Mr. RUSSELL HARVARD is plausibly the most interesting man in America.

Russell Harvard, in mirrored yellow shades and a hat, behind the wheel

Mr. HARVARD is a sky-high deaf gay actor and former drunk. He can claim deaf royalty as a deaf child of deaf parents. (They’d write that with majuscules. I do that only with “White.”) But he can hear and speak and he loves music. He also doesn’t resent the English language.

I have noticed a few waves of signing deaf people over the centuries. There was a brief period when the combined onslaught of interpreters in classrooms (or even deaf teachers), captioning everywhere, and TTYs, and later pagers (and later still all forms of electronic messaging), forever remedied the ostensibly permanent deaf illiteracy that was the false justification for heavily edited captioning, which abomination I fought from my teen years.

These deaf people were well accustomed to hearing people in their lives. The deaf gay ones all had hearing boyfriends and this was considered normal on both or all sides. You could – I could – deal with deaf people one-to-one or even in small groups. I have certainly personally experienced the truth of the stereotype that a deaf person will always, given enough time, make himself or herself understood to you. It is an actually amazing capacity. I have, moreover, known a few oral deaf people, each of them very distinct and certainly not what I am talking about here.

But my direct lived experience of big-D deaf people now is they have become like blacks in South Africa – racist harridans who misuse the system against their former tormentors (q.v.). As an example, at a public meeting where anyone could sit anywhere, I have had multiple deaf people use the two interpreters seated at that table to tell me I had no right to sit with them. They were not expecting me to talk back at them and stand my ground. Every single one of them was a total cunt to me for the next half an hour, and talked among themselves about me in ways they thought I could not recognize.

I believe if I met Mr. HARVARD, he would treat me as an individual just as I would with him. We would have a real conversation by any available means. I would be less self-conscious than usual about my actually horrendous and embarrassing ASL “ability.” (A complex and chaotic ginger mound of muscle whom I know, a hearing child of deaf adults, separately explained to me that even my degree of dysfluency makes a deaf person’s day when I use it.) I was nothing less than amazed to be at the right place at the right time and witness an online electronic Internet video of Mr. HARVARD’s baptism.

Beyond the status of most interesting man in America, Mr. HARVARD seems to be good people.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2020.01.05 13:34. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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