Back on December 22, I wrote a post about image and the appearance of propriety and . . . aw, hell. It was one of those discursive things that covered about fourteen subjects and ended up nowhere near where it seemed to begin and if you want to read it, here's the link. It's not really relevant here except as how it's part of the genesis of this post.
What got me going then was the story of David Ferrante, formerly Sergeant David Ferrante of the police department in Parma, Ohio. Ferrante, it was said, was color blind and back in 1994 cheated on the color identification test so that he'd be able to get a job with the Parma PD. Sixteen years later, they found out, he allegedly confessed and he resigned. Then he was charged the criminal offenses of tampering with records and with falsification. The post wasn't about Ferrante. His story, or more precisely the versions of it that I picked up from a couple of news feeds, were just the jumping off place for, like I say, one of these discursive, spin-it-out-and-see-where-it-goes things I write some of the time.
There was one weird comment that felt like spam but linked to so unlikely a web page I decided to leave it alone. And Lee Stonum added his own almost surreal comment. And so it sat there, the post did, for the past three weeks or so.
And then, this evening, I got an e-mail from David Ferrante, formerly of the Parma PD.
E-mails aren't exactly like comments. Because this was directed personally to me, I don't think it's appropriate to go altogether public and start quoting it and all. But I do need to try and give a hint of what he wrote - and he does caption the e-mail "My Press Release," so he seems to be at least somewhat open to my reporting on it.
Anyway, his pitch is something like this:
- I'm not actually color blind, but my color perception is deficient.
- I'm altogether capable of doing the work of a police officer.
- Color deficiency of the sort I have is a disability of the sort that is (or at least should be) covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Parma's policy is illegal in light of that act.
- I ultimately got in trouble not because of my disability but because I wrote a book critical of the way police abuse their power. Essentially, it was retaliation.
All of that may be true. Whether color-perception deficiency is or should be a disability recognized by the ADA may be an interesting question for disability-lawyers and employment lawyers and the folks who work in HR departments. I'm not such a person. And, frankly, none of that is even marginally relevant to the post I put up on December 22.
What interested me about Ferrante's story is not that he is (or is not) color blind and is (or is not) capable of being a competent police officer regardless. The only things about him, his story, his situation that interested me were: