9. Bullying, Hate Speech, Defamation
Malicious gossip, shading into slander, can be an immensely destructive force in any community, as many Deaf achievers, subjects and targets of personal attacks, have found out to their dismay. The spreading of false rumors, character assassination, and the cowardly dissemination of anonymous flaming E-mails and messages spread through social media—a number of us have experienced the pain and humiliation of being targets of these attacks—attacks that are impossible to combat.
Bullying is toxic. It can poison lives, and even destroy them. It is well-known that teenagers subjected to bullying in school are much more likely to commit suicide. A tragic and constantly-growing number of them have done just that. A very few have survived suicide attempts.
As for Deaf teens, they too are vulnerable. In August 2012, 16-year-old Darren Power of Dublin, Ireland, who attended the St. Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys in Cabra, committed suicide. His closest friends believed that he had been bullied to death, a target of years of verbal abuse, including cruel online messages.
Often, suicides as a result of bullying have gone suppressed, unpublicized, the true cause kept quiet.
We the Deaf People does not condone or tolerate expressions of hatred—be they inflammatory posts, E-mails, messages posted on blogs or social media, cartoons, posters, placards, etc. We have zero tolerance for this.
Our response to organizations and persons—auditory-oral-advocates, AGBell members and allies, lawmakers, teachers, parents, whoever they may be—who display audistic ignorance, disrespect for Deaf achievers, and contempt for the Deaf community, who disparage ASL, is not to respond in an equally hateful way, by spewing insults, character smears, or invective, but to challenge them with the facts.
We reject hate speech as a means of expression. We believe that we can accomplish our objectives without stooping to crude insults and character smears. We have ZERO tolerance for any manifestations of hate speech, bullying, malicious gossip, negative rumors, libelous posts, character assassination.