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Colorado Quarterly Magazine 

"Rewriting the Myths, Redefining the Realities"


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Could Do Without Disability

I'm responding to John Leo's article about Sound and Fury, published in your Spring issue.

I saw that program and although I was aware of the "deaf culture" issue and the fact that, for reasons of language/communication, the congenitally profoundly deaf are a group apart from all other people with disabilities, it came as a shock to me to realize that there is a group (surely not big?) which regards deafness as something to glory in and not to be without. The fact that those parents did not want their daughter to leave the community reminded me of those religious cults which keep their youngsters locked away.

I think Cathy Young is absolutely right about modern culture being brought to the brink of lunacy. Many intellectual elites seem to me to be crazy and bereft of what your headline calls common sense (but what my mother used to call uncommon sense). I hate with a passion the cult of victimhood which sees blacks, women, people with disabilities - you name it - as victims of the rest of society. While I recognize that attitudes within wider society can complicate the lives of people with disabilities, in no way do I see attitudes creating or constituting that disability, as is so often alleged in fashionable sociology.

I have been spinal cord injured for 45 years and never have I gloried in the fact! I have coped and I have worked all my life to understand and ameliorate the difficulties of others with disabilities. I have never met a person with a disability who did not honestly wish their condition would go away. But the idea of establishing a "political beachhead" in disabilities studies and turning people with disabilities into something to study in the same way as black studies and women's studies have done strikes me as negative and divisive. We're back to disability being the focus instead of people and that way our differences rather than our shared humanity get emphasized.

It's stupid. We should be getting politics out of disability activism. You'd think people had enough practical stuff to do without indulging in such nonsense. And all I can hope is that those parents at least give their child a chance in the end and don't "lock her away" for good.

Jennifer Bell
Advocacy Awareness Access
Disabled Resource Services
Fort Collins


Let Them Decide

Offering Cochlear implants to the deaf is a noble endeavor that would doubtless open up a whole new world for its recipients. However, it should not be forced upon anyone just because we believe they would be better off at our perceived level.

As a Christian of immense scriptural knowledge, I am appalled at our past record (the crusades, holy wars, etc.) in trying to force our beliefs on others, such as Native Americans, because we know best! In the 17 versions of the Bible that I study, I can nowhere find such teachings! To attempt to force our knowledge, experience, understanding, beliefs, or even our feelings on others may be well intended; but remember that road to hell.

However, in an attempt to share those things with other people, I can find no moral objections. Allow the individuals to make up their own minds (to try Cochlear or not) without undue outside pressures. Who knows, they may like the idea of becoming bilingual!

Harold Chapman


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