This makes me so angry!

10 05 2007

Unfortunately I haven’t found the opportunity to be involved in the Deaf community or use my ASL skills much since leaving college, but I do try and at least stay informed as to what’s going on, and I’m still looking for connections up here in the city (I could be trying harder 馃槮

I became very passionate about the Deaf community and the issues and opportunities it faces at Goshen. I had a professor who was amazing and highly connected and encouraged us to be as well. One of my favorite classes at Goshen was Deaf Culture.

So it makes me very sad and angry when I hear stories like this one from Communication Access Now.

To Whom It May Concern:

I hope that you can/will assist us in stopping the mistreatment of deaf people by various local law enforcement officers/agencies. It has been brought to our attention that many deaf citizens experience similar challenges with officers We need your assistance in conveying to the law enforcement and to the deaf community that they do have civil rights and should speak out about such encounters. If you鈥檙e interested, we would like to discuss these and others issues with you in detail. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

We are requesting a full investigation of the law enforcement agencies/officers involved in the following situation. This client remains devastated and believes that a number of her Constitutional and Civil rights have been violated.
路 Failure to provide effective communication
路 Sexual abuse/harassment
路 Unlawful imprisonment
路 Misuse of authority
路 Cruel and unusual punishment
路 Failure to assist during an Emergency

A 19 year old Hispanic deaf woman who was assaulted by her brother who was drunk. She uses sign language to communicate and does not speak. She tried to summons help by calling 911. As indicated by the police report, she was crying when she dialed 911, then hung up the phone.

Shortly after, PD arrived. Her brother told officers that “she is crazy. ” He told officers that she tried to stab him with a knife. The client was still crying her bedroom. When the officer came into her room, she tried to communicate what happened to her. Meanwhile, the brother was yelling that “she is crazy”, and said she tried to stab him. She began motioning to the officer to get her an interpreter so she could explain. The officers did not try to communicate with her, they believed her brother (who is on probation and previously ID by the police as a member of several gangs). The officers cuffed her hands behind her back. She was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. She said she became more frantic and tried more vigorously to communicate, but could not because her hands were behind her back.

She was taken to the police station. Once there, she said she kept trying to indicate to them she needed an interpreter but no one would communicate with her. She said she was stripped naked in the presence of 3 male officers and one female officer. While the female officer straddled her body and retrained her hands. The older male officer performed a cavity search. The client said that he put on a glove and inserted his fingers into her vagina. She became very upset.

She was then moved to the County Jail, again she tried to convey to them that she needed an interpreter, but no one addressed her communication needs. police Officers reported to jail staff that she (the client) is crazy. She says her clothes were taken from her. She remained naked in a jail cell where there was no bed and she had to sleep on the floor. three days later, she was moved from the isolation cell and placed into another cell with a bed.

When I met with this client on Thurs. April 12, 2007, she was very depressed. She said on Wed. the 11th, a psychiatrist came to talk to her with an interpreter. She says has been asking jail staff for an interpreter, but no one will call one. One trustee has minimal “finger-spelling” skill and is very difficult to understand. When I asked her what she spends most of her time doing in jail, she says she tries to think of different ways to kill herself. She appeared to be very depressed. She indicates that she is very hurt and angry. She said she called 911 so they could come to help her, but instead, she was arrested and put in jail.

She says that its been one week since her arrest and detention and she still has not been provided effective communication, nor has she ever been given an explanation as to why she was arrested and does not know when she will get out. As she explained her situation to me, she showed me the bruises on her arm from where she had carpet burns as a result of her brother throwing her on the floor. I asked if she had shown the bruises to the officers when they responded to the 911 call. She said they would not listen to her, therefore, she did not have an opportunity to show them the bruises. She asked me how long she had to stay in jail. I told her I would find answers for her.

Shortly after I left the Jail, I called the social worker for people with disabilities, at the jail. I asked if I had understood the deaf client correctly: 鈥渨as she naked and placed in isolation from Thursday to Sunday?鈥 She said yes I had understood correctly. When I asked why, she said it is because “she has psychiatric issues.” I asked how was that determined, she said the police told her. When I asked if she had spoken with the client, she said no she had not—the deaf clients’ detention is on what police reported about the client. The social worker quickly added, “last time she was here, we kept her in isolation for 5 days.” I asked her why, she said because the client refused to talk with her. I asked if she (the social worker) knew sign language, she said no. I asked if she tried to communicate with the client using a sign language interpreter. She said they didn’t need an interpreter because —at that time there was an inmate who knew some sign language and they used her….and the client still refused to communicate. She added that they now have a staff person who signs.

That same afternoon, I met with the District Attorney (who requested my assistance in seeking resources for this client). I asked how long the client would be in jail. She said she had no idea, but the client had been appointed an attorney. I informed her that no one from the police department or the County Jail had ever spoken to the deaf woman about why she called 911, nor has she ever been provided effective communication. After discussing these issues with the District attorney, I suggested the charges be dismissed based on my 3 hour conversation with the client. She agreed. Again, I asked when she would be released. She said not until she had a place to go. I asked if all women were detained in jail until they had a place to live. She said no. I reminded her that she could not be detained in jail because she will not be returning home and happens to be deaf. The next morning the charges were dismissed and the client was dismissed from jail.

Detra Stewart
Advocate for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing
VP – 713-807-1176

Brian Determan
Deaf Advocate for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing
VP -713-807-1176


When will we learn to respect one another regardless of our differences? When will understanding one another become important?


Interview II

29 04 2007

These questions come from Nicole whose blog first inspired me to start this project.聽 I’ve been getting some great questions!

1.聽 Has being a nanny affected/changed your views on motherhood, and if so how?
It has a lot, but instead of making me want to be a mother more or less, it has opened my eyes to the complexities of motherhood.聽 I鈥檝e seen how hard it is to be a parent.聽 Loss of sleep, loss of autonomy.聽 The guilt of not being with your baby at every possible moment, because that鈥檚 what a good mom does.聽 Frustration over not being able to lose the baby weight.聽 The expense.聽 The maturity it takes to stay sane and keep up your marriage and other relationships while caring for this little being who is totally dependent on you.

But I鈥檝e also seen how the girls reach for their mothers above all others.聽 How they will be calmer in their mother鈥檚 arms than they are with me.聽 I鈥檝e experience great joy caring for these two wee ones, but nothing compared to what I can see their mothers experience.聽 I look forward to having that some day.

I think being a nanny had deepened my already strong desire to have children, but it has also strengthened my desire to wait until I am much more mature and have a well-established marriage.

2.聽 If you could only use one spice for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Curry.聽 I love oregano, but it would have to be curry.聽 I love Thai and Indian food too much to give it up.

oh wait… does salt count?

3.聽 What is the one political/moral issue that you try to stay away from (because you think it’s silly, it makes you uncomfortable, etc.)?

Abortion.聽 Because I have a view that not many people appreciate.聽 I think abortion is completely wrong.聽 I think that it is psychologically unhealthy for the mother and that we do not have the insight to know the point when life begins.聽 At the same time, I am not pro-life in the political use of the term.聽 I don鈥檛 think abortion should be illegal and I am bothered by how many resources are used to try and make it so.聽 Why not use those resources instead to alleviate the 鈥渘eed鈥 for abortions?聽 Isn鈥檛 there an old proverb about the man who kept pulling drowning people out of a river until he went up river and stopped the man who was throwing them in?聽 Sort of like that.聽 There are social issues that lead to the prevalence of abortion that need to be solved before even thinking about making abortion illegal is really going to help anything.聽 We know from history that making abortion illegal does more harm than good.
Ok, it鈥檚 not completely true that I stay away from it.聽 I actually said basically the same thing in a recent post, but in my 鈥渞eal life鈥 often I won鈥檛 get into it.

Oh, and legalizing marijuana.聽 I鈥檓 not saying it should be legal, but please鈥 cigarettes, alcohol, even some prescription drugs鈥 I feel that it鈥檚 hypocritical of our government and doesn鈥檛 make any logical sense to make it illegal when there are much worse things that are 鈥渁cceptable鈥.

4. What is your favorite quote/passage from a book you’ve read?

I adore quotes.聽 I have to choose one!聽 Humm鈥 well, I don鈥檛 want to be clique, but I Corinthians 13 is the most meaningful piece of writing I鈥檝e ever read.聽 If I had a creed this would be it.聽 I wish I could love in the way this passage describes.

Taken from the NRSV:

13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast(a), but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly(b), but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

(a) Other ancient authorities read body to be burned聽 (b) Gk in a riddle

and because I can鈥檛 help myself, here’s a quote from 鈥淢emoirs of a Geisha鈥 (the book) that has been very meaningful to me in the last year.

“Grief is a most peculiar thing; we鈥檙e so helpless in the face of it.聽 It鈥檚 a window that will simply open of its own accord.聽 The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver.聽 But it opens a little less each time, and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it.”

5. If past lives exist, what are you convinced that you were (and in what time period)?

Definitely a cat.聽 And hopefully in ancient Egypt.聽 They worshipped/pampered cats.

Thanks for the questions 馃檪

More interviews to come, but I鈥檓 in Niagara Falls with Mike right now, and trying to store up as much of him as I can before he goes abroad in a few days.


26 04 2007

I was recently inspired to retrace the steps of my interview meme to see how widespread it was.聽 And boy howdy!聽 what a big blogging world there is out there!聽 I decided to stop once I had traced back 10 blogs.聽 I found some really neat ones that will most likely see me again on a regular basis.聽 And since I’ve been having a bit of blogger’s block lately I decided to ask each of them to interview me.聽 If each of them respond that will be 50 questions, which should keep me busy for a while.聽 Here was my first response.

Christine asked…

1) In a recent post you talked about BYU’s alternative commencement ceremony as a protest to Dick Cheney being the commencement speaker. Imagine instead that the speaker was Hillary Clinton, how would your post have read if students were reacting in the same manner?

You know, I thought about that as I was writing the post.聽 To be realistic, I probably wouldn鈥檛 have been paying as much attention to the news in the first place if it had been Hillary, but let鈥檚 say that it was鈥 Howard Dean.聽 I probably wouldn鈥檛 read the blog of someone who felt that way about Howard Dean.聽 Not because I want to be close-minded, but how often do we relate to someone with vastly different views?聽 And I鈥檒l be the first to admit that I have to fight the urge to be closed off to views I don鈥檛 agree with.

But, I hope that I would respect the ideology behind the protest, and the manner in which it is being carried out.聽 I feel that honest, peaceful dissent is the best way to bring about change, and is necessary to keep the government in check.聽 I believe I would feel this way even if things were run exactly how I鈥檇 want them to be run (or at least I really hope).聽 We need open dialog to keep up with the changing world and to create a more respectful society.

2) If you could describe your ideal day in one sentence, what would it be?

My ideal day would be warm, barefoot, earthy, creative, and end relaxing in the arms of someone I love.

3) You need someone to know the most important thing about you, immediately. What is it?

That鈥檚 so hard!聽 There are a lot of things I could say, but I think the most important thing is sort of two things that are closely related.聽 I was born in Zaire (we left when I was an infant), and then when I was 9 my parents and I moved to Zambia after my closest sister graduated from H.S.聽 Part of my schooling in Zambia took place at a British boarding school.

Ok, I鈥檓 sort of cheating, because it鈥檚 really two things, but whatever.聽 So the Africa part is important because there鈥檚 a part of me that will always want to be in Africa.聽 My happiest, most vivid childhood memories are from our two years there, and it鈥檚 my birthplace.聽 The boarding school bit is important because that was when I started to separate my identity from my family.聽 I also attended boarding school for H.S. and that had a larger impact, but I trace the roots of my independent nature to that experience.

4) What did you want your name to be, when you were a little girl? Why was it your favorite name?

There wasn鈥檛 any particular name, although I liked the name Gabrielle, I just wanted my name to be more unique.聽 My brother鈥檚 and sisters all got cool uncommon names.聽 Karis, Andre鈥 and Lenora.聽 Then there鈥檚 me, Stephanie.聽 There were 4 Stephanies in my elementary class alone.聽 Remember that British boarding school I was talking about?聽 There were 16 kids, and another Stephanie.聽 In H.S. I lived in the room next to another Stephanie Ann.聽 My dad likes to tell people that Stephanie was the most popular name in Nebraska (where he鈥檚 from) the year I was born.

5) What would you change about yourself, if anything?

I would live more in the moment.聽 This would change me in two major ways.聽 First off I wouldn鈥檛 procrastinate so much because why not do something right now instead of putting it off till later?聽 And more importantly, I wouldn鈥檛 worry about my life turning out the way I want it to so much.聽 I can really stress myself out with that one.

BYU’s alternative commencment

19 04 2007

I think this is cool, and would encourage others to sign the petition.聽 I probably wouldn’t be as keen on it if the speaker was someone I admired, but I’d hope that I would respect the ideology behind it.

From Rebecca

Dick Cheney is speaking at the BYU commencement (that’s not the good news) and, in an unusual show of rebelliousness, some students and faculty are protesting by holding what C.L. Hanson has deemed “the world’s politest protest” – an alternative commencement (that’s the good news – you can show your support by signing a petition).

Oh, and to read about a pretty scary thing that happened to me yesterday, see my nanny blog.

High school and me

11 04 2007

First I want to direct you all to a blog I recently started reading. Alex writes intelligently about issues he is obviously passionate about, and his take on the issue of legal rights for homosexuals made me very happy. While I don’t agree with the theological side of what he said, I can totally get behind separating the ideas of legal union from religious marriage. The Church needs to deal with the issue of homosexual marriage, but what’s the government got to do with it? Alex says it much more eloquently.

Second, I want to say how grateful I am to see a fellow Western grad (Alex was a class below me) finding his own voice and religious/social/political views and not just swallowing the lines we were given. I’m sure many alumni go on to do this, but I also wonder how many don’t. Looking back, I can see how some where, probably due to outside influences, already learning this skill, but I for one certainly was not. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me backtrack.

I went to a conservative Mennonite high school in Oregon. I boarded,so in many ways that school was my entire life. I have many fond memories from my four years there, and I do not regret having been sent by my parents who were living in Washington state at the time in a town with a pathetic excuse for a school system. I received a good education, made some wonderful friend, had the opportunity to be highly involved with quite a few activities, and was sheltered from many of the negative choices that so many other high schoolers are presented with.

What I don’t appreciate was the close-mindedness that the school embodied. I do not think Western is a bad school, only I hope that it can develop a different environment. One that encourages students to find answers for themselves. One that provides all the information and then equips its students to find their place among the choices. I feel that we were told what to think and believe. That we were presented with alot of one sided worldviews. We were preached at instead of guided. We had a few teachers who encouraged the idea of “courtship” and waiting to have your first kiss on your wedding day. We had a mock election when Bush was running for the first time, and he won by a landslide. There were very little discussions about the complexity of many moral issues. Were they so afraid that we couldn’t make good decisions for ourselves that they had to spoon feed us the answers? Homosexuality? Wrong. Abortion? Wrong. Per-marital sex (or anything for that matter)? Wrong.

Now this environment was due in part to the students as well as the faculty, and there were those among the faculty who I can see now tried to present alternatives, but they had to be discrete about it or jeopardize their positions. Stick to the script or your not welcome here. Our bible teacher was one such person. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I have come to appreciate him as a teach more and more. I remember discussing women leadership in the church during New Testament, and how he set Paul’s writing in a cultural context and the idea that it belonged in that context and not necessarily all contexts as a possible interpretation. I remember him stepping on some toes with that one. This same teacher’s job was recently in jeopardy when he gave his yearly “Swearing” lecture where he demonstrates the difference between using socially unacceptable words or “dirty language” and swearing an oath or using the Lord’s name in vain. He prefaces this lecture with the invitation for anyone who would rather not hear “swearing” to go to the library yet he still was required by the school to write a letter of apology because of parental complaints.

Another story I heard that boiled my blood also happened after I graduated. A graduate of Western (and Goshen) is now a successful opera singer living in Germany. She also happens to be a lesbian. She visited the school one year and graced our humble school with her presence. The next year after the music teach had invited her to come again, he was told to uninvited her. She was not welcome on campus. She was not coming to talk about her live style. She was coming to sing and to interact with the choir. When asked if she could at least come and spend time with the choir, the answer was no. She’s an alumna for goodness sake! She’s not allowed to visit her own high school? Is this what we call the acceptance of Christ? Is this following his example of welcoming the lepers, the whores, and the tax collectors? Not that I see it that way, but even if they don’t agree with her lifestyle, isn’t that still being hypocritical?

Needless to say, I’m still figuring out how I feel about my alma mater. There’s still some bitterness that I need to work through. It was hard getting to college and realizing that I was behind many of my classmates when it came to being able to make my own moral discussions. I had a long road ahead of me breaking down walls that had been built in me. I have not abandoned all that I was taught at Western. (I still don’t agree that abortion is a morally sound choice, but I also realize that social issues involved make it an issue that cannot be solved by making it illegal; there is so much more that needs to happen before that can be a feasible option. First let us eradicate poverty, discrimination based on race and gender, the subjugation of women, rape, etc. Then let’s talk about the ways to get rid of the other causes of abortion.*) But I found that I had so many beliefs that I didn’t really understand. I’ve also dealt with quite a bit of guilt about rejecting some of those beliefs. Mostly I just hope that the school can grow and learn how to help their students develop strong moral convictions based on open discussion and a clear knowledge of all the different facets of the topic at hand. Maybe these changes are already taking place, and I just haven’t heard about them. Mine is also just one story, and there may be graduates of Western who experienced something very different. But that is my story, and my beef. Kudos to anyone who actually made it to the end of this post.

* A rant within a rant.聽 How do I ever stay on point?

Shrub and My Future

6 11 2004

Music: None, Jessica my prospective is sleeping…..shhhhhhh 馃檪

explanation of title…… think another name for Bush 馃槈

So Bush won……. tears, sadness, woe….. ‘nough said

Jesse and I were in the the Elkhart Truth 馃榾 Hopefully it wont be the last time we’re pictured together in the newspaper 馃槈 Ummm…… I’m still working too much. I went to the play tonight. Really good. Anna did an excellent job. Very interesting story, very sad.

So here’s the biggest news with me right now. I think I’m going to be an Interdisciplinary major with focuses in ASL, TESOL, and Sociology/Anthropology. I’m excited about this and scared about this. I’m morning the lose of security post grad, but glad that I feel like this is the best fit for me right now. And I can always come back and finish up with ASL. Well….. I can try. See the biggest problem that I’m beginning to face is the fact that I have a fairly slow processing time. This may be something that I can train to be faster at, but it’s also possible that I’ll never be fast enough, and just don’t have the ability to be an interpreter. Although there are still things that I could do within the interpreting field most likely, like interpreting for plays that I have memorized etc. Things that I don’t have to process how to interpret in the moment. While I realize that I’m making an informed decision and that one of the biggest reasons for the decision is this thing that I cannot really control, it still feels kind of like failing, like giving up, like just one more thing that I couldn’t do just because I didn’t try hard enough, didn’t give enough energy too. But I have hope that this is the right decision and well….. I just pray that it’s the right

Watching the green

3 11 2004

Music: Ada plays from Cold Mountain

It can be very inspiring to watch my plants grow. Ever so slowly, but I see progress and discover new shoots everyday 馃檪 And they’re not dying which is amazing with the fact that I really have no green thumb what so ever, I think it might even be slightly black 馃槈 Life is…… right now in this moment life is good, I have wonderful friends, a warm room, an incredible man who loves me, more food than what’s good for me, and direct access to the ultimate power of the universe. You know that last on is really the most amazing, but the one I think I take the most for granted, or at least capitalize on the least. Humm… something to work on. I felt really beautiful today 馃檪 That’s always a nice thing. Oh! and I voted for the first time. Exciting. Please, Kerry win. Please, please, please, please. Sigh, Bush for another 4 years might be more than I can handle. At least I’m going to be in China next year. Wonder what they think of him over there. Probably hate him like the rest of the world. Sigh.


28 10 2004

Music: I Hope I Get It from a Chorus Line

So I just discovered that the site that I’ve been getting the daily thoughts from is THE Bruderhof, like the communal living communities in New York, Germany etc. The ones that Abby’s been talking about. How random is that. And I got to their website really randomly by searching under “quotes” and didn’t even bother to look at the site really. I just figured it was some christan right organization. So I was suprised when I started getting messages that were very meaningful about sustainable living, peace, etc. Wow, funny how these things work. Here was a comment I posted on the full article that I took an exerpt from in my last blog. Here’s the where you can see the full article. I was especially affected by the story of the driver who’s daughter aborted during a bombing raid. Regardless of how you feel about abortion, how can you ignore this? I just don’t understand.

I was greatly moved by this article. The thoughts presented in it were ones that I’ve been mulling over recently because of my close contact with people who seem to follow two different standards. They support the war, but are against abortion. Abortion is one of the key issues in the current election for a few people I know. What do I say to them? I think my biggest struggle is that there doesn’t seem any way to have meaningful conversation. These people are my friends and family. I love them. But when it comes to the war, we can’t understand what the other person is saying. I can’t understand their arguments for the war, because it seems so very clear to me that violence begets violence. Yet they cannot see an alternative. We need alternatives, ones that I or you or anyone can understand, at least the philosophy behind them. If these alternatives are out there, than we need to be shouting them from the rooftops. Please.

Who Is Pro-Life? by Emmanuel Charles McCarthy …

28 10 2004

Who Is Pro-Life? by Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

As I read the triumphant headlines in the newspapers day after day–鈥淯.S. Pounds Iraq from Air鈥–and saw the pictures of missiles streaking into Iraq, I could not help but hear the silent screams of all the little Iraqi children in utero who were having their lives ripped from them…Yet the silence on this matter of abortions induced by war–silence in the church, in pro-life circles, and in peace and justice efforts–is thunderous.

It is as if abortion for saving a person鈥檚 reputation is absolutely evil; abortion for saving a family鈥檚 economic life is absolutely evil; abortion for saving a person鈥檚 job is absolutely evil; abortion for saving a person from what he or she perceives to be an intolerable personal future is absolutely evil, but abortion to save oil fields for the present and future control and profit of American and British oil interests or to save the world from non-existent weapons of mass destruction or from a local dictator is morally permissible! It is as if patriotic earplugs have been discreetly employed by pro-lifers in order to not hear what they have been telling others to listen to for over thirty years–the silent screams.”

I get these things in my inbox everyday from a website called Bruderhof…. they’re really really interesting. I don’t know anything about the website, and I kind of signed up on a whim.

I also get quotes to my inbox here’s todays~ “If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get one million miles to the gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.” – Robert X Cringely

Deep Thoughts

17 10 2004

music: Saucy Sailor by the Wailin’ Jennys

Harsh but True

by: Hermann Hesse

We kill at every step, not only in wars, riots, and executions. We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering, and shame. In the same way all disrespect for life, all hard heartedness, all indiffer颅ence, all contempt is nothing else than killing. With just a little witty skepticism we can kill a good deal of the future in a young person. Life is waiting everywhere, the future is flowering every颅where, but we only see a small part of it and step on much of it with our feet.