Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2006 08:20:32 (PST)
From: “Brian Riley” email@example.com
To: “Clarence Page” firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: URGENT, Mr. Page: Re: Deaf culture, identity and cochlear implants
Hi Mr. Page,
I am distressed that I [previously] sent you this important heads-up information about the myth of cochlear implants, yet you seemed to totally ignore it and then went on to perpetuate the myth on your recent essay on the Jim Lehrer NewsHour. We have corresponded before and I know that you do read your e-mail.
I mentioned in my last e-mail that culturally Deaf people see themselves as bi-cultural and they *already* have the open attitude towards “doing both” (being part of Deaf culture and being part of the mainstream). Yet your essay does not acknowledge this and it contributes to the harmful propaganda that our university president (I. King Jordan) used to try to manipulate the media and popular opinion during the protest against Jane Fernandes’s selection.
I encourage you to dig deeper to find the real story. The real story is that the manufacturers of cochlear implants are misrepresenting their effectiveness. Cochlear implants are virtually worthless for children who are born deaf. They really only help people who lost their hearing later in life. Your essay totally misrepresents the facts about cochlear implants in this regard.
Cochlear implants provide a *false* sense of identity and a false sense of hope to parents of deaf children and they cause those parents of deaf children to make the totally *wrong* educational choices for their children, deciding to send them to mainstream schools with interpreters, instead of a residential schools for the deaf where they can learn native fluency and ASL and have a good foundation from which they can develop normal cognitive skills.
The term “identity” and “identity politics” are being used in anti-intellectual ways in the manner of a “simple lie” ( à la Toqueville) in order to sidestep legitimate facts about culture and language that have been discovered by linguists and anthropologists.
Newspaper columnists throw in the term “identity politics” and it sounds like they are talking about unreasonable people who are playing superficial games of identity, when that is far from the case. All the Gallaudet protesters were asking is that they be treated fairly. They were not asking for any special privileges and they were not playing superficial games with the notion of cultural identity. They were acting in self-defense, fighting against an administration that refused to recognize their moral equality–an administration that was exploiting them for their own short-sighted and counterproductive purposes.
Please don’t rush ahead with stories with simple themes that gloss over the real problems and actually contribute to the problem. Please do the responsible thing and dig deeper to report what actually happened at Gallaudet and the danger that administration of I. King Jordan posed (and how Jordan attempted to retain his influence by installing his hand-picked crony, Jane Fernandes).
Please investigate the matter as a responsible journalist and convince yourself about the reality of today’s cochlear implants and how they are being used as tools of manipulation and exploitation.
Please dig deep and get into the *real* story. Don’t you realize that the health, welfare and happiness of thousands and thousands of deaf kids in the future depends on what you say? You let them down.
Transcript (and link to video) of Clarence Page’s essay on the Jim Lehrer NewsHour from Thursday, November 9, 2006
Recent column written by Clarence Page on the Gallaudet protest