An Inclusive Litany


Water Department officials in Denver, eager to improve the river backdrop for photographs during a visit by Vice President Al Gore, released 96 million gallons of water into the South Platte River at a cost to taxpayers of $58,000. "When you have the river being showcased, you want it to look good," explained one official.

In the interest of good taste, France's sports minister ordered the French synchronized swimming team not to perform the routine it had planned for the 1996 Olympics. The team wanted to aquatically recreate the herding of Jewish women into Nazi death camps and their deaths in gas chambers. The team's trainer defended the routine as anti-racist art.

If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, and one New Yorker has found a particularly unusual way to make a living. "Joseph," a methadone addict who might be found in the Madison Square area on 23rd Street around the Flatiron Building, has for four years sold his urine to heroin addicts who need methadone-laced, but otherwise drug-free, urine samples to pass weekly drug tests at methadone clinics. His buyers include recovering addicts who lapse into drug use sometimes, taking Valium, Xanax, Klonopin or even crack cocaine, but who don't want to wind up in rehab.

The New York Observer quotes Joseph: "Once people found out that I didn't take pills, the people here in the park says, Hey, we know that you're clean, so could you sell me some of your urine? ... I do smoke weed, O.K., and weed is against the rules, but the programs are too cheap to test for it. Anyway, I said, sure, no problem. But I was kind of shocked by the aspect of selling someone's bodily fluids."

Following what appeared to be a wave of arsons directed against black churches, the National Council of Churches asked the United Nations to monitor racism in America. However, the Justice Department and various journalists concluded that burnings of black churches comprise a relatively small part of church arson in America, which is on the decline; that a brief increase in the number of reported black church arsons over the previous two years was due to more efficient reporting and statistics kept on the crimes; that many of the "arsons" turned out to be accidental fires; that many of the congregations labeled "black" were mixed-race and sometimes overwhelmingly white; that about one third of the arsonists involved were black; and that arsonists' motives were often unclear—sometimes including concealment of theft and insurance fraud. Investigators also noted a large number of copycat crimes stemming from close media attention paid to the story.

[Ed.: As a result of publicity surrounding the church arson story, the NCC received donations of $9 million. While some of that money will go towards rebuilding churches, over a third will go towards "advocacy" projects to reduce racism. Conservative evangelicals joined the leftist NCC in its crusade.]


As part of a Federal Aviation Administration program designed to explore sexual harassment issues, a female employee was reportedly told to strip to her underwear and was then bound to a similarly attired male employee for 24 hours, including bathroom visits.

Also at the FAA, a seminar was led by Gregory May, who reportedly maintained contact via channeling with a 35,000-year-old spirit named Ramtha. Employees were required to sit motionless on the floor for hours, visualizing their spirit flowing between two candles.

Maryland police officers attended a daylong seminar to sensitize them to various religious practices, including voodoo, Satanism and paganism. They were warned that, if they ask a witch to step out of a ceremonial circle, she may use a real sword to cut an imaginary exit.

A spokesman for the environmental-activist group Greenpeace urged calm in response to news that the group kept oil drums full of radioactive sand at its London headquarters. The sand had been collected around a nuclear power plant and the group had neglected to dispose of it. The spokesman announced: "There is absolutely no health risk or danger to the public."

Excerpts from an interview with President Clinton in the Wall Street Journal, August 1, 1996:
"Sen. Fulbright had a profound impact on the way I now view the world," the president told me. "He ... cautioned against the arrogance of power."

. . .

"The most significant accomplishment in the last four years is that I have largely succeeded in changing the way we think about ourselves and our future."

Following the example of Sweden, the Italian government has outlawed the spanking of children who misbehave. Italy's highest court handed down the ruling in the case of a girl who had been slapped by her father at age ten and then complained to the police. "Italian parents can no longer hit their children even if they think a smack is of educational value," Reuters reported.

Also, Italy's highest appeals court ruled that it is not a crime to beat your wife from time to time, reversing a jail sentence of a Sicilian husband because he did not hit his wife habitually but occasionally, "only because of jealousy."

In an analysis of "ethical mutual funds," which invest in "socially responsible" companies and control about $639 billion worth of investments, Fortune magazine reported that these funds produced an 18.2 percent return over the previous year, compared with the S&P average rate of 27.2 percent—a total loss of $57.5 billion to their investors.

While the funds no doubt perform poorly due to the relatively unprofitable nature of the companies targeted for investment, they are also the focus of an unusual amount of litigation. Vigilant, progressive-minded investors apparently have a strong tendency to sue whenever they discover their money is directed towards companies they consider irresponsible by some measure—such as their percentage of women and minority board members or whether they do business with repressive regimes—even those firms the presumably idealistic money managers consider socially responsible by other measures.

[Ed.: Mutual funds that earn nine percent under average are, by definition, socially irresponsible.]

After six-year-old first grader Johnathan Prevette was caught kissing a girl on the cheek, he was suspended for a day from Southwestern Elementary School in Lexington, North Carolina, for sexual harassment. As school district spokeswoman Jane Martin commented, "A six-year-old kissing another six-year-old is inappropriate behavior. Unwelcome is unwelcome at any age." Confronted with a hailstorm of criticism and negative publicity, school officials soon backpedaled, arguing that the boy was punished under "the general school rule which prohibits unwarranted and unwelcome touching of one student by another." But Johnathan insisted that the girl, whose name was not disclosed, requested the peck.

Ten days later, De'Andre Dearinge, a seven-year-old New York City boy was suspended for five days as a sexual harasser for kissing a classmate because "I like her" and then impulsively pulling a button off her skirt. When asked about the button, the boy alluded to Corduroy, the bear with the missing button in the famous children's story. School officials later knocked two days off the boy's sentence after it became clear that he had no idea what sex was.


In Bedford, Virginia, an elementary school teacher confiscated a book a fourth-grader brought to class. The teacher felt the book, which contained a chapter on condoms and sexual disease, wasn't appropriate for a school setting. The book was Rush Limbaugh's The Way Things Ought to Be.

The Wall Street Journal reports that since 1987, the Centers for Disease Control has knowingly misled the public about the otherwise low risk of contracting AIDS through vaginal intercourse, diverting attention and resources from the actual high-risk groups: homosexual men and intravenous drug users or their sexual partners.

Portraying AIDS as an equal-opportunity disease that does not discriminate, the CDC regularly released misleading reports suggesting that women were, as the New York Times put it, "the new face of AIDS." Later, backed not only by AIDS advocacy groups but by prominment social conservatives eager to combat promiscuity, the CDC also conducted a campaign to convince teenagers and college students that they, too, were at great risk of contracting the disease. But the risk of contracting AIDS has always been low for people outside the high-risk groups—comparable with getting struck by lightning, drowning in a bathtub, or being killed by a malfunctioning automatic garage door.

The CDC justified its disinformation campaign on the grounds that the Reagan administration was unlikely to fund initiatives aimed at high-risk groups, and that the public was less likely to support its efforts if marginal groups were the perceived beneficiaries. For its part, the press was also eager to hype the threat of heterosexual AIDS, perhaps to better relate the story to their audiences, perhaps out of squeamishness at the prospect of detailing anal sex. A 1987 study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs found that heterosexuals were eight times more likely to appear as AIDS victims on television than they were to actually contract the disease.

New Hampshire's Manchester Union Leader, October 11, 1996:
Citing the violent nature of many Halloween costumes, officials at Maple Avenue and Bartlett Elementary schools have discontinued the annual Halloween parade, a 30-year tradition for children in first through third grades.

"So many Halloween costumes are based on themes of gore and violence," said Maple Avenue Principal Marc Boyd. "We have to wonder if that's something we really want the children involved in."

With that idea in mind, Boyd said staff at the school have planned a Harvest Day celebration as a way of bringing students in touch with fall-related themes.

As part of the Harvest Day celebration, Boyd said children will create scarecrows in the image of New Hampshire historical figures, write stories and skits about the harvest, make apple cider, carve pumpkins and study pumpkin-related literature such as Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.


Serving a 25-year-to-life sentence for murder, Colin Fearon has filed at least 544 lawsuits against the New York State prison system since his incarceration in 1974. These suits deal with issues such as cold coffee, a cell sprayed for roaches, being awakened by a guard delivering throat lozenges, and having his copy of the Village Voice delivered to the wrong cell. Now 41 years old and known as Chaka Zulu, he has sued for $2 million for being lacerated by a plastic spoon, $4.2 million for an eye injury because of ceiling construction, $4 million because prison officials lost his allergy medicine, and $3.2 million because prison officials failed to allow him time to file a claim.

Officials at Klingwood Middle School north of Houston, Texas, suspended junior high-school student Brooke Olson for a day for having a bottle of Advil, a non-prescription painkiller, in her backpack.

The painkiller was found by a drug-sniffing dog going through students' belongings during gym class. School district policy requires students to give all drugs, prescription or non-prescription, to the school nurse who then dispenses them.

Olson, an honor student and student-council member, told reporters that she knew about the district policy, but had forgotten she was carrying the Advil.


As part of his "Teaming with Wildlife" proposal, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt proposed taxes on all outdoor recreation equipment, which included birdseed, backpacks, cameras (and film), compasses, canoes, Chevy Blazers, skis, snorkels, and sleeping bags. Babbitt told the Associated Press the $350 in tax increases—"a great win-win situation for everyone"—would fund conservation projects for more than 1,800 species not classified as either endangered or game animals.

The following day, President Clinton compelled Babbitt to release a statement saying the President "did not support" the proposal.

Paul Castaldo in the alumni newsletter of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Spring 1996:
The genius of the 95/96 Sculpture department brings forth crickets, guinea pigs, cow guts, cake icing, Jello, potatoes, asphalt, honey dipped babies, liquid nitrogen, and a giant tampon box to the apex of the amalgamated mountain of material possibilities. Busy hands are rolling these materials into a visual vocabulary which speaks of issues such as gender positions, cultural sarcasm, the body, and the beautiful. Amy O'Neill physically shoved a full-sized wrecked car into the sculpture courtyard, combining the physical material possibilities of the car with computer generated postcards, Mark Rowland sweetens and brings to life minimalism by encasing work boots in a cube of jello. The cube's boundaries are being broken apart even further by the newly acquired video projector, allowing a multitude of projection sizes, surfaces, and most importantly the ability of video to encompass or interact with a three dimensional space.

Ann Messner, Daniel Oates, Matthew McLaslin and Rirkrit Tiranvaniji are a few of the visiting artists who are helping to define individual art practices. Personal, public, and cultural boundaries are being questioned in lively visual and verbal languages which this year's sculpture department takes on fervently.

A review by the Inspector General of the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that $268 million in disaster funds went to low-priority items that benefit a relatively small, elite segment of the public. These include repairs to an archery range, the storm-damaged scoreboard at Anaheim Stadium, cart paths at a California golf course (which charges $120 for a round of golf), trees blown down at another golf course in Florida, tree and shrub damage at the opulent Vizcaya Mansion Museum and Gardens in Miami, and restoration of yachting marinas and horse trails. Following congressional criticism, FEMA spokeswoman Deborah Hunt replied that such expenditures were authorized in 1974 when Congress said any publicly owned park or recreation facility could qualify for disaster relief funds.


If you've been using terms like Chicano, Latino, Raza, Mestizo, or Hispanic to refer to certain inhabitants of Mexico and Central America or their descendants, then you've been woefully wrong. The correct appellation is "Mexica," according to the Chicano Mexicano Mexica Empowerment Committee (CMMEC) of Huntington Park, California, publisher of the Mexica Handbook: The Mexica Guide to the 21st Century and Beyond.

"We, the people of Mexica Original Inhabitant (Indigenous) descent have been branded "Hispanic" and "Latino," comments the author, Olin Tezcatlipoca. "We are the descendents of the ancient so-called 'Mesoamerican' civilizations that covered an area from Aztlan (the so-called U.S. Southwest) to the area called Costa Rica in Central America."

The author urges the aspiring "Mexica Warrior" to learn Nahuatl, "the language of our people," not to marry outside the race, and to tell blondes how "ridiculous" they look.

From the February/March 1996 issue of Mass RAIL, a publication of the Massachusetts Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League (RAIL), a part of the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM). The article, which concerns a date rape case at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, may be interpreted as a bewildered attempt by the traditional, "hard" Marxist Left to come to terms with young turks.
Popular pseudo-feminist Katie Koestner spoke about her date rape to a packed room of several hundred. In 1990, after she had dated a man for a week and a half, he raped her in her college dorm room. The District Attorney wouldn't prosecute the man. Koestner then asked her college to take disciplinary action; the man was banned from Koestner's dorm for the semester.

Now Koestner is on a tour of college campuses, lecturing about date rape: what it is, and how to avoid it. Her lectures are a confused but deliberate attempt to separate rape from sex. MIM believes that no meaningful distinction between the two is possible under patriarchy; women never consented to being born into a system in which men have more power than they do, so how can women ever give coercion-free consent to individual sex acts?

While MIM acknowledges that under patriarchy, all sex is rape, we know that First World women do not need sexual relationships for survival. MIM upholds asexuality as the most advanced sexual practice if done correctly. [!] We also do have policies regarding divorce for spousal abuse. As the next best thing to asexuality, we require forever monogamy of our members and advocate it for the masses, because a commitment to working through problems in a relationship is a closest thing to a guarantee of increasing equality in a relationship. We work to abolish patriarchy which is the only way to end rape. Feminists need to focus on building independent institutions of the oppressed to overthrow patriarchy, not on how to distinguish between good sex and bad sex within the confines of patriarchy....

Koestner is pro-pig, encouraging women to file rape charges in criminal courts, and to pressure college judicial systems to give stronger punishments....

On a related note, the following are highlights from 'Prison Awareness Week, 1995':
Dr. Allyn Rickett spoke about his experience in a Chinese prison undergoing a process of thought reform through criticism and self-criticism. Dr. Rickett and his wife were American students in revolutionary China. He was justly arrested as an Amerikan spy. Many members of the audience remarked on the differences between Dr. Rickett's treatment—as a serious objective enemy of the people—and the treatment of Amerika's prisoners.

RAIL and MIM held a panel discussion of why all prisoners are political prisoners. One anarchist thought calling all prisoners political prisoners was detracting from the importance of those incarcerated for their openly political acts. While MIM agreed with the importance of defending revolutionary leaders, we do not think recognizing the political nature of all incarceration takes away from the sacrifices made by individuals in the revolutionary struggle. While many in attendance thought MIM was right about the political nature of incarceration, others were outright reactionary and thought the solution to "racial" disparities in arrest and conviction was incarcerating more white people—and they weren't talking about Bill Clinton.

Perhaps due to the success of affirmative action hiring policies, women and certain minorities have become over-represented in much of California's public sector—that is, disproportionate to their numbers in the general population. The solution? Many state agencies have now established "goals" and timetables to encourage the hiring of whites and men.

The Wall Street Journal reports: "The Franchise Tax Board plans to hire 45 whites and 95 male typists over the next 10 years. The state Department of Education has set goals for men in staff services, information systems, and janitorial positions. The Department of Social Services has goals for men in legal services, staff services, information systems, and investigative positions. The Department of Corrections has goals for white correctional officers and parole agents." U.S. News & World Report quotes European American Correctional Workers Association founder John Blackwell: "If they want to play the game with racial quotas, then we will also play the game."


Course description for "Asian-American Texts: Racial Castration," an English and Comparative Literature graduate course offering from Columbia University:
If, as Norma Alarcon suggests, people of color are multiply interpellated, then the traditional ways in which feminism and queer studies have taught us to read psychoanalysis is as a naturalizing discourse of sexual and, in particular, heterosexual difference must necessarily be expanded to include a viable account of race as well. This seminar investigates the intersection of sexual and racial difference in psychoanalytic theory, with a particular focus on masculinity in Asian American and African American literatures. Reading from Freud and Lacan, as well as from feminist, postcolonial, critical race, and queer studies, the course provides a theoretical grounding in several key psychoanalytic concepts (narcissism, the mirror stage, aggressivity, paranoia, hysteria, the Oedipus complex, fetishism, and the primal scene), while exploring how these identificatory paradigms socially institute a system of compulsory heterosexuality and whiteness. In addition to psychoanalytic readings, we will discuss how Asian American and African American male subjectivity work both with and against the theoretical models we develop. We will end by addressing the ethics of psychoanalysis and the question of naming.

Sheila A. Mahoney in Policy Review, September/October 1996:
Karla Hauk and her husband and business partner, Richard Hauk, opened a 32-room Days Inn franchise in Wall, South Dakota. That was on July 1, 1994, about six months after the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect. They thought they were ready: Following their franchiser-approved plans, they made two of their 32 rooms accessible to handicapped patrons and made the entrance of their motel accessible to wheelchairs. When they opened their doors, they became the first hotel in Wall to provide rooms with accommodations for the handicapped.

Their reward? Karla, Richard, their architect, their contractor, and their franchiser are all being sued by the U.S. Justice Department for failure to comply with ADA regulations. They are charged with "unlawful discrimination" toward individuals with disabilities.

It all started with a whirlpool. According to the Justice Department's suit, the Hauks' two-story motel became a three-story facility when they installed a whirlpool in the basement. ADA regulations require that their motel have an elevator so that handicapped customers can reach every floor, as well as a ramp leading to the whirlpool. According to Karla Hauk, installing the elevator alone would cost more than $100,000, not including the increase in property taxes. Even if the owners removed the whirlpool and left the basement empty, they would still be required to build an elevator for handicapped access, because the Justice Department has declared the basement "occupiable space." In addition to the elevator, the ADA requires the Hauks to widen all of the bathroom doors in the non-handicapped rooms. "If someone who uses a wheelchair ... visits another guest in a non-accessible guest room, he or she will not be able even to enter the bathroom in that room," according to the suit....

Karla Hauk says ... if they had known then what they know now, they never would have built the motel. "We wish to God we never had. They will bankrupt us."

"Today" co-host Bryant Gumbel converses with O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran in a three-day series of interviews, September 30-October 2, 1996:

  • Comments that he has made to others would seem to indicate a certain degree of, and not unjustifiably, a certain degree of anger, bitterness. Has he expressed that to you?

  • Why do you suppose it is that one year after his acquittal, most white Americans at least, cannot accept the idea that he's out walking around free, refuse to let him live his life?

  • Most white Americans still charge that O.J.'s jurors didn't do their job. You talk about a rush to judgment. They would claim the same. They would claim the verdict was race-based. Do you think their judgment of those jurors is race-based?

  • Do you think O.J. will ever get a fair shake in this country? Will people ever let him live out his life and accept the fact that he was acquitted?
Do you think if those two victims had been, say, Marguerite, his first wife, and Al Cowlings, his best friend, that there would have been the same amount [of media attention]?
Absolutely not. And I think any person who wants to be honest about it would say the same thing.
Why? Because America doesn't care about black victims?
...and another comment from Gumbel on October 16:
Two weeks after his acquittal, we'll see how O.J. Simpson is still being treated as if he were guilty.