There are none so deaf as those who will not hear
Brian was kind enough to alert me to this recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by I. King Jordan, President Emeritus of Gallaudet University, on the furore surrounding Jane Fernandes' hiring as his successor, and then removal after sustained and angry protests at the college, as well as on Deaf culture's issues with inclusion and exclusivity. (See my thoughts on the protests and the outcome.)
Brian, who is a brighter-than-average person, commented that "[n]ot being immersed in the issue, I thought he sounded sensible and reasonable". Yes, well, he would think that, as would anyone who is smart and fair. And not Deaf. But Dr. Jordan speaks some hard truths, to some prickly people, which is doubtless why the Deaf blogroll has been savaging him for the piece all over the net. Some of the words I've read describing Dr. Jordan in general and the piece in particular include "hostile", "patronizing", "bitter", "absolute propaganda", a "smear campaign", "absolute bullshit" - and worse.
The Deaf community has a long, long way to go to understanding its own hard-headedness and culture of "cultural superiority" (within which, the community's faint protests to the contrary, the deafer you are, the Deafer, hence better, you are, and ASL absolutely trumps all other communication methods). It is certainly their right to take this position; I have the luxury of having artificial hearing and of only having a small degree of identification with Deaf culture, so I don't feel particularly hurt at the understanding that I am culturally inferior in their eyes. What does pain me is the fact that if the Deaf could get past their cultural biases, they could create a true coalition and community that is many times larger than their current political base, and our power - and ability to effect change - as a group of people would be increased by several orders of magnitude.
(Why couldn't I have acquired a disability that threw me in with a gentler group of people? Blind people, say? Blind people are nice. I never met a single blind person I didn't like. You don't see them freaking out in the streets and throwing mud at each other in blogs. No, they're at home petting their seeing-dogs in front of the fire and listening to Descriptive-Audio-Enhanced versions of Masterpiece Theatre.)