Law & Order Criminal Intent: Silencer

I am a BIG Vincent D’Onofrio fan! As such, I watch Law & Order Criminal Intent regularly. The recent episode entitled “Silencer” was of particular interest to me.

As many who know me are aware, one of my best friends is a Deaf woman. She has assisted me in my sign language studies and helped me to learn more about the Deaf community and Deaf culture over the last several years.

I’ve read various blogs and commentary from the Deaf community about this episode, and though I discussed my thoughts with my above mentioned friend, I did not comment on any of the blogs written just after the original airing on NBC. The other night, I watched the re-airing on USA network, so now it’s on my mind again, and I would like to share my “hearing person’s point of view”.

While I do agree with some of the negative commentary I’ve seen, as far as some things in the episode being exaggerated or not portrayed very true to life. I would say we have to take some of these things with a grain of salt. As the disclaimer at the beginning of the show reminds viewers, the story is fictional and no actual person or event is portrayed. Anyone watching the show and thinking everything in it was absolutely true to life are probably the same type of people who would watch “Charmed” and think that all Witches have white-lighters and can orb.

I do, however, want to address a couple of the issues that were brought up on the negative side.

I saw some commentary that indicated a concern of hearing people thinking that the Deaf community will basically protest everything. To this I say, people in general will always find something to protest.

There’s always some protest launched over one issue or another – that’s certainly not exclusive to the Deaf community. In my home state during the last Christmas season, there was a group protesting shopping malls for using the term “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” IMHO, some protests are about issues that do need to be addressed such as many of the Deaf Community’s issues…others are just plain silly nit-picking about things that don’t seem so important to be bickering about given that there are bigger issues in our world needing resolution.

I also saw some comments from individuals who thought the plot of this episode was totally far fetched. Was it???

Quite obviously, there are a lot of strong opinions within the Deaf community about cochlear implants. Most of us can have strong opinions about an issue and express them without violence, but as we’ve seen in history, there are extremists in every group, so who knows? What about the extremist pro-lifers (anti-choice) who have attacked and even killed doctors who perform abortions? And also, as I stated to my friend, people have killed for a lot less.

In this particular story, Tommy’s reason for killing the doctor was not because he was a cochlear implant surgeon. It was because he was the surgeon who was going to perform the implant surgery on Tommy’s girlfriend. As the story unfolded, we found out that Tommy, though not a supporter of cochlear implants, was more fearful of losing his love to the hearing world. We found out Tommy’s hearing sister had abandoned him earlier in his life. Fear, betrayal, and love, have been motives for murder on many occasions.

And let’s remember, this is a crime show, there has to be some negative issues and conflict brought up, or there would be no story.

This aside, I found that a lot of positive, and more accurate messages were included in the show as well, which may actually help to bring better understanding to hearing individuals. Such as…

* The officer saying to Detective Eames, “Your partner signs?” Detective Eames responded, “Not enough for a witness interview, we called for an interpreter.” AH! Knowing some basic sign language does NOT make an individual qualified to serve as an interpreter.

* When the detectives were explaining cochlear implants to their captain, Detective Eames stated that it is a major surgery that requires intensive follow-up therapy. Detective Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio!) states, “It is no magic bullet”. Hmmm…true?

* When the CODA cop from community affairs who was serving as interpreter was pressured by the ADA to interpret the conversation between Larry and his lawyer in the interrogation room – he refused, and rightly so. The interpreter was following a code of ethics, and Larry had the right to a privileged conversation with his attorney. What I find most odd about this scene was that this particular ADA was even allowed in that viewing room pressuring the interpreter in the first place, being that it was her fiance that was murdered. Would that be allowed in reality? (For my hearing friends who may not be familiar with the term “CODA”, it means Child of Deaf Adults…the interpreter cop stated that both his parents were Deaf.) Anyway, another good point made there – interpreters need to follow a code of ethics.

The conversation between the couple at the ice rink, well the interpreter did express his discomfort in eavesdropping when Goren asked him to interpret, and the argument was made that they were openly discussing something in a public place with “no reasonable expectation of privacy”. I can see both sides of the argument on this one. Personally, if I don’t want a private conversation overheard, I don’t have it in a public place.

Overall, I thought this was a good episode. Interesting, and thought provoking. And of course, this show stars my favorite actor, so that makes it even better. (Have I mentioned that I like Vincent D’Onofrio?)

Please feel free to view my dear friend’s blog on this Law & Order Criminal Intent episode at Deaf Pagan Crossroads.

Also, you may be interested in reading my post on the recent PBS documentary, “Through Deaf Eyes”, which is also located at Deaf Pagan Crossroads.

And of course, your comments and feedback would be welcome. Thank you!


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13 thoughts on “Law & Order Criminal Intent: Silencer

  1. I have to agree with you on many counts. First, Vincent D’Onofrio is my favorite actor.
    Second, I thought this episode brought up many interesting questions and viewpoints from both sides of the question.
    There were no ” magic bullets” to answer any of these questions, but, as a hearing person, it gave me some insight into the deaf community that I, frankly, had never considered before.
    Like many othe hearing people, I automatically assumed that any deaf person would jump at any chance to hear, but this episode showed me that the issues were far more complex than my simple assumption.
    The episode made me think as well as enjoy the incomparable character of Bobby Goren as he uncovered the murderer and the underlying reason for the crime.

  2. Thank you for your comments Xeresa, fellow Vincent fan! 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed this episode as I did, and that you even learned a few things about the Deaf community.

    Last month there was a documentary aired on PBS, entitled “Through Deaf Eyes” which provided quite a bit of basic information on the Deaf community from history, to different methods of education and communication, to cochlear implants and how they work. I don’t know if they will be airing this program again on any of your local PBS stations any time soon, but it will be available on DVD, and you can find information about the program and its contents on the PBS website. If you were interested in learning a little more or clearing up some questions you may have stemming from this particular episode of Law & Order CI, I highly recommend the program. The educational factor alone is worth watching, but also, should you ever meet and/or become friends with members of the Deaf community, it would help to clear up any common misconceptions many hearing people do have, and bring better understanding of Deaf culture.

  3. i may not have thought this had been impressive a few years in the past but its funny how years alters the method by which you understand alternate concepts, many thanks with regard to the post it’s pleasing to browse through anything intelligent now and then instead of the popular rubbish mascarading as blogs on the internet, i’m going to have fun with a few hands of facebook poker, regards

  4. Maybe you could make changes to the page title Law & Order Criminal Intent: Silencer Crystal’s Corner to something more better for your webpage you make. I enjoyed the blog post withal.

  5. Player: The title to my blog site is Crystal’s Corner.

    The title of this one blog is the name of a television show + episode I have written my personal review of.

    When I was blogging more (have rather fallen away from it with other priorities and activities in my life) I shared my thoughts on a varitey of different subjects here that, hence just the “Crystal’s Corner” name – a place for me to muse about whatever I wanted to. There’s no *one* title that is fitting of all the subjects included here.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  6. I have a couple friends who are deaf, but I do not know much sign language. However I DO know that there is a division in the deaf community… one side things that deaf people do NOT need to know how to hear, that they are ‘perfect’ without hearing. I STRONGLY disagree with that sentiment because of MUSIC. I don’t think I need explain that. Nevertheless I liked your thoughtful blog entry, and like you I’ve stopped blogging what with twitter and facebook. BUT I’m thinking of going back to my blog and forgetting about twitter and FB.
    Thanks for your blog entry!

  7. Violet, I understand your sentiments as I love music too. However, a cochlear implant does not “fix” Deafness. This is a misconception, and largely contributes to the division in thoughts among the Deaf community that you bring up. The implant does not allow a Deaf person to hear in the same way a hearing person does. I know one Deaf guy who lost his hearing later in life. Eventually he got a cochlear implant, the main reason being that he missed hearing music the way he used to. He later regretted this decision. He was disappointed as in his words, “it just wasn’t the same”.

    That being said, my dear friend that I mention in my post? She knows a heckuva lot more about music than I do. She knows all the words to songs, as well as the artist, and even the basic rhythms. Not to mention that she’s a better drummer than I. (We both have a couple of hand drums we like to play.) She was born Deaf and does not have an implant. It may be difficult to fathom how they do it, but while we hear the music, the Deaf can feel it. They just enjoy music in a different way than you and I might.

    Also, music, while enjoyable, is not a major *need* when considering survival and functioning in life. I stand with the school of thought that it is up to us, the hearing, to meet the Deaf in the middle…to stop focusing on supposed ways to “fix” Deafness or expecting the Deaf to totally conform to the hearing world, but rather to consider equal communication access, the need for qualified interpreters and other such services, for news media and major TV networks to caption their online videos, etc.

    If you and I were to move to a non-English speaking country – that country wouldn’t conform to English speaking us – we would be expected to learn their language and culture to fit in and function there. It doesn’t hurt us to learn the native language of Deaf Americans (at least some basics in order to communicate with the Deaf without relying solely on their lip-reading skills), to broaden our own communication abilities, to work with the Deaf community to bridge the gap between our two worlds.

    Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  8. I genuinely enjoyed reading your blog post, and have similar sentiments about the content in that episode. I also appreciated that they employed actual Deaf actors/actresses for the Deaf characters. I had a Deaf boyfriend, with whom I dated for close to 3 years, and was actively involved in the Deaf community. I was/am fluent in ASL and was in an interpreter program, but that plan fell through and I am no longer with that guy (it’s been years since I ended my relationship with him). As someone who has been hearing all my life (and I’m 30 years old now), it is difficult for me to imagine myself living the life of a deaf person. But that is me, and I respect that a Deaf person, who has been deaf all their lives and is comfortable being so, would feel differently. I’m not going to open a can of worms with the subject of cochlear implants on a baby/minor child, but whether or not a deaf adult opts for a cochlear implant, I respect it as their personal decision either way. Though I am no longer personally involved with a deaf person, I still see myself as an ally to the Deaf community and I will dispel any myths or misconceptions about deaf people that are made by hearing people. Those misconceptions and questions that I get most often about deaf people generally encompass the things that deaf people can or can’t do. I am now happily married to a man who is open-minded as I am who thinks it is cool and interesting that I have background in different communities and cultures.

  9. Right here is the right website for anyone
    who wants to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with
    you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic which has
    been discussed for a long time. Wonderful stuff, just great!

  10. Why thank you. 🙂 I owe it all to the teachings of my Deaf BFF. I was pretty clueless myself before we met & became friends. But still, only being hard of hearing myself, there are things I can’t and may never fully understand about the Deaf community and Deaf culture, because I don’t live within it 24/7.

  11. This episode just reran today. It’s one of the first Criminal Minds episodes I saw and still one of my favorites. Goren and Eames are fantastic duo, and Vincent D’Onofrio is such an amazing actor.

    This episode gave me a better understanding of the deaf community, and I love how it shows so many varied points of view. One thing I don’t really remember (and I was in and out of the room while it was playing today so I may have missed it) is the motive behind the murder of Dean Price (Pryce?). Did they ever explain why Tommy killed her, too? Was it to throw suspicion on Larry? Or did they ever even determine that he did kill her? Unless I just don’t remember that part, I feel like that’s a thread left hanging. And maybe I just feel particular sympathy for her since she looks so much like Cabot, my favorite ADA from SVU.

  12. In fact no matter if someone doesn’t understand then its up to other viewers that they will help, so here it
    takes place.

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