Deaf Returnees: The Case of Language Deprivation

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There was a story about Deaf returnee settled down for $125,000 in Multnomah County Courthouse (Portland, Oregon). The reason: No interpreters were provided during his well being for the last two nights and deny his right to American Sign Language (ASL) in mind, heart, and respect. The root of respect defines in Latin, ‘respectus’ meaning “regard, a looking at,” what happened for the last 48 hours? Sure, it is not the first time anywhere in America. I’ve seen enough cases. Some were much worse.

We understand public relations and media, having spent time spinning with Deaf community. The county claims that the former Deaf inmate can read and write at own expert guesses. Accessible to ASL interpreters are important, no matter what. While Deaf community is being educated about general news like this story, we must pay close attention to stand up for our rights to access ASL interpreters without bias for communication in the legal system. Justice is being tested.

In Ancient Greek, dike as in ‘justice’ means something like behaving in accordance with nature as the former Deaf inmate reserves the right to behave in accordance with nature professionally and legally where he have the rights to access to ASL interpreters, no matter what.

Being neglected and rejected for seeking for ASL interpreters is considered a legal responsibility, becoming a challenging task. Deaf former inmates/returnees are as much a part of inclusive landscape as anything else and it is ridiculous to ignore our language, ASL. This is a language that needs to be included a lot of time to start and empower through training, because there is less space, Deaf inmates, legal rights to access ASL, more and more honest communication of what is needed. How do we combat it without a notion of what respect is?

Deaf inmates and Deaf returnees live our language, ASL. We can call it Deaf Culture but basically justice of the Deaf, been dealing with oppression of ASL–the lack of ability to respect language and culture with an important human meaning.

However, we need to take a hard look at it as a reality to be dealt with in terms of language oppression, which I realize, is a challenge, and then there is no mutual respect. We cannot forget Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution: Nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. Why should neglect knowledge of ASL interpreters and what would it benefit the legal system?

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

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

REFERENCES:

https://www.oregonlive.com/crime/2019/09/jury-awards-125000-in-damages-to-former-multnomah-county-inmate-who-is-deaf.html

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Stop Police Brutality in Deaf Community!

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The logo has been designed by a company called Visual Logo Design (VLD): Visuallogodesign@gmail.com

As a founder for Deaf Access Justice (DAJ), it is my duty to write this open letter and let the Deaf community understand the struggles of police brutality around the country today when it targets Deaf people for unnecessary bigotry.

Hate crime violates constitutional rights of Deaf people, especially unharmed Deaf people who were shot by police. We must always remind ourselves as well as all others how our Declaration of Independence makes our country different from any other nation around the world.

The Declaration proclaims that we have inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”–The Deaf guy by the name of Daniel K. Harris who was shot to death by state troopers in his car in North Carolina. Daniel was unharmed. This is a good case of police brutality.

Being Deaf and even unharmed was his pursuit of happiness in Our Constitution. The first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits abridging the freedom of speech but constitutional rights of Deaf people have been violated especially when they “fail to hear” by state troopers or police now requiring them be submitted to be charged with hate crime.

Every decent person abhors violent crimes that are motivated by prejudice or bias. Thus, the case for congressional legislation that would expand federal authority that already prohibits some “hate crimes” [See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 245(b).]

There is very, very, very rare when people are aware of this federal statute, “Deprivation of Civil Rights Under Cover of Law”, the third federal statute concerns actions committed by public officials–most often the police–who intend to deprive an individual of his or her constitutional rights.” [Jack Levin and Jack McDevitt] Deaf community is tired of being in silence and had been deprived their own language: American Sign Language, and their constitutional rights.

Please read my previous blog post in 2014:

https://audismnegatsurdi.com/2014/02/21/why-deaf-people-fear-not-to-report-police-brutality/

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-JT

Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

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

Abreham “Abe” Zemedagegehu: A Good Example of An Invisible Deaf Soul

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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.

References: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/03/20/3636853/deaf-man-jail-ignores-disability/

-JT

Copyright © 2015 Jason Tozier

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