Monday, August 30, 2004

does protesting work?

Hmmm. I've said it before and I'll say it again, and probably here:

Freedom of speech means nothing without the obligation to listen.

It's become rather clear that the most exciting tactic - and possibly the most successful - the GOP now possesses is the ability to ignore. Zones of silence surround the right-wing facilities. Even Bush is only dropping in and out of New York, ears covered, eyes averted. What this distancing shows is not a desire to conduct their activities in peace, or even for the rather shaky concept of protection: what it shows is that the GOP no longer considers themselves stewards of a populist state. Nobody wants to listen. They only want that one percent that allows them to do what they wish, and screw the majority - at least as much as it takes for them to get that one percent on the record.

So what does this mean for protesting? Nonviolent action is often centered on the premise that there is someone listening; it's a kind of hopeful play for the ears of whoever is in charge, with the assumption that that person cares about the (often well-thought out) logic and reactions of those closer to the ground. I'm no longer convinced this person is there; if he ever was, Bush fired him.

At its best protesting can be an excellent way to get the ears of those who have not had a chance to listen. (All this listening crap is going to hurt my Deaf head, but this IS english, and hearing people come up with the terms. Silly buggers.) When I protested cochlear implants at various conventions, there were always that cool minority of people who came across the picket lines and listened to us, took our flyers, listened to our reasons for being anti- whatever activity we were anti-ing. And it was cool. Some of those people changed their minds. Some of them just allowed their minds to open. Regardless, those people went back to their conventions the next day with a little more information about the people they'd never met who they were supposed to represent.

When people like Bush, however, say "Oh, shout all you like, I'm all for free speech. But I'll be over here. Behind this wall, behind the cops, behind my cops, behind these people, and thus too far away from you and your friends to hear anything. Isn't freedom of speech wonderful?" it's a direct insult to democracy. Hell, it's an insult to all Americans. Right now? Half the country doesn't give a shit, because Bush is good at blinding people to the fact that he's stabbing them in the back. But two, three years from now? Four? If he's still President, and we all have dead relatives in Iraq, and we're all poor and jobless... yeah. Then you'll start caring.

Until then, I do.


Hmmm. Morning's frustrated coffee-fueled rage over, I can get to the point of this morning's post:

That we need to find new ways to protest. I think getting together in one big group is very important. But doing it reactively, going to the Republican National Convention for one, just allows us to underline/highlight/emphasize how little our voices matter. And gives them the opportunity to not listen. It doesn't give us the opportunity to be, as much as I hate the word, proactive. Which should be the actual as well as epistemological point of the word action.... It also, I am afraid, gives the government and media time to prepare for ignoring us, thus divorcing us from the other people we want to talk to, the American people. Vietnam's horrors were stopped when the public saw burning children. We can no longer show burning children on the television, on the grounds that reality is too horrifying for America and thus must be kept from it at all costs (although it certainly wasn't kept from children.)

We also need to challenge their legitimacy in preventing or containing our protests. Their concerns about 'safety' et al are too easily ridiculed and ridiculous (would you rather have protestors wandering the streets randomly looking for a place to gather or would you rather have them tell you where they're gonna get together? Protest will happen one way or another... but as August suggests, if security is your concern, having people tell you where they're gonna be is pretty much the way to go.) I'm not as optimistic as August; I believe they waited so long to give "permission" for people to employ our legal right to protest in order to create disorder, not order. What would have happened if Bostonites had asked permission to form a tea party?

Friday, August 20, 2004

just a personal note to a friend....

happy shish-ke-birthday.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

breaking the implant myths

It's important for Deaf people to fight the implant myths wherever they go. USA-L linked to an article on implants, which pretended to be about genetic alteration of children (but then went on to talk about you know what!) Two common myths appeared in this article which I'd like to talk about:

  • Cochlear implants are the most effective form of "treatment" for Deaf people. While it's true that for Deaf people with no hearing whatsoever benefit greatly from implants, by and large implantation is not appropriate for Deaf people. Hearing aids, for example, are much more powerful. HOWEVER, I have a problem with this whole part of the discussion. If it's so okay for people to be Deaf - a concept which I agree with - why do we counter one form of "treatment" with another? It's true hearing aids are more powerful than implants, for those who can use them. But if our argument is "It's okay to be Deaf," if we're marching in the Deaf pride parade, why use these tinkertoys at all? Let's not forget the brainwashing we go through from childhood. We've been told since we were kids that we're broken and we need the tinkertoys to survive. Psychology sucks.
  • Oh, I love this one: The device, especially when implanted at an early age, is so effective that many of
    those who wear it no longer need to communicate with signs or with lipreading. For all intents and purposes, they are converted into full-fledged members of the hearing community.
    One thing that pisses me off is how authors like this one never actually talk to Deaf people or go to schools for the Deaf, despite acknowledging that implants and genetics are great issues in the Deaf community. It's like someone writing about Black people without going to see one, you know? You wind up with this totally twisted picture of what Deaf people are about, mostly made up by other hearing people who've never been there. Jason Silberberg, who wrote this article, is no different, and it certainly seems as if he hasn't spoken to many - he quotes one Deaf person from the World Federation of the Deaf, that's it. So: what about the "effectiveness" of this "device?" First off, if you look at implant company webpages, many caution you to realize that implanted children will still be Deaf. Secondly, I've been to a lot of Deaf schools and see tons of Deaf children who just aren't using the machines anymore and who are signing happily. As for Deaf people not being part of the community, the fact that Gallaudet has set up an "implant centre" and thousands of students with implants are applying for this culturally Deaf university gives the lie to this argument. I've personally never thought Deaf people needed to fear implants destroying the Deaf community; the danger lies in implants taking away time from our education, deluding parents, and causing medical problems later on in our lives. Not to mention the fact that to be implanted once is to be implanted for ever, and therefore a medical patient and perhaps truly disabled, for the rest of our lives. We just don't need them to survive, learn, or be full able-bodied people, and those who "push" them have never spoken to or tried to be a part of us-does anyone know about the Walter Nance this article mentions? The one who claims Deaf people are now embracing the "cochlear revolution?"

Well, there it is. The other little bits of audism in the article - things like saying "people don't need to communicate with signs" (as if Sign wasn't a language, or was something really dirty and onerous....) you can look at yourself. But this is hardly very good reporting in any case.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

frank bartolillo

SHOUT OUTs to Frank Bartolillo, the Australian Deaf fencer who will be competing in this year's Olympic Games. I spent many happy hours learning to fence in college and miss the sport intensely. So every time I hear about a Deaf fencer, I get a little excited.

I have a problem with his biography however. Under "awards and honors" whoever wrote the bio quotes the Miami Sun-Herald: "He is one of only a handful of deaf athletes who have competed at the able-bodied Olympic Games." (Sun Herald 18/04/04) Um, what? Yeah, there havent been THAT many Deaf athletes competing in the Olympics - but they've been there. And Deaf people are able-bodied. The whole sentence just feels like, you know, a Black person putting "One of the few Black people on the US Senate" as an "award or honor" on their webpage. It's kind of more emphasizing of the discrimination people experience, than how special the person themselves is, you know?

Or - worse - it makes it seem like he's there out of special dispensation. Letting the Deaf kid play with the big boys. Fuck that. I kicked ass when I fenced for college, and so does Frank. GO AUSTRALIA!

Addendum: One more thing - why didn't they just list the competitions and stuff Frank has won? You're telling me Australia would send an untried fencer to the Olympics? No fucking way. They just put "it's an honor for him to be here." Stuffy assholes. Probably - and I couldn't guarantee this, but Sneaking Suspicion - they didn't bother to try calling him on relay.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Doctors out there?

Hmmm. Something's smelly about this article by Robert Pear in the NY Times. (Note: need to register for NY Times online for this.) Basically he says in the first paragraph.
The federal government is offering $1 billion to hospitals that provide emergency care to undocumented immigrants. But to get the money, hospitals would have to ask patients about their immigration status, a prospect that alarms hospitals and advocates for immigrants.

I can understand the need of the federal government to restrict illegal immigrants. This is not because of the Republican reasons about taking jobs and destroying the economy which I believe are a little stupid - obviously, more people means more jobs. More people means more work - the people need food, someone needs to sell it. I believe this because it takes time for the economy to adjust to the influx of people. Yeah, more people means more jobs, but it takes time for the jobs to appear.

I think this is SO the wrong way to go about it though. Hospitals and other groups seem to agree:

Hospital executives and immigrant rights groups said the questioning would deter undocumented immigrants from seeking hospital care when they need it, and some hospitals said compliance might cost them more than they would receive in federal aid.

Now you might be thinking, so a few Mexicans don't get medical care. They didn't pay for it. This is true. But taking care of them is also for our own protection. What if they get Flesh Eating Disease, don't go to a hospital, and the next thing you know all of California is bloody and runny? I do NOT intend to look like Freddy Kreuger at my time of life.

Plus it's gonna cost hospitals more money, when they already don't have it.


to make things worse for Deaf people, guess what? They're "not supposed to" but come on! They're gonna check on the people who don't speak or sound like they speak good English. So us little Deaf people with our funny voices? They're gonna mess around with us. Trust me, enough people ask me if I'm French or Spanish each week to make me wonder if I was born south of El Paso. We already get harrassed by police. And right now, with the unemployment rate so high, especially among the disabled, and Deaf people at the bottom of the list for potential hirees (like we always are) we're even more fucked. I don't want to have to worry about being marked for an immigrant next time i break something.

One more thing:

When such families hear about the questions asked by hospital employees, Ms. Urrutia said, "it's likely that the undocumented immigrant parents will be terrified to seek care for their children, let alone themselves.''

So we're gonna wind up with broke hospitals, fresh flesh eating disease, and dead children.

Plus I really feel bad about doctors being forced to break or bend that little oath they made, to help and heal people.

Hey, Kathy!

Note to Katharine Harris of Florida fame:

I see you working so hard on a daily basis to try to be a big player in the Republican corner. But I think you've overlooked something: they've already got enough token females. Try cross-dressing.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

surprise, surprise!

Newspapers all over are talking about how the "specific information" the government is talking about is four years old or so. The assumption is that Bush is using the information to make himself look good and distract people from the Kerry convention. That would explain why the information came out on Sunday, right after Kerry made his speech - and might explain why the polls didn't look so good for Kerry.

I thought of another very clear and easy to understand point which looks bad for Bush: if we had the information four years ago, why would it be coming out only NOW if not to help Bush in the polls? If this was at all serious, people would have informed Citigroup etc. a while ago to give them time to protect themselves. At the least they could have had months to investigate their buildings and check out their staff. Instead, the information was held back until now and people are told an attack could happen any day. So there is reason to believe this information is not genuine. Bush is wasting New York's limited money on a false alarm. This is horrifying because there are real terrorist threats out there. One day a real attack will be imminent and we won't have the money to do anything but buy gum and spit it at the terrorists.

I recently went to England and was reminded of a day three years ago when I first went to attend University there, right after the 9/11 attacks (should have flown on September 12th, but flight was delayed of course.) I was very gung ho about meeting people and learning BSL, so I flew over a week before classes began in order to go to Blackpool for a Deaf party despite not knowing anyone or having a place to stay - about a thousand Brit Deafies were there, and a few Americans too. When they found out Americans were there - this was on September 15th or 16th, I think, 2001 - the Brits immediately organized, collected a few hundred pounds, and forced us up on a stage. They told us they would put the money together and send it to New York right away. People were crying in the audience. The support and love and sympathy was so palpable; it was really a beautiful scene.

Bush threw away all this love and sympathy with his lies and bad policies.

The thing that pisses me off is that he and his friends like to say people hate America. People do not hate America. On my recent visit, people loved meeting me - they liked the American. But they all said negative things about Bush. I heard again and again from Deaf people that Bush makes people more afraid than terrorists ever could. The recent false alarm is an example of this. I'm convinced the world still loves us quirky, funny Americans and the things we make, do and create. They like American TV, American books, American art, American cars.

The fact is that the sympathy the world had for America after 9/11 is still there. People still love us. But they don't trust our leader, and who can blame them? When John Kerry takes office, that sympathy will be available to him and he will be able to do amazing things with it. He will need it. Bush will leave this country a wreck, and the effects of many of his policies won't be felt for many years. It's easy to destroy, it's hard to build. It's easy to divide and hard to unite. I only hope Deaf people over the world will continue to support us Deaf Americans. I still feel like crying when I remember those faces in the audience, and my own embarrassment at how inadequate my words of thank you were to the kind of unsolicited love and support British Deaf people showed us.

Is it any wonder I fell in love with England?

Monday, August 02, 2004

Bad Democrats! Bad!

I am so tired of the democrats.

Right now the whole big thing is "We won't attack Bush. We won't be negative. They don't want us to be negative. Let's not be negative."

Hello? The twinkie in office has turned our country into this terrified icebox, with citizens hiding and huddling. He's destroyed our economy. He's destroying our environment. And we can't be negative? We're not allowed to criticize poor Mr. Bush? What kind of politics is this? Be nice to the cute guy from Texas? If the incumbent president has made mistakes which are ruining the country, don't people have a RESPONSIBILITY to point out those mistakes and show how they would fix them?

Isn't that what we want?

Someone to fix all of this shit?

Nah. Better to be nice. After all, none of this is really happening, is it? It's all on television.

This weekend I had to hold my mother while she begged me to quit my job, which is downtown. She doesn't feel safer. If Bush has been so tough on terrorism, why are we still living in a climate of fear? Why did al-Quippy wait until after Bush cut money for terrorism protection to attack us? Think they didn't know? Think people aren't watching us as closely as we're watching them?

Questions. Questions questions questions....