My name is Jason “JT” Tozier. I am a Deaf Justice advocate and returned citizen who hails from the Pacific Northwest. Deaf since birth, my passion for Deaf justice emerged through personal struggles with obtaining access to those things that members of the hearing community often take for granted—education and the justice system, are just two examples. Now, I work to educate others about Audism and universal access.
Abreham “Abe” Zemedagegehu’s story is not an isolated incident. He was arrested and accused of stealing an iPad that was later found. His story simply highlights systemic failures of justice system. The struggles he experienced are truly emblematic of systematic oppression. His story reminds us that the legal system has made Deaf people nihilistic and weak by regarding pity and related sentiments as the highest virtues.
He was wrongfully convicted and spent six weeks in a Virginia jail without being provided with an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter. Perhaps most alarming is that this all happened ten minutes away from Washington, D.C.—home of Gallaudet University, the world’s only Deaf university. Deaf people have used ASL there since 1864! That is over 150 years and 28 United States Presidents.
Zemedagegehu is Deaf. He uses ASL for communication, information, and knowledge. He was born and raised in Ethiopia, officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; a country located in the Horn of Africa. He moved to America over 10 years ago to seek education and better accessibility. Today he is an American citizen.
His story begins with a warning that the oppression belongs to Deaf people, perhaps to no one yet living. Warnings aside, be begins by sketching the idea of declining vs. ascending life and culture. An animal (people who follow Darwin’s idea that Deaf people are animals), a species, or an individual is “depraved” when it loses its instincts for that which sustains its life, and “prefers what is harmful to it.”
The legal system in America denigrates Deaf citizens around us as mere “appearance”; a position grounded in the philosophy of Cesare Lombroso, the father of criminology/criminal anthropology and hence invents a “completely fabricated” world of pure imagination. Lombroso said once a baby is born and later finds out the baby is Deaf, they are quickly labeled as “criminals”, no matter what. Today, some of people who work in legal system still believe that theory. However, Lombroso’s theory is pure lie. Yet today, in 2015, people are not required to see the world falsely in order to remain a member in good standing in the American democracy. Deaf babies are not criminals.
Again, the legal system does not demand truth instead ideas, which produce repose or cheerfulness. At home is the higher and learned class—yet they represent themselves as the revengeful instincts of the oppressed class and tames Deaf citizens as uncivilized barbarian, needing to subjugate wild “beasts of prey”, who cannot control their own “will to power”. The way it did so was to make them sick, making them thereby too weak to follow their destructive instincts.
Thus, the legal system today views Deaf citizens as shrewdly inculcating guilt, resentment, and other values hostile to life among their oppressors as a form of ideological germ warfare, taking care not to become fully infected themselves.
The legal system deduces that the Deaf citizens shall not sought to retreat into a state of extreme withdrawal from ‘the world’, undisturbed by reality of any kind. They reject all strong feelings, favorable or otherwise. Their fear of pain, even in infinitely small amounts, by placing the center of life outside of life, in “the beyond” that they deprive life of any focus of center whatsoever.
Deaf citizens are the invisible souls automatically levels all rank in society: “Invisible” conceded to every Lombroso has far been greatest, the most malignant attempt to assassinate Deaf citizens. The legal system should apologize for the discrimination, oppression and abuse that Zemedagegehu endured. It should right all of its wrongs.
I extend my thanks to Abreham “Abe” Zemedagegehu for his bravery to share his story. I would like to close this out with an old Celtic blessing:
May the blessing of light be on you
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.
Brenda Pond did the image. Many thanks for allowing me to use the image. Please visit her Facebook page: Pond Studios.
Copyright © 2015 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.