EDF and the Dropped Ball

For the sake of the cause, I have attempted to remain as objective as possible, but this entire situation disgusts and infuriates me. I’m sure neither feeling is a surprise, and I’m even more positive I am not alone. But why I am specifically boiling mad isn’t so much because of the events taking place — it’s because today I discovered that this is not new information to the guide dog user organizations and yet nothing but “discussion” has taken place.

Yes. The first response I received stated plainly that the issue had been discussed several times. And then went on to advise me that the only thing I could do was to complain to the CA guide dog board. Like there was nothing else that could be done about the whole thing. As if it was so beneath us, as blind individuals and guide dog users, to work towards making things better.

Really, people, am I the only person who sees what this is really about?!

Maybe. So I’ll explain. And I’ll use small words so as not to confuse all the simple-minded blind folk out there.

The very root of this entire fight with EDF is about keeping blind people safe. The school has been continuing to raise money to train guide dogs, even though they haven’t placed a dog in years. Instead those dogs remain in the kennel while EDF tries to replace its head trainer. To fill this position they have an instructor who does not even meet the industry’s standard in terms of qualifications — and it’s not the first time the school has done that. In fact, that is entirely why the school’s training facility is in Arizona, while its headquartered in California. This kind of practice puts every graduate of EDF at risk, obviously. But more importantly it shows the WORLD that blind people are too stupid and subservient to care and stand up for their right to and requirement of a properly trained guide dog.

The fact that this has gone on for years is appalling. The fact that the organizations alerted to the crisis allowed it to go on is absurd. The fact that those same organizations didn’t see the need to readily share this news is absolutely unforgivable. And the fact that seemingly no one cares to delve deeper into finding out more information and how to set things right makes my blood boil with suppressed rage.

One of the main reasons I stopped being an active member in either ACB or NFB was because the meetings and conventions I did attend could in essence be defined as constant complaining about how unfair the world is for treating blind people like second class citizens. Here, in this fight with EDF, we have a prime example of just that but rather than take the opportunity and show everyone how capable, smart, and engaged we are, we sit around and talk about it and decide we can’t do one damn thing. How will change ever happen if we can’t be bothered to take action when it falls in our laps? Who do we think will do it for us? And why would we expect them?

Frankly, I think it’s a testament to the faith those puppy raisers have in us to have taken up this fight in the first place. Because from what I’ve seen, we don’t deserve it. We can’t manage to find a way to contribute help. Instead, we’ll sit on our respective butts and do nothing.

I’m so ashamed of the blind community right now. And absolutely disgusted to be associated as part of such a lazy and ignorant class of people.

Paterson in a Snit Over ‘SNL’ Skit

From the NY Post [original article]:

Gov. Paterson didn’t see the humor in a “Saturday Night Live” bit that mocked his blindness.

During the “Weekend Update” segment of NBC’s irreverent comedy show, actor Fred Armisen played Paterson, imitating his wandering eye, gravelly voice and blunt, self-effacing demeanor.

But Paterson and advocates for the visually impaired didn’t appreciate stock blind jokes that had Armisen pretending to be disoriented and wandering aimlessly.

“I can take a joke,” Paterson told reporters.

But he called the SNL spoof a “third-grade depiction of people and the way they look” that could lead others to believe that “disability goes hand-in-hand with an inability to run a government or business.”

“I run the place I work in, so I don’t have to be worried about being discriminated against,” noted Paterson

Although Paterson is legally blind and has aides help him with some tasks, the governor is rarely out of step with his surroundings and seems comfortable in virtually all settings.

After Armisen’s sketch with “Weekend Update” co-anchor Seth Meyers, the joke continued.

As longtime “SNL” player Amy Poehler was announcing her departure from the show, Armisen’s Paterson started wandering, as if lost, in front of the camera.

“Gov. Paterson . . . you’re in the shot!” a chuckling Poehler said.

The skit could leave viewers with the impression that blind Americans cannot be competent employees, advocates for the disabled said.

“When you have a perception problem like we have, you take these things a little more seriously,” said Chris Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind.

“We have 70 percent unemployment – and it’s not because we can’t work. Obviously, the governor of New York is blind, and he’s doing the job. Whenever you have a portrayal that calls the basic capacity of [blind people] into question, that’s a potential problem.”

Danielsen claims “SNL” has a long history of mocking the blind – going back to Eddie Murphy’s Stevie Wonder impression and, more recently, a “Weekend Update” one-liner that hybrid cars are dangerous to blind people because they can’t hear the engine.

Paterson’s spokesman, Errol Cockfield, said, “The governor is sure that ‘Saturday Night Live,’ with all of its talent, can find a way to be funny without being offensive,” Cockfield said.

“Knowing the governor, he might even have some suggestions himself.”

An NBC spokesman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Okay, first I’ll admit it, I actually found the skit pretty darn funny. If that makes you hate me then I’d suggest not reading further because you’re not likely to enjoy what you’ll find.

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