July 22nd, 2007

Bruce, Caroline

Offensive Comparisons

Since the issue I am about to discuss is very much public knowledge, and the petition in question publicly announced, I feel I can comment on it. The last time I posted one of these, a few people "exposed" me, as though I had made any attempt to keep my opinions secret. If I were trying to be secretive or anonymous by posting publicly under my real name in a blog that gets mentioned in the signature of most of my e-mails, I'm certainly doing a lousy job.

There is an online petition on the Web now requesting that Yahoo change their policy with regard to the requirement that people enter the characters shown in a little graphic before signing up. I agree that this needs to be changed, as it prevents blind people from autonomously performing this step. However, I think online petitions are utterly, totally and hopelessly useless. However, there's nothing to stop the owner of the petition from doing this, if it makes them happy. It may be useless, but there's no harm being done.

However, where I do more strongly take issue is with a comparison made by one of the petition's strongest backers, someone whom I had originally eroneously assumed to be the petition's owner. He equates lack of accomodation for the blind with the segregation of African-Americans in the sixties. I find this highly offensive, and belittling. I am not African-American, but I do know that the inconvenience we face as blind people and the temporary lack of productivity that goes with it is as nothing compared to the outright discrimination these people had to face, with the murder, rape, dehumanization, and all other manner of attrocities that went with that.

Making comparisons such as this is a great way to grab someone's attention. But the comparison is unjust and baseless, in my personal opinion. If I were an African-American, I would be very angry. To me, it is just a painful reminder that racism in our society is still alive and well, along with the ignorance that goes with it. I can only surmise that anyone capable of showing such insensitivity must be ignorant of the true horrors faced by a group of people whose only "crime" is having a certain skin color. The comparison is, in my view, shameful.
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Bruce, Caroline


Very shortly after I wrote my previous entry, the one in which I offered my opinion on a certain blogger's comparing the inconvenience of blind people trying to access Yahoo to the horrible plight of African-Americans, the blogger in question added an entry in which he stated he would no longer use that comparison. I am very glad that he has made this decision. I won't be so bold as to even suggest I had anything to do with it, I'm just glad he will no longer be using that particular comparison.