Sharing my reflection 20 years ago on September 11, 2001: The deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in U.S. history.
Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia had taken down sends a strong message that white supremacy is not welcomed in America.
Nancy Rourke’s Elephant in the Deaf Room
The media, overall, shows a centrality-of-audism orientation, meaning that society is continuing to shirk its responsibility to examine the exploitation of Deaf people. How might we Deaf people, then, understand the geographical and oppressive implications of this state of affairs? We all live in the world of media. We depend on the media. We learn from the media. We need to ask ourselves about the nature of human life in its entire spectrum of expression, including the pervasive and invisible in-built structures of colonialism and capitalism, including a form that often goes unnoticed: mis-portrayal and mis-representation in the media.
Audism is a term akin to racism and sexism. It means: It is better when someone can hear, compared to when someone cannot. An audist is someone who believes that hearing people are superior to Deaf people. This negative view was considered matter of fact and uncontroversial until recent decades. In fact, the term “audism” did not even exist until 1975, which is about when the tide began to turn in a positive direction for us culturally Deaf people.
Throughout the land, Deaf children continue to be exploited. Parents of newborn and young Deaf children are given a false hope that their children can be made to be like them. This is done through newspaper articles and advertisements, in educational and child-rearing meetings held in convention halls, and in various other venues. Hearing technologies are shown firsthand to people, and are represented as being the new normal for use with Deaf children for educational purposes and even for the purpose of simply being a “real” person. Technology is purported to give us life, a normal life made up of attending neighborhood schools, participating in family life and partaking of whatever types of entertainment is available.
What is really being learned by such lessons and messages is how Deaf people’s full consciousness can be chipped away at and depleted, how their intelligence can be diminished. In effect, this is what the real consequence is of anti-Deaf propaganda. That’s what it is, harmful propaganda, even though it’s sugar coated. Deaf children become deprived of what really counts the most, which is normal to them: visual communication and sign.
Check the link below:
the child in the photograph you see at the other end of this hyperlink is me. Today, I am 46 years old. When I discovered this webpage recently, I felt firsthand a force that was countering my very existence, a force intended to strip my identity away. I am being exploited by the money-making machines of the Historic Images Outlet, as part of the offering for sale of a photograph featuring me that was taken 45 years ago and published in a newspaper in 1976 when I was only 23 months old. I am shown having my hearing aid molds “installed,” with the audiologist making sure that the molds are “perfectly fitted.”
The purchaser of a copy of this photograph can take part in my exploitation for the low price of nine U.S. dollars, including shipping and handling fees. Such is the nature of the oppressive tactics involved. Photographers and reporters assist the audiologists in this way, and financial investments are made by the media companies that employ media personnel according to an economic logic that exploits Deaf people.
I felt incredibly violated, viewing this image for sale online. It feels as if I’m already dead, that I’m being cremated and my ashes are floating invisibly out of the fire, blowing with the wind to points unknown. My stolen existence can then be anywhere and everywhere, available for audiologists everywhere in the continuing exploitation of my identity, or even simply for any anonymous Joe or Jane Schmoe who purchases a copy.
Frantz Fanon, author of The Wretched of the Earth, writing about the international scene, provides a perfect explanation of the type of underlying circumstances involved:
“The basic confrontation which seemed to be colonialism versus anticolonialism, indeed capitalism versus socialism, is already losing its importance. What matters today, the issue which blocks the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity will have to address this question, no matter how devastating the consequences may be.”
Such is the nature of the situation wherein the forces of Alexander Graham Bell’s legacy, which is now constituted of myriad hearing technology companies, with their attendant non-profit enablers and hangers-on, makes wealth exploiting Deaf individuals worldwide. Bell is enshrined in history textbooks as being the supposed “inventor of the telephone,” as the hackneyed phrase goes, which is a diversion.
What is being ignored is the fact that he was fully participating in the creation of the roots of a type of latter-day colonialism, based on the opportunity he saw available to destroy the lineage and cultural patrimony of culturally Deaf people. We are sacrificed in his name, with him obtaining a type of civil immunity and, after his demise, a false aura of heroic achievement.
The Volta Bureau, which is the headquarters of the Alexander Graham Bell (Mis-)Association in Washington, D.C., which is the epicenter of the continued perpetration of Bell’s legacy, is named after Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta, the man who invented the electric battery. It is the technology of batteries which enabled the invention and development of hearing aids and other forms of hearing technology, including the promulgation of cochlear implants which torment us today.
Even 45 years later, I am made a poster child against my will, as part of the lasting effort to please Alexander Graham Bell’s economic progeny as part of his mind, which was constituted of cruelty. My mother passed away recently in July 2021. I wish I could ask her a question as to whether she allowed the news photographer to take the photo, wondering if the reporter and the photographer were asking my mother and father about the “perpetual use” of the photo, which means their right to use it forever into the future, regardless of how it might be distributed.
She’s gone, so I asked my father about this, and he said that they granted permission verbally, but they did not mention anything about “perpetual use.” So the newspaper had permission to publish the photo in the newspaper and got away without mentioning “perpetual use.” I explained to my father why I objected to the Historic Images Outlet using my face and ears for entertainment.
A friend of mine made a point well taken that my father might think that wearing hearing aids is like wearing eyeglasses. It turns out that this is true.
Lots of hearing people have not been able to muster enough focus, regardless of their overall benevolent intentions, to learn what we in the Deaf community have dealt with every day. In fact, they have been the deliberate victims themselves of mis-direction and exploitation, as part of Bell’s plan of mis-association for the Deaf — his desire to break up Deaf culture into splinters upon splinters, generation after generation, until it dissolves and fades away.
My mother and father were betrayed and brainwashed by Alexander Graham Bell’s lies, which continue posthumously. Alexander Graham Bell deceived them, and lied about my identity, or what my identity should be: proudly culturally Deaf, with one “foot” planted solidly in both worlds, the hearing world and the Deaf world.
Ninety-nine years after Alexander Graham Bell’s death, his philosophy continues. Deaf children continue to be exploited for the purposes of the economic growth of companies and organizations that perpetuate his legacy and intentions. Deaf people from all walks of life are taken advantage of and their identities are converted into economic equity by the corresponding national brands in the countries in which they live. Reasonable notions of human difference are rejected and systems furthering human inequality go unchallenged.
How can we deal with the media of the future and how the media of the future will continue to dehumanize the Deaf community around the world? This includes the use of Internet search engines that will reinforce this exploitation. Deaf people and their allies know that we become vulnerable when we challenge the oppressors who invest in this type of economic system. Various economic forces of the media decide how real its relationship is in terms of the mis-equitable connection to Alexander Graham Bell’s plans and legacy, creating great disparities in economics and in the ecosystem of global marketing.
Corresponding to what Adam Smith related in his 1759 book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, the media today in the 21st Century, is ripping away at the fabric of humanity:
“Justice, on the contrary, is the main pillar that upholds the whole edifice [of society]. If it is removed, the great, the immense fabric of human society, that fabric which to raise and support seems in this world, if I may say so, to have been the peculiar and darling care of Nature, must in a moment crumble into atoms.”
Media transformation and improvement cannot take place without the efficacious efforts of social activists. The Deaf community needs to attract allies to make the movement louder, and will need to incubate and host actions of education to stop the exploitative practices of the media which has been dominating us in the name of hearing supremacy.
Deaf people continue to be objectified and treated as objects. Deaf people are being not only lied to, but are also being lied about. Even worse, they are being used and exploited. Forces of evil continue to rip into us, gorging us with false symbolic language disguised as “help” and “restoration,” in short: mis-representation instead of true communication.
In a book written by David Graeber in 2001 titled: Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams, Graeber described a popular conception of economic value that continues into the present: “the degree to which objects are desired, particularly, as measured by how much others are willing to give up to get them.”
For the media, the objectification of the Deaf entails the promise of pleasure. Various types of media, enabled by their intellectual progenitors, have promulgated a purportedly scientific audism and reimagined it as an apparently benign yet disguised form of human exploitation, while truth is being swept away. The harmful impact of the media’s power and the damage done not only to others but to themselves is clearly evident to Deaf eyes, and now I hope yours also. apparently
Finally, how do we create roots of social transformation, if most people in contemporary world society deny the existence and evidence of audism simply because they have never heard of the concept? They can better understand the rage and resistance of Deaf people if they try to understand the historical events that created audist practices and the media’s oppressive tactics that are very much part of a huge sugar coating and cultural theft and the intended disintegration of signed languages.
I will not be viewed as an object. I will not be oppressed. I will not be harmed.
I am very proud to be Deaf! No one can take my Deafhood journey away from me.
Copyright © 2021 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including copyright message.
Discussing the books about grief and my only and one brother whom I am close with.
It’s a heart wrenching finding. It also hit the Black Deaf community hard in DC as well, too. Be sure to check the links below to see more information.
Is it not a problem in Hollywood? How do we address restorative justice instead of punishing them on the sex offender registry? ‘CODA’ film– an adult committed sexual harm with a high school student would be consequential enough leading to vigilantism. Murder, suicide, bullying. It is no good and much harm.
Trigger warning: Trauma-informed setbacks
For some days now, an author by the name of Jason “JT” Tozier has been deeply grieving the loss of his mother — the greatest of life’s grieving — missing his beloved mother, Jody. She had been fooled by Alexander Graham Bell’s lies. One day, his mother stood up against the lies and dismantled them, battling those horrible acts of evil, and thenceforward fought for her Deaf son to be left alone, to live life by the language and communicative means of his choosing, being attended to with pure unconditional love.
She was lured. She was exploited. She was targeted. She was innocent. Her soul was stolen. She was 19 years old, and her first-born Deaf son’s soul was stolen, too, by an oral school in Portland, Oregon that is still in existence today and is still harming its students just as before. Bell was a master propagator of a great fallacy, that the state of being Deaf is supposedly a danger so great that a violation of Deaf people’s humanity is necessary and called for.
My Mom, me, and my Father. December 9, 1976. Exploitation right there.
My mother’s legacy continues in me, her spirit is humane and compassionate. Without her living affection, which was profoundly without hostility, her love still rumbles throughout the land with authority through painful times.
It is not an easy process. Alexander Graham Bell’s forced exile of Deaf people to sign language-less zones continues and is well familiar to us. We push against that evil which pushes back like a hurricane force wind. All of us know that it is a philosophy of the language-destruction of the Deaf, by sharing stories of that destruction of how the deprivation of sign language chips away at the development of one’s intelligence in its full power.
The Alexander and Mabel Bell Foundation, by some twisted logic, flatly denies that Alexander Graham Bell created such a state of alarm, by adopting a patronizing attitude that, in effect, continues the implied-hate-oriented practice: Making the Deaf disappear from existence. How? Eugenics and the bastardization of signed languages. Worst of all, Alexander Graham Bell is being regarded as a first class hero, when he committed many monstrous and bigot acts, his thinly veiled overtly hypocritical beneficent stance notwithstanding.
Oralism thus joined the much thicker fraternity of oppressors and colonizers of the world, creating a culture of fear, corrupting the cognition of the Deaf, stealing the unparalleled innocence of parents’ relationships with their own Deaf children and telling them to not learn sign language, causing much painful experience, for example, in terms of mental health, love, and family unity.
How come Deaf children were and are made to be lambs sitting amongst the wolves? Why this outrageous fortune? Its very origins have been a continuing source of long-standing oppression. Alexander Graham Bell was hailed by his popularizers, and his devious plans quickly succeeded in their twisted ways, its evil machinations flowing like tainted air currents that wind about hither and yon, eventually entering the open doors and windows of hearth and home, and brainwashing the innocent caretakers of the youth, including my own mother.
I will not let Alexander Graham Bell’s evil empire have continued control over my mother’s lasting legacy.
As a young boy, I remember reading E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web in a book of literature given to me by my mother, with its empathy and helpful attitudes toward human society, reminding people to be more compassionate.
E.B. White shared his thoughts about his writing in a 1969 interview, relating something his wife’s aunt Caroline once said: “Remembrance is sufficient of the beauty we have seen.” White continued, “I cherish the remembrance of the beauty I have seen. I cherish the grave, compulsive world.” This inspires me to be a better writer.
I note the major problems with Alexander Graham Bell’s philosophy and the philosophy of the organization that continues in his name, which claims that economic incentives are needed to promote innovation. This is not especially innovative. There are biases in research. There’s the “hard sell” and marketing disguised as “education,” all of which foster the illusion that Oralism (the promotion of “listening and speaking,” as it is now euphemistically called) is better than signing with our associated Deaf culture (“the deaf culture,” as they refer to it, with a sneer that leaps off the pages of their brochures).
Their push is for profit — research for profit, i.e. moneymaking — and they resort to spin. They suppress negative findings and they gorge themselves at the trough of conflicts of interest.
We should argue that Alexander Graham Bell’s organization is actually not engaging in “free enterprise,” because what they do is, in fact, heavily dependent on monopoly power granted by virtue of government protection: for example, through patents. In such ways, including the purposeful perversion of the function of governmental agencies meant to promote healthier maternal-child relationships, haven’t they garnered the power to wipe out the culture of the Deaf? How did they get such power?
I will tell you. They seek out and harness the powers of the largest lobbying firms in the District of Columbia.
Therefore, it is irrefutable that Alexander Graham Bell’s minions bullied my mother by denying sign language and snatching it from us. They desecrate the very foundation of humanity by their grotesquely perverse methods, all the while cashing in by converting a mother’s naivete and her Deaf child’s innocence into corporate profits — a naked aggression which knows no bounds. In order to work to reverse this trend, I share these words about my mother’s painful journey. The public must be educated.
My mother and I once had a conversation about how she believes that the oral school in Portland, Oregon hid their secret dark “pot” from which activities that, on the surface, only seem to vaguely relate to oppression of sign language, originated. By recourse to such attitudinal subterfuge, they stole our means of expressing our ultimate love for each other.
The public needs to ask questions and become more hesitant in supporting Alexander Graham Bell’s organization, and properly regard their ostensive methods as being ineffective.
Love and unity should take the place of their deceit by all of us making an honest effort to create a success of American Sign Language (and thereby eliminating their (pseudo-)educational bullying) and offering the new philosophy which, when charges need be incurred, are offered at a fair and reasonable price. In this way, fewer and fewer people will have to choose between sign language and other basic needs.
Fewer people will have to suffer in their afflictions for lack of being able to support their basic needs. Finally, more and more people will be able to engage in the pursuit of happiness, as well as participate in promoting compassion and unity, against dark forces which were once deemed impossible to fight.
My Mom and Me cheerfully playing. October 1975.
My mother died at her home in Milwaukie, Oregon on July 26, 2021, ensuring a lasting strength, and her considerable love and spirit for her Deaf son that was much stronger than Alexander Graham Bell’s belief that it was OK for him to destroy the love between mother and child. Her death will not be in vain. Love reigns supreme.
Written by my mother’s Deaf son, Jason “JT” Tozier:
A living visual tale of a most unlikely and beautiful soul, a native of the Great Pacific Northwest: Jody Marie [Post] Denniston, whose happiest birthday on Mother Earth was on the second day of July in 1956 in the city of Longview, Washington, she was the embodiment of graciousness on a grand scale, pouring out a steady stream of love to all, to bring about lasting reform and peace. This was how she spent her days and how she spent her life. All four legged companions and song birds she loved on this planet approved of her without hesitation.
It was unique of her in her spare time, whether by the light of sunshine or the cool shade of shadows, in many everyday scenes, she influenced so many people in bringing them to a love of animals, that for this she shall always be remembered, whether engaging herself with our flurry bird neighbors, or with humans, she touched all with whom she crossed paths, in this life or the the next.
Her life’s purpose, in the vocabulary of this brave new world, was to determine how to include all to take part in having a powerful voice, whether pertaining to those from the margins of society in how they are perceived by those who were ignorant of their humanity, or in many situations. This was one of her favorite mottos: “Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.” She was given the gift of life who led a lucky existence, for all the people she was grateful for.
Jody breathed her last in the evening precisely at 10:09 p.m., with a smile on her face on the twenty-sixth day of July in Milwaukie, Oregon, battling one of the most painful of all pains, those brought by lung cancer and which were terminal in the hospice care. We are thankful for the guidance of hospice care on the part of those who are greatly appreciated for their time and service. Ron, Sally, Shayla, Steve, and Jason was at her side.
She was a fierce resistor, usually defiant. Her resistance against cancer included forays into the recitation of fond memories. Jody was a woman of indefatigable conviction. A full life lived was the focus, rather than sadness about soon passing away. Her mortal coils of spirited life wound around like blowing leaves on this Earth, as it revolved around the Sun some 65 times, creating memories that shall be forever peaceful.
She was more than highly proficient in knowing peace during her lifetime. She was a very spiritual person. She loved old westerns, fishing with her father, believing in karma, 70’s music, walking on the beach, watching for whales in Depoe Bay, as a planner, gardener, a true homemaker cooking for loved ones, always available to help others.
Her various natures, being a zoophilist, dendrophile, thalassophile, sun worshipper, and an extraordinary hippie, as the lyrics say, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” This is where she found herself enriched and inspired by her greatest gift: “bred and buttered” two sons, Jason Tozier and Steven Tozier. Yet even through such scenes, love glinted the most for her sons at important times. She devoted her life to her children.
Jody’s labor-of-love and a lifelong partner detailed her journey with Ron Clemens, a giant protector. One cool day in September 1995, her blind date became an insuperable gem. Ronald arrived at Jody’s house while riding a Harley-Davidson FXR Springer, which is the shape of a V-twin softail cruiser with spoked wheels, introducing himself to Jody in person. The rest was history in the making.
They were skittish at first, but hugging and smiling faces eventually won out. Jody took Ron in, and invested optimism in them as a couple, as they toured tirelessly around, spending their lives together for 26 years, by modernizing a message that they embraced with comfort in knowing that their better selves could never be taken from them, and together they could bring synergy in increasing the peace.
Jody had been victimized by the philosophy of Alexander Graham Bell, in that her son Jason, who they learned was in a state of being Deaf, was someone with whom they were told it would be better not to sign. This absence of sign language amounted to the denying themselves of a full relationship with their son. Love was denied them and him, in the meanest way possible. This was language deprivation in the making. Jody eventually refused to let others define her life and she continued to honor her Deaf son’s legacy by living her life to the fullest.
Her son Steven survived leukemia at age of three. The presence of love had been challenging, but a way was found to continue love and go the greatest distance possible, by bringing a bright smile, an infectious laugh, a big heart, and unconditional love. Nothing and no one could take away Jody’s pride in her sons. Jody was an accomplished bartender, server, and restaurant manager. She was the definition of “love thy neighbor.”
Cremation took place in the manner pre-chosen by her, and her ashes will be spread at her favorite beaches in Oregon and Hawai’i. Everyone who remembers her is asked to celebrate Jody’s life in their own happiest making.
She had been a student at Hudson’s Bay High in Vancouver, Washington, and Battle Ground High in Battle Ground, Washington as her last alma mater.
She is lovingly remembered and survived by her loving partner of 26 years, Ron Clemens of Milwaukie, Oregon, her proud sons, Jason Tozier of Washington, D.C. and Steven Tozier, of Yacolt, Washington. Jody will also be fondly remembered by her sister, Sally Jean Vingelen of Portland, Oregon and her brother-in-law Bob Vingelen of Portland, Oregon; her niece, Shayla Rielly of La Grande, Oregon and nephew, Tereso Cruz of Gilbert, Arizona; her great niece, Malia Cruz of Gilbert, Arizona.
Jody was preceded in death by her parents, Ruth and Jim Post. To all of her flurry children, she always ensured that every flurry child who crossed her path was happy and had peaceful nests.
And so as the ages slowly turn and as our lives as survivors continue, all that remains for now to say is… Peace out!