An Inclusive Litany


Partly because he feels unwelcome under the new Afghanistan government, Former Taliban member Wali Khan Ahmadzai applied for asylum in the United Kingdom. "I wanted to come to Britain because I knew that it was a good place to be, that here I would have a good life," he adds. Still, he tells the Daily Telegraph that he "still think[s] America and Britain are enemies of the Afghanistan people and Muslim people."

Nolan Thompson, community and employee outreach coordinator at the University of Southern Maine, in the Portland Press-Herald, March 27, 2003:
There are differences in how other people live and how they want to live. There are differences in how people see work and their workday. Between noon and 3 p.m., most shops are closed in Venice. That just fits the Italian way of living their day.

There is not an edict from the Supreme Being that one must work a full day every day, Monday through Friday, from 8 until 4:30. However, many people feel OK living life and working that way. True multiculturalism, though, is about accommodating lives that do not fit that way of living. True multiculturalism is about adopting other ways of living and being....

The workplace, as it has been essentially developed by straight white men in this country, has to change if it is to be multicultural.

It was designed to fit how they live in the world. It is not a place that was originally "designed" for people, especially African-Americans or other people of color, who value family and who have a somewhat different perspective on time than the originators of the workplace have.

A correction in the Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2003:
A "Counter Intelligence" review in the Food section March 19 quoted the owner of Mr. Pickles Deli in Los Angeles recalling a radio comment by talk show host Laura Schlessinger about the restaurant's brisket. Schlessinger said that the brisket does not need to be adulterated by ketchup, not that the brisket is the first step before adultery.


An Australian netball star won a an award of $6,750 after she was banned from playing because she was pregnant, a measure instituted due to fears of legal action over injuries to mothers and unborn children.

British Conservative Parliament member Boris Johnson writes in the London Spectator of his odd experience being solicited for a New York Times op-ed piece on the subject of British-American relations in the period leading up to the Iraq war.

After being told by the op-ed editor of several unobjectionable copy edits that represented minor variations between British and American terminology, Johnson writes that he started to get a "floaty, out-of-body sensation" when asked to change a sentence criticizing diplomatic maneuvering in the United Nations Security Council. "I had said something to the effect that you don't make international law by giving new squash courts to the President of Guinea," says Johnson. Instead, "Guinea" was changed to "Chile," another country currently occupying one of the rotating chairs in the Security Council. Johnson was told it would be "easier in principle if we don't say anything deprecatory about a black African country" if it didn't affect his overall point. Fine, Johnson said, South America it is.

Next, the editor insisted on removing a passage asserting that many people influenced by the anti-war cause had developed a psychological need for a disastrous outcome. "To illustrate the point, I noted that the last Gulf war had been so amazingly free of casualties that Gulf war syndrome (a stochastically unexceptional ragbag of symptoms) had been invented to fill the void, and to satisfy the yearning of the anti-war brigade for catastrophe." The editor said the passage would have to be removed because the Times took Gulf war syndrome very seriously. Johnson was incredulous. While he conceded it was a bit provocative, wasn't that the point of journalism? And since it was in an op-ed, could anyone mistake it for an opinion of the editorial board? But the editor was inflexible on this point, and the passage came out.

Finally, after an hour on the phone discussing the article, the editor took issue with the first sentence: "Gee, thanks, guys," a sarcastic reference to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's undiplomatic offer to proceed with the war without Britain's help should Prime Minister Tony Blair's support suddenly collapse. "All right, it was a bit colloquial," admits Johnson, but the sentence was also snappy and "for the life of me, I couldn't see why" it would have to be removed. Eventually, he got his answer: "Gee" is supposedly an abbreviation for Jesus. Johnson paraphrases the editor: "For a century this has been a Jewish-owned paper, and we have to be extremely sensitive about anything that might offend Christian sensibilities. We can say God, God is fine, but we have to be very careful about anything that involves the name of the Lord and Saviour."

Johnson describes his reaction: "Jesus H. Christ... this is insane. This is utterly insane. I really think we ought to try to get that one in...." Later, after consulting with his superiors, the editor allowed the word "Gee" to stay in the article.


Asked by an "Access Hollywood" television reporter what he thought of the Iraq war, actor Peter Boyle demurred. "I've made a commitment not to make any anti-war statements," said Boyle, "because I'm afraid of ... Bush."


A nursery school teacher in Yorkshire, England, banned her students from singing "Three Little Pigs" out of a concern that it might offend Muslims. Local Muslims responded that while the Koran clearly prohibits them from eating a pig's meat, they have no problem reading or talking about them. Indeed, the Koran itself mentions pigs, and Muslims are often obliged to read and recite the Koran.

And, following criticism over its decision to serve pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, one London school district removed hot cross buns from menus this Easter season because of the characteristic white cross on top. While the change was enacted to avoid offending Muslims, among others, one Muslim group calls the decision "very, very bizarre." "I wish they would leave us alone," said a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain. "We are quite capable of articulating our own concerns and if we find something offensive, we will say so. We do not need to rely on other people to do it for us."


Autoweek magazine reports on controversy over an advertising campaign by Nissan. The ad shows the words "Black History Month," with "History" crossed out and replaced by "Future." "Replacing history with future sometimes can rest in the philosophy of those opposing the leveling of the playing field for African-Americans," said Glenda Gill, a representative of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition. "I would have felt better had it said 'Black History is our past and our future.' "

Lawyers for 18-year-old beltway sniper suspect Lee Malvo challenged a recent change in the jury selection process of Fairfax County, Virginia, where he will be tried for murder in November. The county's new system selects potential jurors from voter registration lists only and not from motor vehicle records, a change intended to reduce the number of felons and non-citizens in the jury pool. This, Malvo's lawyers argue, is likely to result in a pool of jurors with higher levels of income and education than Malvo.


New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the Guggenheim Museum permission to build a temporary wooden enclosure on its roof to store a ton of frozen Vaseline used by artist Matthew Barney. The New York Times reports that the Vaseline "will be seen running down the interior of the Guggenheim's rotunda in specially designed troughs. Frozen Vaseline will cover the front of an Art Deco bar.... [A] hidden hose, fed from the roof enclosure through the museum's lighting system, would keep the Vaseline on the bar at 17 degrees so it holds its shape."

Barney was the subject of a long, thoughtful profile in The New Yorker. The Times' chief art critic Michael Kimmelman describes Barney as "the greatest American artist of his generation." In one of the artist's videos, he is depicted "climbing naked up a pole and cables and applying dollops of Vaseline to his orifices." Barney's Guggenheim exhibit, running through June 11, will also feature daily screenings of "Cremaster," a five-part film cycle inspired by the muscle that raises and lowers the testicles.

In London, Ontario, a lesbian couple asked a court to recognize a group consisting of the biological mother, her partner, and the biological father as legal parents of a young boy.


In Bradenton, Florida, the apartment of Grant Griffin has been taken over by a colony of bats. During the day, bats can often be found in his sink or other areas throughout his home. At night, the bats make so much noise that he is often kept awake. Griffin and his girlfriend have even awoken to discover small bites on their bodies.

"I'm about as freaked out as I can get," Griffin told the Sarasota Herald Tribune. "I feel like there are things crawling all over me." But since the state of Florida considers the bats "native wildlife" and since they have not been found to be rabid, Griffin is forbidden from having them exterminated.

Griffin's landlord offered to put screens over the holes where the bats enter and exit the house to collect food, but during the summer mating season this would cause an unbearable stench from babies who died for lack of food.

After spending many nights at friends' homes to avoid the bats, Griffin has made plans to move.

The New York Daily News reports that the U.S. Postal Service spent at least $3.6 million on conferences featuring therapeutic exercises designed to improve job performance and work environments. These exercises included wrapping each other in toilet paper and aluminum foil, building sand castles at the beach, making animal noises, dressing in cat costumes, and asking make-believe wizards for advice.


A pamphlet distributed by the Student Health Service of the University of California at Berkeley advises students upset at the prospect of war in Iraq to "allow for emotions—crying, frustration, verbal expressions of anger. Avoid potentially trite remarks like 'everything will be OK.' Make room for people to have their feelings, even as you try to reassure them. Simply acknowledging feelings is important, as is being together."

From a set of guidelines provided by The Princeton Review to writers preparing practice versions of standardized tests:
Topics to Avoid in Passages, Items, and Art

  • Violence (including guns, other weapons, and graphic animal violence)
  • Natural disasters
  • National tragedies (terrorist attacks, death of a president, etc.)
  • War, dying, death, disease
  • Drugs (including prescription drugs)
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco and smoking
  • Individuals who may be associated with drug use or with advertising of substances such as cigarettes and alcohol
  • Name brands, trademarked names
  • Junk food
  • Fad diets
  • Abuse, poverty, running away
  • Divorce
  • Socioeconomic advantages (e.g., video games, swimming pools, computers in the home, expensive vacations)
  • Sex, including age-inappropriate stories about marriage, engagement, and having children
  • Belching/burping, farting, spitting, etc.
  • Religion
  • Slavery (We can include slavery in history/social-studies material if the state curriculum standards cover slavery. Avoid it in reading passages. The term "enslaved people" is preferable to "slaves.")
  • Rap music, rock concerts
  • Complex discussions of esoteric topics
  • Extrasensory perception, witchcraft
  • Fortune-telling, superstition
  • Dice and games involving dice (For math questions, use the term "number cubes" instead of "dice.")
  • Halloween, religious holidays
  • Aliens and UFOs
  • Anything disrespectful, demeaning, moralistic, chauvinistic
  • Anything depicting racial or cultural stereotypes (e.g., Native American in headdress and war paint)
  • Anything depicting sexual stereotypes (e.g., girls shopping, a mother cooking dinner for a working father, girls overly concerned with dating or what boys think of them, anything accepting of a boy's aggressive behavior)
  • Children coping with adult situations or decisions; young people challenging or questioning authority
  • Losing a job, being fired
  • Rats, roaches, lice, spiders
  • Dieting, other concerns with self-image
  • Evolution, prehistoric times, age of solar system, dinosaurs (We can include these topics in history and science materials if the state curriculum standards cover them. Avoid them in reading passages.)
  • Any topic that is likely to upset students and affect their performance on the rest of the test

Topics to Avoid Because of Overuse


  • Johnny Appleseed
  • James Smithson (Smithsonian Institution)
  • John Muir
  • John James Audubon
  • Phillis Wheatley
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Helen Keller
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Jane Goodall
  • Marie Curie
  • Jacques Cousteau
  • Amelia Earhart
Places and Things:
  • cardiovascular exercise
  • sports
  • fad or extreme diets
  • Galápagos Islands
  • Inca civilization, Machu Picchu
  • NASA
  • Child moves to new town
  • Child starts a new school
  • Child gets new pet
  • Child ends story by saying, "That wasn't so bad after all!"