[nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

Carrie Gilmer carrie.gilmer at gmail.com
Thu Dec 18 13:10:04 UTC 2008


Dear Joe,
Sometimes email is such a difficult form of communication. I never said I
disagree that the NFB views blind people as tough. You said that " there is
an unfortunate perception in the NFB that all blind people are tough go
getters" and that with just the right training the world can be theirs. My
response was only to indicate that in my experience with a wide variety of
those who have been with the federation either rather newly or for decades
and with a geographic spread--there is no such general simplistic over-all
perception. Meaning that the NFB is well aware that many have had the
tough-go-get-um-ness broken, some can be inspired to get it back, and what
some need to get it back varies, and some may never get it totally back and
need continued friendship and support as they are coming along as best they
can and some because of the variability of humans in general never had much
toughness or go-get-um-ness. On the other hand we have a firm deep belief it
is true that even those who are very broken or who have not had opportunity
with proper training can (and have over and over)rise up and do achieve
great things for themselves.

And I basically agree that a person's choices/reactions/pro-activity are
their choices--what I was saying though is that there is room for
understanding about where people come from, that not all choices are equal
in difficulty, people do not have the same resources and supports or levels
of things that have come against them or levels of things to come back. I am
not personally ready to level total blame at anyone and that there are more
than simply two choices in life in my experience as one of your earlier
posts claimed. People have carved success out of huge failures that have
been foisted at them. People have also failed when given every opportunity.
Some people are trapped in a reality not of their own making, and do not
have the resources or the knowledge of how to get out, they may not even be
aware they can get out. I believe in personal responsibility yet I am also
aware keenly from my life experience that it is the rare person who can rise
up and expect high things from themselves when no one else expects anything
at all. I also know that learned fears can not just be overcome by
intellect, and emotions can take some time and often outside intervention.

I don't know that I am wise enough to say why each person seemingly can not
break out or even as a group why some can or do not. I guess with blindness
it has to do with learned, and accepted on some level dependency, and a lack
of skills and learned fear. Blind people have challenges that generally
sighted people trying to break free of their families or circumstances do
not have--and I say generally and I do not mean that blind people are not
capable. I think the vulnerability has more to do with isolation in many
cases than anything else...and isolation can take multiple forms even in one
life. It has to do with an unusual set of not expecting things that happens
uniquely more often to blind people. It is not totally unique, there are
inner city or other where kids who no one ever expected anything of them and
neither do they often break out and create high expectations for themselves.


I do not ignore or dilute a person's personal responsibility overall or
ability to break out if they choose to try. Indeed I have a deep faith in
people's abilities to rise up against all kinds of set-backs and challenges
in life. I was "concentrating" on the environmental side to say it is not so
simple as people just creating their own realities. Because I see a lot of
grey does not mean I do not see clear lines of right and wrong in many
things. I have not and am not a proponent of the world totally changing for
the blind person except where access should reasonably be allowed--meaning
it is right to expect Braille books when you are a student. On the other
hand the world must change in its misunderstandings of what it means to be
blind.

And how this is to the point for me on the SNL. The myths and misconceptions
perpetuate the unusually difficult environment for the blind--high
unemployment, discrimination, inequality in education, lack of access, etc.
Sometimes it is right to come at a blind person or ourselves as a group hard
and raise expectations--this time for me I agree it was right for us to come
at SNL speaking to the misconceptions they expect as true and helped give
advertisement and perpetuation to. We do both, from the inside and to the
outside--both must be worked at. Talking about or doing one does not exclude
the other.

I think we could go on for quite awhile, it would be fun to be in a
philosophy class with you. 

I would indeed like to hear some of your ideas.
 
 
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: Thursday, December 18, 2008 2:07 AM
To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

Carrie,

People may very well tell a blind person that their dreams are too lofty.  A
blind person's own family may very well feel that their blind relative's
abilities are too limited.  The media may very well portray the blind
character as something less than realistic.  In short, the world may very
well feel like a dismal place for a blind person, so yes, I want people to
know that from us there is no hesitation, no reluctance, about our
unequivocal belief in that person's capacity to move a mountain if they
should feel so inclined.

The real world is not simple.  A person may find themselves setting a goal,
and then, abruptly, life throws a challenge in their direction.  Yet, the
goal has not changed, only the person's method of achieving it, and if that
person should feel too discouraged to continue pursuing it, the person
should consider the possibility that perhaps they never really meant to
achieve it in the first place.

There is no gray matter.  Life is full of failure and disappointments, but
strength is found in how well a person overcomes those obstacles.  It has
never been my position that a person's success is built entirely alone.
Just as there are people who will attempt to hinder another person's
achievements, there will be people whose patient guidance will help fuel the
person's desire, but neither the former nor the latter will guarantee the
person's accomplishments.  A person may not be responsible for the
environment where they were raised, but it is mostly certainly their own
prerogative to dictate the environment where they will grow.  By your own
definition a person is capable of creating their own reality, because
anything greater than the challenges of life, or the views others may
attempt to impose, is a reality separate from the existence that would have
unraveled had the person given into those challenges or pressures.

As I observed in a different discussion thread, the basis of my arguments
would be flawed if the discussion were being carried out in the middle of a
developing country.  It is not.  Our laws and views in the United States may
not always be the most accommodating, but the level of opportunities enjoyed
here far surpass the level of opportunities in most other parts of the
world.  In this country people with disabilities have come along too far in
their fight for equality to allow their predecessors to enjoy the privilege
of blaming someone else for their shortcomings.

I do not deny the fact that blind people are oppressed and forced to work
under deplorable conditions.  This is no different from sex trafficking
victims who are forced to work under similar circumstances.

I do not deny that blind people are victims of violence simply because they
are blind.  How is this different from the homosexual who is the victim of
hate crimes because he is gay?

I fail to see your conclusion here.  It is quite obvious that blind people
are just as likely as anyone else  of facing unfair treatment.  Is it your
belief that these victims have no choice but to accept their circumstances?
Your logic concentrates on the person's surroundings and not enough on the
person, or maybe the problem is that your logic would rather ponder the
problem rather than the solution.  Hatred is a natural flaw of human nature,
and to suggest that hatred, or discrimination, is to blame for a person's
inability to break out of a mold is like blaming gravity for a plane crash.

You disagree that the NFB views blind people as tough.  What I should have
said is that the organization would like blind people to be tough, but
regardless of the angle you choose, there is still the matter of what
constitutes proper training.  The hard core Federationist would argue that
the only means of achieving proper training is through the attendance of one
of the three NFB training centers.  With few exceptions, this hard core
Federationist would suggest that anything outside this sphere may be good,
but not good enough.  Do you detect much of a difference between that
Federationist's strict adherence and my high expectations?  I would venture
to guess the only difference between he and I is the diplomatic means of
articulating the same point.

Now, you say a blind person's plight is not owed to the "workability of
their eyeballs."  To clarify, you are saying a person's limitations are not
owed to their being blind.  You blame other people for these limitations.
You blame their environment.  Then at what point is the blind person held
responsible for their own performance?  Or are you advancing the hypothesis
that for certain blind people there is no such thing as responsibility?  To
me it seems that blaiming a person's environment expects the environment to
change for the sake of the blind person, and while such a position may sit
well in the ACB, it is not welcomed here.

The press release that came on the heels of the show was not so much a
mistake for its publication but more for its content.  Unfortunately, that
makes the whole thing a mistake.  The rhetoric was unnecessarily defensive
and overbearing.  Calling the show an "attack" would lead an uninformed
reader to believe that the resolve of the blind community is so delicate as
to be crumpled by a fleeting brush of sarcasm.  Acknowledging the segment at
all through the distribution of a press release only legitimized the show's
impact.  If anything, I feel the formal attention given to the segment
turned the brief exhibit of humor into a serious question of whether or not
blind people really do behave the way the actor conducted himself in the
skit.  I mean, what does the National Center expect of a show using this
format?  A perfect blind person with all the alternative techniques would
not be funny.  Actually, they would be rather boring for SNL, so is it your
position that blind people should just not be featured on SNL because blind
people are too sensitive?  Or, a better question, how would you have
rewritten the skit to meet your approval of a funny and educational
experience?

Now, as to your final question of what I would suggest as a better use of
our strength as the largest organization of blind people...that could take
another voluminous post I am sure you are not interested in reading.  If
push comes to shove I will most definitely share my thoughts, yet for now
let's call that one a to be continued...

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: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 9:48 PM
To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

Well Joe we definitely disagree on a few points. As I have aged I have found
the edges not so clear cut. I see much more grey including in my hair.

 

 People are dealt things in life regularly that are beyond total personal
control; meaning sometimes life makes a choice for you and then how you
react is a choice and then what you have in your abilities and flaws and
opportunities or resources or stumbling blocks affects or limits the choices
or even your ability to make them. Sometimes other people force their view
of how things should be (or their choices) on you. Sometimes determination
is not enough. Dr. tenBroek was determined to get a certain kind of job
early on; he was not able to totally create the "reality" he wished despite
his unrelenting determination because of the reality of the level of
prejudice about his blindness. That is what I mean when I say in reality I
think we do not totally create our own. Often times what people think they
have done for themselves alone was enabled by earlier mentoring, inborn
intelligence, family resources...a whole host of possible supports. We have
reality given to us mostly that we must deal with--only those in a fantasy
truly create their own was my point. How we deal with it by choice becomes a
personal reality or environment but the choices are not totally always free
or enabled--the choices also are sometimes in reality not of our choosing. I
suppose this could sound like an excuse for not being personally responsible
for a choice, and I don't think that at all. It just isn't black and white
and that people totally create their own realities in a vacuum where they
are all powerful. It also doesn’t mean that those who are now powerless
can't be empowered.

 

Dr. tenBroek was not the only blind person to experience the reality he did.
I doubt that the majority of unemployed blind people are without
determination to work or wouldn't change their reality of unemployment to
employment if they had the power to do so tomorrow.

 

If I thought it impossible for progress to be made I would not be
volunteering 50 plus hours a week for this organization. In fact I am full
of hope and optimism about it and think we are farther than ever before in
history.

 

On one point I will say I think you are undeniably mistaken, blind people
have been prohibited from trying. And are today. Prohibition also takes many
forms. If you also think blind people have not been oppressed, victims of
unfair and deplorable and even forced labor conditions you are also
mistaken; and some blind people are victims of this even today. If you think
some have not been victims of violence also and directly because they are
blind you are mistaken; it too occurs today. There is discrimination born of
pity to be sure, but there are people who have enough of a distaste for whom
they consider to be flawed human beings that hatred qualifies. Blind people
were not openly sold on the slave block true--and it is not a completely
perfect comparison, but (BTW) what do you think happened to the blind black
people in the day? There is much we do have in common. The comparison I used
compared the basis of the humor being false for black people as it is for
blind people.

 

I also think you are mistaken in generalizing the NFB as having its thoughts
about blind people all being "tough go getters" as you say. That is not my
experience. We are well aware of the cross section of society, of ability,
of ambition; there is a spectrum. I believe it was Dr. Jernigan who said we
have our geniuses and our jerks. I agree we believe quality training can
help a person achieve their own full personal potential if that potential
but we also realize there is serious difficulty amongst those whose
potential has been too badly damaged. There are also blind people who just
do not have the wherewithal or opportunity or knowledge to rise above or get
out of a place they have been prohibited to. Also the quality of available
training to get them "out" is wildly variable across the U.S. They need our
rescuing and support--not our condemnation, in my opinion.

 

 Yes there are blind people who could and should but don't and it is
frustrating. Yes there are those who like many take the perceived easy way
out for now and blame their blindness for their troubles or use it for a
free lunch or let it limit and do not question or have given up or seem to
enjoy the attention they get from being the one amazing blind person around.
Who can say how easy or hard or possible it would be for each of them to
change as compared to oneself. Then there are those who never learned to
read at all until adulthood and may never read as well as someone who
learned in kindergarten no matter the determination. There are some things
that you can not do over or ever get back. Society and some blind people
both need to understand that their plight is not due to the workability of
their eyeballs.

 

 If those who have been the recipient of discrimination or misunderstanding
never had raised a protest about it--nothing would ever change. I don't
believe anyone believes one press release will change the world, but
personally I feel it is possibly beneficial in this case to say something
and I support the fact we did. I feel if we said nothing and laughed along
(if we didn't think it was indeed funny-as many apparently don't) then we
are in agreement with those who laugh at the blind rather than with. To me
there is a difference. Responding is one of thousands of things and ways we
all work for awareness and progress--including within the population of
blind people-- everyday. We don't know what saying something could lead to
in a positive, we do know that saying nothing teaches nothing and gives them
the impression that is was just fine to do--maybe even wonderfully creative
and bright.

 

I love to laugh at myself. I think it is healthy. But I laugh at myself
about real things. I don't find the skit funny the way it was done, and the
laughs will be at the expense of perpetuating the myths. I don't think it
shows an equality of treatment for the blind by poking fun this way. I think
they made fun of the easiest thing for them, showed no creativity (it is the
oldest joke in the world), and probably made themselves believe they were
being cutting edge or something because they dared to make fun of the
governor's blindness. President Ford had a tendency to fall or trip and
everyone made fun of that. Bush is often bumbling in speech and the whole
world makes fun of that. I don't think this is the same--I think they pulled
at the stereotypes rather than just at the governor. I don't know how
bumbling the governor really is--is he more than others, a lot or a little?
I don't know. If he is bumbling and it is due to a lack of skills, how much
is due to what I have heard (if even true) of his being raised to "not look
blind"? I don't know. I don't think the writer's of SNL know either. I think
it was done more to the stereotype than actually specifically to the person
who is governor. I don't know if the governor had been skilled with a cane
and personally had great orientation skills, read Braille at 350 words a
minute, had great skills in all non -visual techniques that they would not
have still made fun of his blindness in the same way. "Skilled" blind people
fumble too and drop and spill and get lost just like sighted people do
sometimes. It is just that when they do the public assumes it is because
they are blind. Or maybe they would have portrayed him as the blind justice
super blind character.

 

They pulled at blindness the same way it was done at the end of Shrek when
the three blind mice are performing and do not know enough to face the
audience. Saturday Night Live was new and really cutting edge and creative
when it first came out when I was young--they seem to have lost a lot of
their creativity overall in my opinion. I am diverse, my family is, and do
applaud diversity. I do a lot of laughing and find a lot of joy on the way
to progress. The rawness you speak of is nothing new to this generation. It
depends on the rawness-some things, as you say, feel raw because the truth
does not wish to be faced. Some things are advertised as raw but are really
just raunchy. I put this one in the raunchy category. I do not understand
why you think that feeling this portrayal is without humor means I or others
who also find the same lack of humor to be depressed as we go along or in
some kind of denial about the blind people who may exhibit these
stereotypical behaviors. I don't agree it is about political correctness at
all. 

 

I get the impression Joe--maybe wrongly--but it seems that you place the
majority of "blame" for the fact that blind people are not yet fully
integrated on terms of equality (or maybe just the continued butt of the
same old jokes) on the blind people themselves--or on those blind people who
exhibit stereotypical behaviors themselves or who are not generally
successful by the general way we define success in America-meaning
self-supportive and independent. So it seems you think if these blind people
would just pull themselves up by their boot straps, if blind children would
just stop poking their eyes and get Braille (like the 90% who don't are
because they refused it?) and a cane and teach themselves, if young blind
adults who never had the chance would just get their rehab counselors and
training centers on the ball, if they could just get a little gumption they
could prevent employers from discriminating...we wouldn't be having such a
problem...and would have our respectability. I think it is not so simple and
all on the blind as all that. 

 

You said, "so in the meantime, rather than complain about all the terrible
things being done to mislead the portrayal of blind people, let's use the
strength of the largest blindness organization to do something about it..."
Well Joe I really think we are--in every area one can think of and
imagine...complaining about terrible things done that wrongly portray blind
people are just one. How do you think we can do more about it as you say.
Use our strength how?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 1:14 PM

To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'

Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

 

Carrie,

 

Yes, I suppose people with mental disabilities do in fact create their own

version of reality according to their limited capacities.  Yet, unless you

are equating blindness to mental illness, I do not see how this extreme

example fits into the context of my position or the discussion in general.

People, blind and sighted, are born into a sphere of societal expectation.

The sphere is made up of the family's ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic

status, political affiliation, and in the specific case of blind people, the

individual's disability.  The individual could grow up choosing to follow

his generation's traditional path in life, or they could grow up looking for

the means to engineer their success in an area far removed from that which

society may have projected.  You either fail, or you succeed.  There are

only two choices in life, and the choice you make is the reality you choose

to live in.  Would you find it more acceptable if I used "environment"

rather than "reality?"

 

Breaking out of the trap of low expectations is not an easy task, but then,

that was the point of my prior post.  One need not work in rehab to

understand that blind people have to muster up a high level of determination

to make something of themselves.  But is it impossible?  Scores of people

who built profitable careers long before the advent of technology and

protective laws would probably respond with a resounding no.

 

Your excursion into the comparisons between blindness and slavery are

likewise beyond me.  African-Americans, as you point out, were not allowed

to become independent, productive or self-sufficient.  Blind people may be

discouraged from aiming for those three ambitions, but they have never been

prohibited from trying.  African-Americans were treated as commodities.

They were treated like animals.  Blind people may have faced their own set

of discrimination, but the discrimination was born of pity, not from

distaste, so please do not attempt to force a comparison between the apple

and the orange.

 

No, it would not be funny to mock the plight of African-American slaves.

But making fun of a black person does not mean the joke is meant to recall

memories of those terrible days where black people were treated like

commodities.  Minority jokes are more often based on culture.  People know

you do not invite a Hispanic to a birthday party unless you want their whole

family to come along.  Then again, you would not want to invite a Hispanic

unless you plan on them not bringing a gift, and if you drive by the party

and see more adults than children, it's probably a Hispanic hosting the

party in the first place.

 

As a Hispanic, am I offended by these funny jokes based on stereotypes?  Not

at all.  The stereotypes are probably true, and even if they're generally

not, we should remember that where there's smoke, there's fire.  Enough

people have engaged in a certain behavior to lend truth to the jokes

minorities swap amongst each other.  In other words, maybe there are enough

blind people out there stumbling about, clucking like chickens and looking

generally ridiculous that the general public has no choice but to lend

comedy to the population's appearance.  If you are a member of a targeted

population in someone's punch line, it is your choice to surpass that

stereotype, proving that the joke is just that, a joke.

 

Yes, I know there are times when slavery is used to poke fun at black

people, just as jokes are made of Hispanics' illegal immigration status.

This is raw humor, but even raw humor is preferable to becoming depressed

about a status that cannot be changed overnight.  You may as well laugh as

you go about the business of changing perceptions.  Your generation may be

appalled at the audacity of my generation's easy ability to be so

politically incorrect, but our generation is a lot more diverse and

accepting of this diversity.  Humor, raw or otherwise, is one of the ways we

get along, and I am glad blind people have their place in this sarcastic

existence.

 

If blind people do not want to be made fun of, maybe, just maybe, there

should be less rocking, less eye poking, less groping, less refusal to learn

Braille, less refusal to use a cane, less desire to talk about JAWS...I

mean, these are fundamental matters that have nothing to do with career

aspirations.

 

We want to criticize SNL for shedding light on the status quo?  One has to

wonder if people are mad because SNL is right or because we have not yet

done enough to fix the issue.  I vote for a combination of both.  Never mind

the press releases that prolong what would have been easily forgotten had it

been left alone.  In the NFB there is an unfortunate perception that all

blind people are tough, go getters, and with the right amount of training,

the world is yours.  I mean, you're preaching to the choir.  The NFB is a

small beacon of hope amid a much larger and growing population of blind

people.  In many ways the general public is no more mature than we were in

high school.  The ridiculousness of today will be forgotten in a few days,

so in the meantime, rather than complain about all the terrible things being

done to mislead the portrayal of blind people, let's use the strength of the

largest blindness organization to do something about it.  The world will not

be brought to its knees with the official proclamation of a press release.

Protests are as forgettable as the movie that necessitated them.

 

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: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 8:30 AM

To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'

Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

 

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."

>>>>> 

>>>>> 

>>>>> 

>>>>> 

>>>>> ###

>>>>> 

>>>>> 

>>>>> 

>>>>> 

>>>>> _______________________________________________

>>>>> nabs-l mailing list

>>>>> nabs-l at nfbnet.org

>>>>> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nabs-l_nfbnet.org

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>>>>> nabs-l:

>>>>> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nabs-l_nfbnet.org/thebluesis

>>>>> l

>>>>> oose%40gmail.com

>>>>> 

>>>> 

>>>> _______________________________________________

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>>> 

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>> 

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