[nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

Carrie Gilmer carrie.gilmer at gmail.com
Wed Dec 17 13:30:23 UTC 2008


Dear Joe,
Reality is not what one creates for themselves-creating your own personal
reality is one of the definitions of mental illness. I don't think that is
exactly what you meant.

For a blind person raised in dependency and low expectations, yes once they
reach adulthood, life choices are theirs to make, however it is not anywhere
as simple and cut and dry and you say in reality.

Try working in Rehab for a few years. 

I observed that more often than not it was easier for a person who grew up
with 20/20 who suddenly went blind to adjust than for someone who grew up
blind and was enabled into dependency--who never was allowed to travel
alone, or make their own decisions, or received enough Braille (or any) to
become a good reader. 

Many of the stereotypes of black people have a basis in old reality. Black
people were not allowed to learn to read and write. Black people often cut
back on their work, slowed down, broke items, or faked illness in order to
slow production...because if they produced at peak capacity then that was
expected everyday--it was a form of resistance to slavery but whites came to
say blacks were dumb, lazy, irresponsible...

Is it funny to parody those behaviors that were a result of surviving
temporarily such an evil and inhuman system of treatment of blacks? Is it
funny to perpetuate the idea those behaviors are a true genetic basis in
blacks?

Blind people have been sent to the attic to live in secrecy, to asylums, to
the sidelines, to the rocking chairs, to the sheltered workshops, and today
when raised without skills often appear to exhibit the stereotypes due to
blindness--that is the portrayal--the results of this treatment, but the
reality is that eyesight has nothing to do with level of function or
competence--it is training and experience and opportunity. Lives are
devastated in reality. That is funny?

As a society we choose what is funny overall and what is acceptable--granted
some are always on the fringe, but they are a minority. The word f**k is
just a word--where is freedom of speech--why do we regulate it, call it
profane? We do place limits. 

For those blacks who call each other nigger, they do so out of a deep sense
of inferiority and a warped attempt to reclaim calling themselves by a name
they choose and is respectable. Most blacks do not call each other nigger.

Blind people who put each other down by calling each other the names you say
are reaching for respectability in the same most pathetic way. 

It can be funny when anyone trips or slips, sighted or blind. When the
tripping is due to lack of attention. When the tripping is due to denial of
opportunity and is always put out as the standard joke--well c'mon that joke
is monotonous and likely a thousand years old. Can't they come up with
something new, and is based in reality? 

The fact remains that such jokes are perceived by the public as stretching
the truth and that the bumbling and fumbling are based on eyesight--when
that is totally false. If you think the perpetuation of that joke does not
perpetuate real discrimination I would say you are naïve at the least.

And as for blind justice being a positive--wasn't the guy able to like see
through walls practically? This is the other age old stereotype--if you are
not bumbling fools then you are mystical and amazing...that one doesn't do
justice either in my opinion.

 
 
Carrie Gilmer, President
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
A Division of the National Federation of the Blind
NFB National Center: 410-659-9314
Home Phone: 763-784-8590
carrie.gilmer at gmail.com
www.nfb.org/nopbc
-----Original Message-----
From: nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
Of Joe Orozco
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 8:31 PM
To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

Carrie,

Reality is what a person creates for himself.  Blind people who are told
they could be doing more to reach their potential shun such encouragement,
chalking it up to one more militaristic ploy of the NFB.  A vast number of
blind people may not have been exposed to adequate levels of socialization
growing up, but eventually the blind person matures, recognizes the
achievements of his sighted peers and then makes a choice as to whether or
not they want to receive certain training in alternative techniques to
behave like those peers.  If the average blind person, or real blind person
as you say, were trained in alternative techniques, the David Patersons of
the world would be far and few between, and our work in the NFB would be
more about socializing than it would be about advocating.

I think people were offended by the segment because television mocked
reality.  We are too defensive to confess that the fumbling blind man is
sadly the rule, not the exception.  After all, would you not agree that the
more difficult aspect of our work is working on blind people themselves?

I don't know that SNL has made fun of Obama for being black.  I'll bet South
Park beats them to it, and yes, there may very well be an outrage.  Yet
other peoples' sensitivities should not be our ticket to moan every time the
blind are the punch line to a joke.  People of all shapes and colors have
something to be made fun of, and there is no reason why we, in our attempt
to be treated equally, should laugh at SNL's skit about Sarah Palin's
inability to think or speak but cry fowl when the blind are shown to be less
than perfect.

Unfortunately there are hierarchies among the blind according to visual
acuity.  Either because this hierarchy exists, or because we are just human,
we poke fun at each other for tripping over this or spilling that.  Somehow
I gather from this thread that it is okay for blind people to laugh at other
blind people.  Some blind people go around calling each other blindies,
blindos, blinks and whatever other lables are out there, and yet somehow the
sighted public is not qualified to join in the amusement?

I just don't get it...

Joe Orozco

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."--James M.
Barrie
-----Original Message-----
From: nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
Of Carrie Gilmer
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 5:14 PM
To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

I've been reading your posts with interest. I have not had time to look at
the skit yet, or to think too deeply about it, but plan to over the next few
days.
The things I am considering are...
It is a fairly known thing that Governor Patterson does not use a cane or a
dog, yet he is well within the definition of blindness. To a sighted person
he looks visibly blind--meaning you can tell his eyes don't work. It is my
understanding he also never learned Braille. I have heard that this was in
large part due to his family's feelings that he not be raised "looking
blind" in order to give him the most opportunities. It seems a bit ironic
that he now is portrayed "looking blind" in the most stereotypical way as he
has risen to a point of political success that few ever attain. It also
seems ironic that he has been observed as being a bit bumbling and
stereotypical as he does not have good skills in non-visual techniques.

So...the thing is if he looked like a real blind person skilled in
non-visual techniques he would not be "bumbling" or needing to have
everything read to him by readers...

I also know that SNL has done no parody of Obama as a stereotypical black
man. Might there be a skit in the works of a simple, watermelon eating scene
from the oval office yet to come? Indeed I think not, and the public outcry
would be deafening. A funny parody parodies something based in reality-- The
reality of blind people is not that blindness means fumbling and
bumbling--lack of proper training does.

It is also harmful because of our minority status, it is just one more on
the side of perpetuating the myths, lies and legends. Every portrayal means
so much more to us, in hurtfulness or joy (in the case of a good portrayal)
and in its impact in the public's mind--for good or for harm... 

 
 
Carrie Gilmer, President
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children A Division of the
National Federation of the Blind NFB National Center: 410-659-9314 Home
Phone: 763-784-8590 carrie.gilmer at gmail.com www.nfb.org/nopbc -----Original
Message-----
From: nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
Of J.J. Meddaugh
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 1:37 PM
To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] National Federation of the BlindComments onSaturday
Night Live Segment

That's far from the truth. There's been several instances of blind
characters on television portrayed in the way you're hoping for.
Personally, I found the skit funny.

J.J. Meddaugh - ATGuys.com
A premier licensed Code Factory distributor

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sarah Jevnikar" <sarah.jevnikar at utoronto.ca>
To: "'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'" 
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 3:21 AM
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] National Federation of the Blind Comments onSaturday
Night Live Segment


>I agree with you Joe but at the same time this whole thing is hurtful too.
> Why is it that every time a blind person is on TV they're acting 
>stupid or  are incompetent. I'm glad they did this but did they have to 
>make it look  like he was bumbling around, squinting, and in the way of 
>the camera for  other skits? Surely they can poke fun at him without all of
that.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On 
> Behalf Of Joe Orozco
> Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 11:36 PM
> To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] National Federation of the Blind Comments 
> onSaturday Night Live Segment
>
> Wait, are we talking about the video clip or the press release?  ...
> Kidding, Santa will surely drop coal in my stocking for taking it 
> there, but it seems to me that just as the New York governor has a 
> certain amount of political capital, the NFB has an equal amount of 
> publicity quota.  I have never known the organization to feel so 
> sensitive about every little thing that is thrown around about 
> blindness.  We should not make official statements for comical 
> nonsense that will be forgotten in a few days and reserve those for 
> when statements are required to drive real impacts about real issues.  
> I, for one, found it gratifying that SNL informed millions of people 
> out there that a blind person is capable of becoming a governor.
> As
> for the humor, I found it gratifying that the producers thought blind 
> people important enough to be swept up in jokes just like any other 
> member of society.  Next time I hope Dr. Maurer is invited on the 
> show.
>
> Best,
>
> Joe Orozco
>
> "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for 
> humanity."--James M.
> Barrie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On 
> Behalf Of T. Joseph Carter
> Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 6:39 PM
> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] National Federation of the Blind Comments 
> onSaturday Night Live Segment
>
> Well that was five minutes of my life I'll never get back.
>
> That was supposed to be funny?  It was just stupid.
>
> Joseph
>
> On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 04:43:37PM -0500, pyyhkala at gmail.com wrote:
>>Hi,
>>
>>Here are some more articles, and a link to the skit.  I also have an 
>>article I liked on Facebook, see below.
>>
>>NY Times:
>>http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/nyregion/15skit.html?_r=1&ref=todays
>>p aper (the article has more detail on the controversy)
>>
>>You can also watch the skit in question at this link:
>>http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/update-gov-paterson
>>/
>>881501/
>>
>>You can read what the public is saying on Twitter at the link below 
>>that does a real time search:
>>http://search.twitter.com/search?q=snl+blind
>>If using Jaws on the above Twitter page, if you press the number 2 
>>(for heading level 2) it will take you directly to the comments that 
>>people post.  Twitter is a micro blogging service.
>>
>>Best,
>>Mika
>>Twitter Micro blog:
>>http://twitter.com/pyyhkala
>>Facebook:
>>http://profile.to/mika
>>
>>On 12/15/08, Linda Stover <liamskitten at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hello,
>>>
>>> Could someone provide more info or links to more info concerning 
>>> this particular situation?  I think it would be extremely helpful to 
>>> understand if this is a spoof directed specifically at blindness, or 
>>> if the spoof is more directed to certain "blindisms" that the 
>>> governor frequently exhibits.  I know that when I was watching 
>>> segments of this nature concerning the election on the show, certain 
>>> quirks/phrases/mannerisms were used to excess to perhaps heighten 
>>> humor/absurdity.  Keeping this in mind, I'm wondering as I said what 
>>> exactly the comics were paridying.
>>> Courtney
>>>
>>> On 12/15/08, Beth <thebluesisloose at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Ijust watched CNN and they said something about this segment of SNL.
>>>> I don't watch SLNL, but I support Paterson, and someday I want to 
>>>> be Governor, so there's no excuse for attacking Gov. Paerson for 
>>>> any reason.
>>>> Beth
>>>>
>>>> On 12/15/08, Freeh, Jessica <JFreeh at nfb.org> wrote:
>>>>> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> CONTACT:
>>>>>
>>>>> Chris Danielsen
>>>>>
>>>>> Public Relations Specialist
>>>>>
>>>>> National Federation of the Blind
>>>>>
>>>>> (410) 659-9314, extension 2330
>>>>>
>>>>> (410) 262-1281 (Cell)
>>>>>
>>>>> <mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> National Federation of the Blind
>>>>> Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Largest Organization of the Blind Criticizes Attack on Blind 
>>>>> Americans
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Baltimore, Maryland (December 15, 2008): Chris Danielsen, 
>>>>> spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The 
>>>>> biggest problem faced by blind people is not blindness itself, but 
>>>>> the stereotypes held by the general public about blindness and 
>>>>> blind people.  The idea that blind people are incapable of the 
>>>>> simplest tasks and are perpetually disoriented and befuddled is 
>>>>> absolutely wrong.  This misconception contributes to an 
>>>>> unemployment rate among blind people that stubbornly remains at 70 
>>>>> percent.  That is why the National Federation of the Blind is 
>>>>> disappointed that Saturday Night Live chose to portray Governor 
>>>>> Paterson in a comedy routine that focused almost exclusively on his
blindness.
>>>>> Attacking the Governor because he is blind is an attack on all 
>>>>> blind Americans-blind children, blind adults, blind seniors, and 
>>>>> newly blinded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The 
>>>>> National Federation of the Blind urges the producers of Saturday 
>>>>> Night Live to consider the serious negative impact that 
>>>>> misinformation and stereotypes have on blind people before 
>>>>> continuing in this unfortunate vein of humor."
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> ###
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>>
>>>>
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