REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM
Favoring a rainbow coalition of absurdities, this issue's Reductio Ad Absurdum will not be completely devoted to Jesse Jackson, some of his supporters, and others who try to ignore him.
- The Los Angeles Times reports in a page one story: "Jackson Injects Racism Into Campaign, Assails Media." Then the next day, on page two, a "correction" appeared under "For the Record": "The headline on a story Thursday should have said 'Jackson Sees Racism in Campaign, Assails Media' to reflect accurately Jesse Jackson's assertions about media coverage and attitudes of white voters toward his presidential candidacy." (March 22-23)
- The Los Angeles Times explains its reportorial fastidiousness concerning the death threat Black Muslim leader and active Jackson supporter Louis Farrakhan issued to a black reporter who wrote about Jesse Jackson's referring to Jews as "Hymies":
At the Los Angeles Times, the phrase "death threat" was edited out of stories. "We treated it cautiously because we did not have available to us the total context of the information," said Times National Editor Norman C. Miller, explaining that he was "not closely familiar" with Farrakhan, his practices nor the nature of the Muslims' relationship with ]ackson." (Los Angeles Times, April 6)
- In a March 11 radio address in which Farrakhan praised Hitler, he said of the reporter: "One day soon we will punish you with death."
Speaker of the House Thomas R O'Neill on the CIA-assisted mining of a Nicaraguan harbor "Terrorism at its worst." (Los Angeles Times, April 12)
- Mr. Tony Benn, leader of the extreme left wing of the Labour Party, was returned to a seat in the House of Commons by a constituency that also gave 178 votes to fourth-place finisher D. Sutch, of the Monster Raving Loony party, which far outdistanced such rivals as the Yoga, Four-Wheel Drive, Official Acne, and Elvis Presley parties. The Times, London, March 2)
- Sculptor George Segal on the vandalization of his work, Gay Liberation, at Stanford University:
The statement I tried to make in the sculpture is not a political one. . . . It's rather a human one regarding our common humanity with homosexuals.
A rally protested the vandalization of the four life-sized figures of two standing men, one with his hand on the other's shoulder, and two sitting women one with her hand on the other's knee.
The sculpture was created as a monument to the Stonewall riot that is generally marked as the start of the modern movement for homosexual rights. . . .
"Does the fact of vandalism rule out the possibility of civilized discourse, of civilized high-level art?" Mr. Segal asked. "It's a distressing question." (New York Times, March 13)
- Theodore Streselski is an ABD (All But Dissertation) in mathematics, who murdered a professor of his to (in the words of his attorney): "make an impression, on Stanford University at the highest levels, to make Stanford stop and think." Six years later, in March of 1984, he was scheduled for parole. But in an interview he refused to rule out the possibility that he might kill again: "Soliciting such a commitment from an individual is an indignity and a violation of rights." (Los Angeles Times, January 31)
- The Reagan Administration's PR experts pass over opportunity during the Reagans' China visit:
. . . . [A] fleeting thought that Nancy Reagan might be interested in visiting a drug rehabilitation clinic, because of her work on drug abuse, was summarily dismissed when officials heard that, at least until recently, China shot its drug addicts. (Wall Street Journal, April 27)
- Stanford doesn't get all the excitement or all the good art either:
Police investigated the Claremont train station south of First Street after spotting lights coming from inside and hearing music a little after 10 p.m. They found six Pitzer College students [sic: two] painting the walls inside as part of an art project. Five of the students painted while the sixth played bongo drums. Police also seized a videotape since the students videotaped their painting to get class credit. The students were neither cited nor arrested but police are holding the videotape in case the owners decide to press charges. (The Claremont Courier, March 14)
- Gary Hart, senator, presidential candidate, and lover of Tolstoy, on what he would do if a Czechoslovak airliner full of people were flying toward Strategic Air Command bases and ignoring warnings of American interceptor aircraft to turn back:
. . . . "If the people they looked in and saw had uniforms on, I would shoot the aircraft down. If they were civilians, I would just let them keep going." (New York Times, March 12)
- In a campaign interview, Hart pointed out:
I don't know if this is public information, but in the basement of his presidential palace, [murdered Nicaraguan dictator] Somoza kept cages with panthers inside. After dinner, for the entertainment of his guests, he would go downstairs and have a political opponent thrown in there with the panthers. (The New Republic, April 9)
- Sandra Day O'Connor sings for the Supremes, in a case involving the constitutionality of the City of Pawtucket's crèche display. Affirming the city's right to maintain the crèche, she wrote:
. . . . [Various] government acknowledgments of religion serve, in the only ways reasonably possible in our culture, the legitimate secular purposes of solemnizing public occasions, expressing confidence in the future, and encouraging the recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in society. . . . The display of the crèche likewise serves a secular purpose-celebration of a public holiday with traditional symbols. It cannot fairly be understood to convey message of government endorsement of religion [concurring opinion, Lynch v. Donnelly, March 5, 1984]