[nfb-talk] philosophy taken to another level then?

Ray Foret Jr rforetjr at comcast.net
Sat Jul 17 07:20:09 CDT 2010


Mike,

You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you and I agree on this matter more than you might at first suppose.  The issues you bring up are points that are well taken.  IN fact, I'll add to your points by giving yet another example.  Remember "Good and Evil"?  I do.  did I think that show was funny?  Hell no!!!  I thought it was exactly the worst thing to come along in years.  IN fact, I'd say it was way worse even than the commercial you sighted in your message.  Still, while your points are well taken, I maintian that I still have a fairly good case.  For example, let's say I am in a hurry to get to the laundry mat and in my haste, I grab a box of Pancake mix rather than detergent.  Yes, that actually happened to me.  I put the powder in to the machine and put my clothes in.  The attendant came over and then said to me, "Uh, excuse me sir; uh, do you know you put Pancake mix in your clothes?".  You can imagine how embarrassed I was.  Now, let's look at that episode.  ON the one hand, one hand, one could argue the point that this incident would make the attendant think that blind people cannot tell between laundry detergent and pancake mix.  He might, therefore, have a view of blindness that is colored by that happening.  Therefore, by allowing that bit of carelessness to occurr, one could say that i betrayed the cause and set us bakc many years.  At this point, some might perhaps call me a trator to the movement because of this.  In my first days in the outfit, I too might have said as much.  On the other hand, one could argue that the story is funny for its own sake.  The laundry mat attendant could easily have his view of blindness corrected by others, (many others) who would not make that mistake.  So, let me stop here and ask one simple question.  What says the list to that?


Sincerely,
The Constantly Barefooted Ray!!!

E-Mail:
rforetjr at comcast dot net
Skype Name:
barefootedray

On Jul 16, 2010, at 10:43 PM, Mike Freeman wrote:

> Ray:
> 
> In any discussion such as this, it's damnably dangerous to generalize because almost universally, there are exceptions to any rule. But with respect to humor regarding aspects of blindness, I think we must ask ourselves *why* we (or our sighted coleagues) find any particular blindness-related incident funny. Let me give you an example.
> 
> Many years ago, I remember a commercial for a particular optical company touting the need to wear good glasses (this was before lasic) by using a skit whereby a mom's kids on a camping trip with her stole her glasses and laughed themselves silly when she got up in the morning over how ridiculous she looked stumbling about and doing awkward things because she couldn't see.
> 
> That commercial burned my posterior because it was pure cruelty for the kids to laugh about something the mom couldn't help because she wasn't trained as a blind person and had I been her, I'd have tanned their hides. This sort of thing is the reason I find almost all slapstick comedy unappealing. It's basically cruelty in another guise. And if (as in Mr. Magoo) it gives the impression that all vision-impaired persons are like that, it sets us back immeasurably.
> 
> But something like forgetting to turn a coffee cup over when getting it out of the cupboard and absent-mindedly pouring coffee all over the counter as a result -- that's just plain funny because I knew better and had my head in the clouds rather than paying attention to what I was doing as I should have.
> 
> You see what I'm driving at? Do we laugh over our blindness because it's funny or because we are laughing at what we take to be our misfortune.
> 
> What we in NFB bridle at our two assumptions: (a) that others (including ourselves) assume that we need help when we may not and (b) that we may falsely assume that we can't do something so elect not to try. Every one of us (including those of us who are sighted) use help when we need it and/or when it's convenient for us and others. Where this gets us into trouble is when we ask for help so often that people don't think we can do without it.
> 
> But basically, it all comes down to how we view ourselves mediated by our view of blindness.
> 
> Mike
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Ray Foret Jr" <rforetjr at comcast.net>
> To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Friday, July 16, 2010 9:33 AM
> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] philosophy taken to another level then?
> 
> 
>> Ah, well, you see John, here's the thing.  As I see it, I don't think that the NFB philosophy is looking to diminish blindness itself; rather, as I understand it, the NFB is trying to make blindness itself a mere nucence according to the perceptions of both the sighted and blind alike.  We tend to see ourselves as others see us.  That includes the blind as well.  It's a fact of human nature that when you've got a cause to fight, and the need for help from others seems to fly in the face of any forward movement in that cause, there tends to be at least a little personal or professional embarrassment at the idea of needing help; especially when that need for help and the taking of it, (how ever badly needed) would even appear to set back the cause for which one is fighting.  I note the most recent issue of "The Braille Monitor" for July 2010.  The "Ask Mrs. Whsoit column is particularly worth paying attention to.  Why?  Because in that column, one of the letter writers indicate
>> d that they got the impression that the independent blind in the NFB always would brag about how they could always find their way through airports and never needed help; and therefore, that one was not a true federationist if one either needed or accepted help regardless of how much that help was actually needed.  Barbara Pierce, in her answer, indicated that she wondered whether she and the letter writer were reading the same issues of "The Braille Monitor".  Here, I think the letter writer could have made a stronger case by actually sighting issue and articles.  If the truth of the matter be known, I too was once under the same impression as the letter writer.
>> 
>> Now, I'll give you another.  The subject of laughter.  Once, on this list, I made an attempt to explore this issue in depth but it didn't go very far.  I sighted what I believed at the time to be inconsistencies in what some leaders in the federation were saying and human reality.  It's human to laugh at things which are truly funny; even things blindness related. Some among the federation leadership, (barbara Pierce for example) said things which I took to be the attitude that it was not acceptable for a blind person to laugh at anything blindness related; even if it was genuinely funny.  But this philosophy, if you live and breathe it literally, tends to deny human reality.  What say y'all?
>> 
>> I'm just trying to poke at a few points here to see what we can go with.
>> 
>> 
>> Sincerely,
>> The Constantly Barefooted Ray!!!
>> 
>> E-Mail:
>> rforetjr at comcast dot net
>> Skype Name:
>> barefootedray
>> 
>> On Jul 16, 2010, at 10:51 AM, John G. Heim wrote:
>> 
>>> Ah! Actually, you bring up an exciting possibility that never occured to me.
>>> 
>>> No, I can't honestly say that I've been arguing that the NFB philosophy should be modified. The trouble is that I've always believed that an advocacy group cannot be effective when its own philosophy is that the problem it is organized around is fairly minor. Why bother working for change when blindness is a mere nuiscance anyway?
>>> 
>>> You're probably saying, "That's not waht the NFB philosophy means." And I think it should be clear that I know that especially after my dissertation about how similar  the NFB philosophy is to Lombardi's. The problem, as I see it, is that it is impossible to avoid having the philosophy to morph into something that blames the victim.  It inevitably will lead to a situation where its a sin to ask for an accomodation, any accomodation.  The only solution I see is to get rid of the philosophy all together.
>>> 
>>> Well, that's the only solution I saw until now. Actually, I'm really excited about the idea you bring up. Can the philosophy be tweaked to address the problems I have seen? I'll admit I'm very skeptical. But it sure is worth some thought and/or discussion.
>>> 
>>> Actually, I'd consider it a major victory if someone, anyone, would acknowledge the problem itself. How can the NFB be effective as an advocacy group when its own philosophy is that with proper training, blindness can be reduced to a mere nuiscance? If I were President of the NFB (scary thought, I know), I could go on for days about how those 2 ideas are not really contradictory. But as a practical matter, I just do not think they can work together. And you've got to admit that on the surface, they seem quite at odds.
>>> 
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Ray Foret Jr" <rforetjr at comcast.net>
>>> To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
>>> Sent: Friday, July 16, 2010 9:34 AM
>>> Subject: [nfb-talk] philosophy taken to another level then?
>>> 
>>> 
>>>> Okay John,  So, let me see if I understand you correctly.  What some of us have viewed as your attacks on the NFB philosophy are actually not attacks at all; rather, they are attempts on your part to help the NFB fulfill and perhaps even improve on its  philosophy?  I want you to understand that I do not intend my question as an attack upon you; but, instead, I truly want to see if this is where you are going.  Because, if so, I think we may have the beginnings of a rather forward thinking discussion about a substantive way of moving forward that if we advance it to the leadership of the NFB in exactly the right way, we might perhaps gain ground not otherwise obtainable.
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Sincerely,
>>>> The Constantly Barefooted Ray!!!
>>>> 
>>>> E-Mail:
>>>> rforetjr at comcast dot net
>>>> Skype Name:
>>>> barefootedray
>>>> 
>>>> On Jul 16, 2010, at 9:02 AM, John G. Heim wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>> I'm impressed with the number of swimmers on this list. Its a good sign, IMO. It says something about the NFB philosophy.
>>>>> 
>>>>> I may have given the impression that I disapprove of the NFB philosophy but nothing could be further from the truth. Its very close to my personal philosophy of life which is borrowed from Vince Lombardi.
>>>>> 
>>>>> A lot of people think Vince Lombardi was the mean old coach who would do anything to win. No, that was not what he was like at all. His players loved him and still gather to meet each year to honor him. What he believed was that life's greatest moments come when you meet a challenge and over come it. That's what life is about. That is what it is to be human.  You've got to have the will to win, to be the best you can be. Strive for perfection, knowing you'll never obtain it but on the way there, you'll find three things. First, you'll do more than you ever thought you could. Second, you'll find the struggle itself can be fun. And third, , when you do succeed, it will be the greatest feeling you've ever had. So when I went blind, I decided I was going to be the best damn blind guy I could be. I learned braille, tried to learn to play the violin, got a guide dog, and got back into running and swimming.
>>>>> 
>>>>> The beauty of Lombardi's philosophy is that whenever you run into adversity, you don't say, "Oh, woe is me. Life is so hard."  Instead the response is , "Well, what are you going to do about it?" You don't seek out adversity but when it comes, embrace it. Take it on.
>>>>> 
>>>>> Not to create controversy again but like the NFB philosophy, the problem with Vince Lombardi's philosophy is that it is easily morphed into a mentality of showing contempt for losers. You can't live Lombardi's philosophy and be satisfied -- well ever really since perfection is impossible to obtain. You can always get better. But not everybody has the same strengths and not everyone can win.  And no one has any right to tell anyone else how to live their lives.
>>>>> 
>>>>> anyway, I think you can see the simularity between Lombardi's philosophy of life and the NFB philosophy. I would say, though, that Lombardi's philosophy is a step beyond that of the NFB in that it gives you a sort of method for carrying it out. The idea of never settling for anything short of success is implied in the NFB philosophy but not spelled out. I think Lombardi's take on the NFB philosophy would have been that the most important thing in life for a blind person is striving to reduce blindness to a mere nuisance.  You may never get there but the most important thing is to never be satisfied until it is.
>>>>> 
>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Steve Johnson" <stevencjohnson at centurytel.net>
>>>>> To: "'NFB Talk Mailing List'" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
>>>>> Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 7:10 PM
>>>>> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] swimming (was: Bard(
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>>> Hi John,
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> I think it is just cool that you are swimming.  I think the best I would at
>>>>>> my skill level is circles!  Good for you in wanting to be a tri-athelete!
>>>>>> Steve
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>> From: nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
>>>>>> Behalf Of John G. Heim
>>>>>> Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:25 AM
>>>>>> To: NFB Talk Mailing List
>>>>>> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] swimming (was: Bard(
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> If you swim laps and if you have a way to stay on your side of the lane, I'd
>>>>>> like to hear about it.  I believe most lap pools have the swimmers keep
>>>>>> right like on a road. You swim up the right side of the lane and on the way
>>>>>> back you come down the other side. The best I've been able to do is to swim
>>>>>> with my right arm flailing out so that i can touch the lane divider on every
>>>>>> stroke.  That doesn't really work very well.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> It isn't really very helpful to tell me my skills need to improve. After
>>>>>> all, I already asked for tips on how to improve.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
>>>>>> Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 9:14 AM
>>>>>> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] swimming (was: Bard(
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> A lane for yourself alone?  Why?  Is it your swimming skills that
>>>>>>> vastly need improvement; or, perhaps your blindness skills?
>>>>>>> Sincerely,
>>>>>>> The Constantly Barefooted Ray!!!
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> E-Mail:
>>>>>>> rforetjr at comcast dot net
>>>>>>> Skype Name:
>>>>>>> barefootedray
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> On Jul 15, 2010, at 9:04 AM, John G. Heim wrote:
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> So you're a swimmer, huh?  Do you ever have to share a lane? If so,
>>>>>>>> how do you do it? I have never managed to do that successfully. Here
>>>>>>>> at the pool at the University of Wisconsin, I call ahead and they set
>>>>>>>> a lane aside for me so I can have it to myself. Its only a minor
>>>>>>>> sacrifice because there are usually several lanes with only one
>>>>>>>> person in them. So when they reserve a lane for me, it only means one
>>>>>>>> other person has to share a lane.
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> Have you ever done any open water swimming? I would like to enter a
>>>>>>>> triathlon but I don't like swimming tethered to someone else. I just
>>>>>>>> can't get comfortable doing that. It effects my breathing and I just
>>>>>>>> can't swim normally.
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Wm. Ritchhart"
>>>>>>>> <william.ritchhart at sbcglobal.net>
>>>>>>>> To: "'NFB Talk Mailing List'" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
>>>>>>>> Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 5:04 PM
>>>>>>>> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Bard
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> I really like the new digital talking book player.  I do wish it was
>>>>>>>>> still smaller and lighter.  With all my swimming gear, lunch,
>>>>>>>>> back-up cane and everything else I have in my gym bag; it is still
>>>>>>>>> too heavy.
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>>>>> From: nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org
>>>>>>>>> [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
>>>>>>>>> On
>>>>>>>>> Behalf Of Steve Johnson
>>>>>>>>> Sent: Monday, July 12, 2010 8:22 PM
>>>>>>>>> To: 'NFB Talk Mailing List'
>>>>>>>>> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Bard
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> John, I have not tried one myself yet, so this is good to know.
>>>>>>>>> Thanks, Steve
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>>>>> From: nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org
>>>>>>>>> [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
>>>>>>>>> On
>>>>>>>>> Behalf Of John G. Heim
>>>>>>>>> Sent: Monday, July 12, 2010 3:26 PM
>>>>>>>>> To: NFB Talk Mailing List
>>>>>>>>> Subject: [nfb-talk] Bard
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> Man, I just got one of those new digital book players from the
>>>>>>>>> National Library Service.  You might wonder why a computer nerd like
>>>>>>>>> myself took so long to ask for one of those things. Well, I guess
>>>>>>>>> mostly the reason is that I have 2 tape players that I bought myself
>>>>>>>>> plus the one from NLS. So now I have to use the player from the NLS
>>>>>>>>> all of the time.
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> But holy cow, is this thing nice. I downloaded a book and put it on
>>>>>>>>> a USB thumb drive and was listening to a book amybe 3 minutes after
>>>>>>>>> getting started. And navigation within the book is very nice.
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> Your tax dollars at work.
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>> nfb-talk mailing list
>>>>>>>>> nfb-talk at nfbnet.org
>>>>>>>>> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfb-talk_nfbnet.org
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>> nfb-talk mailing list
>>>>>>>>> nfb-talk at nfbnet.org
>>>>>>>>> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfb-talk_nfbnet.org
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>> nfb-talk mailing list
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>>>>>>>>> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfb-talk_nfbnet.org
>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
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>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>>> 
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>>>>>> nfb-talk mailing list
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>>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>> 
>>>> 
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>>> 
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