It is a constant source of amazement and frustration that deaf people constantly make life more difficult for themselves. It is really quite unbelievable that people might want to make their own life harder but deaf people do it all the time. Consequently nothing changes because everyone is bogged down in a morass of their own making. We constantly hear deaf people talking about Milan 1880 as if it was some earth shattering event that changed the lives of deaf people forever. We are bogged down by the actions of a short sighted, selfish few who insist that because of the past there can be no changes in the future.
As if the state of not being able to hear was not enough we are further encumbered by the actions of a dysfunctional few. No! No! they cry, we are the real deaf people and we have our own history and culture. But when you look closely it turns out that the situation is not quite like that. In fact it is so complicated that hearing people don’t understand it at all. They merely acknowledge the fairy tale told to them by a few loudmouths and assume that all other deaf people are in agreement. They don’t understand it but due to the loud noises and constant pressure from The Few they assume that these people are right and give in to their demands.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Non-deaf people constantly refer to “the deaf community” as if it were some homogenous whole but the reality is that it isn’t like that at all. For a start there is not one deaf community, there are lots of them and most of them are out of touch with the rest. That isn’t a community it’s a patchwork of people who share a common affliction. There are the London deaf, the Derby deaf, the Manchester deaf, the Bristol deaf, the Newcastle deaf. A real community is one which people are born into and raised within its belief system but the deaf world isn’t like that, because deafness isn’t like that.
We can divide the deaf world into many segments because there are so many degrees of deafness, so many ways of living a deaf life. For example there are born deaf people brought up in signing deaf families. They are exposed to certain beliefs and behaviours which they assume are universal.
There are partially deaf people who are brought up in a hearing world with no exposure to the aforementioned community and are the same as hearing people. There are people who started out in life as hearing and lost their hearing at some later point, deafened people. There are people who are born into signing Deaf families, many of whom do not even speak English and who live a unique lifestyle which would not have been available to them if they had not been deaf.
How can anyone regard such a fragmented section of the population as a community? Of course it isn’t but it is a belief that is fostered by a few, mostly for their own gain. It’s quite a good con trick because it deceives many into beliefs that are in fact entirely false. Deaf Culture, a recently invented phenomenon consists of people who are brought up with a set of rigid beliefs about how deaf people should behave. “I’m proud to be deaf” they shout and hearing people, who don’t understand any of this merely nod in agreement. There’s no questioning, no doubt that any of it is true.
Why is this? Well first of all anyone who steps out of line is quickly suppressed and bludgeoned back into the system. Deaf Culture is not open minded. Either you toe the line or get out. There is no room for doubters, no place for contrary opinions, everyone is brainwashed into a common, invented belief. Milan 1880 was not a turning point in Deaf life, it was a minor event well over 100 years ago in which a number of people with an axe to grind made a certain decision. That decision was to concentrate on teaching deaf children to talk and read English. This does not make them spawn of the devil, just people who faced the realities of educating children in a way that helped them to cope in an English speaking world.
There is often talk of “oppression” in Deaf Cultural circles. This word is actually meant to express the idea of people actively suppressing and discriminating against others. It first appeared in a deaf context in a book by Harlan Lane called “When the mind hears”. In here Dr Lane talked about the way in which sign language using deaf people were seriously disadvantaged by the way in which a hearing society works. For the sake of argument he used the word oppression in a figurative sense. But there is a real oppression of deaf people. By other deaf people.
Anyone who speaks out against the tiny minority who support these beliefs is immediately discriminated against. “You’re not really deaf ” they cry. You don’t share our common belief therefore you are not really a deaf person. People who dare to express an opinion contrary to that popularly held by the minority of loudmouths are jumped upon. If they are in an Internet group they are kicked out. Their friends are no longer friends but enemies. They are excluded until they come round to the popular views, whether or not these are correct, accurate or even true.
It is just so ironic that people who scream so loudly about being discriminated against are the first to discriminate against other deaf people. Young people especially are brainwashed into this belief system. The Jesuits say that given a child under 7 they can turn that child into a committed lifelong Christian. A more obvious example of brainwashing could hardly be found and this has contributed to the decline of the Jesuit culture. You cannot force people to believe things when they can see and in some cases hear that the real world is actually quite different.
Deaf people complain about being discriminated against by hearing people and yet they are the arch-discriminators of other deaf people. Social pressure, blackmail, ostracisation (you can’t belong to our club any more) are all used to kick other deaf people into line. “You can’t be one of us unless you subscribe to our belief system”. It’s the oldest form of social pressure in the world. The Romans invaded Europe and Britain in pre Christian times. Populations were forced to kow-tow to the Roman way of doing things. There was a system called decimation. The Romans lined up the males in a village and every tenth man was pulled out of the line and killed in front of the rest.
This pretty soon brought a change in attitude and after a period of time the Roman way of doing things was imposed. The interesting thing is that when the Romans went away the belief system collapsed. Oppression requires constant reinforcement because when it stops people go off and believe in other things. This is known as free choice and it is at the heart of any democratic system. Yet the Deaf Culture vultures insist that their way is the only way and anyone who departs from those very narrow beliefs is rapidly discriminated against. To say that this is a double standard is putting it pretty mildly. No criticism of this system is allowed, just as in North Korea no dissent against the ruling party is allowed. Most of the population starves so that a few fat cats can live in comfort and luxury. The Deaf world is like that. You can’t be one of them unless you take on board their largely false philosophy.
Like the N. Koreans, the Deaf Culture clique is quite happy to let the rest of the deaf world suffer, so long as they get their own way and this is what happens. Many of these people work in the media, a powerful 21st Century means of imposing a belief system. They go to the authorities speaking on behalf of the deaf world generally and say “This is what the deaf world needs”. Actually that isn’t true. It is what the Deaf world wants. Not the same thing at all. It’s the minority speaking for the majority. The tail wagging the dog.
And what of the rest of the deaf world, the thousands and thousands of people with a hearing loss who just want to live an ordinary life like everyone else? They just walk away. They can’t win in a situation where the dice are not just loaded against them, they are taken away. A tiny minority shouts its head off and anyone who disagrees is bullied, ostracised, discriminated against and generally ill-treated. By other deaf people. And this, ladies and gentlemen is why the deaf world does not move on and never will move on until we come to our senses and do away with all these old fashioned ideas. It’s time to forget the 19th century nonsense and look at the real world that we live in now. It’s quite hard enough being a deaf person without all this angst-laden stuff on top.
I’ll be back.