The Daily Moth 7-26-17

July 27, 2017



Trump Bans Transgender People from Serving in Military, Ohio Man on Death Row Executed, Rep. Scalise Released from Hospital, and Interview with John Maucere: Apology for Performance at ASLTA Conference 

*Correction/Clarification: John Maucere did not swear/cuss during the performance. The Daily Moth mistranslated a sign that one of the ASLTA attendees used to describe the performance. The person meant to say John used "dirty" or bathroom humor," not swearing.




Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, July 26. Ready for news? 




This morning President Trump announced in three tweets that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military in any role. The reason why? The U.S. military must be focused on winning and can’t be burdened with transgender people’s medical costs and disruption. Trump said he consulted with his generals and military experts to make this decision.


This is a reversal of the Obama administration’s decision last year to allow transgender people serve openly in the military, but with a one-year delay to allow the military to develop guidelines on recruiting. 


Last year, there was between 1,300 to 6,500 transgender people on active duty, which was 0.05% of the military. They did a study and estimated the total medical costs would be between $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year, out of a $6 billion budget for military healthcare. The Obama policy required people to be diagnosed with “gender dysphoria.” 


When the Trump administration took over the White House in January, they put in a six-month delay in recruiting people who identify as transgender to review the policy, and now they’ve decided to ban transgenders from the military. 


This announcement and policy change will have a big impact on American soldiers who have already identified as transgender. It is not yet clear what the Trump policy will be for them. 


There were some transgender military cadets who graduated last spring and expected to serve in the military, but will not be able to. Right now if a transgender person wants to serve in the military, this person must “stay closeted” and not tell military officials about his or her identity. 


This decision was immediately criticized by human rights and GLBT organizations. 


A retired NAVY Seal veteran, transgender woman Kristin Beck, said this shows that they care more about the airplane and the tank than they care about the people. She said transgender doesn’t affect military units, that good leadership would bring together people with different identities


Several countries allow transgenders to serve in the military — Israel, Germany, the U.K., and Canada.




Today the state of Ohio executed a prisoner Ronald Phillips (43), who was guilty of raping and murdering his girlfriend’s 3-year old daughter in 1993. He was lethally injected around 10:00 am, 10 minutes after he was first injected. His last words were to say the girl didn’t deserve it and that he was sorry that her family had to live so long with my actions. 


Ohio’s last execution was in January 2014 — that one was botched when the chemical combination in the injection didn’t work, causing the prisoner to gasp and convulse for 15 minutes before finally dying 25 minutes later. That led to court battles on the drugs used in the injections, delaying all executions in Ohio, but in June the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals authorized Ohio’s injection drugs. 


The next execution in the U.S. will be on Thursday in Texas — TaiChin Preyor (46) will be injected for killing a 20-year old woman in an home invasion. His lawyers are currently fighting it in courts. 


So far, this year, there have been 15 executions in the U.S. 




Congressman Steve Scalise, who was shot at a baseball field while practicing for a Congressional baseball game last month, has been released from the hospital and will start rehabilitation. 


He was in critical condition when he was shot in the hip and was fighting for his life in the hospital, had infections and underwent multiple surgeries, and now he’s better. Hope he makes a full recovery. 




I will show you an interview with Deaf comedian and actor John Maucere about the recent situation at the ASLTA (American Sign Language Teachers Association) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah last month. But first, I’ll discuss what happened. 


To review, Deaf comedian and actor John Maucere gave a show during the last night of the conference — at the ASLTA Banquet/Awards show. 


That performance caused controversy because the next morning, the newly appointed ASLTA President Keri Brooks released a letter and a vlog to publicly apologize for John’s performance. 


Deaf media website “Silent Grapevine” was the first to break the news.


Keri said John’s show had inappropriate content, uncomfortable bullying in the guise of humor, and made members feel unwelcome and unsafe. 


John posted a public apology video saying he was deeply sorry and that what he did was not okay. He said he would make changes to his performance to make people be able to enjoy and feel safe. 


There was naturally a lot of discussion on Deaf social media on what happened, what did John say, what did he do? 


I reached out to two people who attended the ASLTA conference and was there at the dinner. They shared their stories and preferred to stay anonymous.  


One of them said John would put people on the spot and made them feel uncomfortable, that it didn’t feel like a safe space. The person said John would take pictures of people during the weekend, making them do certain poses, and then project the images during the show, sometimes describing the people in an embarrassing way. The person said s/he had to leave in the middle of the performance. 


The other person said John is a very talented performer, but did not feel his performance was appropriate for the ASLTA conference — saying there was a lot of swearing/cussing, sexual humor, and that some people walked away. The person said John is a pro in giving a show, but had the wrong approach and wrong kind of humor. 


With that, I’ve asked John several questions and he was able to answer them in ASL. Here it is. 


Alex: Hello, can you introduce yourself and your experience with giving shows? 


John: Let me tell you why I got into stand-up comedy. It goes back to when I was little — I often attended Deaf clubs because I enjoyed their shows, to laugh a lot. People there often imitated other people, it was so funny. The audience often got invovled, which made me really enjoy it. I loved this. In the time since, we’ve seen Deaf clubs shut down and dwindle in numbers and this made me sad. So I decided to start “Deafywood” — some people might remember this from a long time ago. We started it with a group of 7 people and we enjoyed ourselves, we did the same things that Deaf clubs did. We followed the “Saturday Night Live” format as well. Later it was a one-man show with just me, but with the same format. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years. 


Alex: Can you tell us from your perspective what happened during the ASLTA performance — why do you think some people felt uncomfortable, bullied, or unsafe? 


John: What happened at ASLTA — just so you are aware, all of my previous performances were similar up to the ASLTA incident. When I open the show, I take the stage and interact with people, pointing at them, making their heads turn to each other, and meet with individuals. There was one person in the back and s/he counted that I interacted with 14 withe people and only 2 people of color (POC). That person told me in a VP interview after the ASLTA conference. It hit me hard. It made me reflect and I don’t want that to happen again. It means I must look and understand what the audience is rather than just show up and be impulsive. That was an important lesson. The second thing is that I usually (some of you know this) take pictures of people and put them on a projector. I would then give them tabloid headlines and make jokes about it, some related with today’s technology. I would put funny, ironic, and exaggerated things on the photos. Some of the photos were inappropriate and too exaggerated. I have realized this and agreed with this, and will not do it again. It is now my goal to get up on stages, have fun, make the audience laugh, and for everybody to feel safe. 


Alex: In your apology video, you said you would make changes to your performances. What kinds of changes do you imagine making? 


John: I’m going to do this — I’ve done this before — but to ask and learn from people who are experienced in social justice issues and have discussions. I’ve learned a lot. Also, today I went to the Barnes and Noble bookstore and read a book about being a comedian with awareness of social justice. I read it and learned a lot, wow. I learned about people’s religions and to not point one one or the other. The main point that is repeated in the book is that the past and today is different. That applies to me. I’ve been set in my ways but I will have to make adjustments. That is what I am working on now, on how to adjust to fit to today’s society. 


Alex: Any final thoughts or comments?


John: What happened at the ASLTA felt like it happened yesterday because I have been thinking, discussing, and reflecting about it on a daily basis. It is now my new journey as a comedian. Thank you. 


So, we have the full picture of what happened. Thank you, John for your time and for sharing your thoughts and future plans. This can be a learning experience for us all. 




That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light! 

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