[nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 19 06:26:11 UTC 2008


Hello listers,

This discussion  has led in several interesting directions and it is
great to be able to discuss these fundamental questions of what the
"reality" of blindness is and what role we have in shaping it. I think
there are merits to both sides of the debate that are worth noting and
expanding upon.

I do agree with the concept of "creating our own reality" and this
resonates with the wisdom with which I was raised and the belief that
I still hold. I believe we create our own individual realities in that
we can control how we react to events around us even if we cannot
control the events themselves. We can decide whether to treat negative
events as tragedies or as opportunities for learning and growth, and
when we are given resources we can choose how we want to utilize them.
It is true that sometimes our actions are limited by a lack of
knowledge of what all the options are or by a lack of resources, but I
think we can always choose what our general attitude is going to be.

I do not, however, agree that there is an absolute dichotomy between
failing and succeeding—in blindness or otherwise. First of all, we
have to define what success and failure mean and  that definition is
going to be different to different people. A lot of us talk about
employment for the blind as being a kind of success indicator. I
believe that gainful employment is a basic element of success, but I
don't think the "bottom line" is the sole dividing line between the
successful and unsuccessful blind. There are other components of
success—finding meaningful social relationships, contributing to the
community and staying physically and mentally vitalized. A
minimum-wage job may feel like success to one person who's struggled
for many years to find it and yet be painfully boring and meaningless
to another. So, the division between the successful and unsuccessful
isn't very clear. Furthermore, we often tend to assume that blind
people are either competent in all blindness skills or competent in
none—and that just isn't true for a good chunk of the blind
population. Someone might be excellent in Braille and academic skills
but unable to do much independent travel or unpracticed in social
etiquette, or vice versa. Some people have great skills but a weak
blindness philosophy where they doubt themselves so much that the
skills are never used, or on the contrary, they may have great
confidence in their abilities but just not have the skills yet to
realize their potential. The blind population is just as complex as
the sighted and there is a lot of gray area between the so-called
"elite" blind and the "stumbling bumbling" folks we've alluded to.
And, above and beyond all  that, there are going to be a certain
number of  "competent" blind people with great skills and philosophy
who don't get the jobs, relationships, etc. that they want, and there
will also be those "stereotypical" blind folks who do, whether because
of outside resources, luck or just random variation.

So the problem is complex—a certain amount of responsibility lies with
all of us to make the best of the circumstances that we have, and then
a certain amount of responsibility lies with the organized blind to
figure out what circumstances are standing in our way and to work to
make them better.

A final, slightly unrelated thought: In my years in the NFB and
following some of these recent list threads, I've observed that we
tend to compare ourselves to other blind people a lot.  It may be
upward comparison ("Mr. So-and-So reads Braille faster than me; why?"
or downward comparison ("Mr. So-and-So [or blind people in general]
have such lousy social skills"). A little comparison with other blind
people is fine—upward comparison motivates us to improve ("I want to
get so I can read Braille just as fast as he can!") and downward
comparison helps us continue to feel good about ourselves when people
are constantly doubting our abilities ("I may be blind, but at least I
know how to dress appropriately, unlike Mr. So-and-So!")

All right, enough with the psychology talk—my point is that though
social comparison is natural, I don't think it's good to make a habit
of it. When we spend time comparing ourselves to others we lose sight
of what we as individuals should be expecting from ourselves. We
forget that others have totally different situations from us—different
life histories, different causes of blindness, other factors in their
lives that might cause them to differ from us. Mr. Fast Braille Reader
probably has been reading Braille longer than you have—not something
you can go back and change. And Mr. Fashion Clueless may have lacked
certain mentors or role models that you had  to help you  learn about
fashion—also not something worth worrying about. When we compare
ourselves to others we're bound to get frustrated either with our own
inability to measure up to them or with their seeming inferiority to
us and how they "misrepresent" the blind. And in the case of downward
comparison, we end up really denigrating each other—creating the
situation Joseph once summed up here by saying, "Blind people hate
each other!"

I think a better way to keep ourselves motivated and also maintaining
our self-esteem is to compare ourselves not with other blind people,
but with what we want to become. New Year's Resolution time is right
around the corner. Take some time to think about what your personal
goals are—for this year and for the next few—and whether you're
reaching them. If you're not satisfied with what you've been doing to
reach your goals, think about what you've been lacking and what you
can do to make up for it. We all have things  we can grow and improve
in both related and unrelated to blindness. And, think  about things
you're doing great in—note them, celebrate them, but resist the urge
to focus your attention on other blind people who aren't doing so well
in those areas. We certainly don't have to like all blind people, or
even associate with any of them, but I think we do owe them the
respect to treat them as unique human beings that are a cross-section
of society, and that are capable of growing and improving as well.

Cheers
Arielle


On 12/19/08, Joe Orozco <jsorozco at gmail.com> wrote:
> Marc,
>
> That's interesting.  I did not catch your post until Antonio responded to
> it.  I've never known GMail to drop list messages, but regardless, you
> clearly put thought into your message.  I'll briefly respond in kind:
>
> First, religion, economy and politics do influence our upbring and play a
> significant role in our choices as adults.  Nevertheless, Americans live in
> an open society where our development is just as influenced by the diversity
> of our peers as it was by our own childhood.  We do not live in a vacuum
> devoid of exposure to a plethora of cultures, ethnicities and socioeconomic
> classes.  In short, there is always something by which to compare yourself
> to something or someone else.  The same media that tilts the depiction of
> blind people is the very same media that blind people access to stay abreast
> of technological advances, educational opportunities and role models.  The
> point has nothing to do with any brand of conservatism.  It has to do with
> access to information and training.  I do not believe that the high
> percentage of blind people who are unemployed choose to be unemployed, but
> the one quarter of the blind population that is employed is a scenario that
> begs the question: How was this employment achieved?  Are we to believe that
> only 26 percent of the population has successfully changed attitudes long
> enough to get themselves hired?  I will venture to make a guess that the 74
> percent unemployment rate is an outdated statistic that will actually drop
> with the expansion of the aforementioned technological advances.  Perhaps I
> am naïve indeed, but I am optimistic about our generation's place in the
> workforce.
>
> Second, blind people should not have to fight to be the odds.  Well, the
> truth is that no one should have to fight to be the odds.  On a separate
> point I believe challenges build character, but speaking directly to your
> contention, you are suggesting blind people have an additional burden than
> the sighted in their quest for success.  Now we have a philosophical
> conundrum.  On the one hand there is the belief that blindness is nothing
> more than a nuisance, that blindness is no more characteristic than the
> color of your eyes and that with proper training you too can excel at
> whatever you desire.  On the other hand it is being suggested that blindness
> presents a unique set of challenges that significantly impair a person's
> ability to compete on equal footing.  People can't have it both ways.  I am
> not so strict as to believe there are not logistical challenges to a blind
> person's journey to success.  My point, however, is that these challenges
> have been met and overcome by scores of blind people under greater adversity
> than is the case in today's world.  I believe our generation has been
> spoiled by the achievements of our leaders, and when we are incapable of
> obtaining a goal we would rather blame it on our environment, on
> discrimination, on life, anything other than ourselves.  Life has never been
> fair, and if people woke up feeling as though no amount of work could ever
> pay off, there would be no point in getting up at all.  There are people who
> fall through the cracks.  The rest of us should reach out, but do you
> genuinely believe there are enough people out there willing to teach others
> how to read, how to cross streets, how to advocate for themselves, how to be
> generally independent?  If there is general disagreement that even high
> levels of determination cannot guarantee success, I suggest there be a plan
> of action to change this dismal fact.
>
> Third, I'll grant you the history of the treatment of the blind is less than
> pleasant.  If your point here was to suggest that Carrie's analogy of
> blindness to slavery was in fact a valid one, I'll concede the argument.
> History is replete with atrocities against humankind, and although I am well
> aware you are not suggesting this notion, I would offer the reminder that we
> not allow history to govern our future potential.
>
> Fourth, my reference to the clucking chicken has to do with Ben Underwood's
> use of clicking to familiarize himself with his surroundings.  Whether or
> not the method is effective is a separate matter, but effective or not, it
> is not socially acceptable.  I know that referencing social norms begs the
> question, "what is normal?"  Yet the reality stands that such behavior lends
> credence that blind people are special, and not in a good way.  Somehow
> these are the examples that the media picks up and distributes, and I have
> to wonder why this is the case?  Surely in our midst of 50,000 members there
> are enough people who can go out as ambassadors to change these slanted
> perceptions.  Or, is it that we only find ourselves highlighting the
> negative publicity?  In either case, stereotypes exist of all social groups.
> If a sighted person sees a blind person rocking, that sighted person will
> assume that all blind people rock.  Is it fair?  Of course it's not fair,
> but it's human nature that clouds the judgment of the blind as much as it
> does of the sighted.  SNL picked up on stereotypical depictions of the
> blind, but on the whole I do not see how their comedy will impair my quality
> of life.  I recognize my actions in daily life among sighted peers will have
> more of a profound impact than a show segment that would have been forgotten
> had there not been an official statement that legitimized the show's humor.
>
> Finally, the issue of the press release itself is a debatable matter.  I do
> not think I am as concerned with the distribution of the press release as
> much as I am about the impetus for its distribution.  My reasons, I think,
> have already been sufficiently outlined.
>
> Again, a very well-organized, very thought-provoking contribution to the
> discussion.  I'm glad you came out of lurk mode and hope to see more of your
> feedback.  We may not agree here.  I think I'll let it rest after this post,
> but one thing I have learned from this thread is that while critics of the
> NFB may accuse it of being too militaristic, I am wondering if it is not
> militaristic enough...
>
> In an additional response to Carrie's question of what I think we should do
> with our influence, I will add two specific ideas:
>
> 1. We should design a mentoring program between blind people and sighted
> ones.  The program should be used as a tool to eliminate the mentality of us
> versus them, but on a more practical level I think I would learn more from a
> sighted counterpart than I might from a fellow blind member.  No offense to
> my blind peeps, but unless I am interested in a career in blindness, my
> network needs to be out there, in the sighted world, where I hope to make a
> name for myself.  Blind mentorship should not have to be an arrangement.  It
> should be a natural occurrence, though there are multiple benefits to such
> arrangements, so don't nobody go claiming I am anti-mentoring among the
> blind.
>
> 2. Boot camp!  Are you surprised?  My conservatism is never far, but
> seriously, two week sessions during the summer where adults travel to
> Baltimore to get dipped in all levels of alternative techniques to get a
> sense of what they could accomplish with the right attitude.  Are we going
> to shake the status quo?  No, but I think it would be a damn fine start.
>
> 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 Antonio M. Guimaraes
> Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 5:37 PM
> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment
>
> Dear Marc,
>
> Although I would generally disagree with you about the direct effect of the
> Saturday Night Live skit on my life as a blind person, you have verry good
> points.
>
> First, the time and effort that went into writing the press release is right
> on. Many of us have spent much more time debating it that it took Chris
> Danielson to write and distribute it.
>
> Then there is the question that blind people can so definitively decide to
> get up in the morning and be successful, no matter the outside influences
> governing society, and life. If such a thing were true, then we could, based
> on often quoted unemployment rates among the blind,  say that blind people
> are highly unmotivated, lazy, and disintrested in their own affairs. if this
> describes any of our readers, and I am sure it does, she or he should learn
> about the world, and the wonderful experiences to be had in it. To be sure,
> there are lazy, and disinterested blind people in our midst, but this is not
> the only factor in the 70 percent unemployment figures we so often cite. To
> be sure, employers have ideas about blind people. One employer recently
> hired someone else, even when it was clear the blind person performed better
> than the sighted in the job interview. Whether this was a lack of knowledge,
> or too much knowledge that current technologies were inaccessible to the
> blind candidate, the blind person lost out. That blind person was me, some
> time ago.
>
> The writing of a press release by the national office will spark discussion
> any time it is controvercial. National writes, leads, and speaks for the
> membership, and when some members have issue with it, they will have at it
> on our lists. The national office can't always speak for all members, of
> course, but it tries to capture the general feeling set fourth by
> resolutions, current thinking, or leadership actually leading. I wonder what
> our discussions would have been for the past few days if national were
> quietly ignoring this one.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Antonio Guimaraes
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <mworkman at ualberta.ca>
> To: "National Association of Blind Students mailing list"
> <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 5:48 PM
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Comments on Saturday Night Live Segment
>
>
> Hello,
>
> I haven't posted on this list yet, but this thread is compelling enough to
> draw me out of lurker mode and into the conversation.
>
> By way of introduction, my name is Marc Workman, and I'll be starting a Ph.D
> in Philosophy at the University of Alberta in September.  For you americans,
> that's in Canada where we spend all of our free time assuming that you know
> nothing about us and pretending that we don't care even though we
> desperately do.  That little bit of self-depricating, but not very funny,
> poking fun at canadians was to show that I can take a joke, even if I can't
> make one.
>
> I find so much wrong with what you say Joe that this is likely to turn into
> an essay.  I don't expect to change your mind (I saw the presidential
> election discussions, and I witnessed your impressive ability to deflect
> reasoned arguments without a second thought, and sometimes, it seemed,
> without a first as well).  So this is really written for myself and whoever
> else is interested.
>
> First off, I always find it amusing when people assume that, once we reach
> adulthood, we are these completely free, autonomous, rational beings that
> independently choose whatever path we want.  This assumption is usually made
> without the slightest awareness of how profoundly this conception of
> ourselves has been shaped by religious, economic, and political changes over
> the last 500 years.  Not so long ago, the kind of person you describe who is
> capable of choosing his reality wasn't even conceivable.  Now it's taken as
> a simple fact of nature, especially by americans and particularly a certain
> brand of conservative american (though many others as well of course), that
> we all freely and independently choose our reality.  But I'll just leave
> that hopelessly internally contradictory position aside for now.
>
> Second, to the question: is it impossible for blind people to make something
> of themselves? The answer is obviously no.  But it's the wrong question to
> ask.  We should be working to make it so that blind people don't have to
> beat the odds, don't have to muster up anymore determination in order to
> succeed than do the sighted.  The comment about the high level of
> determination required of blind people suggests that this is not currently
> the situation in which blind people find themselves, and for me, that cries
> out for rectification, but you imply that it is an acceptable state of
> affairs simply because it is always technically possible for blind people to
> succeed, provided of course that they muster up a high enough level of
> determination.
>
> Third, There seems to be some ignorance about the history of the blind.
> Blind people were, in fact, institutionalized in asylums, workshops,
> prisons, and privately in the home.  Blind people were sterilized, in some
> cases voluntarily (whatever that means) and, in other cases,
> non-voluntarily.  An of course there is the Holocaust where disabled people,
> including blind people, were actually killed.  Suddenly, the apple and the
> orange don't seem so different, though I've never thought that apples and
> oranges were so difficult to compare; it would be much harder to compare
> apples with, say, submarines.  Anyway, I view the history of the blind as
> adding up to more than mere discrimination borne of pity, but you may
> disagree.
>
> Fourth, I warned you it would be long, I don't recall ever hearing a blind
> person cluck like a chicken, unless he was trying to goad someone into a
> fight.  And this is one of the problems with the SNL skit: it was so far
> from resembling anything close to an accurate depiction that it could only
> be funny to those who know almost nothing about blindness and hold very low
> expectations of the blind.  I hardly think SNL was shedding light on the
> status quo.  You can't tell me you think any blind person would actually
> wander back and forth in front of a camera like that.  Nor do I think a
> blind person would show a graph upside down anymore that a sighted person;
> in fact, I suspect it would happen less because we know that when we make
> mistakes like that, it automatically gets assumed that it is a result of our
> blindness rather than, say, just being in a rush, whereas a sighted person
> can get away with making  the same mistake and shrugging it off.  The jokes
> the writers made were not based on observing blind people in any meaningful
> way.  They simply imagined how hard it would be to be blind, recalled the
> bumbling blind man in past media portrayals, and came up with something
> pethetically unfunny.  I grant, however, that 90% of SNL is crap, and so
> this was par for the course, but I genuinely believe these portrayals have a
> negative impact on me and the way I live my life.  Exaggerating Sara Palin's
> mannerisms does little to perpetuate discrimination against any marginalized
> group.  I don't think the same can be said of this particular skit, and this
> is why it is worse than just making fun of a politician.
>
> Finally, I don't understand why there is so much concern about writing press
> releases.  It might make sense if there was a lot of time and effort going
> into this issue, but it's only a press release.  It takes an hour to write
> and no time to send off to a set of media contacts.  If the story gets
> picked up, then, who knows, you might end up actually educating someone or
> informing someone about the NFB.  If the story doesn't get picked up, oh
> well, no real loss.  I really find it odd that people would take more time
> condemning the writing of a press release than was actually spent writing it
> in the first place.
>
> Well, I'm sure I've alienated at least one of you, and probably more than
> that, so I'll sign off for now.
>
> Marc
>
> -----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 12:14 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
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>>>>>> l
>>>>>> oose%40gmail.com
>>>>>>
>>>>>
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