Newsweek‘s “My Turn” section has a touching column by a woman whose hearing-impaired two-year-old son has made tremendous strides in hearing and communication after receiving a cochlear implant. The article does not mention that there has been strong political opposition to cochlear implants from “Deaf” activists. The capital letter denotes the fact that they see their deafness as a cultural identity, not just a disability — in fact, they insist that they don’t see it as a disability at all, and hence oppose all efforts to cure or “fix” it. Tragically, there are deaf children who have been denied an opportunity to hear by their own fanatical “Deaf” parents.
“Deaf pride” is a grotesque perversion of the disability rights movement (sometimes pushed by hearing people, such as Northeastern University psychologist Harlan Lane); and, insofar as it seeks to keep people — including children who have no choice in the matter — disabled, I think that “evil” is not too strong a word. Two columns I wrote in 2002 about this reductio ad absurdum of identity politics can be found here and here.