[nfb-talk] Fw: [leadership] Blindness and Perspective, The Protests Harm Our Image

Sherri flmom2006 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 19 21:23:00 UTC 2008

Oh I want to see it. Send it my way please.

flmom2006 at gmail.com
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John G. Heim" <jheim at math.wisc.edu>
To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Friday, December 19, 2008 11:03 AM
Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Fw: [leadership] Blindness and Perspective,The 
Protests Harm Our Image

> Did anybody see my SNL "make up" skit? I don't think it appeared on the 
> list. I didn't get a copy and I think there was something wrong with the 
> list. I didn't send 10 copies of that other message that appeared 10 
> times.
> Anyway, I was hoping for comments because admittedly, it could use work. 
> Not that I actually think SNL would do a "make up" skit.  BI guess it's 
> just a fantasy. But I thought it might be fun to dream. Anyway, in my 
> skit, the real Governor Paterson sits down in a restaurant and the wait 
> staff is patronizing and asks him inappropriate questions. For instance, 
> the waiter keeps shouting at him as if that will help. And he explains 
> what a grilled cheese sandwich is as if being blind, the Governor would 
> have no idea what that is. The waiter and waitress ask him how he pees and 
> how blind people "do it". Eventually, the Governor looses it and declares 
> that blind people can do anything sighted people can do, even cocaine and 
> extra marital affairs.
> I thought it was funny.
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "T. Joseph Carter" <carter.tjoseph at gmail.com>
> To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 10:39 PM
> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Fw: [leadership] Blindness and Perspective,The 
> Protests Harm Our Image
>> I'd just like to point out the number of ACBers who were outraged by the 
>> movie, at least until the NFB went out to protest the thing to pretty 
>> good success.
>> I'd also mention that SNL did not portray Patterson as some Mr. Magoo who 
>> was just totally oblivious to things around him.  They portrayed 
>> Patterson as cognitively deficient as a result of blindness.  That I have 
>> a problem with for the best reason imaginable:  It just isn't funny.
>> It is, however, mean-spirited.  Lots of people find mean-spirited things 
>> directed at other people funny.  Particularly often, bullies and 
>> bully-victims find such things to be extremely amusing.
>> Joseph
>> On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 08:11:26AM -0500, Sherri wrote:
>>> I'm just passing this along, because I for the most part agree with her 
>>> perspective., though I'll probably incur someone's wrath for doing so. 
>>> *smile.
>>> Sherri
>>>> From: Penny Reeder <penny.reeder at gmail.com
>>>> Subject: [leadership] Blindness and Perspective, The Protests Harm Our 
>>>> Image
>>>> Dear ACB Leaders,
>>>> Here's a copy of my latest blog at "Penny for Your Thoughts," on 
>>>> GettingHired.com.  If you decide to circulate what I wrote, please 
>>>> include the link, as follows:
>>>> http://community.gettinghired.com/blogs/pennyforyourthoughts/archive/2008/12/16/blindness-and-perspective-the-protests-harm-our-image.aspx
>>>> Blindness and Perspective, The Protests Harm Our Image!
>>>> Members of groups which call themselves "the organized blind" are 
>>>> hopping mad.  It's
>>>> been a tough year for them.  First it was the movie, "Blindness," that 
>>>> infuriated
>>>> them.  Now, it's two skits on the December 13, broadcast of "Saturday 
>>>> Night Live."
>>>> During October, many members of these groups protested against the 
>>>> movie, "Blindness."
>>>> "It portrays a terrible image of The Blind," organizers of the 
>>>> demonstrations against
>>>> the film ranted.
>>>> I guess it did.  Certainly those poor wretches who were struck, by 
>>>> virtue of an epidemic
>>>> that paralyzed a fictional Latin American city by making every citizen 
>>>> but one instantly
>>>> blind, didn't cope very gracefully, or graciously, with their instant 
>>>> disability.
>>>> The newly blind protagonists couldn't manage even the simplest tasks. 
>>>> Fear and repression
>>>> were the government's response, and quarantine.  And those 
>>>> blind-from-birth  people
>>>> who already knew how to live independently were transformed into 
>>>> society's criminal
>>>> element.  They had an extortion racket going on in the quarantine 
>>>> facility, and that
>>>> was just the least offensive aspect of the ways they violated the 
>>>> newly-blind  detainees.
>>>> It was a grim portrait of an epidemic, but as a blind person, I did not 
>>>> find the
>>>> specific portrayal of disability in the book, "Blindness," which I 
>>>> read, or the movie,
>>>> for which, I have to admit for the sake of full disclosure, I saw only 
>>>> the previews,
>>>> offensive. I don't think that the blind men and women of the book or 
>>>> the film say
>>>> anything about me or the other people I know who are blind.  I think 
>>>> the novel by
>>>> Jose Saramago,is a brilliant portrayal of a society paralyzed by 
>>>> terror, and the
>>>> epidemic of blindness could just as easily have been an epidemic of 
>>>> instant paralysis,
>>>> or speechlessness, or swine flu, or extreme paranoia.  How would any of 
>>>> us react
>>>> to a deadly or disabling or terrifying epidemic?  How would our 
>>>> government respond?
>>>> What would we let the authorities get away with?  These are the 
>>>> questions that the
>>>> Nobel-prize winning author engendered for readers of his compelling 
>>>> novel.  These
>>>> are the questions I asked myself, as I read the book, and later as I 
>>>> thought about
>>>> the movie, and the organized demonstrations against the film and 
>>>> theaters showing
>>>> it.
>>>> I found their demands for censorship to be an assault against many of 
>>>> the values
>>>> and freedoms in which I believe, and I thought the organizations and 
>>>> people who demanded
>>>> that the movie theaters refrain from showing the film were 
>>>> embarrassingly narrow-minded,
>>>> and that they did nothing to improve society's image of people who are 
>>>> blind or the
>>>> disability of blindness.  They are not speaking for me, I told anyone 
>>>> who knew about
>>>> the demonstrators, or anyone who asked what I thought.
>>>> Now, it's "Saturday Night Live" that has inspired the wrath of many in 
>>>> the so-called
>>>> movement of the organized blind.  SNL, apparently searching around for 
>>>> someone new,
>>>> to replace Sarah Palin as an object for humorous exaggeration, chose 
>>>> David Patterson,
>>>> the Governor of New York, who happens to be legally blind.  In addition 
>>>> to addressing
>>>> telling questions of the day like who will be replacing Hillary Clinton 
>>>> as senator
>>>> for New York State, and what can repair a self destructive economy, 
>>>> they focused
>>>> on his blindness as a suitable topic for typical SNL ridicule.  The 
>>>> skits - there
>>>> were two on last Saturday's SNL - damage our image, the protestors 
>>>> complain.  The
>>>> writers and the cast portrayed Patterson as incompetent, and as a 
>>>> buffoon, that's
>>>> what they say.  Well, maybe they did, but here again, I part company 
>>>> with my enraged
>>>> colleagues who claim to speak for everyone who is blind.  I thought 
>>>> both skits were
>>>> funny.
>>>> When Patterson held up a printed chart, upside down, I laughed-because 
>>>> I have done
>>>> the same thing countless times.  Better to laugh than to cry, or 
>>>> pretend it never
>>>> happens, or regret that it does, or berate myself for something over 
>>>> which I have
>>>> no control!  Sure, if I've had time to prepare for a presentation, I'll 
>>>> mark the
>>>> top of a printed chart with a paper clip or a staple or figure out some 
>>>> way to keep
>>>> from displaying it upside down, or backwards.  But, if I haven't had 
>>>> time to prepare
>>>> in advance, I'm just as likely to hand you a printed sheet of paper 
>>>> upside down as
>>>> right side up, or with the print side down.  So what!  It doesn't say 
>>>> anything about
>>>> my character or my competence, and the best way to respond graciously 
>>>> is to see the
>>>> humor in the incident and move on!
>>>> I'll bet that David Patterson, the real Governor Patterson,  does just 
>>>> that when
>>>> something similar happens to him in the course of his real life.
>>>> In the second skit, Patterson wanders in front of the camera, spoiling 
>>>> the shot.
>>>> Of course, he doesn't realize what he's done, and the pretend host of 
>>>> the pretend
>>>> "Week End Update" doesn't know what to do either.  "Just keep walking I 
>>>> guess," she
>>>> says with a mixture of confusion and annoyance and regret.
>>>> Not funny, those people who are blind with the huge sense of personal 
>>>> effrontery
>>>> and outrage say!  You can't portray one of us that way!
>>>> Why not?  Again, I hate to admit it, but this kind of thing can happen 
>>>> to a person
>>>> who can't see with alarming frequency.  Or is it just me?
>>>> I live near Washington, DC.  That means that every once in a while, I 
>>>> visit one of
>>>> the Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, or one of the monuments on 
>>>> the Mall, and
>>>> it happens every so often that my guide dog and I, walking down the 
>>>> sidewalk in front
>>>> of a famous monument, or waiting to meet a family member or a friend 
>>>> outside a famous
>>>> building find that we're in the wrong place at the wrong time.  You 
>>>> need to move,
>>>> a sighted companion might murmur, and then, by way of explanation, say, 
>>>> "You're in
>>>> the way.  They're trying to take a picture."
>>>> So, I smile and tell the family group trying to create a Washington 
>>>> memory that I'm
>>>> sorry, and I move.  That's it.  No big deal and no problem!  An 
>>>> occurrence like that
>>>> says nothing about my ability to walk around independently or my 
>>>> awareness of my
>>>> environment, or my ability to get a job, or to do a job.  (Certainly 
>>>> I'm not applying
>>>> to be a truck driver!)
>>>> The news releases from the blindness organizations, and the angry op ed 
>>>> pieces say
>>>> much less about SNL's understanding of what it means to be blind than 
>>>> they say about
>>>> their own inability to see humor in the ordinary, sometimes a little 
>>>> annoying happenstances
>>>> that occur because people who are blind really cannot see.  Again, I 
>>>> say, they are
>>>> not speaking for me!
>>>> Am I disloyal to the other members of the community of people who are 
>>>> blind because,
>>>> when I was a kid,  I used to laugh at Mr. Magoo?  He always reminded me 
>>>> of myself,
>>>> and it always tickled me when he crashed into a wall or misconstrued 
>>>> the letters
>>>> on a label!  (I might have laughed even more frequently if the cartoons 
>>>> had included
>>>> a video description track.)
>>>> Maybe I'm a jerk because I used to love "Head Wound Harry," in an 
>>>> earlier incarnation
>>>> of SNL?  Certainly I wouldn't laugh at a real person with a real head 
>>>> wound, but
>>>> the SNL exaggeration always made me laugh.
>>>> That doesn't mean that I wouldn't help a real person with a real head 
>>>> wound, any
>>>> more than I think it would be okay to judge a blind person who wanders 
>>>> in front of
>>>> a TV camera as incapable of functioning effectively or independently in 
>>>> society.
>>>> I know that when I hand a colleague a printed piece of paper upside 
>>>> down that that
>>>> person will judge me on the basis of the words I wrote on that sheet of 
>>>> paper, not
>>>> on the basis of my not being able to physically see the print on the 
>>>> page!
>>>> It seems to me that when they present themselves as humorless and 
>>>> judgmental and
>>>> carrying huge chips on their collective shoulders, people who are 
>>>> blind, and demonstrate
>>>> against an acclaimed novel, or a cartoon character who can't see very 
>>>> well, or a
>>>> film where blindness serves as a metaphor for a societal flaw, or a 
>>>> skit on SNL,
>>>> do those of us who are blind much more harm than they change opinions 
>>>> or modify attitudes
>>>> in the people who are the objects of their outrage.  Discrimination on 
>>>> the basis
>>>> of disability is inexcusable, the unemployment rate for people who are 
>>>> blind is six
>>>> times the unemployment rate for people who are not blind (or at least, 
>>>> that's what
>>>> David Patterson said when talking to reporters the night after the 
>>>> Saturday Night
>>>> Live skits), and the attitudes and statistical reality that fact 
>>>> describes reflect
>>>> a situation that is truly terrible for many people who are blind.  But, 
>>>> it is a sense
>>>> of humor as well as a shared appreciation for everything that makes all 
>>>> of us, disabled
>>>> and non-disabled, human that provides a way for us to cope with life as 
>>>> we know it,
>>>> and a starting point for working toward shared goals, including full 
>>>> employment.
>>>> When an organization that claims to represent "the blind" defines a 
>>>> novel, or a cartoon
>>>> character, or a skit on "Saturday Night Live" as a personal attack 
>>>> against every
>>>> person who is blind and fails to find humor in the minor scenarios that 
>>>> result, not
>>>> from any incompetence, but rather from the very circumstance of not 
>>>> being able to
>>>> see, then, as a class of people, they risk being labeled quick to 
>>>> anger, humorless,
>>>> and unlikable.  If people run the other way when they see us coming, if 
>>>> they feel
>>>> like they have to apologize for using ordinary words like "see" or 
>>>> "look," and if
>>>> they would just as soon hang out in places where we aren't so they 
>>>> won't have to
>>>> worry about saying the wrong thing or laughing at the wrong joke, then 
>>>> it's unlikely
>>>> that they will place people who are blind very high on anyone's list of 
>>>> people who
>>>> are employable.
>>>> The blindness organizations are fond of describing the disability of 
>>>> blindness as
>>>> just one characteristic.  It's no different than hair color, or height, 
>>>> or ethnicity,
>>>> I have heard their spokespeople explain, and to a certain extent, I 
>>>> agree. It's
>>>> not my blindness that defines who I am, it's my capabilities, my 
>>>> intellect, my ability
>>>> to relate to other people.
>>>> It's not my blindness that defines me, but that blindness is an aspect 
>>>> of who I am
>>>> that is a little more important than the color of my hair, because it 
>>>> is my blindness
>>>> that requires my employer to accommodate my need for a screen reader on 
>>>> the computer,
>>>> it is my blindness that excuses behavior that would be described as 
>>>> rude - like walking
>>>> through the middle of a photo shoot - unless the people I've 
>>>> inconvenienced realize
>>>> that I did that because I didn't see what they were doing.  It's my 
>>>> blindness that
>>>> causes me to hand you a sheet of paper upside down or backwards.  You 
>>>> need to know
>>>> that I can't see so you will understand, and I need to acknowledge that 
>>>> error by
>>>> laughing about the inadvertent slip-up, and letting you know that I 
>>>> understand why
>>>> you have momentarily been taken aback.  It's our mutual acknowledgement 
>>>> of my blindness
>>>> that allows both of us to get beyond an uncomfortable situation, and 
>>>> it's the humor
>>>> that lets both of us move beyond the moment of discomfort and get back 
>>>> to the interaction
>>>> that's important.
>>>> So much analysis about two little skits, you're probably saying.  And, 
>>>> I agree.
>>>> The so-called organized blind need to understand that it is our 
>>>> blindness that engenders
>>>> those momentarily uncomfortable situations for all of us and for 
>>>> sighted people who
>>>> interact with us, and it is an acknowledgement of what it means to be 
>>>> blind, i.e.,
>>>> that we can't actually see, and a sense of humor that can save the day 
>>>> and allow
>>>> everyone to move forward together to solve the real problems that the 
>>>> characteristic
>>>> of blindness ought not to engender, problems like discrimination, lack 
>>>> of opportunity
>>>> for education, or social inclusion, and an unemployment rate that 
>>>> really is six times
>>>> higher than the jobless rate for people who can see.
>>>> Posted
>>>> Dec 16 2008, 01:44 PM
>>>> For other Blog postings at Penny for Your Thoughts, visit:
>>>> http://community.gettinghired.com.
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