It Is Not A Laughing Matter.

I condemn all acts of terrorism especially where innocent people have to die.

Muslims seem to lose either way. They are constantly asked to apologise for crimes they did not commit nor supported. They are stuck between the extremists and fanatics on either sides. Most Muslims want to work providing for their family and get on with life in harmony, just like the police officer, Ahmed Merabet wanted to, who was also killed yesterday. I am certain not many people know that he was a Muslim because the media did not mention this until much later on but there was no news of what religions the others were. It does not matter to the media because it is not sensational enough and does not go with the narrative of their headlines. This police officer paid with his life trying to do his job as a just person. The far right are striving in France and this will be an opportunity for them to milk this sad situation to their advantages. Sadly the bigots will jump on the band wagon of hatred without any thoughts to the consequences.

Charlie Hebdo was founded in 1970 and since then they have been relentless in mocking everybody in a very aggressive manner. They have a long history of provoking a wide range of people based on their choices and beliefs. Many of their satirical cartoons are tasteless, violent and sexually explicit – depicting many religious figures and politicians.

In 2012 the French government condemned Charlie Hebdo for publishing caricatures depicting Prophet Mohammed. They even urged the magazine to reconsider their decision in publishing the material but they refused. As a result the French government decided to take security measures to protect their embassies and consulates around the world. They also increased security around Charlie Hebdo’s offices. The magazine was determined in pursuit of what they believed is their right to mock others through “Free Speech”. While they are free to publish what they like with the exception of any anti-Semitic content, the law could not stop them or any of their provocative material but there is an unwritten rule to be respectful to others in every walk of life – regardless, in my opinion. You might be walking down an extremely narrow path and someone walks up towards you so you decide to step aside in order to let them go through first. This is what humanity is all about. Why do we have to be so nasty, oppressive and/or so hurtful towards one another?

There are those who will poke fun at disabled people – does anyone still remember Glenn Hoddle? When he remarked disabled people had been punished for their previous life (not very clever) and as a consequence he was sacked from his position as an England football manager. While there is nothing set in law to prosecute him with, the FA still acted and sacked him to show such opinions will not be tolerated.

My point being, freedom of speech is important but we need to hold back at our own discretion if we feel what we might say or do is hurtful towards others. There will always be people who want to push the boundaries and there is nothing wrong with that but freedom of speech cannot be used as an excuse to hide behind from when their actions has consequences and they should expect the same level of freedom of speech back especially when in a democratic state.

My main worry at this point in time is how society is reacting based on what the media wants us to see and believe regarding the cartoons. First it was Denmark, now France – next it will be the UK. When the World Trade Centre was targeted on the 11th of September (9/11), we suspected London would be next but not when. We also knew that the London public transport system would be targeted as that is what would have hurt the city most. If the Waging a dirty war. continues to retaliate to this sad state of affairs regarding the cartoons with the same kind of mockery that provoked all this, their offices could be next.

Any perceived anti-Semitism would be handled straightaway and the offenders promptly dealt with. Yet for any other religions, any anti views are sadly casually tolerated which I find very unfair because the same law should apply to all religions. By being respectful and mindful of others at all times would nip any anti views in the bud and would avoid that cataclysmic chain reaction of events spiralling out of anyone’s control. As for censorship? Do not even try to hide behind that excuse because no one ever sees what actually happens to the people of Palestine and other war torn countries: Waging a dirty war.

Is the Ku Klux Klan a representative of Christians? So why do many think Terrorists are representative of Muslims? Fanatics or extremists does not define their religion come what may except distorts the truth behind it – all religions which asks for submission to the one and only same god is about peace and humanity. A true believer would not stoop so low to harm another because their religion (should) forbids it. Unfortunately people not in the know or are well informed regarding a particular religion will accept that distortion all too readily. It is those who are the most sincere in their hearts that suffer the most from all this due to fanatics and others attributing excuses.

Thank you for allowing me to practise free speech – with respect comes peace.

~ SJ

 

To laugh or not to laugh?

Laugh: (lăf, läf) to make the spontaneous sounds and movements of the face and body that are the instinctive expressions of lively amusement and sometimes also of derision.

Media will do anything these days for money and this advert by LiveLens is the latest insult to the deaf world. Why? Thamsanqa Jantjie appears in it. He is the one who managed to fool the South African Government into thinking he was a qualified sign language interpreter. While I and others do not wish to give him any more publicity, I feel saddened and extremely frustrated for my South African friends because I can see and feel the extent of these insults it is having on them. It is a complete mockery of their precious language, culture, their loyalty and shows the extent or rather lack of, understanding and empathy the companies and “comedians” have for them (and us) whilst making money out of it all.

I would like to seize the day by voicing through this medium to show my support, for my friends. One of which exclaimed “Unbelievable, today is our election day and now #fakeinterpreter spoilt the important day like he did to Mandela’s funeral!! He has no respect. We will keep fight and stop him!” hence their new campaign called “#stopfakeinterpreter”.

Braam Jordaan
Braam Jordaan

Here is why:

 

Captioned version here: Mandela’s sign language interpreter’s return to fame: Livelens

Extract from Huffington Post UK.
Extract from Huffington Post UK.

Oh please?!…. Choose someone who did not mar Nelson Mandela’s service for Deaf people worldwide as described by Limping Chicken who broke the very first story. Jantjie claims to be suffering from a mental illness such as schizophrenia. I for one never bought this claim as it seems to be a “get out of jail” card. It is the only way he managed to get so far in fooling those he could sign because others “vouched” for him. If so. they wanted him there on the stage, for a reason – was he a plant? It is feasible this has all been orchestrated (for his safety) but who really knows? A political conspiracy is my theory and I am not alone with this train of thought.

However, by making a mockery the first time around, this has encouraged other comedians to try the same tactic. USA knew not to go down this route and apologized for one of their shows making a remark. Yet several UK comedians have sadly got away with it for example Paul Whitehouse who was apparently praised for making the “funniest joke of the night” at the British Comedy Awards after bringing a fake signer on the stage. His video, ironically once again is not subtitled for the deaf audience to be feel included on.

 

Captioned version here: Paul Whitehouse’s fake signer in British Comedy Awards acceptance speech.

Some people would be inclined to feel as a member stated on our group, that only South African deaf people (and probably only signers) should be able to mock the whole Jantjie thing and it’s still too raw. We should focus on the issue of access and quality of communication professionals and how deaf people CAN insist on change. But, when they are using fake signs or being “comical” about our language or ability not to hear, it is more of insult not to caption, is it not? To be excluded totally… Adding captions would have gained them that bit more respect instead the respect goes to the one who actually spends their time to get some made to include us… Thank you to Sara of Subtitle YouTube for helping to source the captioned version of the Livelens video and for transcribing/captioning Paul Whitehouse’s video. Gratefully appreciated.  🙂

Most definitely.

Meanwhile…. another member commented that we should not take ourselves too seriously, or we lose perspective. Yet it is the hurt he (Jantjie) has caused our friends and potentially the deaf world by making a mockery. Humour of this nature is extremely controversial and rather subjective to each and every one’s own interpretations and personal experiences. Comedy which suggests one rule for themselves and another for others along the lines of… “Comedians using racism as potential comedy material because it isn’t their oppression and possibly isn’t their place to laugh at that… All too often comedians will make poor jokes which are oppressive and then claim “It’s comedy” as an excuse for why it shouldn’t be challenged” – This comment was made on our Facebook group and I wholeheartedly agree with that perspective. Yet, is this not a form of bullying at somebody else’s expense and/or misfortunes?

Here is a video by an American comedian, Brad Williams which is captioned:

“READ MY LIPS” Comedy, or Deaf-Bashing? You be the judge. (As stated on the YouTube page)

 

I was asked if I found this video above offensive. I was unsure simply because I had seen this video before and the first time I watched it I think I was offended and could empathise with his frustration at the derogatory sign for his height. That video actually reminded me of a time when I volunteered with a charity who one night had a comedian. The whole room went silent and I could not understand why… It was not until afterwards when a hearing friend kindly explained to me, the comedian was making jokes about the deaf (because he knew I was there with a couple of other deaf friends) and the jokes just weren’t funny, I then understood the reason behind the silences. I felt rather embarrassed yet supported knowing other hearing people there did not encourage this nature of humour.

There is a lot of signs still which the younger generations find offensive so most of the signs have in time evolved to be PC (Politically Correct). It is the same for spoken language, different generations will speak different regional dialects or street languages.

 “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

by Mahatma Ghandi.

I would prefer to laugh with respect. Not laughed at, without respect. As it is not impossible for one to be funny and kind without hurting anyone’s feelings.

To laugh or not to laugh? That is the question.

~ SJ (Sara Jae), dedicating this post to her South African friends who also happen to be deaf.