would ostensibly provide the opportunity for inner-city youths to play basketball at late hours rather than commit crimes. Asked whether he would want his own daughters up at midnight playing basketball, Vice President Gore had no comment. The provision also requires that a certain percentage of HIV-positive players be represented on each team.

[Ed.: How do you stop five black guys from robbing a store? Throw 'em a basketball. Ha, Ha, Ha! What previously was an objectionable joke is now law.]

An Arizona woman who was scalded when she spilled a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself as she held it between her legs while driving, was awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages and $160,000 in compensatory damages when she sued the corporation. An Ohio woman sued Burger King eight days later after she, too, scalded herself. She is seeking $65,000 in damages because the coffee was "too hot" and its packaging was defective.

Both companies say they serve the coffee at about 180 degrees—as opposed to the 140 degrees that is typical for home brewing—because it makes the coffee taste better. Ted Lingle, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association, suggests that warning labels are in order—that consumers can no longer be assumed to know that hot things burn.

In New York schools, $24,160 was paid for a consultant, whose expertise was in ethnic music, to evaluate a school math program. The same amount was paid for a New Jersey real estate lawyer to "coordinate community school district activities" in compliance with a federal program. Another consultant was paid $4,000 to determine whether the city's Board of Education needed a consultant. He decided that it did, and gave himself the job.

After New Yorker Alphonso Pecou hacked his wife to death and set her body on fire in front of his four children a decade ago, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a state mental institution. Pecou recently requested spiritual counseling in addition to psychiatric treatment. After Jewish, Catholic and Protestant clergy on the hospital staff failed to make any headway with Pecou, authorities contacted Alpha Omega Bundu, self-described "primate and pastor" of the United Church of Salvation in Brooklyn. The Kingsboro Psychiatric Center paid Bundu the standard fee of $500 for his counseling and "diagnosis" after Bundu declared that Pecou was possessed by a pack of demons and performed an exorcism on the spot. Bundu then presented the state Department of Mental health with an additional bill of $12,000.


In 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency, together with the Army Corps of Engineers, issued a memorandum to all EPA regional administrators to produce a "cluster of new cases... to provide an early deterrent to potential violations which might otherwise occur..."

In Missouri, when corn farmer Rick McGown repaired a sunken levee on his property, he was accused of illegally filling a wetland after an Army Corps official found a "cattail" growing on the land. McGown pointed out that the plant is a strain of sorghum he planted. If the corps wins its suit, the farmer will have to give the government one-third of his farm and pay a $7,500 fine.

After a normal spring thaw, the Idaho transportation department wanted to get rid of the mud-and-gravel mixture that collects on the sides of snowplowed dirt roads. Farmer Bud Koster allowed the department to dump this muck onto a part of his pasture. The Corps later ruled that Koster had illegally filled a wetland and told him to convert other property to a wetland, remove the dirt, or pay a fine.

In Nevada, a rancher who repaired irrigation ditches dug 75 years ago has been accused of "redirecting streams."

Farmers in North Dakota have been charged with illegally destroying habitats for migratory birds when they drained potholes in their fields.

Bernard Goode, the Corps of Engineers' representative while the agency tightened wetlands regulations in 1989, counts the following as "wetlands": corn, wheat, and alfalfa fields in active production; abandoned or fallow farm fields and pastures; dry woods above the 100-year floodplain; weed-covered vacant lots; depressions in sanitary landfills; dredged material disposal areas; moist tundra; pine-palmetto flatlands, and dry desert swashes. The National Law Journal adds, "woody areas, dry desert furrows, corn fields that were once marshy ... prairie potholes ... pools of spring rain or melting snow ... [and] Arctic tundra are wetlands." Under federal wetlands regulations, as much as 60 percent of the total U.S. land area is "wet," as is 40 percent of the state of California and 90 percent of Alaska. An area as small as a coffee table and dry for all but one week out of the year can be declared a wetland.

An Army Corps of Engineers ruling warns property owners that if, in dragging a tree stump from their land, chunks of moist dirt should fall off, that might constitute filling a wetland.

From Math for a Change, a mathematics textbook written by Kevin J. Mistrik and Robert C. Thul, who teach at Catholic high schools in Chicago. The workbook, published by the Mathematics Teachers' Association of Chicago and Vicinity, contains "thirty-one situations of injustice that need mathematics in order to be fully understood":
In 1992 Ryne Sandberg of the Chicago Cubs made approximately $7,000,000. He played 158 games. An average Catholic-high-school teacher makes approximately $30,000 per years working eight hours a day over a 180-day school year.

  1. Calculate how much that teacher gets paid per day, and compare that with what Ryne Sandberg was paid per game in 1992.

  2. Assuming that a ballplayer's workday is six hours, compare the average teacher's pay per hour with that of Mr. Sandberg.

  3. How many years would it take a teacher to make as much money as Ryne did?

  4. Is it fair for Ryne Sandberg to make so much more than a teacher? When answering this question, be sure to take into consideration the good each person contributes to society, the amount of time and money each has to invest in order to prepare for work, and other factors that may be pertinent.

Though the public is not permitted to check books out of the Library of Congress, legislators may remove the library's books for as long as they want. As a result, many volumes have been missing for decades; an estimated 30,000 of the library's 16.4 million books are gone and considered stolen. Among the missing: two $7,500 collections of nineteenth-century Italian architectural drawings, a $6,000 nineteenth-century treatise on cactuses, two $1,500 volumes on Navajo rituals, and Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book.

Schools in the Washington D.C. suburb of Suitland, Maryland, have accommodated special classes on "how to behave when getting arrested." The two-hour class includes demonstrations of how to be handcuffed, advice not to resist or complain, and information that students might be expected to be stopped for wearing baggy pants, acting suspiciously, or because "someone may have called to complain about the kids' presence."

In her book titled When Toys Come Alive; Narratives of Animation, Metamorphosis and Development, published by Yale University Press, Lois Rostow Kuznets deconstructs childhood tales like Winnie the Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, and even the syndicated comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes." While Kuznets describes many of the stories as joyous or charming, she also writes that "Goals that might have thrilled the child-me as a projection of my egocentric needs and desires are not necessarily what a woman with three-score years of experience in this world still finds fulfilling. I see myself now searching these texts for signs of another, more radical subversion—subversion of the elitism, racism, sexist, and androcentrism in a pervasively patriarchal culture."

When 405-pound Gary Sellick found he couldn't fit into any of the chairs that employees at a Denny's restaurant provided for him, one employee couldn't help but start laughing at the sight of his ordeal. This prompted Sellick to leave the restaurant humiliated, and to file a $1.3 million lawsuit against Denny's for inflicting emotional abuse and for failing to accommodate his disability—classified as "morbid obesity" under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As a result of a policy of "full inclusion," 9-year-old Rachel Holland, who is mentally retarded with an IQ of 44 and a mental age of 4, attends regular classes in California. Although she had been observed staring vacantly at a textbook placed upside-down in front of her, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Rachel was a fully participating member of the class.

In New Jersey, Rafael, a mentally retarded 5-year-old who cannot speak intelligibly and who must be taken to the bathroom every 15 minutes, has created havoc with frequent outbursts, tantrums, and assaults on teachers, aides, and other students.

The Virginia Department of Education proposed that state schools enable students to play seven "life roles": "fulfilled individual," "supportive person," "lifelong learner," "expressive contributor," "quality worker," "informed citizen," and "environmental steward."


A study by the Harvard School of Public Health determined that as many as 20.8 percent of American men, and 17.8 percent of American women, were "incidentally homosexual." This meant that at least once in their lives, they experienced some kind of attraction to a person of the same sex.

Following the study's release, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force quickly announced that they represented a fifth of the population rather than approximately two percent. No word yet on how many of these homosexuals are "incidentally heterosexual."


Education officials in California banned an Alice Walker story from the state's English-proficiency test for tenth-grade students on the grounds that the story is "anti-meat eating." Another story, written by author Annie Dillard, was also banned, this one because the work's depiction of a snowball fight was considered "too violent."

Temple University's physical education department now offers a course called "Racism and College Athletics." The department of fine arts offers a course called "Dance Movement and Pluralism."

Milwaukee County executive Tom Ament asked the county Board of Supervisors to reject a $50,000 federal grant for drug and alcohol treatment that was targeted for county residents who turned to substance abuse in response to the floods that swept the Midwest the previous year. In fact, Milwaukee was not hit by the deluge.

When University of Idaho student Jason Wilkins tried to moon some friends by climbing a three-foot-high heater in front of a third-floor dormitory window, he slipped and crashed through the window, ending up with fractures, lacerated arms and legs, and a bruised posterior. His parents then lodged a $940,000 claim with the Idaho Bureau of Risk Management, charging that the school was negligent for failing to properly supervise student behavior and for not warning potential climbers of the dangers of third-floor windows. If the state rejects or ignores the claim, Wilkin's attorney can then file a lawsuit.

When outgoing Prairie View A&M President Julius W. Becton Jr. asked students at the historically black Texas university if there were any ongoing concerns to be addressed before his tenure ended, students brought up the subject of the school's motto. Students objected that the last word of the Latin phrase recercare, doctrina, servitium, meaning "service," was a code word for slavery. The university agreed to phase in a new, improved motto into its stationary.

Course description for "Post Neo-Colonialism and Identity Politics," a graduate-level anthropology course offered at Stanford University, Spring 1994:
This course attempts to sort out the significance and mobilization potential of a new jumble of cultural practices located in the terrain that calls for yet refuses boundaries. This terrain is situated in the borderzone between identity-as-essence and identity-as-conjecture, and its practices challenge the ludic play with essence and conjecture as yet another set of postmodernist binarisms.

Much work on resistance has been response-oriented, reacting to the Eurocenter by occupying either the essence pole or the hybrid pole. The course stakes out this new terrain, where opposition is not only responsive, but creative. It is a guerrilla warfare of the interstices, where minorities rupture categories of race, gender, sexuality, and class in the center as well as on the margins, and where such ruptures intersect with and challenge the late 20th century murky overlap between nationalism(s) and imperialism(s).

The course examines the strategies of theorizing this hodgepodge of everyday experience and its textual representations. It scrutinizes new limits of analysis that transcend and resist national boundaries through their creative articulations of practices which demonstrate possible modes of corroding the Eurocenter by actively Third-Worlding it. It explores the processes through which identity and place become multiple as they are actively forced into constantly shifting configurations of partial overlap.

But before you can get into this class, you must pass the introductory anthopology course, and Mike Newman explained to fellow Stanford undergraduates David Sacks and Peter Thiel, authors of The Diversity Myth, just how to go about doing this. First of all, "I didn't bother attending class or reading any of the books. It was enough for me to flip through the lecture notes, so long as I told the [teaching assistants] what they wanted to hear." Newman even said that when he worked on a take-home midterm exam after returning drunk from a Halloween party, he found himself "even more creative than usual." The following excerpts are from his essay on the final exam, for which he admits he was not in much better shape:
Three hundred years ago, the San, or Bushmen, occupied all of southern Africa along with the Nama. However, incessant conquests by Bantu and Dutch imperialists have pushed the San further and further into the Kalahari desert, leaving them only the land which the imperialists consider uninhabitable or unexploitable [grader's check mark]....

As these resources were quickly depleted, more and more !Kung found themselves working for European farmers rather than attempting to maintain farms themselves. Of course, Europeans did not pay generously for this labor [check mark], providing a pittance that was hardly enough for a man to support himself, much less a family unit that was growing increasingly burdensome as the women no longer had anything to gather and the elderly no longer could pass on information that was rapidly becoming irrelevant [check mark]. Alienated from their traditional roles, many in the community began to lose the self-esteem that originated from the performance of these functions, a contributing factor to the alcoholism that ultimately gripped the community [check mark]....

Obviously, the !Kung and other San people have not benefited from their exposure to Western "progress" [check mark]. To return to their former culture is at this point a geographical impossibility, but the modern world has brought them only starvation and despair. That white people actually expected the San to drop overnight a way of life stretching back numerous melennia [sic] in return for Western agriculture and the Judeo-Christian ethic demonstrates the cultural arrogance behind their oppressive practices, but the sad reality is that the San have accepted Western notions of their own inferiority [check mark]....

"I thought that I might have gone a little overboard with this answer, but I was wrong—the TAs just ate it all up," Newman commented. "It seemed as though they really liked it whenever I put negative-sounding phrases near the word 'Western.' "

Another question asked for a contrast between a neo-Marxist and a more moderate analysis of urban poverty, and Newman had learned exactly what to do:

Bourdieu and Lewis present two different paradigms for understanding the phenomenon of urban poverty world-wide. Bourdieu's analysis is far more radical, arguing as does Fanon that the Algerian peasants he studied, and by extension all oppressed peoples, can achieve revolutionary consciousness and fight back, even though in reality the peasants often depend on their oppressors even as they curse them [yes].... Lewis would have us believe that the poor don't mind their condition, thus assuring their inability to achieve revolutionary consciousness. Bourdieu's critique of the Algerian lumpenproletariat reaches a more sensible conclusion, that the oppressed resent their oppressors, but their dependency on them holds them back.
Newman received an A in the course, but those who questioned orthodoxies did not do so well. Chris Aguas argued that referring to the !Kung as "Bushmen," with its primitive connotations, was not an act of cultural imperialism, despite the professor's declaration. Aguas instead argued, consistent with multicultural principles, that the belief that the "primitive" is undesirable itself constituted a cultural bias, since one would have to apply one's own cultural standards in order to evaluate the concept of primitivism. This refined point was greeted by the grader's comment, "But it's still wrong to call them 'Bushmen.' " Aguas got a B, which was considered an especially low grade in that course. Sacks and Thiel concluded that "although Chris Aguas may have understood anthropology better than Mike Newman, Mike Newman understood Antho 1 far better than Chris Aguas."