Byron York has the story. Tom Perez, the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division who on the New Black Panther voter intimidation case already has pushed the demarcation line of prevarication to its outer limits in testimony before a congressional committee and before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, now has completely severed all links between his lefty-ideological, artificially constructed world and the normal realms of common sense and logic. Several colleges wanted to institute a voluntary program to use the Kindle book-reading device* for its class texts. Repeat: VOLUNTARY. But Kindle didn't have voice-activation gizmos (or somesuch) for the blind. Reports York: "The Civil Rights Division informed the schools they were under investigation. In subsequent talks, the Justice Department demanded the universities stop distributing the Kindle; if blind students couldn't use the device, then nobody could."
This is lunacy. Sheer lunacy. How does it hurt a blind student one iota if his normally sighted classmates use Kindle? Does that keep a blind student from getting the texts braille or another blind-friendly format? No. Does that do a single smidgen of a fraction of a hemi-demi-semi-quaver to violate the civil rights of the blind person? Of course not. No, no, and no, no, no, no. The educational opportunities and/or experiences of blind students would be affected in no way at all if other students use Kindle.
York digs up a great quote:
"As a blind person, I would never want to be associated with any movement that punished sighted students, particularly for nothing they had ever done," says Russell Redenbaugh, a California investor who lost his sight in a childhood accident and later served for 15 years on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. "It's a gross injustice to disadvantage one group, and it's bad policy that breeds resentment, not compassion."
Sometimes there is a gray area in public policy and in civil rights laws. (Oops -- maybe I just violated a civil right by using a word meaning a color -- gray -- when talking about people who can't see colors. Maybe Tom Perez will sue me. Gee, I'm scared.) Some things truly can be open to interpretation. But this can't. Allowing students to use one electronic reading device that blind people can't use is no different than allowing students to use one of those old-fashioned things called "books," with printed letters in ink on a page, that blind people also can't use. And I defy Mr. Perez to empanel the first 50 citizens off the street and cite a single civil rights law in a way that would convince a single one of those 50 random citizens to believe that the law he himself cited were actually being violated.
* As an aside, I myself hate the very notion of Kindle. Not only am I a techno-tard, but I have a near-romantic (in the sense of idealized) attachment to the printed page and especially to actual, honest-to-goodness books and newspapers. Obviously, then, I rise to the defense of Kindle out of principle rather than out of self-interest.
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