1966–1975 Peace & Protest

From the Summer of Love to Women's Lib, Gay Rights and Black Panthers

Nixon's pardon: our castle
by Philip Roth

Like any number of stunned citizens, I have in recent days been looking for something to help me understand the latest shock to the political system and the national conscience, the pardoning by President Ford of former President Nixon. Now where are we? It has occurred to me that at least for the moment, and perhaps for some years to come, we are in something like the world of Kafka's "Castle."...

[T]he attempt to determine President Nixon's culpability did not, strictly speaking, have much to do with the plight of Joseph K., the accused isolate of "The Trial." Nixon protested his innocence no less vehemently and his talent for self-delusion and self-pity undoubtedly enabled him to see himself in a predicament very like Joseph K.'s, as it is described in the opening sentence of "The Trial": "Someone must have traduced Richard N., for without having done anything wrong, he was arrested one fine morning."

What will we write about now? Pondering Nixon's impeachment
by Joel Oppenheimer

August 22, 1974

There are so many among the vast and devoted legions of voice readers who have come up to me in the last week or so, concern etching their features, worry gnawing at their innards. what, they ask me, will you write about, you and the others, now that you don't have nixon to kick around? and i wonder myself, sometimes, because the bile raised by the last several years, on so many levels, was certainly a bonus. if only selfishly; there were weeks when the supply was so constant. i wished i had a column a day to do. . . .

the nixons are easy and don't come often, and, after all, you are bitching to an audience that pretty much agrees with you and wants you to keep laying on. which isn't to say that you're unhappy when that's happening, but the point, you keep telling yourself, is to say something new, or something old that's been lost and forgotten in the screaming. make it new, ezra said, every day as the sun rises make it new. the hope is, always, that you'll trigger yourself and somebody else too, that in presenting some proposition some new jumps will be taken and voila: a new world.

Scene from a sex conference
by Karen Durbin

  • see full text
  • October 1, 1974

    SCENE ONE: Saturday morning. The Women's Speak-Out. Thirteen women take the stage, one by one, in a darkened auditorium, and discuss their sexuality. They range from a Viv, a slim, dark-haired woman in her 30s, who describes herself as a heterosexual monogamist ("I am a token, here to let you know we still exist."), to Pauline, an earthy, forceful woman who says she has tried everything, including sadomasochism (her description of taking a bullwhip to a man in his suite at the Plaza brings cheers from the audience) and urolania. An urolaniac, according to Pauline, is someone who likes to be pissed on, preferably about the face and in the mouth. She says she met one last year and obliged him. Later, out of curiosity, she took a swig from her urine sample the next time she was at her doctor's. ("It tasted like Gatorade, but then I know a lot of people who say that Gatorade tastes just like piss.") Urolaniacs call being pissed on "golden showers," for which they should get Euphemism of the Year Prize.

    The audience at the Speak-Out, several hundred women, is extremely enthusiastic. They cheer Viv, for example, but they also cheer Pauline and everyone else in between. Everyone else in between covers a wide range. There is Robin, who has an open marriage, has taken Betty Dodson's Advanced Workshop in masturbation, is currently working on a series of photographs of erections for Viva, and has recently participated in an orgy, which, she said, didn't turn her on but was "an interesting experience." And Margaret, black, lesbian, and amused, who remarks that "everyone thinks lesbians know what they're doing" and adds that they don't always, pointing out that she didn't learn to masturbate successfully until eight months ago. And Madeleine, who tells a scarifying tale of incest with her father, whose insistent fondling frightened and pleased her as a child, who tried to fuck her when she was nine years old and who finally left the house when she was 12. The audience applauds at this point. "Well, you can applaud," says Margaret in a strained voice, "but in some mixed-up way, I felt a great sense of loss." And for one moment the audience is still, confronted with the unanswerable complexity of sex.
    . . . read more

    Holy war in West Virginia: a fight over America's future by Paul Cowan

    December 9, 1974

    Charleston, W. Va—The turbulent textbook controversy that has crippled schools here is more than a simple fight over the adoption of 325 first through 12th grade supplementary English textbooks. For the 229,000 people who live in the coal and petrochemical rich Kanawha valley it is not an isolated battle, not some rustic re-run of the Scopes trial, but a microcosm of a basic conflict in our culture. It is nothing less than a fight over America's future.

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