An Examination of Karen Kimmel's Law Suit

May 2, 2007 Dr. Karen Kimmel filed a lawsuit against Gallaudet University

To see the full lawsuit go to: http://blog.deafread.com/mishkazena/2007/06/06/kimmel-lawsuit-not-deaf-enough)

Below is an examination of some of the claims and statements in this suit.

I apologize for the capitalization of my comments – I don’t mean to be screaming even if I do feel very emotional when reading the lawsuit – i am capitalizing to help distinguish my commentary from the lawsuit excerpts.

I also want to state that I care very much for Dr. Kimmel – I used to work with her while she was teaching English at NTID/RIT. I consider her a friend. I was shocked and dismayed when I read the lawsuit via Miskha Zena’s website and then tried to push it out of my mind as I felt helpless and hurt.

I know that Gallaudet quickly filed a petition for dismissal of the lawsuit (see Miskha Zena’s site) but i do not know of the outcome. If the court did in fact dismiss the case, if it went to court, if Gallaudet settled out of court????

Maybe someone can post the outcome of this lawsuit.

Regardless of the outcome, the statements made in the lawsuit are very upsetting and disheartening to me. I feel like ASL and Deaf culture and Deaf people in general are being defamed via very powerful mechanicism – the media and the legal system. When I learned of Dr. Kimmel’s return to teach at Gallaudet U. I was totally baffled given the statements below.

This is why I post this – to counter-balance the statements and to put our dissent on the record.

I do not do so to stir up trouble or to encourage people to treat Dr. Kimmel disrespectfully. I do so in the quest for us to be informed citizens that we may seek truth and justice peacefully.

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Excerpts from the lawsuit

9. Capitalizing the word deaf (Deaf) signifies a culture rather than the physical condition of hearing loss. Currently, ideas of what constitutes Deaf Culture concern a specific and, some would say, narrow view of what is deemed acceptable. The argument is that any deaf person can become Deaf by embracing certain ideas and practices which themselves create exculsio, hierarchy and discrimination. For example, Deaf culture supports use only of ASL, which is used primarily by white, Deaf middle-class people. Deaf Culture also rejects the notion of deafness as a disability and embraces the idea of Deaf peop;le as an oppressed minority. Deaf Culture values only native ASL signers, particularly Deaf offspring of Deaf parents, as the elite members of this culture, and many Deaf individuals therefore socialize primarily, or even exclusively, only with others who share these culturally biased and discriminatory views. While the view that an individual can be “not Deaf enough” is a large part of the opposition that exists at Gallaudet University, this is only part of the Deaf Cultural view and tribal nature that contribute to an unpleasant workplace. Those who are members of this group do not accept or fully recognize the authority of an abstract, hierarchial institution that is a typical university. Thus, difficult decisions are always seen as unfair and people feel entitled to criticize and take revenge for any perceived slight or disappointment. This aspect for Gallaudet’s culture has its roots in the social structure of Deaf Culture’s tribal, personal relations, where people pay dues by demonstrating allegiance to Deaf Culture values.

FACT #1:
NOTHING IN THE ABOVE DEFINITION OF DEAF CULTURE IS ACADEMICALLY SOUND. NUMEROUS SCHOLARS HAVE PUBLISHED BOOKS AND JOURNAL ARTICLES ON DEAF CULTURE AND NONE OF THEM HAVE SAID THAT DEAF CULTURE IS:
A “NARROW VIEW” THAT “PROMOTES EXCLUSION, HIEARCHY, AND DISCRIMINATION” (SEE LANE, HOFFEMEISTER, BAHAN, PADDEN, HUMPHRIES, BAUMAN, BAYNTON, VAN CLEVE, CROUCH, LADD, ETC)

FACT #2:
THE LAWSUIT ALSO DESCRIBES ASL TO BE A LANGUAGE OF WHITE, MIDDLE CLASS DEAF PEOPLE. WHOA, WHAT LANGUAGE DO AFRICAN AMERICANS, NATIVE AMERICAN, JEWISH AMERICAN, ASIAN AMERICAN DEAF FOLKS USE???? WHILE I REALIZE THERE ARE ETHNIC VARIATIONS OF ASL – IF U READ THE LAWSUIT IN FULL , IT SEEMS TO BE CLAIMING THAT LOWER INCOME, AFRICAN-AMERICANS ARE ORAL AND NON-ASL USERS.

IF JK FERNANDES, IK JORDAN AND KAREN KIMMEL ARE ALL DEAF, AND EACH WHITE, AND EACH MIDDLE CLASS IF NOT UPPER CLASS, DO THEY THEMSELVES NOT FIT INTO THIS STEREOTYPE THE LAWSUIT IS TRYING TO PROPOGATE – EXCLUSIONARY ASL USERS?

FACT #3:
IT STATES THE DEAF ELITE (DEAF OF DEAF FAMILY WITH STRONG ASL) – SOCIALIZE EXCLUSIVELY WITH THEIR OWN KIND ONLY???? SO IF THEY HAVE HEARING CHILDREN, A SIBLING, A HEARING TEACHER, A HEARING COWORKER, A HEARING NEIGHBOR, A DOG THAT CAN HEAR – THEY WILL N-O-T SOCIALIZE WITH THEM????? WHAT???

FACT #4:
DID THIS LAWSUIT USE THE TERM “NOT DEAF ENOUGH” AND “TRIBAL NATURE” ???

OH, GOSH! NOT AGAIN!

DOES THIS LAWSUIT SMACK OF RACISM / AUDISM???

WHY DON’T THEY COME RIGHT OUT AND CALL DEAF ASL USERS – SAVAGES?

FACT #5:
YUCK!!!
ISN’T THERE A GLARING CONTRADICTION IN LOGIC HERE???
ISN’T THIS LAWSUIT AS A RESULT OF THE PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AND DEMOTION OF DUTIES BY KIMMEL – EVIDENCE OF HER FEELING “ENTITLED TO CRITICIZE AND TAKE REVENGE FOR ANY PERCEIVED SLIGHT OR DISAPPOINTMENT. “

12. At various times in the recent past, Dr. Kimmel engaged in protected activity by voicing concerns and complaints over the discriminatory and unfair treatment of deaf/Deaf Culture, African—American and other minority, and “at risk” students and colleagues. As a result of these concerns and complaints, Dr. Kimmel has been the victim of illegal retaliatory actions by Gallaudet and its employees and agents. These illegal retaliatory actions have made Dr. Kimmel’s workplace situation unbearable and have damaged her reputation and future in academia.

FACT #6: CONTRADICTION – WORK PLACE IS UNBEARABLE AND HAS CAUSED HER EMOTIONAL DISTRESS – YET SHE WILL BE RETURNING TO THE CLASSROOM AT THE UNIVERSITY SHE IS DEMONIZING IN HER LAWSUIT???

15. … enough” and/or who supported Dr. Fernandes and her views of diversity and tolerance. Over time, these actions were intended to have the effect, and have in fact had the effect, of purging from Gallaudet anyone who has questioned the close-mindedness of Deaf Culture and who has suggested that Gallaudet be a place of diversity and tolerance. Dr. Kimmel has been one of the many targest of this purge. It is clear that the actions of Gallaudet employees and agents since the protests have been designed to harass Dr. Kimmel to the pint that she will leave the University, and to retaliate against her for her statutorily protected suppot of others.

FACT #7: THE ABOVE IS FROM CLAIM # 15
GALLAUDET IS “CLOSE-MINDED AND OPPOSED TO DIVERSITY AND TOLERANCE??? – ARE NOT KAREN KIMMEL, DR. JORDAN, AND DR FERNANDES ENGAGING IN THEIR OWN FORM OF INTOLERANCE AND LACK OF RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY BY CONTINUALLY MISINFORMING THE PUBLIC ABOUT WHAT DEAF CULTURE AND ASL REALLY ARE?
WHO REALLY IS DEMONSTRATING ACTIVE PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION HERE???

41. Plaintiff has a physical disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as well as a record of her impairment. Namely, Plaintiff suffers from degenerative and hereditary hearing loss that substantially limits the major life activity of hearing.

FACT #8: DR. KIMMEL’S HEARING LOSS SUBSTANTIALLY LIMIST ONE OR MORE MAJOR LIFE ACTIVITIES. WHOA MAJOR LIFE A-C-T-I-V-I-T-Y IS SERVERLY LIMITED BY HER HEARING LOSS??? CAN SHE NOT USE THE TELEPHONE??? CAN SHE NOT ENGAGE IN FACE TO FACE MEETINGS WITHOUT THE USE OF AN INTERPRETER???

WHY DOESN’T THE LAWSUIT IDENTIFY THE DEGREE OF HER HEARING LOSS (DB LOSS OR CATEGORIZATION – MILD TO MODERATE ETC)

THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITY ACT HAS THIS “SUBSTANTIALLY LIMITS ONE OR MORE LIFE ACTIVITIES” AS PART OF THEIR DEFINITION OF DISABILITY TO PREVENT FOLKS FROM TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE LAW WHEN THEY REALLY DON’T EXPERIENCE SIGNIFICANT HARDSHIP. FOR EXAMPLE FOLKS WHO HAVE COLOR BLINDNESS OR NEED GLASSES ARE NOT COVERED BY ADA AS THE DEGREE, TYPE OR ASSISTIVE DEVICES MEDIATE THE DISABILITY.

DOES KIMMEL USE HEARING AIDS AND IF SO HOW MUCH DO THEY RECTIFY THE HEARING LOSS?

EITHER SHE IS A REALLY GOOD ACTRESS OR HER LOSS IS NOT THAT SUBSTANTIAL GIVEN THE FACT THAT MOST OF THE DEAF, HARD OF HEARING AND HEARING PEOPLE WHO WORKED WITH HER FOR YEARS HAD NO EVIDENCE OR KNOWLEDGE OF HER LOSS. (FYI WORK IS CONSIDERED A MAJOR LIFE ACTIVITY)

50. Gallaudet’s actions directed at Plaintiff have been etreme and outrageous, and included intentionally and/or recklessly spreading false and defamatory information concerning Plaintiff to Washington Post, a national publication, and the NCAA. These extreme and outrageous actions by Gallaudet employees and agents resulted in severe emotional distress to the Plaintiff, in violation of District of Columbia law.

FACT # 9: IF KIMMEL IS SO UPSET WITH THE ARTCILE IN THE WASHINGTON POST – SHOULDN’T SHE BE SUING THEM!

FACT #10: IF SHE HAS SUFFERED SO SIGNIFICANTLY EMOTIONALLY FROM HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH GALLAUDET, WHY IS SHE RETURNING TO WORK THERE?

Prayer for Relief

Wherefore, Plaintiff prays that this Court:

a. award Plaintiff compensatory damages in an amount not less than three million dollars ($3,000,000);
b. award Plaintiff punitive damages in an amount not less than nine million dollars ($9,000,000) or any other such amount the jury deems proper;
c. award Plaintiff her costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in this action; and
d. grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

Dated: May 2, 2007

FACT #11: PRAYER FOR RELIEF???

COMPENSATORY DAMAGES OF NO LESS THAN THREE MILLION ($3,000,000) DOLLARS SEEMS A LOT MORE THEN JUST RELIEF!

PUNITIVE DAMAGES FOR THE AMOUNT OF NO LESS THAN NINE MILLION ($9,000,000) DOLLARS?

OH AND COVER THE ATTORNEY FEE PLEASE

WOW! PEOPLE HAVE HAD LOVED ONES KILLED, HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO HORRIBLE CHEMICALS THAT HAVE CAUSED THEM DEADLY DISEASES, AND MUCH MUCH WORSE AND THEY DON’T MAKE SUCH OUTRAGEOUS REQUESTS FOR AWARDS OF THIS AMOUNT

HMMMMM …. I CAN SEE WHY SHE WANT TO RETURN TO GALLAUDET NOW.

NOTE: IF THERE IS ANY TRUTH IS HER STATEMENTS ABOUT RECEIVING HOSTILE COMMENTS AND FALSE REPORTS ON HER CONDUCT BY COLLEAGUES – IT SADDENS ME GREATLY. I DO NOT SUPPORT ANY FORM OF INJUSTICE ON ANY SIDE. IF SHE EXPERIENCED DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF HER SUPPORT OF DR. FERNANDES THEN THAT SHOULD BE PROVEN AND SHE SHOULD BE COMPENSATED. HOWEVER, THE COMPLETE MISREPRESENTATION AND THE OUTLANDISH GRABBING AT STRAWS IN THIS LAWSUIT LEAD ME TO CONCLUDE THAT SHE HAD VERY LITTLE GROUNDS FOR WHICH TO FILE A SUIT – OTHERWISE WE WOULD SEE MORE F-A-C-T-S AND SUBSTANCE TO HER CLAIM.

WHEN I FIRST READ THIS CLAIM IN MISHKA ZENA’S BLOG (THANK U MISHKA FOR UR UNCOVERING AND EXPOSING THIS) – I CRIED.

I REALLY TRULY CRIED – I HATE TO SEE DEAF CULTURE AND ASL DEFAMED LIKE THIS. I FEEL LIKE THIS IS A NEO-AUDIST MOVEMENT AND IT IS BEING LEAD BY PEOPLE WHO THEMSELVES ARE DEAF. IT BROKE MY HEART TO READ IT. I KNOW KAREN KIMMEL PERSONALLY. I TAUGHT WITH HER AT NTID/RIT.

I CAN NOT IMAGINE HOW SHE WOULD CONDONE, SUPPORT, AND PUT FORTH THIS LAWSUIT WHICH IS RIDDLED WITH SIMPLE LIES AND COMPLEX TRUTHS AND TONS OF CONTRADICTIONS.

I TOO HAVE A PRAYER FOR RELIEF

MY PRAYER BEINGS “G-D PLEASE GRANT ME THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS I CAN NOT CHANGE, COURGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN, AND W-I-S-D-O-M TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE”

PEACE

P

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carl Schroeder
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 08:34:09

    We the Deaf want to fight with ASL. We would fight by money, but we don’t have any. We don’t want to do that, even if they are not good people. They don’t need to think that ASL and Deaf people are to be easily marginalized by the English language. They need to learn how to become Deaf (with the uppercase D, yes!)

  2. anna s
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 09:36:52

    Scary, yes, but we shall not be insulted by one of the three Ks *

    She is suing Gallaudet? Gallaudet shouldnt be burdened by the suit. It was the Deaf community all over the world who bulldozed her off for obious reasons.

    Give thanks to the American justice system. Counter sue Kimmel for wasting Gallaudet’s precious time and money for the betterment of the d/Deaf people.

    Gallaudet, you have our SUPPORT. Do NOT settle out of court! fight to the end.

    *(anna – i have taken the liberty of changing ur original KKK to the three Ks as I dont support us using that abbreviation which belongs to a cross burning, lynching, terrorist group – p.durr – i tried to email u to ask permission but it wouldn’t go through. If you object to the change, then I will remove your post as I cant ethically publish it if referencing them that way. Thank you for posting and passion peace, p

  3. Dianrez
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 10:32:41

    The problem with Gallaudet is not the “deafist” argument of “not Deaf enough”; nor discrimination based on a number of “protected activities”.

    It is PATERNALISM. This institutional attitude of knowing better than its faculty or students how to handle life decisions, make educational choices and choose political alternatives has existed since its beginnings and today stands as an anachronism deserving of change.

    Dr. Kimmel, like so many Gallaudet people both deaf and hearing, were caught up in this institutional paternalism and had developed a comfortable position based on that. So had Dr. Fernandes and IKJ.

    That broke when the dinosaurs of paternalism and old-boys-networks selected JKF to carry on this tradition.

    Suddenly old resentments against paternalism erupted in recognition of the unfairness of the system.

    The old boys network had to go because it had prevented selection of more qualified Deaf people. Those who were in support of the old boys network were caught, as Kimmel was, in the demand for social justice.

    Institution people were crying “its because we were not Deaf enough: we were discriminated against by strong Deaf culturists.” This was a red herring confusing people and covering up the old boys network.

    The truth is that Gallaudet was not effective enough in self-examination and bringing together people in reasoned discussions promoting change. Had it developed this in the past, including student and faculty governance in a drive for democratic educational administration, the protest would not have occurred.

    All the people involved had made decisions that were helpful and intended to give chances to selected students deserving of it.

    However, all these people were also concerned for their jobs and their comfort, and had the desire to maintain Gallaudet’s paternalistic structure that had been good to them in the past.

    Kimmel got cut out of her comfort situation and is understandably upset about it. Even though, a millions of dollars lawsuit like this is frivolous, damaging and embarrassing.

  4. ella
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 10:35:53

    excellent analysis! thank you for summarizing this lawsuit (and adding your great commentaries) for me.
    Most importantly, thank you for standing up for ASL and Deaf Culture and objecting to the constant defamation (spelling?). I agree wtih your term “neo-audism”. That warrants close scrunity among people at Gallaudet…and a most important thing to aim to rid of from the Gallaudet system as well as elsewhere.

  5. anna s
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 14:00:41

    Pdurr,
    Gosh, thanks for the edit! But later I thought the three K’s are as bad as the white supremacists. But thanks still!

  6. RLM
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 12:16:56

    Where is the rest of court document Dr. Kimmel filed?

    RLM

  7. pdurr
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 13:52:19

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