THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE

DISABLING THE DEAF COMMUNITY

Lane (Psychology/Northeastern) follows up When the Mind Hears- -his 1984 history of the deaf—with an excoriating analysis of the oppression of the deaf in contemporary society. Hearing people, Lane says, view deafness as a disability—but the deaf see themselves as a linguistic minority, feel that they have a richer social life than hearing people, marry each other, and celebrate the birth of a deaf child as a precious gift. After developing these preconception-shattering revelations, Lane reveals the meshes of paternalistic control exercised by ``audism''—that institution of school administrators, speech therapists, psychologists, and social workers that authorizes views of the deaf, governs where they go to school, and exercises authority over their community. Despite research showing that American Sign Language is a natural language with its own vocabulary, grammar, and art forms, professionals persist in viewing it as disabled English and refuse to learn it. The consequences for the deaf are dire: IQ scores can be lowered 30 points by examiners resorting to ad hoc pantomime for test instruction; psychologists administer tests designed for the hearing and misdiagnose deaf children as learning-disabled; deaf youth are ``mainstreamed'' out of special schools to languish in a hearing, English-speaking environment. The audist establishment, Lane says, has promulgated calling deaf children ``hearing-impaired''—the equivalent, he adds, of calling women ``non-men'' or gays ``sexually impaired.'' And economic self- interest motivates the audist establishment, Lane argues. The hearing-aid industry, for example, annually sells $250 million dollars' worth of hearing aids to deaf children, whose teachers require them. Yet virtually all of these children went deaf before learning English, making the hearing aids useless. What is to be done to empower the deaf? Allow them their language, Lane says, and their history and their dignity. Essential for anyone with a deaf person in his or her life, or for anyone who wishes truly to understand two million deaf fellow Americans.

Pub Date: May 26, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-40462-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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