An Inclusive Litany


After a survey showed that 91 percent of the University of North Dakota's student body wanted to keep the school's "Fighting Sioux" nickname, while 9 percent opposed the nickname, an Associated Press headline read: "Survey Shows Mixed Feelings About Nickname."

Peter Jennings on ABC's "World News Tonight," October 17, 2000:
We missed the death of a notable American this week, so we want to catch up. Gus Hall actually died on Friday. The son of a Minnesota miner became head of the U.S. Communist Party at the height of anti-communist McCarthyism in the late '40s and '50s. He spent eight years in prison and a lifetime in the political wilderness for his views here, but he was a... dignitary in the Soviet Union. Even after his friends there abandoned the cause, Hall never wavered and he was 90.

Writing in Salon, Amy Halloran reports on a paper, delivered at a book conference by Peggy Kamuf of the University of Southern California, claiming that reading aloud to children is a violent act, initiating them into the patriarchal construct of the family unit and society at large. According to Kamuf, this initiation is so brutal and painful that most people don't even remember learning to read.


The State of California ruled that former police officer Mathias Bachmeier is depressed and suffers from post-traumatic stress, making him eligible for a $30,000 annual pension. Much of his stress resulted from his conviction for a murder he committed in 1996, for which he is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

After a man with ties to the rap group Made Men was arrested for stabbing a member of the Boston Celtics basketball team, Al Sharpton went to Boston to protest what he said was unfair stereotyping and police profiling of rappers. Sharpton said the suspect was singled out because of his involvement in the hip-hop industry.


The St. Paul Pioneer Press illustrates what has had the Boy Scouts so concerned:
For those of us who remember the Girl Scouts as the quiet girls in class who wore their green uniforms on Wednesdays, encountering Katze Ludeke can be quite an eye-opener. She seldom wears her sash for St. Croix Valley Troop 1256, preferring to accessorize with army boots and a lavender bra strap that slides persistently down her bare shoulder. Rather than stitching doilies and tea cozies, the talented seamstress has created her own costume company specializing in "fetish-wear." Instead of going for the Gold Award—the Girl Scout's highest honor—by reading to senior citizens, Ludeke pushed to start her own support group for at-risk teens called Queer Youth Exist. For her Gold Award application... Ludeke is submitting her work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens, with the support of her troop.

Dr. Richard Zeller, a sociology professor at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, thought it might be a good idea to teach a course on "political correctness." However, his departmental colleagues denied his proposal, as did other departments. In turning down the course on behalf of the Women's Studies department, Dr. Kathleen Dixon declared: "We forbid any course that says we restrict free speech."

The Washington Post, October 23, 2000:
Natural resources are more plentiful [in North Korea] than in South Korea. The economy suffered drastic declines in the 1990s, and a series of natural disasters reduced much of the country to starvation.


At an annual "Cultural Diversity" seminar in Nassau County, New York, the name of corrections officer Patricia Luca and that of another officer were used in a hypothetical scenario in which two colleagues carry on an illicit affair that eventually goes awry, descending into quid-pro-quo sex and jealous violence. Afterwards, the story was posted throughout the department with lewd comments on it, causing her emotional distress and loss of self-esteem, and leading her to sue the department.


Northern California performance artist Dona Nieto, a.k.a. "La Tigresa," says she hopes to slow the frantic pace of logging by baring her breasts and reciting "Goddess-based, nude Buddhist guerrilla poetry" to stunned timber crews. "They stop their chainsaws and they stop their trucks and they pay attention," observed Nieto.

In an interview with The Advocate, President Clinton said homosexuals defended him during his impeachment because they understood what it was like to be publicly humiliated and abused, the same thing that prompted so many African-Americans to defend him.


A report by the British government's Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain recommended not to use the word "British" to describe residents of the United Kingdom, since it does not reflect the island's cultural diversity.

The London Daily Telegraph reports that a vegetable stand was raided and scales seized because the owner, who is now facing criminal charges, did not sell his goods using metric measurements as mandated by new pan-European laws.

The California Interscholastic Federation ruled that Quan Vu of Santiago High School cannot play field hockey because you have to be a girl to play field hockey.

"Girls can play guys' sports, like wrestling and football, but I can't play field hockey," commented the 17-year-old boy, who was co-captain of the team. "It doesn't make sense. An athlete is an athlete."

The decision cited a rule barring boys from playing a girls' sport "unless opportunities in the total sports programs for boys in the school have been limited in comparison to the total sports programs for girls."

More from Nicholas Lemann's priceless interview with Vice President Al Gore in the New Yorker, July 31, 2000:
I became interested in more complex metaphors and their explanatory powers when I was writing Earth in the Balance. In particular, in my effort to try to understand the origins of our modern world view, and its curious reliance on specialization and ever-narrower slices of the world around us into categories that are then themselves dissected, in an ongoing process of separation, into parts and sub-parts—a process that sometimes obliterates the connection to the whole and the appreciation for context and the deeper meanings that can't really be found in the atomized parts of the whole—and in exploring the roots of that way of looking at the world, I found a lot of metaphors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that came directly from the scientific revolution into the world of politics and culture and sociology. And many of those metaphors are still with us.

[Ed.: Following Gore's eventual concession, his aide Carter Eskew commented to the New York Times: "The popular vote was 50-50, the Florida Supreme Court voted 4 to 3, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4.... To [Gore], this is all a fractal, the geometric theory that pieces of the whole, regardless of the scale, reflect the universe. He says it all the time."]


In Arkansas, 70-year-old Betty Deislinger was arrested and fingerprinted because she declined to remove burglar bars from the front of a 1870s house in downtown Little Rock that she was fixing up, as preservation code requires.


One month prior to its excellent, quality work resolving the 2000 presidential election recount controversy, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a man who had been convicted and imprisoned for sexually abusing his eight-year-old stepdaughter did not necessarily pose a threat against his own children, aged three and five, and thus could retain custody of them.

A Massachusetts court ruled that Brockton school officials may not prohibit a 15-year-old boy undergoing a gender identity crisis from attending school in women's clothing, including wigs, dresses, and padded bras.


A North Carolina jury awarded $2 million in punitive damages to a female placekicker who said she was cut from Duke University's Division I football team solely because she is female, despite evidence other kickers were more talented. The coach said he even kept her on the team longer than she deserved because he admired her perseverance and thought it served a useful symbol for other aspiring female players.


Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore called for a release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to counter high prices. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader criticized the proposal as "too little, too late," saying it's "not enough" to lower oil prices.

The Green Party platform calls for a reduction in auto usage on environmental grounds, a point also made by Gore in his book, Earth in the Balance. Of course, there's no shorter route to that goal than higher fuel prices.


In Switzerland, campaigners have collected 250,000 signatures for a petition that would grant pets rights similar to those of children in divorce cases.

In Orange County, California, a court will rule on whether an estranged husband who moved to Montana can claim one of two dogs shared by the couple and receive $25,000 in punitive damages and compensation for loss of companionship. His wife says the dogs should be kept together.

Finally, many more American veterinarians are being sued for malpractice, and their insurers have responded by upping lawsuits' "nuisance value" (out-of-court settlement) from around $200 during the 1970s to $4,000. Caps on damage awards have risen more sharply, from around $300 to five figures. The American Veterinary Association warns their members' increased insurance premiums will inevitably be passed along to consumers, decreasing overall access to veterinary care.


The International Monetary Fund and other international donor agencies are expected to criticize the government of Malawi for its decision to spend $2.5 million on a fleet of 39 government limousines, despite the fact that many of its citizens live well below the World Bank poverty threshold of $1 a day.

During the presidential debates, Vice President Al Gore told the story of Kailey Ellis, a student at Florida's Sarasota High School who had to stand during one of her science classes because there weren't enough desks.

The principal, Daniel Kennedy, later explained that it was the beginning of the year, when schedules were in flux, and they hadn't figured out where to put all the desks they had. The girl could have had a desk if she'd asked for one. The classroom already contained a good deal of new equipment: two wall-mounted television monitors connected to a desktop computer, twelve student computers at six lab stations and many pieces of new lab equipment.

Letter to the editor, the Portland Press Herald of Maine, July 17, 2000:
I can't imagine how anyone can chew on a drumstick again after watching the animated movie "Chicken Run," which opened last week to great critical acclaim.

(The 1995 screening of "Babe," the talking pig, led a number of people to drop pork from their diet.)

The delightful British film recounts the story of a group of brave hens plotting to escape from a factory farm. The story is both poignant and funny, and the characters quickly earn their empathy.

I was impressed how these animals that we view as food share our quest for life and liberty as well as most of our feelings of joy, affection, frustration, sadness and pain.

Thankfully, my local supermarket carries a selection of delicious "mock chicken" foods, which unlike dead chicken flesh are free from saturated fat, cholesterol and salmonella.

I look forward to exploring the many cruelty-free, healthful, dietary options that are available.

—Bill L. Price

[Ed.: Lest you think this letter represents an isolated rift between man and medication, note that, minor changes in wording aside, the very same letter appeared in USA Today (attributed to Alex Hershaft of Bethesda, Md., July 13), the Omaha World-Herald (Nancy Lynn, Lincoln, July 12), and the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California (Joy Pedroja, Perris, July 14).]