Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

lundi 23 mars 2009

Unexpected Audism & Au Revoir

Wow, it's been *ages* since I last blogged! Hi again... that is, if any of you are still around. *smile*

Awhile ago, I went to my local drugstore and the clerk said something to me when I wasn't looking. When I realized what was happening, I signed, "I'm Deaf. What did you say?" with a smile on my face. This usually results in their repeating themselves or scrambling for a pen and paper. Not this time. She awkwardly signed, "I'm sorry you're Deaf" with the most infuriating look of pity on her face. I signed back, "Don't be sorry. I'm happy I'm Deaf." She shook her head and signed, "No, no. Sad. Sorry you're Deaf." I was aghast. How can a person who signs have such a negative view of me and my people? And how DARE she deny my feelings and perspective as if I don't matter? I asked some friends how they'd respond and I got some interesting comments... how would YOU respond in that situation? I'm curious.

While I'm blogging, I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity to bid DeafRead au revoir. I think Tayler and Jared did the community a great service in many ways. I've "met" so many amazing people from all walks of life through this forum, and I cherish that. I think for a long time DeafRead was the place for a genuine, respectful exchange of ideas and views. Don't get me wrong - I don't blame DeafRead for the actions of some bloggers and commenters - the responsibility lies entirely within those individuals. Before I continue, this is a very hard post for me to write.

Please indulge me by allowing me to describe my journey and thoughts as a blogger since 2006, and one who's been blogging with DeafRead almost since the very beginning. I saw DeafRead as a place where we could all come together, and it was. Some people who don't sign and aren't part of the Deaf community joined DeafRead and that was a surprise. But as a curious, open person, I started reading their posts. Some of them seemed to be interested in exploring this community, learning about others, and letting us know they're out there. I grew to appreciate people like Robyn of New Zealand, Abbie of New Jersey, and David Poirer of Canada. However, this influx also brought people who were very negative about the Deaf community and our beautiful signed languages. This was hurtful and completely counter to the purpose of DeafRead, I felt. I tried talking with one of the founders about this, but he was firm in his position that everyone had a place at the table. I agree, in principle, but not when those people are destructive. Many others were speaking up about this as well.

At the same time this was happening, DeafBlogLand was overtaken by some toxic people who were out to bash others. This was very upsetting, but I figured it was kind of part of the territory. Site owners needed to take responsibility for their entries and the type of comments they would allow. But the frequent flare-ups and attacks grew wearying and took a toll on me. Truthfully, the last straw for me was the Milwaukee Witch Trials of 2008. Seeing reputations trashed, people's jobs threatened, and more did it for me. I essentially stopped reading DeafRead that summer because I couldn't take it anymore. 

I've been back twice since then just to see what was up. Both times the impression I came away with was, "The CI is a miracle!" and a few entries about minor Deaf events. This seems awfully two-dimensional. Where's the variety? Where's the vibrant, colorful community? 

Curious, I asked around, asking these three questions: Have you read DeafRead regularly at any point? If so, do you still follow DeafRead regularly? If you stopped, why did you stop? The responses were invariably something along the lines of Yes, no, and because it doesn't reflect me and/or the attacks are just too much. That's exactly how I feel. 

I checked DeafRead tonight for the third time since summer, and what do I see? A spate of angry posts. The first one I saw was Can't We All Behave?, followed by Barb's take, Amy's take, and MishkaZena's take. Ben's post that was listed on DeafRead next to Barb's was removed, but Google caching uncovers it here (but not for long, I'm sure.) I'm sure I've missed some posts, but I don't care. The posts listed here contained more than enough vitriol for me. The ugliness in some of the comments in these posts was appalling. I flashed back to last summer and I realized I don't want to be here anymore. 

THIS is why I haven't been able to bring myself to blog. I don't feel safe. I have no issue with people who disagree with me. It's a free country and one of my core values as an American is, "Dissent is patriotic," as Jefferson once said. It's when that dissent crosses into attacks and name-calling, no matter what the provocation or no matter what perspective one has, that it becomes wrong. This is one reason this is a hard post for me to write. I feel muzzled. I'm unable to write here without carefully considering every word and trying to figure out how to say something so I won't be attacked. I know no matter how hard I try, some people are going to find a way to attack me. I don't want to be in an unsafe atmosphere any longer.

I don't know if I'll be blogging much once DeafRead places my blog on the inactive list, but I certainly hope so. I just know that every time I think about blogging, I think about the attacks I've seen. My decision will not insulate me completely, I know, but at least I'm taking a stand against the venom out there. I'm taking action to make myself safer. 

Goodbye, DeafRead. It was great while it lasted.

**Note: Comments will be moderated, as always. Of course dissenting opinions are welcome, as long as the writer writes with respect. *smile* But be aware that comments may not be moderated quickly. This is the first time I've logged into my Blogger account in months. I found a few comments up for moderation, and they will be let through. I apologize if any of those were yours. No offense was intended.


  • At 21:04, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    DeafRead really has changed. We used to have anywhere from 300 to 1000 or more hits on some V/Blogger' post. I missed Joey Baer and many other great V/Bloggers.

    It only takes a small number of those toxic people to ruin DeafRead. I was shocked about Ben's blog with many F### words in Extra.

    When will these people grow up?

  • At 21:35, Blogger Dianrez said…

    It's all about communication. If you followed the latest controversy closely, it was basically miscommunication; and the exchange of comments and offline correspondence later resolved the situation pretty well. In all, it was healthy and I feel that we all learned something.

    I agree on the influx of cochlear implant blogs. Too many overmedicalized and far too many cochlear implant stories. They have their place, but I wonder if DeafRead should stand for something.

    Publications that tried to cover too general topics have died, and we have seen an explosion of special interest publications. Just look at any large magazine store. I see DeafRead as going in that direction: it has to serve a narrower range of interests or lose the readership of its population.

    No, I'm not quitting DeafRead because the majority of its readers and respondents are sincere people wanting to promote a better future. Warts and all, they're still good people.

    However, I'm going on record now: DeafRead is losing its focus on Deaf Culture topics and needs to find its way back.

  • At 21:46, Anonymous Don G. said…

    Hi Tous --

    Regarding your experience in the store... an interesting dilemma... I can't figure out if I'd just shake my head with annoyance and leave, or say something sarcastic like "I'm sorry you know how to sign enough to insult me!"....

    As for DeafRead, I understand your feelings about it. I do hope you don't leave the blogosphere entirely. We need people with your perspective, otherwise the only thing we end up seeing is "the CI is such a freaking miracle!" (yawn).

  • At 19:51, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    You are making a right decision. Many bloggers have left Deafread. Owners care a lot more about upgrading features in Deafread and ignore many many and many requests from bloggers like you and commenters to hire new moderators---to play neutral and friendly without destroying our community. Audism plays big part in Deafread---ignoring majority numbers of complaints about audist editors, approving blogs that give wrong information about our community, culture and language. Let us pray that new website will come up soon with no audist editors and accepting blogs that will give truthful information about our community. Good luck on your adventure and you are making the right move. Wise and smart.


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