Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Final thoughts on Gallaudet/McCaskill: Alternate Worlds

In my alternate Universe, when McCaskill's signature was discovered (and not because of any far-fetched conspiracy, but simply because McCaskill had published successful research and her name became a victim of Googling) and a complaint brought to the administration, things went initially much the same. McCaskill was put on leave (and rightly so: marriage went from a guaranteed right being drafted by the government to a question decided by the people, much like equal pay for women, and in a public venue published online: it needed to be looked at.) When McCaskill finally came forward to make a statement, confused and angry as everyone else was and looking for the right thing to do, Gallaudet held an impressive press conference. President Hurwitz lauded the University for its amazing diversity. "Where else can this happen in America? Five, ten years from now, every American college will be struggling with these issues. I'm proud our University is among the first. We're going to lead." He invited McCaskill back, with a raise, and stated his investigation found no fault anywhere, and thanked her for her patience as they necessarily looked into the issue.

The next day a campus-wide convocation was held. Students were asked to comment on the apparent disparity. How could a Diversity Officer who holds views deemed to be oppressive maintain their office? Students had incredible suggestions. We'll never know them; they were made in another universe. Teachers had incredible suggestions. And so did faculty members. A chef from the alterna-Marketplace pointed out it was like doctors prescribing birth control when it's against their religion–and that laws require they do so anyway. Every fascinating layer was explored, and a three hour video resulted. When captioned, Americans all over watched true Democracy on their computers. Nobody had to decide what anything meant.

And in that Universe, after all that, Alternate President Hurwitz stuck McCaskill and other University researchers into a nice office. Keurig coffee. Snacks and water. Couple of iPads. "You have ten hours," he said. "Come up with a paper on professional conduct in handling cultural contact in the postmodern era. We're publishing tomorrow. And I want to see drafts. We're going to be building the model for the rest of the country to follow." Close door.

There was none of this ridiculous race-baiting on Facebook groups that we are seeing here. There was none of this rumormongering, none of the silly "Oh look! Scandalous!" crap. No turning this into the WWF, saying this means gays are against deaf people, or sim-com users are against black people. In my alternate Universe, people focused on the problem and tried to develop real solutions. In my alternate Universe, people are mature and not binary, and recognize that in one of the most diverse Universities in the world, we're going to occasionally have these concerns arise, and the mature thing is to deal with it, not try to shock people and build your website ratings. We do not have to allow the hegemony to turn us against each other. This situation challenged 'the way things are,' and when that happens there's always a backlash. All you can do is try to make something out of it.

At this point as a member of many of the communities involved I'm more than a little sad at the missed opportunities for dialogue and hope we choose better paths in the future–both on- and off-campus.

Author's Note: My first and second draft went in the garbage, and finally I thought, maybe it's best just to share the world I want to see. As a Deaf man, queer man, and person of color, the way this issue has played out has shocked me. I don't have facebook, so I have only seen the racism and homophobia there through the facebook accounts of others, but it's out there, and it's horrifying. Worse, there are people who, by how and what they write, sign and speak, are clearly trying to exacerbate the issue. I hate seeing McCaskill and the University used by those idiotic commercials on TV, for example–Gallaudet and McCaskill have both asked for their images to be removed, and both have had their requests denied. I wish them both the best and hope maturity wins out. I think that's all I can write on the subject. Peace. 


ninefingers said...

Just another thing. I get why the Queer community is angry at McCaskill. When O'Malley signed the Marriage bill in March, everyone thought that legalization was just ahead. Now it is in jeopardy, because some people believe civil rights should be up to the popular vote. It had to feel like a right had been taken away–it felt like that when I moved here. I'd just like everyone to express themselves respectfully.

Anonymous said...

Love your posting, especially the
creative way of resolving the
issue through the development of
professional conduct policies.
Agree that dialogue and
communication are the most
important factors in achieving any
success in any setting. The
negativity and -isms are very
poisonous and is what divides the
community. There must be healthy
space and room for dialoge to
occur and then the community must
collectively focus on "Where to go
from here.'
The clock continues to tick...

Anonymous said...

I know many gay sign this petitions that is against gay marriage.
Bully on McCaskill is completely very wrong. Bully is worse than both sides. Bully needs to be stopped!