Gene Simmons Withdraws Trademark Application for “ILY” Handshape, Trump Tweets “No Tapes,” Updates with Flint Airport Knife Attacker, and Louisiana Governor Signs Two Bills to Benefit Deaf Community
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, June 22. Ready for news?
Here’s a update on Gene Simmons wanting to trademark the ILY sign — he has dropped it, he’s backing off — he withdrew his application to patent this gesture.
There are apparently several reasons why he’s given up — two of them strong pushback from other musicians and the deaf community.
Various musicians and bands say they are opposed to Gene trying to “claim” a gesture, adding that there were other musicians who used it before Gene started using it in 1974.
Naturally, many of us in the Deaf community said this is “I Love You” in ASL, and I believe Gene and his team recognized this — this was mentioned in many major media websites last week.
Even the University of Texas — which deaf people here in Austin sign as (longhorns sign) — their president Gregory Fenves tweeted this.
[Tweet: “Sorry, @genesimmons, Longhorns have been doing 🤘 since the 50s — more than 20 years before KISS got going”]
But Deaf Actress Marlee Matlin tweeted several days ago that our ILY has been here since 1905, and added a source. See this:
[Tweet: “. @genesimmons - this sign has meant "I Love You" for MILLIONS of Deaf people worldwide since 1905 (per "Deaf Heritage") Don't trademark us!]
Also, the California Association of the Deaf filed an official compliant, as I previously reported.
So within two weeks, Gene Simmons has abandoned the application with the USPTO. He is a very successful businessman who has several trademarks, so this isn’t going to hurt him, but he knows now that this gesture can’t be his to keep.
President Trump tweeted that he did not secretly tape former FBI Director James Comey. He said he has no idea if there are any tapes, but he didn’t make tapes. See them.
Tweet #1: “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea…”
Tweet #2: “...whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”
This was in reference to his previous tweet in which he suggested the idea of tapes.
Tweet: “James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
This tweet is what the Comey said made him decide to leak notes of his conversations with media. Trump has for a while refused to answer whether he actually taped Comey or not, but now we see there’s none, we have only the Comey notes as a record of their conversations.
Updates with the Flint airport knife attacker — his name is Amor Ftouhi — a dual citizen of Canada and Tunisia — and lived in Montreal, Quebec. He entered the U.S. legally through New York last week.Yesterday morning before 9 a.m. he entered the first level of the airport with two bags. He went up the escalator to the second level and went to a restaurant. After around 40 minutes, he left to go to the bathroom carrying both bags. 28 seconds later, he got out without the bags, but with a 12-inch knife with a 8-inch serrated blade. He walked to the airport police officer and yelled, “Allah akbar,” stabbed him, yelling “you killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” and “we are all going to die.” The officer, Jeff Neville, fought back with Amor, stopping him, with other officers stepping in to handcuff him. Amor asked the officers why they didn’t kill him.
Neville is in stable condition, will be okay.
Amor appeared in court yesterday afternoon with a mask on his face because he spit on an officer. He was charged with committing violence at an airport. He could have more charges tacked on later. Police have called it a terrorist act and believe he was a lone wolf — that he acted alone.
The FBI is working with law enforcement in Canada — Amor’s apartment in Montreal was raided and several detained for questioning. Amor had a wife and three children.
Last Friday the Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed into law two house bills to benefit the deaf community. Both bills were authored by Louisiana State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith.
The first bill is House Bill 253 — it directs the state of Louisiana to revise all terminology in over 20 state laws from “hearing impaired” to “deaf and hard of hearing.” The bill shows many instances of “hearing impaired/impairment” in Louisiana law - they all have been crossed out and will be replaced with “deaf and hard of hearing.” It will have no impact on the laws, just the words are different.
Nice. The second bill is House Bill 582, which is to upgrade the Telecommunication Tax for the Deaf to raise $4.7 million for the LCD Louisiana Commission for the Deaf, a state agency established in 1980 with 9 regional centers.
Here is an interview with the Louisiana DGM State Representative Jimmy Gore and Assistant State Representative Jay Isch, who has been involved in the process. They are also on the Louisiana Commission for the Deaf board.
Jimmy: Hello Alex! I’m Jimmy Challis Gore, State Representative of Deaf Grassroots Movement of the state of Louisiana and a commissioner on the Louisiana Commission of the Deaf (LCD).
Jay: Hello, I’m Jay Isch. I’m the Assistant State Representative for DGM LA. I work with him. I am also on the commission and I work here at Deaf Focus as an advocate and interpreting coordinator.
Alex: What was the experience like to see the governor sign those bills into law?
Jimmy: Wonderful experience. From April to June, I went to the capitol two times a week, we followed the bill, made sure we went to the committee meetings, we testified, we wanted them to understand why it was important. When we finally passed them, and when it got to the Governor’s desk, I felt like it was an accomplishment. We could see the fruits of our labors come to life. It is a huge relief.
Alex: Why was it important to change from “hearing impaired” to “deaf and hard of hearing?”
Jay: The reason why we wanted to change terminology is because “hearing impaired” is offensive to the deaf community, it is not sensitive. Changing it to “deaf and hard of hearing” is better, more sensitive, and respectful. The community feels good about themselves, not “hearing impaired” — the word “impaired” emphasizes what we can’t do. And that doesn’t help when we try to erase misconceptions by hearing people. They think, “the deaf can’t do it.” Removing “hearing impaired” and replacing it is better, it is more respectful and boosts morale within the Deaf community.
Alex: The idea for the change in law — were you inspired from the Utah Association of the Deaf — they changed from “hearing impaired” to “deaf and hard of hearing.” Did they inspire you?
Jay: Yes, I do try to keep up with Deaf news, trends, things like that. I noticed that Utah changed the law to change terms last year. I was inspired. I then looked to Louisiana — I’m a commissioner and I see from statistics that we’re the 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th, or 50th — we are usually in the last place on almost everything. So I wanted to push Louisiana on top of the list on something, so I pursued that with Louisiana State Rep. Patricia Hayes. We talked about this bill and she was supportive. We worked together and I helped author the bill with Drew Murray, who works for Pat Smith. We completed it and submitted it. I feel good about that.
Alex: Is the $4.7 million LCD appropriation higher than years past, and how much of an increase is it?
Jay: Yes, the $4.7 million is the largest in history. As a commissioner of LCD, I’m proud of that. I was appointed by the Governor on April 2016. I looked at the budget and it was a little small with $1.7 million a year. $700,000 of that is from a 5 cent tax on landlines plus a $1 million appropriation from the state general fund to make only $1.7 million a year. The money would keep on reducing and reducing every year because landline accounts are shrinking. We found out that a cellphone bill tax was attempted four years ago, but the Republican governor was against it. So we tried again because we have a Democratic governor — so we felt we should pursue that again. That’s when I contacted Representative Pat Smith and asked why didn't we try again, and we did. We changed from 5 cents to 4 cents because there were many cellphone accounts. It passed the House, and in the Senate, they amended it to add half a cent to fund investments in the state capitol to add closed captioning and possibly staff interpreters — there are many other things, it is very exciting.
Alex: In what ways will LCD use this money?
Jay: The budget will be used for interpreting, assistive technology equipment, hearing aids, doorbells, SSP (Support Service Providers) for DeafBlind people — Louisiana has the largest DeafBlind population in the U.S.A. They don’t rely on dogs or walking canes — they need people by their sides. That’s what a SSP is. Since the new budget will be effective October 1st, we haven’t discussed what it will be. The next meeting will be on August 4. We hope to be able to add a grant program, investments in community, interpreting training, there are so many things we can do with the new budget, it’s very exciting for us.
Alex: What are your thoughts on the Louisiana government’s approach and support for deaf people — how does this compare with other states, if you don’t mind sharing?
Jimmy: You asked me on my thoughts on Louisiana’s approach. Okay. I’m originally from Massachusetts. I was involved with the MSAD, with politics, with government, how to approach people, all that. When I moved here to Louisiana, it was different. The people in the government was cold and standoffish. Then I met Bambi Polotzola, Executive Director of Governor's Office of Disability Affairs. I met her at a VR Commission meeting. She gave me her business card and I got to know her more. She invited me to be invovled in a disability rally at the state capitol. I went to support them. When they were ready to give a speech — Bambi was standing next to me — as they started, we realized there were no interpreters. She was shocked at it and apologized, and made sure that there were always interpreters going forward, during Governor’s meetings, all the time. That’s where we start to collaborate, had introductions, made connections with legislators. It was not easy, it was tough at first, but it got better and better with communication and interpreters. It is important to connect with legislators. It’s had an impact on their attitudes towards us Deaf people — we are more warm and approachable when passing each other in the capitol. There was one time during testimony that there were no interpreters for 45 minutes. So when I signed, I asked the interpreter to turn off her voice. The legislators realized what we have to go through — they laughed and it made a connection. It is important to connect and make an influence. Our bonds are strong now.
Alex: Feel free to add anything! Thank you for your time.
Jimmy: My advice is to get involved. Don’t complain, turn it to action. Make connections with senators and representatives. Without connections, nothing would work. It is important to do this to protect our rights and make them understand and be sensitive to our needs. It will make things better. So I recommend making connections.
Jay: On September 2015, I saw that Deaf Grassroots Movement was established. I looked the true notion of the Deaf community being complacent for the last 5, 10, 20 years. I have noticed this — I got inspired and involved by going to various government meetings, VR meetings, LCD meetings. I noticed that the LCD commission had some people who were there for the past 10 years. They weren’t doing much, didn’t want to talk about the hot topics or make rule changes. I noticed that the SSP budget was $185,000 a year — which was 15 hours per DeafBlind person. This was not enough. I wanted to do something so I reached out to Bambi Polotzola, Executive Director of Governor's Office of Disability Affairs and asked her how I could be invovled with the LCD. She told me to apply on the Governor’s website. So I asked Jimmy to join in and we applied, we didn't think much of it, but we were actually selected by the Governor to be on the commission, and we were thrilled, but when we started, we were taken aback by the many policies, budget, rules, code-of-ethics, all of that. We have learned a lot and we’ve changed many of the policies. The SSP budget, formerly $185,000, is now $435,000 a year. Many DeafBlind people were very happy about that. I felt very good about that change in policy. There is a bad situation with interpreting here in Louisiana — we are short on them. The training is very small — most of it is out of state, there’s only one here in Louisiana, which is not enough. There is a lot of work to do here. I’m excited and look forward to a lot of changes with the new LCD budget. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to get the word out.
Jimmy: One last thing — make connections.
Amazing work by the Louisiana Deaf community working in partnership with state representatives and government staff. They are definitely a model state for others to follow.
That is all for this week. Have a wonderful weekend and stay with the light!