Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Gallaudet University Press
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Well . . . that’s not exactly true. The publication I would write for was to be called The Tactile Mind Weekly (TTMW)— so yes, the column had to be a weekly one. But John never actually specified that my column had to be about something that was “bugging” me. All he really said was that it had to be about deafness. But you see, to me, those two things were one...
Deaf Man Killed by Flying Golf Ball—A Eulogy of Small Accomplishments
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However, there are times when my writing skills are used to justify others’ arrogance. I remember one day about eleven years ago . . . I was working as an educational assistant in an oral program. I was arguing with one of the teachers. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it went something like...
Chris, Amy, and the Floating Motion Sickness Pills
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Over and over I get these kinds of comments from my single friends. Over and over, I fail to understand them. I’ve been married for seven years, and I can tell you that the very thing single people seem to be the most afraid of—giving up their own way of doing things—is the best part of marriage. My wife Amy, in entirely unplanned and indirect ways, is the person...
One Guy vs. Seven Billion! Can He Win? Can He?!?
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You’re saying you don’t have to learn to sign, because that’s the way of the world! (Translation: the same tired old argument that this is a hearing world, not a Deaf one, and in a hearing world, people speak, not sign!) That is essentially the argument you’re making, no? All righty! The way of the world! Fair enough. If that’s the better argument, it should be able to...
Praying for the Hell’s Angel
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Now see, this is bad. A stall door closes for two reasons: One, it’s probably occupied by a 300-pound Hell’s Angel (complete with a Viking helmet on his head—not the football kind) and logging chains wrapped around his knuckles, or two, it swung shut all by itself, and there’s nobody in there...
Value beyond ASL, Value beyond Breasts
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She was a model—I can’t remember the names of any of the magazines she appeared in, but this is because my brain had to make a choice: look at her portfolio and see the bathing suits she was wearing in the pictures, or carefully memorize the titles of the magazine covers they were on. Guess which choice...
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When we were kids, we played with dolls. As adults, we still play with them. Girls had the obvious Barbies. But hey, even the guys had dolls. Those little plastic World War II soldiers you tried to knock over with rocks at ten yards? They qualify. And the Spider Man action figure you swung around your head with twine (and accidentally tossed high into a tree branch...
Point A to Point B Should Bea Straight Line
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At 5 p.m., the people waiting with me get up and form a line. I get in this line. There’s a TV screen above the door leading to the plane. The TV screen lists three different flights. I catch the eye of Desk Girl and raise my eyebrows as if to ask, “This one, right?” She smiles and gives me another thumbs-up...
But I Don’t Want to Buy a Deaf Person!
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Based on the luck I’ve been having lately, I just know that someday the relay operator is going to relay the following conversation over my TDD...
Have Cell Phone, Am God
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Situation: a guy driving down the freeway (at, say, sixty miles per hour) speaks into his cell phone to a friend ten miles away. “I heard you!” he shouts into the phone. “I’ll meet you in front of McDonalds in ten minutes!”...
One Roll of Tape and Your Whole World Collapses
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What we’ll do is offer a point system! Ten points for every hour they can go without taking the tape off. Twenty-five points for realizing why a cup with a handle is superior to a glass without one. Fifty more points for every successful bathroom trip that requires toilet paper. A hundred points for every disturbed expression received while shaking hands. And...
Minority = Pathology?
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Saying that deafness is a pathological condition is simply a few synonyms away from saying that deafness is a medical condition. That, in turn, is only a few synonyms away from saying deafness is a biological condition...
The Real World—Bigger than You Think
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Regardless of what Hearing America would have you believe, the “English-speaking world” (as opposed to the ASL-fluent one) is not the “real” world. There are around 190 nations on this planet. Only 45 of them, or about one-fourth, list English as their official language...
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Since birth, one masked doctor after another clutching at your ankles, holding you upside down. In a breeze of fluttering eyelids, groups of trembling medical students look up to you, gathered around your head in a huddle...
Cash My Check, You Flying Brick-Headed Rat-Pole Witch!
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Network censors seem to be taking advantage of the very lipreading fallacies that author Henry Kissor discussed in his book What’s That Pig Outdoors? (Do you notice how that looks exactly the same on the lips as “What’s that big loud noise?”). “F-ck you,” for example, seems to have now become “Forget you!” in the captions. “Suck my d-ck” has become...
What Criteria for “Well-Meaning?”
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Cochlear implants are advocated for by well-meaning but ignorant hearing audiologists. The actual surgery is done by well-meaning hearing surgeons. The children are then educated in oral schools by well-meaning but destructive hearing teachers, who, in turn, are backed up by well-meaning but whatever (pick an adjective) hearing speech therapists, psychologists...
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Quite a few times in life, I’ve had people say, “Quit feeling sorry for yourself!” or “You’re so full of self-pity!” Usually the people who said this with the most force were, at the time, people I considered to be close friends...
He May Not Understand, but He Still Ranks a Five
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Okay? You win. All of your helpful analogies have convinced me (“To understand childbirth, swallow a gallon of water, hold it for nine months, then lay on your back and try to pee with your feet set in stirrups.”). There isn’t one more episode of Oprah I can watch that will help. For all men everywhere, I surrender...
That’s You, That’s Your Beer—Keep Them Separate
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I see this again and again: A mother confides in me that her mainstreamed Deaf child has low self-esteem because he doesn’t have any friends. My Deaf friend tells me her self-esteem is currently low because her boyfriend just broke up with her. A Deaf student blames his shattered self-esteem on the “F” I just gave him on his paper...
Guess What? My Hearing Ancestors Had Sex Too!
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Look, don’t get me wrong. If you’re proud of your family and your heritage, that’s great. If your great Deaf grandmother out-drank Wyatt Earp and convinced him to fund the Dodge City Signing Saloon, good for her. And that’s a story I don’t want you to skip...
Backstabbers Aim for Your Back, so Why Cover Your Ass?
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People complain that backstabbers in our community are so brutally efficient at what they do because nobody ever sees them coming. Well, take that reasoning one step further. Why don’t you see them coming? Could it be because you’re too wrapped up in being extra careful? (Translation: covering your ass...
He Wrote about Ring Bologna and Disappeared
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My version of hell: I’m condemned to float around for eternity on a giant piece of ring bologna in a huge subterranean cavern that’s half-filled with ring bologna juice. The steam rising from the bottomless depths sticks to my skin like a wet rubber hospital glove. I have nothing to eat except lukewarm ring bologna...
You Don’t Have 100 Percent to Give
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“I expect 100 percent out of you at all times!” he would simultaneously roar and sign at us. “If you can’t give me 100 percent, then I want 110 percent!” Then he would drive his golf cart to the top of this humongous three-story hill that overlooked WSD’s football field, get out, and glare down at us in the...
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Fallout is a bitch, isn’t it? You’re left wondering—why do people, especially your friends, hold things back from you? Are you unapproachable? Or are they taking the easy way out by avoiding conflict? Plus now you’ve got the added complication of Friend #2 (who just told you that Friend #1 was mad at you). Do you act like you don’t know? Or do you burn Friend...
Advice on Tennis and Pain
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Get three games into the first set so the number of lobs wind down and the hard cross-court shots start coming. Get a return pattern going. Feel out weaknesses and strengths. Run like you’re still 18 instead of 36. Or even be careful about it—it won’t matter. Play enough, and you will get hurt...
Institutionalized Just Like You
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In fact, pretty much everything built by humankind is an institution. A church, for example, is an institution in both the physical and abstract sense (i.e., the Church). You don’t technically even need an institution (a building) to put your institution (an organization) in, just to have an institution (an abstract concept)...
Research—The Best Way to Avoid Real Answers
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I’m a dissertation away from a Ph.D. in adult literacy and educational counseling, so trust me when I tell you I no longer breathe oxygen—I breathe research statistics. I no longer eat food—I eat research papers (and drink the black typewriter ink they are printed in). When I sleep, I dream of setting alpha levels and checking for Type II errors...
Guys in Ties? One Tug Closer to Strangulation!
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Explain this to me: The first thing a guy takes off after he gets home from work is his tie. In fact, most men can’t even wait that long to finally chuck the damned thing across the room. Want to know how to identify the car of a man? Look in the back seat. There’ll be eight crumpled ties back there, scattered amongst the empty 7-11 Big Gulp...
Engineering Efficient Institutions
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What we’ll do is genetically engineer all junior faculty for limited lung capacity. Since nobody listens to them anyway, and for their own job security, we’ll only allow them to retain three seconds’ worth of oxygen. In addition to this, mandatory speech training from birth onward will be provided, and it will teach them to say only one...
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I come from what you would call a “working-class/poor” background. My father was a farmer until we lost our farm. After that, he was either a farmhand on somebody else’s farm or a factory worker until the day he retired (when we didn’t have any money, sometimes he was both simultaneously). My...
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I personally learned the prayer from Al-Anon when I was about fourteen. For those of you unfamiliar with Al-Anon, it’s a support group for people sharing a part of their lives with an alcoholic. In my case, that was my Dad. In somebody else’s case, it was a husband, a wife, a brother, a friend. The only...
The Starving African Children Ain’t Got Nothin’ on Us
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Now I, for one, have never understood the logic behind these kinds of statements. What, exactly, is the significance of starving African children when we’re discussing, say, the crappy condition of Deaf education in the United States or the fact that a deaf person might have a harder time finding a job than...
“. . . Anything Except Hear,” Including Believe Inspirational Bullshit
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When it comes to literacy, there are two interpretations for the word can. In one interpretation, can is conditional. If you are exposed to an accessible language from birth onwards—and by that I mean truly accessible, something that you can absorb easily—chances are higher that you’ll acquire the linguistic...
Another Problem with “Deaf People Can. . . .”
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Here’s another thing I hate about the saying, “Deaf people can do anything except hear.” What about all of the supposedly “deaf” people who can hear? I know quite a few who still have some remnant of that pesky sense left in their skulls. I see them on campus all the time, I-Pods jammed in their ears, practically...
On Being Brave
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I’m tired of being surrounded by cowards. I hate them more and more every day. Always working behind the scenes; forever picking their battles. Always taking issue with how something is said, but somehow never around when it’s time to speak up on the issue...
I Thought You Were KGB!
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My grandfather’s good friends, Karl and his wife Gretchen, were still living in East Berlin when the deconstruction of the Berlin Wall began in 1989. The citizens of Berlin (both halves) played no small part in its destruction, attacking it enthusiastically with sledgehammers for nearly a year until it was all gone. Rumor has it that this was the only way they could get...
Strip Club Literacy
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Every night, millions of international businessmen end up in strip clubs near American airports. It matters very little whether or not they can speak or read even a single word of English. From Japan to Hawaii (in either direction), everyone knows that Paradise Oasis isn’t a fruit-drink store. The blinking neon Exotic Dancers sign...
Let’s Bring Back “Deaf and Dumb”
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Let me specify something. In my experience, you can divide Deaf people who refuse to learn English into two general groups. One group is comprised of people who were never exposed to a primary language of any kind before the age of two— either English or ASL—thus it’s not even a question of “refuse to.” They can’t learn English because they lack the linguistic...
Parenthood in the Blizzard
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I approach the dynamics of successful weight loss from what you might call the loser’s point of view. My idea of exercise is climbing out of my lounge chair to get a popsicle. And believe me, when I can afford one of those new chairs with freezer units built into the armrests, I’m buying one...
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I used to work with this kid, Junior. He was a pain in the ass from day one. He had no language ability whatsoever, meaning he could barely spell his own name. He was immature as hell, too . . . around anyone he happened to be with. Teachers, other deaf students, hearing students, you name it...
The Economy of Love and Paying Attention
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Ah, but then some idiot screwed everything up with Love. Love is free, you see! Love is patient; love is kind! There’s no scoreboard; friends don’t keep track! It isn’t a competition and it isn’t a war, except maybe for male actors in chick flicks playing cynical Wall Street yuppie businessmen who nonetheless melt and fall in love with the girl by the end of the show...
Final Notes for Hearing / Nonsigning Parents
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For safety’s sake, the Deaf community should have an equal say in how deaf children are raised by hearing parents. How these parents teach their children to perceive themselves directly influences how hearing people in general come to perceive deaf people in general. Therefore if a deaf child is not taught self-esteem skills, he will become an easy target for hearing bullies...
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The introduction to this book was completed sometime in the beginning of April 2006, approximately one month before the Unity for Gallaudet (UFG) protest began. I was tempted many times throughout the protest to change what I had written, especially in light of the way the phrase “not Deaf enough” was being used to distract the public from realities that had...
Page Count: 244
Publication Year: 2007