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I Fill This Small Space: Writings of a Deaf Activist

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The above-quoted letter was received after the November–December issue of The California Forum was put out, so it had no influence on my decision to leave out your second contribution. In fact, my reasons are stated on page 4 of the issue. The letter, however, had some bearing on the issuance of a smaller and stark January–February newsletter.

I have to agree that The California Forum has been slanted, and I think you well agree, too. Here, I must state, for your own information and, since I am printing this letter, for the information of the readers of The California Forum that the board members of the C.A.T.D.H.H. have always given me a completely free hand with the editing of the newsletter, so there is no problem of coercion from above. Rather, my problem appears to be lack of commitment from below. As of 25 January ’69 we have only 60 members of this Association: that’s less than the teaching force in some schools for the deaf!

If I may paraphrase: uneasy shakes the hand that holds the red pencil!

David A. Anthony

P.S. If you care to draft a reply to the above, perhaps I’ll print it, too.

* * *

Dear Mr. Anthony,
Your letter filled me with shock and dismay. It was not because of what the day school person had to say but because you allowed yourself to be intimidated by him. You promised to print at least four of my articles and requested that I send in as many more as I could but you announced the change of plans after the third issue came out without giving me a chance to appeal or to discuss the whole matter.

I think you should be filled in on a few facts: You were fully aware that my articles would be printed in The Deaf American and although you wanted to print them first this was not of paramount concern at that time. An examination of the first issue will show, anyway, that most of the items were reprints from other sources.

It would be naïve to assume that all good teachers subscribe to The Deaf American. Most of us would consider it astounding at least 1% of the whole teaching force in the area of the deaf in California were subscribers. Which brings me up to a crucial point: Few day school teachers have had the opportunity to read the writings of the adult deaf. Conversely, few of us have the opportunity to express our thoughts in published media that reach day school people. The Volta Review is highly biased.[3] My articles may be considered slanted or biased but the Forum itself is not. Anyone is free to write a rebuttal. My articles should stand or fall by the analytical writings, rebuttals or evaluations of other professionals. The reader should be given an opportunity to judge, weigh and sift. The deaf student, in the end, will benefit from such airing. After all, what does the word “forum” mean?

You state that the Association now has only 60 members. What is implied is that additional controversial articles would further reduce the number of members. What book or magazine has suffered from controversy? Can it be stated that controversial organizations do not flourish or that only those organizations whose members are in agreement with each other continue to exist? Do you honestly feel that you can hold or increase the ranks of the membership by not printing thought-provoking articles or by not permitting a spokesman to express the sentiments of a segment of the membership?

3. The magazine distributed by the Alexander Graham Bell Association, now called Volta Voices.
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