On Point and the Silence of Disability

Yesterday, as I drove to the office, I listened briefly to On Point, on NPR. The conversation concerned the Immigration Law in Arizona. As I listened, a man with a speech challenge called in and noted that First Nations peoples in the United States are still dealing with immigration issues began over five hundred years ago. He struggle to find and pronounce words, but attempted to continue. I believe, from the few words he was allowed to speak before being cut off, that he was about to speak to the truth that most of us First Nations people have European ancestry, the legacy of generations of inter-marriage, the ultimate source of assimilation.

However, the gentleman never finished his second thought. Cutting him off, the host of the show simply asked her panelists another, unrelated question.

I found this episode disturbing for at least two reasons. First, the man had an obvious disability and deserved to be given time to finish his thoughts. Secondly, as the U.S. Government’s historic treatment of First Nations and Hispanic peoples lies at the very heart of the present immigration issue, one would think that these issues should be talked about.

Now I know that On Point is not about news, analysis, or profound thought. Rather it is, like most of the news programming we receive, about entertainment. I also know that the dark side of American History is not very palatable. Then there is the terrible waiting while someone with a speech challenge articulates his or her thoughts and concerns. This is definitely not good entertainment!

Anyway, all this reminded of of a post I read recently:

I don’t lie to myself very often. Or if I do, I am bloody good at it. Whenever I’ve made mistakes in the past, or whenever I’ve become disillusioned with projects or people or places, I have always understood why I thought the way I thought at the time. Even when I was wrong – even when I was foolish to see otherwise – my mistakes have made a kind of sense to me. Not that it’s always easy to forgive myself.

via Diary of a Goldfish.

Anyway, I’m feeling rather disillusioned with NPR. Perhaps our culture would be better served if NPR took more after “Diary,” maybe recognizing the self-deception in calling entertainment, “journalism”, then placing less focus on entertainment, and more on depth of analysis, and  providing real access to marginalized voices. Maybe, too, they could begin to notice when their behavior is discriminatory, and change it.

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2 thoughts on “On Point and the Silence of Disability

  1. Goldfish is the best don’t you think? She’s got it going on (you too :).
    That was just plain rude and I would expect better from NPR- call ’em up doggone it!
    That point about the first immigration results in this country is right on.

  2. Yes, I like Goldfish! By the way, I DID call my local station and discovered they, too, were appalled. Hopefully, they passed my rant on. I doubt On Point cared much; they got a listener to respond after all….

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