It can be pretty rough being Deaf. Your disability is pretty much invisible unless people look for a hearing aid or catch you using sign language. Being Deaf often includes having to deal with stupid people and purposeful misunderstandings. A recent example is what happened in Miami.
Two deaf men were stabbed in a Hallandale Beach bar Saturday night when another patron mistook their sign language for gang signs.
31-year-old Alfred Stewart, who is deaf and mute, and three others including a bouncer are recovering in hospital from non-fatal wounds suffered at the Ocean’s Eleven Sports Lounge and Grill on Federal Highway, where Stewart and his friends were celebrating a birthday.
Police say Barbara Lee became angry when she thought Stewart’s party, all of whom are deaf, were throwing gang signs at her. The 45-year-old confronted Stewart and his friends and made gang signs to them. Witnesses say they motioned for the “aggressive” woman to leave them alone.
Instead, Lee left and then shortly returned to the bar with a juvenile and 19-year-old Marco Ibanez, who is accused of pulling out a knife and stabbing the men.
The rumble in Miami proves many stupidities — the most harsh one is that there are bored people in the world who are actively looking to make trouble and to cause havoc and make a scene. How do you deal with those attention getters who crave non-directed slights so they can respond in an inappropriate and unmetered manner?
I am reminded of stories my Deaf friends have told me about living in Los Angeles. You drive everywhere in California and if it’s nighttime, and if you’re Deaf, you turn on the overhead map light in the car so you can see each other and continue to have a conversation in American Sign Language in the dark. Unfortunately, there are idiots in Los Angeles who see that “lighted signing” as an intention act to “throw down gang signs” and harassment ensues and sometimes even gunshots are fired.
It’s crazy. These Deaf people aren’t looking for trouble or confronting anyone with gang signs. They are merely having a conversation in their native language and, because someone chooses to be insulted, danger is ignited and lives are put in jeopardy. If someone is insulting you, their intention is usually undeniably clear. If someone isn’t looking at you, or talking to you, don’t get involved. Leave them alone! Don’t look for trouble when there isn’t any being offered.