An Inclusive Litany


A disabled woman sued a store in Lake Worth, Florida, for failing to offer parking spaces marked for use by the handicapped. The business, called Action Mobility, sells and services wheelchairs, and the disabled couple who own it insist that virtually all their customers are handicapped.

The Clinton Legal Expense Trust sent a fundraising appeal to longtime Democratic donor Bernard Lewinsky. Monica's father wrote "return to sender" on the envelope, and scrawled, "You must be morons to send me this letter!"

Nine years after the Minnesota legislature passed a law requiring licensed day care workers to provide "cultural dynamics training," the curriculum is finally in place after much testing and refinement, and is waiting for approval by the state Department of Children, Families, and Learning.

Under the new curriculum, day-care providers are urged to beware the "assumption that English is the most important language" rather than an artifact of "non-disabled European American" hegemonism. The earlier children in day care are exposed to the dominant culture, "the more likely they are to reject their home culture" and its sustaining "group identity." Day-care providers shouldn't say someone is a "quadriplegic," but rather that person "has quadriplegia." They are also warned against using the once-acceptable term "people of color," since it "minimizes the unique history and culture of each cultural group."

Biracial or disabled kids "being raised by non-disabled European American parents" have been "separated" from their true identities and must live "without mentors or positive role models." Not much better off, minority children raised by their own kind "internalize" European America's "unjust and cruel oppression," come to "believe its lies," and grow up mired in "shame, hopelessness," and "chronic depression." Worst of all, non-disabled European American children have "identities built on confusion" and must struggle to overcome "psychological problems of moral hypocrisy."

At training workshops, day care providers fill out a questionnaire to help them identify their biases. Questions include, "I am clear about my own biases regarding culture, race, and ability," the possible answers for which are, "Very aware / somewhat aware / have very little awareness." Care givers are urged to "routinely assess" toddlers' environment by censoring books with insensitive stereotypes and by examining "sensory materials" such as play-doh, to make sure colors are properly "integrated," such as by including dark shades of brown and black to counter stereotypes of "dirty" and "evil."


The Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to Nebraska state officials, saying it may require the state to take action against a polluter for raising water temperatures and thus reducing water quality along much of the length of the Platte River, directly affecting the area's piping plovers. The polluter in question is, in fact, the sun. Puzzled state officials interpret the EPA's stance to mean they might have to pipe in cold water from elsewhere, or else install canopies.

Slate columnist Scott Schuger notes a complaint by the NAACP that blacks—12 percent of the population—only make up 10 percent of the characters on TV entertainment programs. This is down from 18 percent in the '93-'94 season.

[Ed.: Perhaps minority members so badly in need of role models have an even greater need to cut down the amount of television they watch.]


San Francisco law enforcement officials called a halt to a jailhouse prison law course that they say taught inmates how to thwart police investigations and avoid arrest. The classes are organized by the Sheriff's department's Prisoner Legal Services division, conducted by civil rights attorney Katya Komisaruk, and fulfill a mandate by the state's legal-access laws.

The class involved sections on how to avoid talking to police without an attorney being present, how to prevent police with search warrants from entering one's home, and how to avoid being manipulated by the "good cop, bad cop" interrogation style. Deputies said that in at least one class, inmates were advised to avoid stealing from larger department stores because they have better security. Role playing exercises depicted police officers as racist and inept. While Komisaruk did not dispute the sheriffs' description of her course, she said all of the information she taught was legally accurate and bore directly on the civil rights of those accused of crimes.

Two men who voluntarily picked up trash from a beach in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest each received a $150 ticket for "maintaining the national forest without a permit."


San Francisco police cracked down on a group of high school students who regularly handed out free sandwiches to homeless people in the seedy Tenderloin district, thus committing health code violations.


The Canada Council gave a $15,000 grant to University of Manitoba art professor Diana Thorneycroft for an art installation, titled "Monstrance," consisting of twelve rotting rabbit carcasses strung up, Blair-Witch-style, in a forest. Art patrons will be asked to roam the woods near the St. Norbert Arts and Cultural Centre with flashlights to see the corpses, which are stuffed with Thorneycroft's "photographic relics" as exposed as maggots decompose the rabbits' flesh.

A corresponding indoor exhibit features 23 shaved toy bunnies with various parts of the real rabbits' bodies stuffed inside. The carcasses are supposed to signify the partially transparent cases or holders in which the bread of the Eucharist is displayed in Roman Catholic churches.

"I'm celebrating the gloriousness of putrefaction," Ms. Thorneycroft said during a preview tour of the exhibit area. "All of us are moving toward death and dust. A lot of people won't acknowledge that." "The site deals most directly with the realities of death and decay and the way in which all life returns to earth," she said in an artist's statement provided to the Canada Council, which chose her proposal for funding from 232 applications.


Not long after one of its officers was convicted for holding down a Haitian immigrant while another sodomized him with a broom handle, the New York Police Department installed a recruitment booth at the Gay Male S/M Activists block party.


The San Francisco Chronicle, June 5, 1999:
It is considered the child of Mother Earth and Father Sky. It is used in many ceremonies and is often smoked as part of a prayer. Within many tribes, a pipe is often the first courtesy offered to a guest of a stranger. It is also used for medicinal purposes.

But American Indians also battle with high rates of tobacco addiction.

They blame non-Indians for introducing them to non-ceremonial uses of tobacco products and said tobacco manufacturers have directed ads at Indians, particularly young people, during marketing campaigns.

Today, 39 percent of American Indians smoke, compared with 26 percent of blacks, 25 percent of whites, 18 percent of Hispanics and 15 percent of Asians, according to the suit.

"[Tobacco] was never used in everyday experience—it was a sacrament, an offering," said Fidel Moreno, president of the Native American Council for Tobacco Litigation. "But now we're fighting to reverse a cycle of disease."

After 17-year-old Rickey Higgins led Chicago's Warren Township High School to a surprising second-place finish in the state basketball tournament, he was arrested twice on alcohol-related offenses and thus declared ineligible for the upcoming basketball season.

Higgins subsequently sued in federal court, arguing that as a recovering alcoholic, the school's disciplinary action amounts to discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He seeks reinstatement to the team and $100,000 in compensatory damages. Currently practicing alcoholics are not covered under the act's provisions.

Gray whales are no longer listed as an endangered species, but it is still illegal to hunt them. An exception is made for certain Native American tribes, for whom whale hunts long formed an important cultural tradition. The Makah, of Washington State, decided to revive their own dormant hunting ritual, aided not just by canoes and harpoons but by modern motorboats and armor-piercing assault rifles. The Makah managed to take a whale, despite the presence of protesters who followed them in their own boats, attempting to prevent them from doing so. Also present was a scattering of care-free vacationers on water skis. Authorities escorted some protesters away because their activities were bothering the whales, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

And in Colorado, where prairie dogs are officially classified as a "pest" and thus legal to shoot on sight, state officials resisted efforts to allow people to sell them as pets—especially to the Japanese, who are willing to spend $200 per varmint. Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas all allow such commerce, but not Colorado. A spokesman for the state's Division of Wildlife explained, "You cannot give away or sell any species of wildlife. They belong to the public."


A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by a man who was rejected for a job as a police officer because he scored too high on an intelligence test. While Robert Jordan insisted this violated his rights, U.S. District Judge Peter C. Dorsey accepted the rationale of the New London, Connecticut, police department—that overly intelligent candidates tend to get bored with police work and soon quit after undergoing costly academy training.

A Florida judge ruled that Merritt Island High School violated Title IX sex discrimination laws because the electronic scoreboard, concession stand, and bleachers they accepted from parents as a donation for the boys' baseball field did not have equal counterparts on the girls' field, which made girls' softball team members "second class citizens." Because the school did not have the funds for such improvements, it had to disconnect the scoreboard, close the concession stand, and rope off some of the bleachers.


Lingua Franca, May-June 1999:
In The Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton), [ Penn State science historian Robert J.] Proctor argues that medical and scientific research under Hitler produced some significant, verifiable breakthroughs.... The Third Reich promoted a series of public-health measures that might well be called forward-looking: banning smoking in certain public places, running an aggressive antismoking propaganda campaign, and placing restrictions on how tobacco could be advertised. Proctor asks a stunning question: Could the most extensive cancer-prevention campaign of this century have been initiated by Hitler? ...

Proctor suggests that his predecessors may have passed on this project in part because "it's kind of an embarrassing fact. Who's going to be interested? Even in Germany, they don't like to see anything 'good' come out of the Nazi era." In the end, he argues, "We do not want to forget Mengele's crimes, but we should also not forget that Dachau prisoners were forced to produce organic honey and that the SS cornered the European market for mineral water."

A caption accompanying a strange photograph taken by Charlie Neibergall of the Associated Press:
Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer talks with Norma "Duffy" Lyons in front of her rendition of the Last Supper, made of butter, at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, August 12, 1999.


In the midst of their most severe drought since the 1930s, Washington D.C. residents received a set of instructions from the federal government on how to ease the "emotional stress" that may result. The following guidelines were released to the public by Curtis R. Austin, director, Office of External Liaison, Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • When brushing your teeth, you can tune in and focus more on the actual brushing, and not what was once the din of the continually flowing water in the background, which surprising[ly] can be a very subtle source of agitation.

  • You can commune with nature by finding more water conservation methods for watering your plants. For example, by not exposing those plants to the intense rays of the sun during the day, but instead partially shading them, allows you to save water. At the same time, you are spending time communing with nature and learning how growth occurs.

  • Another way to conserve water while simultaneously reducing stress is to resist the reflexive action of automatically flushing the toilet if you awaken at night and there is only liquid waste. Simply wait and flush in the morning. Believe it or not, flushing itself can add to the stress of awakening in the middle of the night because of the noise element.


The Ohio Division of Watercraft threatened to fine owners of the St. Helena III, a recreational barge that travels on the Ohio & Erie Canal, $75 a day because it was not equipped with life preservers. The horse-drawn barge holds as many as 60 people, travels at about three miles per hour along a 1.25-mile stretch of canal, in water that is only three feet deep. Since the tourist boat is defined as a commercial vessel, it must carry Type I preservers—the most expensive available, the same kind used in freighters. Ed Shuman, president of the Canal Fulton Heritage Society, hopes the local community will contribute the $3,600 necessary to outfit the boat.

From an extraordinary interview with Hillary Clinton, conducted by Lucinda Franks, in the premiere issue of Talk magazine, September 1999:
"Bill has been subjected to so much abuse.... He doesn't make any excuses for what he did. But the reaction was unprecedented and harmful to the country.... People are mean. I think it's a real disservice, the way we sort of strip away everyone's sense of dignity, of privacy. People need support, not disdain."

"And you know we did have a very good stretch," she adds later, referring to the period after Gennifer Flowers. "Years and years of nothing." ...

"My husband is a very good man," Hillary insists. "They are jealous of him. Yes, he has weaknesses. Yes, he needs to be more responsible, more disciplined, but it is remarkable given his background that he turned out to be the kind of person he is, capable of such leadership.... Can you imagine what it took for him to go on after losing everything, to still get up each morning and do your job? You know in Christian theology there are sins of weakness and sins of malice, and this was a sin of weakness."

I tell Hillary I read his mother's autobiography, in which she wrote about the atmosphere of alcohol, violence, and chaos that forced her son to be the man of the house while he was still a child. Hillary leans over and says softly, "That's only the half of it. He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse that he can't even take it out and look at it. There was terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There is always the desire to please each one." ...

"He has been working on himself very hard in the last year," she tells me. "He has become more aware of his past and what was causing this behavior." Public office has prevented the president from seeking therapy, but friends told me they expect him to after leaving the Oval Office.

Does she believe, I wonder, that you don't leave someone you love under any circumstances?

"You have to know the real quality of the person," she says thoughtfully. "You have to be alert to it, vigilant in helping. I thought this was resolved ten years ago. I thought he had conquered it; I thought he understood it, but he didn't go deep enough or work hard enough."

"What's the part of the Bible that deals with this?" she had asked at one point.

"Corinthians?" I suggested.

"Love endures all things? No, I love that, but I was thinking of when Peter betrayed Jesus three times and Jesus knew it but loved him anyway. Life is not a linear progression. It has many paths and challenges. And we need to help one another."

"And it is love, isn't it?'

"Yes, it is," she said. "We have love."