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Tag Archives: Laughter

Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Please Apologize to the Deaf Community

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It is just disheartening to see that once in a while that Deaf people would be mocked for their own language choice: American Sign Language (ASL). When Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former governor for the state of California has mocked ASL front of the audience promoting them to laugh. I was shocked to see what he has done. I had respect for him.

I’ve seen all of Arnold’s movies, of course, The Terminator, but one movie gave me a lot of laughter, Twins with Danny DeVito. Memories were good! Arnold was the one who vetoed AB 2072 in 2010, he saved Deaf community. But…. after what he did couple of days ago, he did not save the Deaf community instead of mocking them. No compassion.

So, I went ahead and find out when the Twins were produced and surprised that it was made in 1988, the same year Deaf President Now won the hearts of American people to pick its first Deaf president in history. Respect!

Where is the compassion?  Is it a right word? A compassion is a moment of sudden clarity on a dank day whether it was morning, neither afternoon nor evening.

We all are the same. We are all Deaf. We are all the same. Though, our stories are not the same. We live in a very oppressed world dominated by hearing people. The hearing world has forgotten that Deaf people have been contributed to the society.  Did Arnold even know that the mirror said to him?

Each day, Deaf people face challenges–discrimination in all spheres of public spaces wherever they go to. The nation that has named United States of America was supposed to live in a peaceful space. When Laurent Clerc arrived on the soil of America in 1816, we all need to remember the old mantra of Deaf progress. It makes Clerc as an immigrant just like all of us. Arnold was an immigrant, too. America was built with immigrants.

Clerc’s America was supposed to be seen as “grandfather clause” meant to protect Deaf people. After infamous 1880 Milan Resolution, thousands of Deaf people even today–I meant, a countless number the last two centuries were targeted for bullying.

Soon, few weeks away from the month of March–the National Deaf History Month. Never mind Alexander Graham Bell’s birthday on March 3rd or Sleep Awareness Month that Deaf people were supposed to sleep peaceful without being bullied. We will not forget what AGBell or Arnold has done to us. Deaf History Month is filled of Deaf people pushing us for future and build stronger foundation at every forward step.

Have Deaf people suffered enough hate from cruel people? The scourge of hate speech about ASL has been built enough reputation. ASL might be seen as homeless to hearing people who laughed just like what Arnold did. ASL, arguably the most marginalized and forgotten group in the United States promoted by AGBell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, is constantly either ignored or encouraged by its laughter.

How in the name of ignorance can it be misunderstood if one does not hear or know it? If you were in the same room, talking on the same objectives, then why was the laughter not very much part of us? Laughing is contagious if it shared and understood.

It is about the moan of pain. Will hearing people accept Deaf people in America today? We will need to continue to stand up against hate speech. ASL and the intellectual life of the Deaf have become quite pronounced as the result of the contact between two educators: Laurent Clerc, and the Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. That is why it is important to celebrate 200 years anniversary with the arrival of Clerc.

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Before closing this post, Deaf people have given plenty of contribution to the society and recognize them as human beings with inherent rights. Arnold needs to apologize for mocking ASL. We do not need a Terminator to mock us. If Arnold refuses to apologize then he’s terminated! Where is California Association of the Deaf’s action and tell Arnold not to do that?

-JT

Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

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Laugh and The World Laughs With You

Image                                                 Identity Gone by Nancy Rourke

Laugh, laugh, laugh! Come on, it is not that hard to do! What is wrong with you?

Well, when I was growing up seeing family members in the same room, laughing, and I often asked them, “what is so funny?” They would say, “I am too lazy to tell you,” “it is not important to know,”  “you do not understand,” “get lost,” “who are you?” Why is the laughter not very much a part of my life? I became dumbfounded on-spot that something was funny in another language: spoken English. Not just the family gatherings, but I would watch movies with closed captions, I still did not laugh. Growing up as a kid, I was completely clueless about American Sign Language (ASL).

Growing up in THE hearing world all my life, I was just a stranger, an interloper without guidance, a lack of ASL, and confused with no goal or direction in life. As a boy growing up in a small town, I drank into my character a dark with empty life that had not shared enough with an important human property, laughter. Without laughing, it gave me a handful of toxic legacies that flushed me inside out.

There were several times when my cousin Tony and I would be watching a movie with some of comedy together, he was laughing hard but he noticed that I did not laugh. He then asked me why I would not laugh. I never really understood any part of the laughter. I was just an angry kid, knowing that my family did not bother to communicate with me. Also, I was angry that I was being bullied and ostracized at my school. I often landed me in the principal’s office where I would get accused, blamed and suspended right away. Those hearing peers would mock and laugh at me. So I did not laugh.

After I saw stories in ASL via vlogs and Deaf scholars, I was shocked to discover that I was able to laugh! It had transformed me from a lonely and introvert childhood. I always had trouble with the hearing world, and with laughter, I went to being an outgoing, sociable jock, just a full of life.

I lived with the label in hearing world all my life until ASL came into my life that removed my depression right away. As my story goes on, I saw people laughing with furtive glances in public.  I could remember for the first time when I laughed in ASL in the air, it became free. It changed my life; I still feel the stigma from growing up in the mainstreaming world. I believe that mainstreaming changed the presence of who I am. It is the most reviled label that I lived in that world.

When I was 20, I chose to move out of from a small plot of land in the rural southwestern Washington State town, population of 500, the back door of the single-wide house faces the forest—the fact that I had to escape from vigilant attacks. The stigma by not laughing too much followed me around until I met Deaf scholars. I never knew they knew how to make me laugh! What kept me going? My anger, my guilt, my ignorance.  I had lived in the hearing world. My return to a “normal” life has been slow. I needed to go to ASL festivals more often. With glints of laughing in ASL made a lot of progress where I had opened up to my friends and relatives outside my immediate family.

I realized that laughing is itself a learned behavior. ASL is the language usage to learn. I was intrigued by seeing comedies in ASL to help me identify myself as a Deaf person. The act of role in ASL makes a huge repetitious performance of Deafhood that is dictated by a hearing dominance culture. It questions the idea of laughing in ASL is very important to recognize the state of being Deaf from which hearing world deviates. Learning how to laugh in ASL goes through a fallow period and has some conceptualization of what I am to ASL around me before I can comfortably live in the world. After all, laughing is contagious if it is shared and understood.

-JT

Copyright © 2013 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.