Folks, as a CODA, a husband of a Deaf woman, an interpreter and a colleague of Mr. LoParo, I can tell you Bob is neither a traitor nor a supporter of AGB. He was there to provide communication access - period. Think about it. If he wasn't there, how would you know what they were really saying? If you depended on his work to know what was being said, then you know he wasn't the message, he was only the messenger. Don't shoot the messenger. Many of us interpret in situations we don't really like. Just because an interpreter takes a job it doesn't mean we support any particular side. In fact, if we did, we shouldn't take the job. I'm sure Bob knew that taking the job would be difficult. I'm also sure he felt that the Deaf people who were there to protest had a right to know what was being said and that's probably why he took the job.Jen P. interjects:
I am stunned by this witch hunt. I hope you all realize what you are saying when you say you expect interpreters to serve only those with whom they agree. Be very careful what you wish for. We live and act in a political world. We interpret in a neutral one.Rick P. continues on his with his explanation shedding a bit more light on the misplaced mock outrage.
The reality in this situation is that Mr. LoParo was not paid directly by AGBell. He worked for an interpreting agency that was providing interpreters at the request of the conference. It seems like interpreters are in a no-win situation with this. We see what has happened with Mr. LoParo in this posting. I'm curious what would have happened if no interpreters accepted the job. Would we then be accused of being audist and on AGBell's "side" because there was a lack of communication access? Would we then be accused of intentionally keeping the Deaf community "in the dark"? Personally, I encourage our communities to have a discussion about the situation. I would also warn that some people on this thread are getting close to the legal definition of slander. I would also warn that we are "dividing and conquering" ourselves which plays right into the hands of the oppressor.And that has been the biggest problem among culturally deaf rabid adherents when it comes to their own "dividing and conquering" within their own culturally deaf community.
Deborah M. makes a salient point on communication access and knowing what's going on at the convention.
I'm just saying that there could be situations where having an interpreter there at AGBell could be good for the Deaf community.Rather than to attack interpreters for accepting an interpreting job at AG Bell, use them for the benefit of learning and meeting people in the effort to learn from each other the people at the symposium. Rick Pope made an observation about the AFA who was there.
Reading Ms. Jordan's account of the situation at the Omni hotel, it becomes clear that the AFA leader herself was using an interpreter for communication access that ensured her First Amendment rights. She clearly redirected people who were inappropriately trying to interpret.Jen P. offered her perspective as an interpreter who attended a previous AG Bell conference.
"Ruthie made it clear that there were ASL certified and qualified interpreters at the rally and at no point should the security or police utilize AG Bell staff members as interpreters."So, I have to wonder why an interpreter is catching hell from AFA supporters when the interpreter was requested by the AFA leadership. As for the comments about Mr. LoParo's "stone face", he was interpreting in a situation that could have or did involve law enforcement. If Mr. LoParo had greeted people with hugs and other behaviors that are common in the Deaf world, it could have given the impression that he was not impartial. This could have given the AGBers reason to remove him from the situation (I've seen it happen) thus negatively affecting communication access for the ASL-using protestors. Even by the AFA accounts on the website, Mr. LoParo behaved professionally and ensured the AFA leadership had meaningful access to their Constitutional rights. Why, then, is he being excoriated without any comment from the very consumers of his services?
I worked at the AGB Conference in Milwaukee in 2008, as an ASL interpreter and as an oral interpreter. I shall not discuss assignment specifics due to confidentiality. I am, however, compelled to say that AG Bell conferences are gathering places for a diverse assemblage of people, many of whom are deaf and, through no fault of their own, grew up deprived of access to a natural, visual language. Every last one of these individuals has the right to attend this or any other event, the right to discuss educational, social, linguistic and medical concerns with others who also face the same issues. They have the right to access language and information and the right to the interpreting or captioning services of their choosing. All of the attendees had an opportunity during the conference to either use or to see ASL interpreters at work. I am proud of the service I provided for these deaf individuals. I did not make the decision to work at this conference lightly or easily or without a lot of reflective and deliberate thought. Nobody has the right or authority to tell me which deaf people are (or ARE NOT) worthy of interpreting services, or in which contexts they may be served. The interpreters at these conferences are not conspirators with the enemy. They are not oralists or audists. They are performing the same professional, confidential and impartial services they provide to anyone else in the deaf/Deaf communities. You want to find out what happens if interpreters stop interpreting AG Bell conferences? It’s an interesting thought-experiment, but why stop there? Should VRS interpreters disconnect a call every time someone makes a comment in a phone conversation that is oppressive, hateful, rude, illegal, or distasteful? Do deaf people not have the human right to make their own mistakes, to deceive and be deceived, to have views that lie outside the mainstream? Should hearing interpreters decide who has the right to services based on a person’s religion, race, sexual orientation, political views, affiliations and memberships? Be careful of what you wish for. And please cease and desist with this intolerable and defamatory witch hunt. All of your energies are much better spent against your enemies than against your allies.She further re-iterates the danger of blacklisting and choosing for the interpreters based on an ideological condition.
Patti, if one truly believes that the conference attendees have the right to equal access, it follows (for me) that as a professional, if I am qualified for the work and able to execute my duties with impartiality, then I need not recuse myself. I am not supporting an organization or an "ism". I am serving people. Actual people, not abstract stereotypes or cultural villains. The thinking on this thread has been very black and white. This setting is approved for interpreters, this setting is bad. This interpreter is good. This one is blacklisted. It is this kind of black and white thinking that rules the AG Bell roost. Signing is bad and talking is good. Activism can be polluted by extremism. I am not an AG Bell supporter. I support open communication between deaf and hearing people. I will not be intimidated by extremist thinking into believing that somebody else should do the work that I believe should be done and done well. It's not a great analogy, but some lawyers defend criminals because they believe in citizens rights to a fair defense. I believe in communication access. My conscience is clear.The latest FB discussion is an interesting read on how extremism can get out of control. It's also an example of a slippery slope in action in the attempt to try and control interpreters on who they should or should not interpret for purely on ideological and selfish motives. And at the same time fall prey to their own paranoia. A move that would guarantee shooting oneself in the foot each and every time.