Ouch my brain

What’s a protest without endless naval-gazing and literary diarrhea? Something other than the Gallaudet Jane Fernandes kerfuffle. My friend – though I am reconsidering that term after he has subjected me to this mental pain – sent me this link to the words (and words and words and words) of C.J. Heuer. Holy cosmic muffin, if you needed a reminder why so many people despise stuffed peacock academics, here’s a quick sample:

Notice how I don’t say, “I want you to listen to me,” or “I want you to hear what I say,” or “I want to talk to you.” As if the ability to listen or hear or talk is the same thing as the ability to understand. It isn’t. And that’s what we’ve been teaching at this university for more than eighteen years. We teach our students that ASL is a real language, and Deaf people are a linguistic minority. Not all of us teach this, to be sure, but many of us do, because this is what we believe.

This protest is about many things. It is probably not about the same thing for everyone, and that may be why it’s such a hard protest, such an ugly one, with such a hard message to understand. But among the issues that this protest is about, one is representation. Who and what is Jane K. Fernandes? Who and what is I. King Jordan? I write “what,” because a person is just as much a “what” as a person is a “who.” What are you? What am I? What are those two people?

In case you wondered, this guy teaches English. I used to wonder why communication was a completely separate discipline from English. I’ve rarely seen a better example that you can have one without the other.

Fallacy to me is a logical lie, and therefore not logic at all. But we accept lies. We live in lies. Lies are easier. Lies are orderly, or at least give the appearance of order. But always beneath those lies is the truth, and the truth is that if we live and work in a system that says “My opinion is more important than yours because I am an administrator and you are not,” then we are living and working in a destructive system, a violent system, a system of death.

Words fail me, but at least I’m not alone.

1 Comment so far

  1. Tiffany (unregistered) on October 11th, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

    It has been my experience that Deaf people with a high degree of English fluency, and hearing people who work closely with the Deaf, all have this tendency to use lots and lots of words to make their point. I think it has something to do with ASL being a visual/conceptual language that’s heavily dependent on facial expression and body language, and English generally requires more words to say what might only take a few signs in ASL.

    Or it could just be that CJ Heuer likes to hear himself talk. Or, uh, read himself write. Whatever.

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