See what I'm saying?

Over at the DisabilityNation podcast site I was alerted to this on the whole excellent piece from Time Magazine excoriating the big retailer Target for being so recalcitrant to make its online store accessible to blind web-surfers.

Why does it need a court ruling to get Target to make its website accessible to blind people, asks TIME legal columnist Reynolds Holding. After all, he writes, disabled people have a lot of buying power, and the Americans with Disabilities Act has been around since 1990.

All good points.

But then we get down to the very last lines of Holding's column:

How could executives of Target fail to see the overwhelming benefit of making accessible to this market?

I figure there's only one explanation — they must be blind.

Yeah. Right there. We have both fail to see and I figure there's only one explanation — they must be blind.

Holding is using "fail to see" -- and "blind"-- to mean "bad." It's done constantly.

Is Holding even aware that in the column in which he took care to talk about how blind people are every bit as entitled to Target's goods and services as sighted shoppers that he then used the concept of "blind" to mean -- to mean what? In this context, I suppose it means onery, recalcitrant, stubborn, uncaring... Nothing good, in any sense.

The DisabiltityNation's entry didn't mention this little line that pulls one up short at the end.

"Pulls one up short"?? Speaking of metaphors to mean "bad," how's that one? (She said, Your Edge-Centric Blogger being a short person herself.)

Didn't the Disabilty Nation blogger, didn't Reynolds Holding, see what that last sentence of the TIME column said?

And in saying this last, you see, I do just what Holding did, and also reveal how closely the concept of "sight" is tied to the concept of "good" and, conversely, of course, how the concept of "blind" is tied into its opposite.

You see?

October 13, 2006 | Email this story


Comments (newest comments at bottom)

As a daily writer myself, I know it's easy to goof up from time to time. But when I saw that last line from Time Mag's Reynolds Holding (no relation) all I could do was 'gasp'!

I mean how crazy was that? ('gasp')

Oh, no. Better quit while I'm ahead . . . and that's the long and the short of it. ('gasp')

Posted by: Dave Reynolds on October 13, 2006 06:54 PM

As a former journalist, I'll give him this one and appreciate his efforts to bring this to light. I bet he was just trying to be cute, to have a nifty ending - that's really hard to do.

Posted by: Kevin Gadsey on October 13, 2006 11:18 PM

I guess it's hard to speak of blindness as "normal" and "blindless" as "sighted".

Although there is a certain occasional envy of how fast one can zip about in her wheel chair, there isn't ordinarily a comparable "if only I didn't have to see that" thing.

In fact there's always the old "if I went blind I'd kill myself" absurdity.

What if Target was collusive with the plaintiff and actually helping get this decision? The changes to be made in their site were trivial and if they were standing on principle could it have been to get this favorably ruled? There was no significant liability and it might even become a plus to refer to the "Target Decision" - much as Tommy Olmstead's name came to symbolize support for community living away from the very institutions he espoused!


Posted by: William Loughborough on October 14, 2006 11:21 AM

I'll second Kevin's comment. The author was simply trying to devise a cute-ironic ending to his column. As a practicing journalist, I can't say I would not have written the same thing. Blind, in this case, would not have meant a simplistic bad, as you suggest. Rather, it would have been a way to use a single line to show that while Target executives are insensitive to the blind community, the executives themselves are failing to see the obvious. It's a perspective thing, not a blind are bad thing.

Posted by: Thomas Pratt on October 15, 2006 01:05 PM

FYI "Pulls one up short" is a reference to reining in horses too quickly -- it has nothing to do with short people.

Posted by: kbrigan on October 18, 2006 01:57 PM

I often write about language issues. The word blind actually has dictionary deffinitions that include words like uncaring, lack of (sight) (end), and of course, stupid! (really depends upon the dictionary you're using) I have gotten over this, I've been blind for 55 years but its some of the newer language gaffs that I write about because those folks haven't gotten used to their label being useed as a bad or unwanted characteristic. But, just because I've gotten used to it doesn't make it right! I was shocked at that "cute" ending. I was enthralled by the logic in the story, amazed at the paradigms being shown, and so disgusted at the ending that I immediately decided not to make others aware of the story at all. All of this is to say that we even equate justice with blindness, and in this case, it means evenhanded by a lack of prejudiced vision---and that one must pick one's battles. I hate to give this story any more than a cursory nod.

Posted by: steve Hoad on October 18, 2006 02:18 PM

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