Deaf protests turn ugly: Trustee head resigns over “aggressive threats”

posted at 1:22 pm on May 10, 2006 by Allahpundit

They got their scalp, but not the one they wanted. Background here. AP has the latest:

The interim head of the Gallaudet University board of trustees has resigned, saying she was overwhelmed by the protests that greeted the selection of a new president to lead the nation’s only liberal arts college for the deaf.

“The presidential search and the controversy that has ensued have put enormous strain and stress on me,” Celia May Baldwin wrote in a memo Tuesday. “I simply could not ignore the numerous aggressive threats that I have received over the past weeks.”

Baldwin’s memo did not elaborate on the kinds of threats that were made against her.

There’s an open question here about what the real issue is. Fernandes and I. King Jordan, the outgoing president, insist it’s the perception on campus that she’s not “culturally deaf” enough. Some news reports quote students and faculty as saying it has less to do with that than with her allegedly poor administrative skills, but aside from the D.C. Examiner, they don’t provide concrete examples. Here’s a rambling op-ed by a Gallaudet student in Inside Higher Ed that’s representative insofar as it’s long on empty phrases — “she’s an administrator, not a leader,” “students weren’t listened to at all” — and maddeningly short on particulars.

Let’s just say this. If the problem genuinely has nothing to do with her being a “traitor to deafness” or whatever, if it’s really a simple matter of people on campus not liking her — then they really don’t like her. More from from WaPo:

The 750-seat auditorium was full to overflowing, mostly with students, and the crowd soon turned angry as people stood on stage to sign questions to board members Celia May L. Baldwin, interim chairman, and Tom Humphries, who emphasized that they have heard the concerns but that the board will not change its decision.

“I beg of you,” Baldwin signed, “to put your trust in us. Give us a chance. Give us an opportunity to prove to you that the selection was accurate.”

People in the audience shouted “No!” over and over, waving arms in the air and signing.

The meeting ended with people walking out, just as they had when Fernandes’s appointment was announced last Monday.

Here, via Goldstein, is Cathy Young’s piece in Reason from 2002 on the militancy of the “deaf pride” movement. Cochlear implants? Those are for sellouts, man.

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Just read a linked article about some deaf opposing cochlear implants. If deafness is their concept of normalcy to the activists then why do they still have their ears still attached and not surgically removed?!?!?!

allie on May 10, 2006 at 2:10 PM

Well, I guess it’s their right to be angry…as long as they’re quiet about it….

ScottG on May 10, 2006 at 4:24 PM


Maybe they wear glasses?

KCSteve on May 10, 2006 at 4:27 PM

Actually, deafness led to the use of baseball umpires’ hand signals at the turn of the last century. Around 1903, the New York Giants had a deaf player named Dummy Hoy deaf. He was insulted if other players didn’t learn to communicate with him so the whole team learned sign language, and it led to umpires using hand signals for balls, strikes and “safe” or “out” calls, so Mr. Hoy would know what was going on(and fans in the stands too), and what the ball-and-strike count was. His sign language led to the use today of “signs” from coaches to players during games. A little history lesson, free of charge.
Now, as far as deaf people declining to “hear” if they had a chance, this is myopic at best, self-destructive at worst. These people need to wake up and listen to the roses. Especially if they can. To me it’s like telling a blind man you can make him see and his saying “no, I prefer to be blind.” As far as using the gay movement as a model to mainstream deafness, how’s that working for gays?

clyde on May 10, 2006 at 4:39 PM

If deaf people think a hearing person in unqualified to represent them because he/she lacks a characteristic of theirs i.e being deaf then the principle could be broadened to include all of society in which only blind people lead the blind, a black juror cannot sit in judgement of white people and vice versa, muslims only want other muslims etc. Where will it end or do deaf people enjoy a special freedom because of their ‘special’ handicap?

Great White on May 10, 2006 at 5:01 PM

They, along with dozens of other aggrieved Americans, enjoy a special freedom because of their ‘special’ handicap or condition. Didn’t you know that? Everyone deserves ‘special’ treatment. Only problem is, one day we’re going to run out of people to give special treatment to those demanding it, since everyone will be recipients of it.

clyde on May 10, 2006 at 5:22 PM


I thought about those with glasses.
They can wear elastic bands attached to the arms of their glasses.
heeh heh heh

allie on May 10, 2006 at 6:50 PM

Clyde, you forget, white men are NEVER allowed special treatment for that would be racist.

hadsil on May 11, 2006 at 1:50 AM

I WISH cochlear implants were going to be an option for my son (who will very likely face total deafness due to Neurofibromatosis, Type 2 before he’s 30). Opposing them is just asinine, almost as much so as some of the tactless comments here. Walk a mile, folks…

Mike O on May 11, 2006 at 9:17 AM

Mike O –
Does your son have acoustic neuromas?

BeeCharmer on May 11, 2006 at 6:24 PM