An Inclusive Litany


Agents from the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development investigated the Salem, Oregon Statesman-Journal for publishing a drawing of an Easter bunny in its real-estate section during the Easter holiday season. The bunny had offended an atheist who thought it promoted Christianity and was thus discriminatory. Other word crimes HUD has ferreted out include the use of "bachelor pad," "mature," "singles' paradise" or "exclusive," as well as terms that might "ghettoize" certain groups: "near synagogue," "near country club," or "desirable neighborhood."

A small Wisconsin newspaper spent more than $7,000 to defend itself against a complaint from a man rebuffed by a woman who had advertised for a female roommate. Actually, the woman's ad was legal under HUD regulations (one of the few discriminatory words it allows), and the man in question started harassing the woman for a date after she turned him down as a live-in. Nonetheless, a HUD investigator questioned more than 20 newspaper employees before filing a compulsory eight-page report on the matter.


Speaking about accused Long Island Railroad murderer Colin Ferguson, Khalid Muhammad said, "Colin Ferguson, who killed all those white folks on the Long Island train, I love Colin Ferguson... God spoke to Colin Ferguson and said, 'Catch the train, Colin, catch the train.' "

The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 1994:
The Harvard Business School Faculty is expected to vote tomorrow on a proposal to revamp its M.B.A. curriculum, including requiring incoming students to master basic writing and math skills before they can begin taking classes.

A cellist quit the Eureka, California, symphony orchestra rather than perform a work she says celebrates the demise of the wolf: Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf."

In a letter to Econews, an environmental magazine, Anne Conrad-Antoville said the 1936 tale "teaches children to hate and fear wolves and to applaud a hunter who kills a wolf." Wolves have survived despite "genocidal programs being waged against them and other predators," she wrote, calling on the public to boycott the symphony performance.

In "Peter and the Wolf," the wolf is captured, and Peter urges hunters to take the animal to a zoo rather than shoot it.

New York City's Transit Authority docked Michael Durant, a thirty-one-year-old bus driver, a day's pay for being twelve minutes late for work after he pulled a man out of a burning car on the highway.

A selection of topics of papers and workshops offered at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association in San Diego:

  • Que(e)rying the Millenium
  • Ever Embodying Ambiguities: The Monkey as a Signifier in Asian American Literature
  • Victorian Buggery and the Sensation of Scandal
  • Defying the Dic(k)tators from Freud to Fascism: Virginia Woolf and Penis Mockery
  • Cookies for Mankiller; or how "Feminist" Became the New "F" Word at San Jacinto College
  • Queer Sexuality: From Tautology to Oxymoron
  • Undertheorized: Lesbian Cinephilia and Its Objects
  • Redressing the Female Subject: Transvestite Saints' Lives and the Benedictine Reform
  • The Survivor's Voice: Father-Daughter Incest and the Contemporary Woman Poet
  • Homosexual Desire and the Spirit of Capitalism
  • Unspecific Details: Banishing the Specter of Female Homoeroticism in Nineteenth-Century Anti-Masturbation Writing
  • Grappling with the Phallus: A Gender Feminist Assessment
  • Freud's Micturating Penis
  • Coitus Interruptus and the Pardoner's Voice
  • So Just When Can You Be a Lesbian in Cyberspace?
  • Unrepresentable Rape and the Represented Church in Medieval Saints' Lives
  • Snickering at Incest: The Comedy of Sexual Transgression in Horace Walpole's Early Correspondence
  • Queer Histories and Deviant Science: Rereading 1940's Wonder Woman

14-year-old Christian Svedberg has used an anti-stalking law to obtain a court order, upheld by the North Dakota Supreme Court, barring 17-year-old Anthony Stamness for calling him "Dumbo" or for otherwise making fun of his physical characteristics by building snowmen with large ears.


James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small, was attacked by a flock of sheep that were eating plants on his lawn in Yorkshire, England.

Jeff Goldstein of Madison, Wisconsin, who was summoned to court for disobeying a city ordinance forbidding grass from being more than eight inches high, claimed that cutting it would violate his religious beliefs. "I pray to it," he said of his lawn, adding that mowing it would be "a holocaust against the green creatures."

Describing meeting the president, novelist Judith Krantz said, "Shaking hands with Bill Clinton is, in and of itself, a full-body sexual experience, I promise you. He has the sexiest handshake of any man that I have ever experienced in my life."

The Boston Globe, January 22, 1995:
Citing several studies detailing the relationship between stress, isolation and higher death rates, 27 doctors recently warned politicians about the health consequences of abolishing rent control.

"If rent control vanishes, dozens will die," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an internist at Cambridge Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, in a memo signed by 26 other doctors at the hospital.

"Studies show a four-fold increase in death rates for heart attack victims facing high life stresses and social isolation," she said. "One-third of our heart attack patients at Cambridge Hospital live in rent-controlled apartments. By allowing landlords to force them out, the governor and state Legislature are implementing the death penalty—a social policy sure to kill."


Billie Wright Dziech, English professor at the University of Cincinnati, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, January 13, 1995:
Those of us familiar with white male students know that a slow but inexorable process has been at work among them while the attention of campus leaders largely has been focused on other groups. As I have traveled across the country during the past several years speaking about sexual harassment—generally regarded as a "female" issue—I have at the same time learned a lot about male students....

They have heard exhortations and sermons about the white-male, racist Eurocentric hold on American history, but they have not always responded as we hoped they would. Outside of class, when they talk to parents, peers, and faculty members whom they trust, many of them say that they believe they are being forced to pay for history they had no part in and that they feel weary, angry and alienated....

He [the white male] sees no academic departments equivalent to women's or African-American studies that address his history. He receives no special admissions consideration and no special support services. Justifiably or not, the most authentic, the most vivid lesson that he may draw from his experience is that he is expected to pay for the transgressions of his ancestors and that the truly disadvantaged are people like himself, not those whose stories of victimization dominate the headlines.

There are no simple ways to alter such a perception. Even as I write, I feel trepidation at the prospect of having my words misrepresented or exaggerated, despite my long-standing commitment to women's concerns. But it is this commitment to inclusion that should motivate us to address the complex challenge confronting us. At this point, it is impossible to say definitely how—or even whether—equitable remedies can be found for the frustration and resentment some white men feel, but we can take some steps in that direction....

Despite limited resources, colleges ... have a responsibility to determine whether white men, like women and members of minority groups, require some special support services. White male students are acutely aware that their institutions have demonstrated little interest in them as a group, and this is clearly a source of frustration affecting their behavior and attitudes after they leave academe.

Symposia, lectures and discussions addressing white-male experience would show colleges' commitment to increasing understanding of all campus constituencies. We need to talk about how white men were viewed in the past and are viewed today and about how both men and women have been burdened by stereotypes. Furthermore, if existing institutional grievance procedures do not adequately respond to white men who complain about sexual harassment or racial discrimination, we must devise procedures that do.

A Mauritius kestrel, one of the world's rarest falcons, ate a Mauritius pink pigeon, one of the world's rarest pigeons, on the Ile aux Aigrettes, a wildlife sanctuary off the coast of Mauritius.

A sixteen-year-old boy in Fort Lauderdale who had stabbed a classmate seventeen times with steak knives was found not guilty by reason of insanity after claiming that he was the victim of too much Mortal Kombat.

A middle school in Southampton, New York, canceled a production of Peter Pan because administrators deemed it offensive to American Indians.

Rev. Donna Schaper, a certified minister from the United Church of Christ, in the Amherst Bulletin, November 11, 1994:
We have a cat named Hudson who killed off a litter last month. She had a litter in the spring and enjoyed herself immensely. When the second litter came in the fall, she refused to care for it at all. Often animal mothers and human mothers who refuse care know exactly what they are doing. They are acknowledging their own limitation. It is, as regular people often say, "for the best."

While not arguing for virtue in infanticide, I have to argue at least the plausibility of withdrawing maternal care. Pushing your children into a lake is hardly that. But Susan Smith was making an announcement: she couldn't care for her children. Instead of making their lives permanently miserable, she drowned them. There is a strange, cruel mercy in the act.

...and this is Harold Kulungian, commenting on one of Rev. Shaper's previous columns:

The notions put forward by Rev. Donna Shaper in the Sept. 16 Bulletin that "We must make our own burgers" bemused me. What is the difference in the contents, and the effects, of burgers that we make at home vs. the famous Big Mac? I can't imagine it is very much.

Yet Schaper finds some sort of philosophical consolation in the "do-it-yourself" independent approach to burgers....

Let's take just a couple of recent celebrity cases, to observe the effect of the Big Mac Way of Life in America.

When Lorena Bobbitt was on trial last spring for cutting off her husband's penis, you could see in her some symptoms that are actually widespread in our society. In one of her photos, her face was so tense that her eyes were virtually popping out of her head. You could see the whites of her eyes both above and below the iris. The enormous pressure behind her eyes, causing them to protrude so much, is coming from dietary excess, and shows her whole nervous system to be under immense strain.

Lorena's carnivorous diet made her very excitable, sexually aggressive, and regularly drove her to anger. Anger is coming from the overburdened liver and spleen, making one bilious and splenetic.

Lorena's favorite food, indicated when she was released from her 45-day psychiatric surveillance, in answer to a reporter's question "What are you going to do now that you are free, Lorena?" "The first place I'm going is to McDonald's..." she exclaimed joyfully...

And no one better exemplifies this new dietary behavioral syndrome than O.J. Simpson. Simpson had just gone to McDonald's for a Big Mac an hour or two before the murders took place.

The University of Pennsylvania animal-behavior clinic began prescribing Prozac for depressed dogs.

Artist Carolee Schneemann took part in a film retrospective that included works she created with her own menstrual blood.

In Northampton, Massachusetts, a woman was hit by a car, and she later told police that the passengers of the hit-and-run vehicle shouted anti-lesbian slurs at her while trying to run her down. A candlelight vigil was held, and a fund for victims of similar hate crimes was established. About six weeks later witnesses came forward to testify that the victim of the hit-and-run was not subjected to any verbal abuse, and there was even some question as to whether she had been hit by a vehicle at all. Upon learning of this, one of the organizers of the protests said that she would still press to establish a fund for victims of hate crime. "It's kind of naive to believe that something won't happen someday."

Not long after, in nearby Amherst, a 13-year-old black girl claimed that she had received racial threats and was later assaulted by two white students in a junior-high-school restroom. The NAACP called a meeting of parents and students to discuss "racism" is Amherst's schools. The day before the meeting was scheduled, however, investigators discovered that the girl's story was fabricated. The meeting still went ahead as planned. As the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported: "Speakers said the girl shouldn't be blamed, and that the incident serves as an opportunity to discuss the issue of race in the schools."


The A.G. Edwards investment firm received numerous complaints of racial insensitivity after it published its employee magazine, whose cover featured a picture of a bottle of vanilla extract accompanied by a description of the firm as "pure vanilla." The firm's president claimed that the intent was to communicate the firm's reputation for simple, old-fashioned investment.

[Ed.: In fact, the color of vanilla is brown.]

Italian physics student Lino Missio, twenty-six, patented a condom that plays Beethoven if it breaks during use.

The Washington Post, October 27, 1994:
A [Buffalo] city official who admitted stealing at least $200,000 in public funds resigned, then asked to be paid $8,500 for 50 days of unused time off.


A convicted cop killer who faces a life term in prison sued the New York City police department and New York City for $3 million, claiming loss of his drug-dealing income.

Larry Harmon, who created and played Bozo the Clown, threatened legal action against New York City's Transit Authority unless it removed billboards calling drivers bozos for not using mass transit. "I am greatly distressed when my beloved character, Bozo, is thought to be a pandering buffoon rather than a great humanitarian," said Harmon.

[Ed.: Mr. Harmon criticized Bob Dole for referring to Bill Clinton as a bozo during his 1996 presidential bid: "It irks me when people use the character's name in a demeaning way. It's like attacking motherhood and apple pie, for heaven's sake."]

From Black Bible Chronicles, a new version of the Bible published by the African American Family Press, in New York City. In a foreword to the book, Andrew Young, the former mayor of Atlanta, writes that in order to be "truly relevant" to young people, the Bible "must be in a language familiar to their culture." The following selection is from the book of Exodus:
When the children of Israel came to the Sinai Desert, Moses took himself up to the mountain to have a chat with the Almighty. And the Almighty told him, "Tell 'em that if they make a deal with me that they'll keep, it'll be on the one with me always. Now, you go and tell 'em."

Moses climbed down from the mountain and told the elders of the people what the Almighty had said and everyone said, "Yeah, that's cool. We can deal with that."

And many months later, the Almighty came down with thundering and lightning. It was a sight to behold. He gave them commands that help make the deal complete.

"I am the Almighty, your God, who brought you outta Egypt when things were tough. Don't put anyone else before Me.

"Don't make any carved objects or things that look like what is in heaven or below. And don't bow down to these things like they are anything heavy. Not ever!

"You shouldn't dis the Almighty's name, using it in cuss words or rapping with one another. It ain't cool, and payback's a monster.

"After you've worked six days, give the seventh to the Almighty." (The Almighty made the heavens and earth in six days. He rested on the seventh day and blessed it as right on.)

"You shouldn't be takin' nothin' from your homeboys.

"Give honor to your mom and dad, and you'll live a long time.

"Don't waste nobody.

"Don't mess around with someone else's ol' man or ol' lady.

"Don't go 'round telling lies on your homebuddies.

"Don't want what you can't have or what your homebuddy has. It ain't cool."

The folks were scared out of their wits. They figured it was better that the Almighty talked straight to Moses instead of them 'cuz it was just too heavy for words.

Here are the titles of various chapters:

Cain Wastes Abel
Abram Kicks Some Butt
Abraham Up Against the Wall
Jacob Flees His Uncle's Crib
Joseph's Brothers Gets What's Coming
The Kohath Brother's Gig
Israel Getting Down With the Wrong Folks

A child's Halloween costume of Superman has the following warning label stitched into the cape: "Warning: Use of This Device Does Not Enable Wearer To Fly."

From a Pop-Tart (TM) box: "Warning: Pastry Filling May Be Hot When Heated."

From a newspaper article: "A congressionally funded study has determined that many smokers are ignoring the warning labels on cigarette packages."

On the package for Top Cog (TM) automotive fan belts, the first step of the instructions tells you not to change the belt while the engine is running.

The container for a liquid radiator sealant contains the following warning on the inside of the pull top lid: "Caution: DO NOT LICK LID."

An automotive window screen used to keep the dashboard from heating up contains the following warning: "DO NOT OPERATE VEHICLE WITH SCREEN IN PLACE!"

The Associated Press:
Bowing to a "radical minority" that they said might embarrass the school, Howard University administrators postponed a lecture by a Pulitzer Prize-winning Jewish scholar.

David Brion Davis, a Sterling Professor of History at Yale University, was to have spoken at Howard on the uprising of slaves throughout Haiti in 1791. But concerns for Davis's safety led to the postponement, said Howard official Paul Logan.

Students did hear from Khalid Muhammad, a Nation of Islam member who had said that the persecution of blacks was "100 times worse than the Jewish holocaust." Muhammad, who has vilified Jews as "bloodsuckers" of the black community and called the pope a "no-good cracker," addressed a rally sponsored by a student group.

Stacey, a 14-year-old girl from Corpus Christi, Texas, was denied the chance to attend the "Planet Earth" environmental summer camp, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and administered by Texas A&M University, because she had the wrong skin color.

The camp's project summary states: "Future environmental scientists ... must come from all the racial and ethnic groups present in our society... We must find a way to encourage all of today's ninth grade students to become practitioners and defenders of the environment of Planet Earth."

However, Stacey was advised during an admission interview that white kids are ineligible to attend. A Planet Earth administrator stated in a letter, "It is my understanding that [Stacey] is Anglo-American and therefore does not meet the stated criteria for participation in Planet Earth."

In San Francisco, a $412,000 AIDS service contract with Catholic Charities was withheld until the group could prove that some of its staffers were gay.


In Topeka, 16-year-old Sam Roper has asked his high school to record his picketing against homosexuals as part of his required community service.

From the appropriately titled Self magazine:
Feeling depressed about the planet? Perhaps you need a couch session with an eco-therapist. Eco-psychology, a new trend in psychotherapy, helps people deal with their anxieties about problems like endangered species and deforestation. What's the best therapy? According to one eco-shrink, daily walks in the woods and "establishing a relationship with a tree."