Given the Givens – An Out of the Park Homerun

By BitcoDavid

Al Jazeera America’s Newsroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night was part I of Al Jazeera’s documentary on Deaf inmates, featuring Felix, Pat Bliss, Talila Lewis and Jim Ridgeway. Part II will air tonight at 9:00 pm Eastern. It was so much fun for me to see people – many of whom I know, but have never actually met – and to finally put faces to some of these names. It was also a joy to see beautiful and eloquent signers employing their art, even if only briefly.

Before I address the complaints I’ve heard, I’d like to point out that Felix’s petition has received a full half dozen new signatures immediately after the showing. We’re up above 700 now. We are the longest lived and most signed petition in the Felix Garcia case, since Jim Ridgeway did the original story in Mother Jones. While 6 signatures doesn’t sound like a lot, it is actually a huge spike in activity, where we commonly go several weeks between single signatures. also got a needed spike in reads, even though we were never directly mentioned in the show.

Logo of the network
Logo of the Al Jazeera network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have heard some people say that the overall segment, and its individual portions were too short. I agree, but I understand the nature of television. A single minute of airtime – even on a smaller market source like Al Jezeera – costs a king’s ransom. I have never seen an interview or news story that I felt really got the airtime it deserved.

While only the Sign segments were captioned, Talila Lewis of HEARD assures me that they are in contact with the producers to address that situation. From my own experience in producing and editing videos, I can tell you that it was probably a simple oversight. The two nemeses of creative content are money and time. Nobody ever makes the video they want, but rather the video they can.  I’m sure future versions of the report will be captioned. Also, the show was broadcast in SAP, and Closed Captioning through the broadcaster’s traditional system was available.

Lastly of course was the fact that this excellent and informative mini-doc was shown on Al Jezeera. Some people have problems with them because of their Arab affiliation. I don’t really get that, but it’s sort of an Arab = Muslim = Terrorist kind of thinking. Who are the Arabs to tell us about problems in American prisons? After all, theirs have dirt floors and floggings. To that, I will say this. I have contacted American media. I have sent press releases, e-mails and even used the phone. I have never even received as much as a reply. While American media obsessively reports on the Duck Rednecks, and Obama‘s selfie, only Al Jezeera is willing to cover this desperate issue. For that, I laud them – towels on their heads or no.

Rear-Window Captioning system
Rear-Window Captioning system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I only had one problem with the whole thing. While talking about some of Felix’s agonies in prison, and discussing the isolation felt by the Deaf inmate – they withheld the fact of his innocence. I wish they had gone further into that aspect of Felix’s story. They mentioned that he has been inside for 32 years, and that he still has 12 to go, but they never stated that he is an innocent man.

In all however, I really enjoyed seeing people who I consider friends – but have never actually met – and feeling like an insider. I enjoyed the report and look forward to tonight’s conclusion. I give it 4 stars, and like I said in the title – an out of the park homer.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

9 thoughts on “Given the Givens – An Out of the Park Homerun

  1. This is a good post on this segment, well done. I do agree about not emphasizing the innocence since he is one of many who are innocent in prison due to their deafness and not being able to speak up for themselves. But I must make one correction. I assume when you said Felix has 12 more years to go you were thinking his parole date? Parole dates are not set in stone unless it is a mandatory End Of Sentence due to being sentenced to a number of years. Felix was not. His Life sentence could go on and on with rejections until he dies. That date he has is good as long as the Parole Board finds no “reason” to deny. Not a definite promise.


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