An Inclusive Litany


Toshiba settled a class-action lawsuit for $1 billion that was brought on behalf of two laptop computer owners who, due to a design flaw, theoretically might have lost data under certain circumstances when using their floppy disk drives. Under the agreement, attorney Wayne Reaud pocketed $147.5 million.

The Chicago City Council approved a resolution urging Congress to consider a slave reparations bill. "I want 40 acres and a Lexus. You can keep the mule," added Alderman Carrie Austin.

Lerone Bennett Jr., an executive editor of Ebony magazine who has written many books on the subject of reparations, calls for an apology first, followed by "several hundred billion dollars" worth of payments in the form of a massive Marshall-style rebuilding of black communities, and "GI bill-type individual disbursements for scholarships and home purchases."

In response to critics who consider it inappropriate to offer reparations to people who weren't enslaved themselves, some black psychologists countered that slavery has had a lasting impact, and refer to it as "post-slavery traumatic syndrome."


After a man received a whiplash and back injury when his car collided with a deer along a semirural stretch of road in Brazoria County, Texas, his lawyer sent a letter to a local subdivision, alleging that some of its homeowners fed deer in the area and were thus liable.


A year after an Albany jury exonerated four New York City police officers who killed Amadou Diallo after mistakenly thinking he had flashed a weapon, an undercover detective accidentally killed off-duty security guard Patrick Dorismond in a street scuffle following a botched drug sting.

Comparing the two incidents, the New York Times editorialized: "there were no indications that race had played a role [in the Dorismond shooting], as was alleged in the death of Mr. Diallo." The Times went on to explain that whereas the officers in the Diallo case were white, "the three officers involved in the confrontation with [Dorismond] are Hispanic."

In neither case had there been any allegations of racist statements on the part of police officers, or even any tendency to ignore white suspects to concentrate maliciously on blacks.

At Harvard University, the Gleitsman Foundation bestowed a $100,000 "citizen activist" award on convicted murderer Jack Kevorkian.

"Free speech not only lives, it rocks." So said Oprah Winfrey two years ago, after she won a legal victory over a group of cattlemen who didn't like what she said about beef in one of her programs. These days, her employees at Harpo Inc. are required to sign a confidentiality agreement prohibiting them from talking or writing about the talk-show host's personal or business life and the affairs of her company—for the rest of their lives.


Mesa, Arizona, school officials canceled a junior high school performance of a play based on Tom Sawyer because they found it to be racist and offensive to women, police officers, and churchgoers.

The Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2000:
Despite the shortage of child-care centers and preschools in Ventura County, Head Start employees must recruit children to fill classrooms in several of their 16 schools.

Beginning next week, bilingual outreach workers will canvass neighborhoods, set up tables at public health clinics and visit local markets. And they will go door-to-door, trying to persuade low-income parents to register their children at a Head Start preschool....

"Recruiting is necessary and exhausting," [Sandra Estrada] said. "It's hard to find people in this area. I'm worried about how I am going to find kids for next year."

Cleaning up from vandalism directed against retail businesses in Boulder, Colorado, perpetrated by radical opponents of economic globalization and free trade, employees of Gap Kids found notes stuffed into pockets of clothing decrying both sweatshops and fashion conformity.


According to a survey by Northern California's Candida Research and Information Foundation, symptoms of exposure to perfumes and other fragranced products include "watery or dry eyes, double vision, sneezing, nasal congestion, sinusitis, tinnitus, ear pain, dizziness, vertigo, coughing, bronchitis, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, asthma, anaphylaxis, headaches, seizures, fatigue, confusion, disorientation, incoherence, short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, nausea, lethargy, anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings, restlessness, rashes, hives, eczema, flushing, muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness, irregular heart beat, hypertension, swollen lymph glands, and more."

Following a controversy over South Carolina's display of the Confederate flag over its State House dome, a similar controversy erupted in Framingham, Massachusetts, where the rebel flag could regularly be seen unfurled as part of Civil War reenactments.


The Boston Licensing Board investigated a South Boston bar following allegations that a series of stuffed monkeys decorating the establishment represented a racial slur intended to mock Black History Month. The bar owner immediately took the display down and apologized for any offense taken, but insisted none was intended. "The reason I put it up is because it's the dead of winter. People are sick of winter and want to go into a bar with a tropical flair," commented Tom English, the bar's owner. "It makes it more comfortable." Each month he put up a different display: frogs in April because of the rain, fish over the summer, donkeys and elephants in November. Nevertheless, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination conducted its own investigation, fining English $4,000 and recommending he make another public apology.

From The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons:
But what had always bothered Betsey Wright most about certain troopers was their bad influence upon Clinton himself. She disliked their boozing and womanizing most of all. Keeping sexually adventurous women away from Bill Clinton had been a staff preoccupation for as long as he had been in public life.

"They exploited his sexual attractiveness to women," Wright said. "Their running around carousing at night was driving me crazy, because the stories always came back about how these guys working for the governor were put picking up women in bars."

Yet Clinton plainly enjoyed the troopers' tales of conquest. Wright sometimes thought he had a compulsive need to be accepted that stemmed from childhood insecurities. "He had a vicarious enjoyment of the good old boy games," she said. "He loved locker-room stories. There's a part of this guy who wanted to be a good old boy and he just never could be."

Students at San Diego State's teacher education program are required to take an "Introduction to Multicultural Education" course in which they take "cultural plunges" into unfamiliar environments, rather than tests. White students must visit a black church to better understand what it feels to be the only one around who looks different. Heterosexuals must attend gay bars. Each student has to wear a tag and recite aloud, "I am gay" or "I am lesbian," regardless of whether it is true, and describe how it feels like to be gay in various discriminatory situations.

After four white police officers in Riverside, California, shot and killed a 19-year-old black woman who was sitting unresponsively inside an idling, locked car with a .38-caliber gun on her lap, the city sued the gun manufacturer, claiming the firm failed to educate or train users in gun safety and proper usage. Community activists say the lawsuit is an effort to shift blame from the officers who shot the woman.


Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-MS) had $375 million earmarked for construction of an amphibious-assault ship at the Ingall's Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in plain view of Lott's home. This is the second such ship Lott has funded, though the Navy has asked for neither.

A class action lawsuit was filed in California, alleging that twelve manufacturers of carbonless copy paper violated the state's Proposition 65, which requires companies to give a "clear and reasonable" warning before knowingly exposing anyone to carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals. The suit is being coordinated through a victim's advocacy group, the Carbonless Copy Paper Injury and Information Network.

Defendants claim to have suffered from headaches, bronchitis, red and swollen eyes, vertigo, migranes, fatigue, sinus infections, sleep disorders, deteriorating memory, and laryngitis. The last symptom was reported by a woman named Brenda Smith, who worked as a customer service representative, answering phones all day long. The New York Times and other media outlets failed to mention that Ms. Smith, complaining of respiratory problems, has been a heavy smoker for years.


Yale psychology professor Marianne LaFrance spent three months conducting interviews and experiments to produce a report on "The Psychological, Interpersonal, and Social Effects of Bad Hair."

The Swarthmore Phoenix, April 6, 2000:
The annual gender-bending Sager dance became an unlikely forum for homophobic slurs last Saturday night, as partygoers reported several different incidents of harassment.

Verbal slurs were allegedly dropped both in- and outside the party, which was held at both Olde Club and the Women's Resource Center. Daniel Koltonski '02 said that when he left the party at around 1 a.m., he saw two "really drunk, really loud guys" talking outside Sharples III. One apparently referenced the party and then remarked to the other one, "F***ing faggots ruin everything."

According to Julie Russo '01, a board member of the Swarthmore Queer Union (SQU), homophobic epithets were also heard inside the party. "There were some drunken frat boys there, and at least one of them was making homophobic comments," Russo said....

In the wake of last weekend's events, members of the queer community are now doubting whether to continue organizing the dance in future years. "The Sager party should not be a place where a queer person is going to feel uncomfortable in any way," Russo said....

Instead of underscoring the gender issues discussed at [a corresponding] symposium, Russo said that Sager has become an "institutionalized event [in which] guys... dress up in drag but not really with the spirit of breaking down gender barriers. It's just this expression of homophobia."

She added, however, that parts of Saturday's party were enjoyable. "There was a great party going on in the WRC, and there was this huge orgy going on downstairs, and it was fabulous. I think that if the party somehow forms the opportunity of having a big orgy, that's good." ...


A parental guidance notice that appeared in the Los Angeles Times about the PG-13 film, Jakob the Liar:
Robin Williams in touching, comic fable about man who makes up news stories to raise morale in Jewish ghetto. Dead bodies, deprivation, suicide; Nazis torture Jakob; characters smoke.

NBC's Jim Avila reported from Havana that when Elian Gonzalez is likely returned to Cuba, he and his family would enjoy the "Cuban good life" otherwise reserved for Communist Party elites. His father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, is "from a family of loyal communists with good jobs in the local government," which for Juan Miguel means being a cashier at a park. Elian's mother, Elisa, who perished while trying to get herself and her son to the United States, held a "prestigious job" as a maid at a tourist hotel where she could earn "dollar tips."

The Cuban government has added a fresh coat of paint and made other improvements to Elian's likely new home, a two-bedroom converted garage in an "exclusive neighborhood" where he would have his own room—"a luxury in housing-short Cuba." The family would also receive five free gallons of gasoline a month, and a bag of extra rice, beans, cooking oil, deodorant, shampoo, razors and shaving cream—about $15 a month worth of goods.

[Ed.: CBS's Randall Pinkston noted that in Juan Miguel Gonzalez's hometown of Cardenes, people move their goods with horse-drawn carts and there is sewage in the streets where children play.]

Facing a lawsuit, MTV apologized to two 14-year-old girls who were splattered with feces by one of their acts, the Shower Rangers, onstage during a taping of the music channel's "Dude, This Sucks" show in California.

[Ed.: How the two performers in question managed this feat of synchronization loses something in the telling.]


After a Canadian company decided to ban smoking, an arbiter ruled that nicotine is a disability like alcohol or drug addiction, and that heavy smokers are thus covered by Canada's Human Rights Act. One smoker testified that she suffered depression, which her doctor attributed to nicotine withdrawal, when not allowed to smoke at work.

On International Women's Day, a group of radical feminists vandalized Montreal's Mary Queen of the World Catholic cathedral, spray-painting anti-religious slogans, leaving condoms in the sanctuary, destroying paintings with soiled sanitary napkins, ripping pages out of hymnals, and stealing altar cloths. But a police spokesman said the vandals could not be prosecuted under the city's hate-crimes law because it did not apply to people who "in good faith" attempt "to establish by argument an opinion on a religious subject."

The Maine state legislature is considering renaming Big Squaw Mountain, Squaw Bay, and the towns of Big and Little Squaw.


Partly in response to requests from gay students made uncomfortable by either disapproving or attractive roommates, Pennsylvania's Haverford College announced it will allow male and female students to share dorm rooms.

And the undergraduate council at Harvard University passed a resolution asking the administration to make it harder for students to change rooms when they learn their roommates are gay.