Interpreters and ethics | Thursday Thoughts | Patreon Unscripted

Hello, I’m Rogan, and today is a little different for most of you. My Patreon has a tier that’s $8 and up, where I do weekly vlogs every Thursday. That’s today. This is different because I’m opening it to the public. I decided that for some of them, I will go ahead and make them public, because this topic I’m talking about is one I want to put out there for everyone. So, the $8 tier and up. This is unscripted, meaning I just throw it out, no typing up things, planning, making a transcript, nothing. Just my thoughts put out there, no processing. The reason why I do that is because I want to give people something behind the scenes that not everyone gets. But also, this sometimes can be my processing place. I use… Maybe I’ll give my thoughts on some topic, then later, I make a full video that’s polished and clear before I make it public. This one, I’m not, because it’s a recent event, and I just want to get it out there. And give the people on the outside some idea of what can happen during my weekly vlogs. Often, my weekly vlogs are just… Sometimes I just talk about what I’m up to, recent projects, how I’m feeling right now. Sometimes, it’s more serious, a discussion, like this.

What I want to talk about is the recent White House, new White House, had their first press briefing with information. Literally, the first thing they said, “Before we continue with all of this, we will have ASL interpreters for all briefings.” Amazing. Now… Yes, that is fantastic, and definitely what they should be doing. People have already sued the Trump administration for not providing ASL interpreters. So…with the people who are in the Biden administration, I’m not surprised they did ASL interpreters. But the fact that they said that, the very first thing, before even saying anything else, the first thing being hey, we will have ASL interpreters. Fantastic! Now… While that’s great, yes, keep it up. That is the bare minimum. That is, I mean, as… As a national group, you have to do that. If it’s a small organization, and they said that, wow, good! But the White House, at the national, federal level, that’s the minimum they should be doing. So just saying, it is great but that’s the minimum. So keep it up. Do more. I just wanted to say that for some of you who may not be aware, now you know there are ASL interpreters for the daily White House briefings. If you want to watch in ASL, that’s there.

I’ve been seeing here and there, and I recommend you going straight to their YouTube page, not through CNN, MSNBC, news, not through those. Because through the news, they sometimes will have a banner on the bottom blocking the interpreter, or making it hard to see. YouTube is nothing, just the person talking and the interpreter. The interpreter is a picture in picture, not standing side by side. Picture in picture, so you will see the interpreter the whole time. So I suggest YouTube. I believe on the White House… I’ll leave a link below, if there is one. But the point is, YouTube is best for viewing.

I want to talk a little bit more about a specific situation that came up with that first interpreter on Monday. There’s a discussion going on, and it’s a sticky one. I… It’s hard. So, the situation. That interpreter for the first press briefing. She interpreted, and it was fine. Later, people became aware that she is a Trump supporter. She’s posted, on personal time, videos signing misinformation, inaccurate things, supporting the far right. I’m not here to say that she’s bad, she should not–I’m–that’s your views, that’s your decisions, fine. And people are fighting about this, that she should not be interpreting for Biden if you–I’m looking at this as… She’s an interpreter. Interpreters have ethics. We have a code of ethics. We (ASL interpreters) call it Code of Professional Conduct, but the point is it’s basically ethics, what we follow as interpreters. Meaning, whoever we do a job for, if our views are in conflict, that doesn’t matter. My views are set aside while I’m interpreting for that person. I’ve experienced working with a client that was very homophobic, and said homophobic things while talking with me. I had to keep it in, I’m not saying anything because I’m working right now. So that’s jarring for me, yes, but that’s the job. I can’t fight with this person, because that’s against my ethics as an interpreter. The point is, the person who interpreted for the Biden press briefing… She is required by her job, and by her agreement when she took this job, to follow it, pass on the information, interpret it. But not do anything to take away, or hurt that information, twist that information. Whatever the interpreter does on her personal time, that’s her personal beliefs and views.

I want to clarify and add, they’ve had different interpreters since, they’ve had CDIs (certified Deaf interpreters). They’ve had different interpreters, yes. So it’s not just that same interpreter since, it’s been changing. But the point is, any interpreter who has a conflicting view, and taking that job… I think that’s really interesting. If you know you have conflicting views, why take that job? That’s just, huh. You were willing to interpret for them when you clearly, you’ve made it clear that you don’t agree with that. I’m just thrown, it’s odd that she accepted that job. It happened. So… That’s the thing. Sometimes, you just don’t have a choice. In this situation, I’m sure there was a choice to have another interpreter who was willing to take that job. But also, I…

Here’s a different perspective. Why didn’t the Biden administration screen? I’m puzzled by that. Maybe they just decided to trust the agency to pick an interpreter. Okay. But I would think that Biden, because Biden–really, the administration, would screen anybody who works for them, to make sure that they fit their overall…philosophy, whatever. They would at least support their views without a problem. So if I had been working in the Biden administration, and I got that information, I would check the interpreter for sure. Because I would want to make sure that they have the right background, the right qualifications, have all of the things that fit what the Biden administration is trying to do. That interpreter’s views on Trump, and such, people found it. So it wasn’t like completely hidden, privated, people knew. So the fact that she still got the job, it means the Biden administration still has work to do. They have to work on their process of hiring interpreters, making sure that it fits what they want.

I want to go back to her taking the job and me being puzzled by that. But still, even with that, accepting that job… This is national level, on public, live TV. And if she intentionally interpreted something wrong, or withheld important information, or in any way went against what the press briefing person said, on live TV… Automatically, interpreters will know, and deaf people can sometimes tell if something doesn’t seem right. So if that actually happened, going against or conflicting information with what’s actually being said, on live TV, she would lose her job, no question. No question. Because that violates her professional ethics, violating her job, not doing her job right.

So I can see both sides – why would you go ahead and interpret for a person who is so in conflict with your own views? At the same time, if you do interpret wrong, you will lose your job. I just want that to be clear for people who aren’t familiar with this. I still think it’s really odd that she accepted that job, when she knew her views conflict with them. Just, kind of odd to me, but it happened so.

So for those who might not be familiar, interpreters will often have to do jobs that conflict with personal beliefs, personal opinions, views. But… Either we didn’t know, or know, but don’t really have a choice because there’s no other availability, or it was last minute, or…whatever. There are many reasons why an interpreter would take a job that might not be a hundred percent fit with their skills, their knowledge, their opinions and all that. But yeah. When we’re working, we have to try to put aside personal beliefs, opinions, etc. a little bit. Yes, that will still influence how we interpret things. Yes, it may be hard for us to do a good job, because of whatever reason. Like me working with someone who’s homophobic.

As far as I know… That person doesn’t know I’m queer. They didn’t know. In this specific situation, they’re not aware that I’m queer. So they probably thought it was “safe” to say things. So–for those who are wondering, are you okay? Yeah, I’m okay. That happened a while back, over a year ago. I did, after that happened–they directly said really homophobic things to my face. I said nothing, and once I finished the job, I reached out to the coordinator for this and other coordinators that have worked with this person before. I let them know that I don’t want to work with this person from now on. I don’t want to have to deal with those comments again. That is something interpreters can do, if we feel really uncomfortable working with a specific client, we can request to not work with this client for whatever reason. Sometimes, interpreters will say that and it’s not really a good reason, but in this specific situation, yeah. I don’t want to be working with that person when they find out I am queer. Because that may not end well. The point here is that I didn’t know that they would say things like that, until they said them. So that took me aback. I had to keep going and finish. I could say more, but–if you want to discuss things, comment.

So what do you think about this situation? If you are familiar with this. If you didn’t know about this, how…what are you thinking now?

I think, that’s all really. I’m looking at the time right now, fourteen minutes, oh. This weekly vlog is a range. Sometimes it’s two, three minutes, sometimes it’s up to fifteen minutes. So yeah, this is what the weekly vlogs can look like. Sometimes it’s just a hi, what’s up with me, what’s up with you. If you want to become a Patron, for any level from $1 to $10. I have different benefits for each tier. Go ahead, I appreciate all of my current Patrons. Thank you for your support, continuing it through this pandemic. I really appreciate that. And if you decide yeah, you want to sign up, thank you! And…yeah, I will stop now. I hope you have a good weekend.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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