An Inclusive Litany


A judge in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh ruled that Kamla Jaan, a eunuch, was legally a man and thus could not serve in a mayoral post reserved under a quota system for women. While Indian eunuchs as a group consider themselves female even though an estimated 99 percent are castrated males, Jaan argued that she was a "born eunuch," meaning a hermaphrodite with ambiguous or deformed genitals.

Lawyers for Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority applied to the federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to allow an exemption to disability-rights law on behalf of airline personnel. The action came after the Australian Attorney General's office released a finding that applicants for positions as pilots and air traffic controllers could not legally be tested for physical or mental disabilities.


The city council of Berkeley, California, passed a resolution declaring "that the space 60 kilometers [37 miles] and above the City of Berkeley is a space-based weapons free zone."

[Ed.: The sky is falling in more ways than one. The following month, the city warned consumers of the risk of food poisoning from eating undercooked sprouts.]

The National Post reports on a plan in Nova Scotia "under which high schools would issue two types of diplomas. Regular graduates would get a regular diploma. But 'graduates' who fail their literacy tests would get an 'adjusted diploma' that notes their deficiency."


The Columbus Dispatch reports that after police released a description of a black male in his late 20s or 30s who raped women in their houses near Ohio State University at least six times, they learned "that at least twice this past summer, women delayed reporting possible break-ins because they didn't want to appear prejudiced—the suspects were black men, and the white women felt bad about assuming they were doing something criminal."

Writing in the New York Law Journal, Tamara Loomis reports on companies that have received a staggering number of resumes during the recent recessionary shock, most via electronic mail. Boeing and Lockheed Martin, for example, are each receiving up to 1.4 million resumes annually, and the numbers are growing at an alarming rate.

But under the standard enacted by the Department of Labor in 1995, anyone who submits a resume in this open-ended manner is considered an "applicant" regardless of qualifications for any particular job. And every company with more than 100 employees must track the race, gender and ethnicity of each of its applicants—data the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission uses to detect discriminatory hiring practices.

It is unclear how companies are supposed to ask the huge numbers of people sending them e-mail for information on their race and gender while simultaneously turning them down for a job, at least not without inviting such discrimination lawsuits. In the face of criticism over what is widely perceived as an unworkable rule, the Office of Management and Budget ordered the EEOC to update its definition of a job applicant, but it has been unable to do so after two years of study. A report scheduled for December that was delayed three times already has now been put on indefinite hold.

As a result, companies flooded with resumes have simply been storing them, in many cases using custom database software that costs around $500,000. "I know of a company that keeps a warehouse in Salt Lake City just to store resumes," said EEOC Chairwoman Cari Dominguez. "They're just so afraid of throwing them away."


Stephanie Bell, a fourth-grade teacher at Mary C. Williams Elementary School in Wilmington, North Carolina, received a formal reprimand after a parent complained of her use of the word "niggardly" to describe a literary character in class. The Wilmington Star-News reports that the state teacher's union not only would not defend her, but told her not to comment on the incident to anyone.

Norman Mailer, once respected as a prominent American intellectual, interviewed in the London Sunday Times Magazine, September 8, 2002:
Let's suppose 10 people are killed by a small bomb on a street corner in some city in America. The first thing to understand is that there are 280 [million] Americans. So there's one chance in 28 [million] you're going to be one of those people. By such heartless means of calculation, the 3,000 deaths in the twin towers came approximately to one mortality for every 90,000 Americans. Your chances of dying, if you drive a car are 1 in 7,000 each year. We seem perfectly willing to put up with automobile statistics.... There is a tolerable level to terror. Let's relieve ourselves of the idea that we have to remove all terror.


An animal rights activist has set up an Internet business,, that sells leather-free collars, restraints, whips and harnesses to sado-masochistic vegans. Endorsing the site, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said: "More and more people are looking for items that are cruelty free."

A proclamation from Mayor Vera Katz of Portland, Oregon:
Whereas, The City Of Portland recognizes the importance of a diverse community; and

Whereas, the motto of "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" adopted by the leather and fetish communities is vital to all relationships between consenting adults; and

Whereas, information, knowledge and education are important factors in promoting, understanding, and maintaining healthy social and sexual relationships; and

Whereas, fundraising efforts benefiting worthy charities gives those causes further power to survive and flourish; and

Whereas, efforts toward a healthier, better educated, and diverse community sponsors increased happiness, health, and awareness;

Now, therefore, I, Vera Katz, Mayor of the City of Portland, Oregon, the "City of Roses," do hereby proclaim August 3-11, 2002 as

Leather Pride Week

in Portland, and commend the many local non-profit organizations for their work in ongoing education, fundraising and leadership, and urge our citizens to appreciate the diversity and sense of an inclusive community represented by these groups and their efforts.

[Ed.: Leather Pride Week included events dedicated to displays of sadomasochism and fisting.]

England's North Tyneside Council refused to support a local carol-singing competition because of the psychological damage it could inflict on contestants who do not win.


The Miami Herald reports that in the same school district in Pensacola, Florida, that was unable to fire a cocaine-addled teacher because of a union contract, an honor student who found a bag containing a mix of prescription and non-prescription pills and was afraid to turn it in for fear of the school's strict zero-tolerance policy, was in fact expelled for drug possession when the school learned of the matter.

Reporting on the incident, the Pensacola News Journal relates that in 1998, 12-year-old Robert Starkie of Sims Middle School in Pace, Florida was expelled for drug possession because he briefly held a Ritalin pill. When a student on a school bus asked him to take something, Starkie held out his hand. When he saw it was a pill, he threw it out the window.


After the city of Troy, New York, instituted a law against spitting on the sidewalk, the local branch of the NAACP denounced the law as racist because in a city where whites were the majority, four of the five people cited under the law thus far were black.

And in Springfield, Illinois, a Denny's restaurant closed its doors from 3:00 to 5:00 a.m. on Sundays because patrons from nearby clubs that close at 3:00 would routinely descend on the restaurant and cause problems, such as not paying for food. The local NAACP branch threatened a discrimination lawsuit against the chain because "there is a predominance of African-American groups of people who go to restaurants at that time." If that Denny's closed its doors, the group reasoned, they should all have to, otherwise be compelled to remain open.


While meeting to discuss the issue of global poverty and wealth inequality, delegates to the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa were treated to some 4,400 pounds of fillet steak and chicken breasts, 1,000 pounds of lobster and other shellfish, 5,000 oysters, 450 pounds of salmon, 220 pounds of the prized South African kingclip fish, over 1,000 pounds of bacon and sausages, and plenty of champagne and caviar.

And in Rome, the United Nations World Food Summit, devoted to helping the 800 million people starving worldwide, opened with a luncheon of lobster, foie gras and goose stuffed with olives for the 3,000 delegates, with many limousines parked out front.


The Washington Post reports that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) now has a dog named "Splash."


Following widespread public ridicule, officials at the University of California, Berkeley, reversed an earlier decision not to allow red, white and blue ribbons at the school's September 11 commemoration ceremony. A student organizer had told the California Patriot they didn't want ribbons that were "too political, too patriotic," or "anything too centered on nationalism—anything that is 'Go U.S.A.' " Instead, the event's organizers chose white ribbons, a hue widely associated with surrender.

Former tennis star John McEnroe, of all people, in an op-ed for the London Daily Telegraph, September 8, 2002:
In traveling the world as a tennis player, I have a better appreciation of other countries than most Americans. We could do with being a little less besotted with money, money, money, win, win, win. When I am in England each summer people always ask: "Why don't English players win Wimbleton? They ought to be more like Americans and play to win." To my mind, it's time Americans started being more like the English—or at least learnt to lose with grace.


A caption from a Reuters photograph, September 3, 2002:
Recovery and debris removal work continues at the site of the World Trade Center known as "ground zero" in New York, March 25, 2002. Human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. "war on terror" since September 11.

Denys Blell, who has a master's degree in African-American history and an African and Lebanese ancestry, was turned down for a position as "assistant vice president for academic affairs and diversity" at Baltimore's Loyola College. He sued the school, alleging that the hiring official had told him that African-American faculty members were concerned he was too light-skinned and not "visibly black" to impressionable students.