Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Glenn Beck: Did You Ever Really Lose Your Voice?

Although Glenn Beck has asked a very important question that I have never thought about. If today was the last day you had a voice, what would you say? I began to think about the question and I realized a few important things.

Glenn Beck relies on a narrow definition of the word "voice." He uses it as using your vocal chords to express your thoughts, feelings and ideas. And based on that, it can be a scary thing if you are not able to talk. It also might prompt people to begin to reconsider their words and the effect it has on other people and how they might choose their words more carefully.

Like Glenn Beck, I make a living communicating. I am an attorney. I use my words to defend clients in court or to help them resolve their legal problems. I write memorandums, briefs, letters and other documents for my clients. I understand how important words are and how powerful our voices can be.

I am also an individual with a profound hearing loss. Not only can I communicate by talking but I use my hands to speak. I learned American Sign Language (ASL) when I was in high school. I use ASL to speak with my Deaf clients or to talk with my friends.

Because of my hearing loss and my profession, You might not be able to speak, but you will never lose your voice. EVER. You might lose the ability to speak as a result of some medical condition. You might have your voice restricted, suppressed or silenced by a repressive government.  Someone could physically prevent you from speaking by putting duct tape over your mouth or throwing you in prison. 

How you feel, think and see the world can never be suppressed. The Soviet Government is a good example of this. No matter how much they tried to control people's speech, the good people found a way to make their voices heard. An underground movement known as Samizdat was formed in which people wrote letters, poems, articles and essays expressing their views. With all the might that the former USSR had, it  couldn't suppress speech. 

As a result, our 1st Amendment right can never be taken away. It will always be there. You might not be able to speak, but you will never lose your voice. The 1st Amendment takes a broad view of speech. It protects all forms of communication. But our voices doesn't have to be made by sound or put down on paper.  That's the cool thing about American Sign Language.  Your voice is also found in your hands, eyes, and body. That is what makes ASL beautiful and awesome.What is in your heart or in your mind can be expressed through your body. Even ASL is protected under the 1st Amendment. 

So Glenn, you might lose your ability to talk, but you will never lose your voice. I recommend that you learn American Sign Language. You are a passionate man with lots of things to say. However, I suggest you expand the way you use your voice to include American Sign Language. You will never see the world the same again and how you express yourself and your ideas will never be the same. 

I know you might not be able to talk, but you will always have your voice.

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