Communication breakdown • Nick Nunn, Nunn-Sense
Burlington, N.C. is a long way from Shinar, the reported location where the Tower of Babel was begun, but that remoteness hasn’t kept the confusions caused by the great project from affecting the lives of citizens.
Terrance Ervin Daniels, a deaf resident of Burlington, was using sign language to communicate with another deaf man in public when Robert Jarell Neal, 22, stabbed Daniels several times with a kitchen knife.
Why? Because Neal thought that Daniels was flashing gang signs on the street.
Yeah, because North Carolina has a huge gang scene comprised of 45-year-old men.
What level of ignorance has a culture sunk to when citizens, who we can assume was subjected to at least 10 years of public education, don’t even know what sign language is well enough to be able to differentiate it from gang signs?
None of Burlington’s 25 public schools were able to impart to Neal that there is a language that the hearing impaired use to communicate, which involves creating signs with their hands.
I propose that Burlington should amend its existing motto, “I’ll Tell the World,” to include the phrase, “...as Long as it Isn’t in Sign Language.”
Burlington’s daily newspaper, The Times-News, reports that Daniels is, luckily, in stable condition at the UNC Hospitals at Chapel Hill.
Isn’t it sad that the deaf don’t only have to overcome the challenges that face them because of their handicap, but, these days, they also have to watch their backs while using their language or else they might be the victim of a drive-by?
Printed in the January 17, 2013 edition.