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Ignorant Society ?

Long time vibration specialist, Peter Fogarty tackles public exclusion & being invisible. Peters words are deft and specific, and never heard enough.

16 Jun 2003

I am invisible. Some corporations do not even see me as a public person. To them I am a non-entity even though I am their client and pay them forty dollars a month for services they absolutely refuse to provide for me.

Imagine being in a wheelchair before there were wheelchair ramps.

Imagine being blind and your local and national libraries don't believe in Braille books and tells you to borrow the same books as everyone else. Books imply the ability to see, so why should special books be available for people who can't see? There're audio books you can borrow for a small fee, after all.

Being invisible means that the things that everyone else takes for granted
as rightful entitlements, are withheld from you. You can't have it. Too bad.

Want to talk to your girlfriend at the other end of town? Tough luck. Want
to talk to your mother? Your father? Your dying grandmother in Christchurch?

We don't provide a charity, folks, it's not our problem that you don't have
the ability to access the public networks. You don't exist.

My house is burning down and I'm having an heart attack, and the arsonist is still on the premises; oh what a shame, we can't do anything for you, you go on and die, it doesn't matter to us.

One day I go to question time at Parliament, and even the Dalai Lama is there, but still, the opposition MPs childishly scream "where's the money?" and I sigh because these people still hold to their selfish fear of lack.

Spending forty dollars a month for access to emergency numbers, to unlimited local calling, and for internet access, it doesn't seem like much to ask that I be treated as a member of the public and have my difference accommodated and be allowed to access my rightful entitlement to be able to ring emergency services and unlimited local telephone calls, does it? Oh, I forgot, being Deaf means you aren't a member of the public.

Imagine the smartest person you know disappearing because no one can get a
hold of him and can't be bothered trying to visit him to see if he's home. What the hell, he's invisible, right, so who gives a damn?

Try to get a taxi when it's raining and you live alone in an isolated place.
Impossible, isn't it?

Imagine running a business when every phone call you need to make can't be made, so you need to drive everywhere instead of calling.

Try to get answers from people when they ignore your emails, bin your letters, but answer every phone call to be put on the spot.

Imagine being so impoverished because of a diminished quality of life and being so unsurprised when Vodafone says text messaging has replaced the telephone. Excuse me, but it costs twenty cents per message, and a telephone call replaces a whole text message conversation of six or so messages, for free.

The silencing of my anger is making me sick, this is why I am venting my spleen. I hope to become well.

Other people grow up and learn through listening and watching their families, their friends, listening to the radio, watching television and reading books. We have only our families and friends and the rare television programme that doesn't dumb its subtitles down for us. We are kept in the darkness of your fears.

When the public stop me applying for jobs because the only way to apply is to call them, what do I need to do?

I'm not a member of the public. I'm someone impersonal who needs to be fixed, when I know deep down that I am sovereign unto myself. I chose my deafness and it is a sad indictment of an openly racist, openly ablist, and hopelessly ignorant society of mostly middle-class white people who fearfully keep to their complicit silences and slavish compliance to take and keep everything for their own, and to try to make everyone who is different, to be just like them.

I'm facing my fears. My fear is not that you oppress me, but that you will not allow me to express my differences, that you will not celebrate the glittering facet of humanity that I represent. My fear is that you don't know what Love means anymore, and that your selfishness will deny me my life.

This isn't science fiction. Welcome to the life Telecom New Zealand provides for me. In saying these things, I reject your conditions and demand that justice be served with love, always Love.

Peter Fogarty