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!