Toward the end of September 2011 a video of Sarah Churman hearing for the first time went viral. It was a beautiful, touching clip – she could barely speak for crying. It may help if you watch the original here first.

[pk_youtube_player width=”620″ height=”315″ align=”center” autoplay=”false” cover=”” video_id=”LsOo3jzkhYA”]

See, lovely. The shame of it all was that quite possibly the next most wonderful moment, the part where the nurse asks if she would like to hear her husband speak is cut. You can hear the hubby turn off the recorder…or it ran out of batteries.

The opportunity seemed too good to miss so we made this:

[pk_youtube_player width=”620″ height=”315″ align=”center” autoplay=”false” cover=”” video_id=”c24VE_vrDJQ”]

Ok, I’d pitched it under the pseudonym of “Dr Ernest Woodhead” but I figured people would get the joke and not be offended. In fact, all three of us had discussed at length whether what we were doing was offensive or not, we decided not – the joke clearly being that the woman having been deaf forever had simply never heard her husbands’ awful voice. But no, oh wise people of the interweb, they thought different. Here’s a choice selection of what happened next…

[pk_quote width=”630″ align=”center” cite=”YouTube commenter Salsdo”]
DrEmestWoodhead you are no doctor in my book and if you are your doctors degree should be revoked this is nothing but stupidity and making fun of something that was really may god have mercy on your soal this is what our world is coming too stupid people like you

[pk_quote width=”630″ align=”center” cite=”YouTube commenter SirMirex7″]
You people… are just plain stupid, ignorant and self-centred.
Plain insulting someone else’s amazing ability to hear for the first time does not mean you should insult or degrade that person just because you were fortunate enough to have hearing since birth. Try to see it in their eyes, live through what they lived through everyday, and then judge before you criticize with the facts rather than without.

[pk_quote width=”630″ align=”center” cite=”YouTube commenter kevin4mph”]
Let’s see what happens when one of your future deaf kids watch this. I pity you

Just as an aside, if my future deaf kids do watch this I don’t think they’re going to realise that the guy has a high pitched squeaky voice…

[pk_quote width=”630″ align=”center” cite=”YouTube commenter elcuteman16″]
Is this a joke or something? If it is… I find it very offensive towards people with these kind of disabilities. If I find it is, you bet I’ll report it.
If it is not, I hope the husband was joking.

But finally, our hero by the name of ThumbprintTheatrics enters. We should get him to sort out the Israeli/Palestine conflict next

[pk_quote width=”630″ align=”center” cite=”YouTube commenter ThumbprintTheatrics”]
…You guys. CHILL. It’s just a joke. They aren’t making fun of deaf people, or hearing for the first time, or implants. They are just joking about what if you never knew your husband’s voice was obnoxious.

Feel free to visit the actual page because the battle continues in a grand style, so far people have mentioned Anglophobia, there have been requests from both sides (the amused and the not so – to grow up), the holocaust, the c-word (eight times)…


What was learnt

The power of context. Mistakenly I had thought that people would just instantly get the joke. Maybe we should have labelled it humour… but I thought that would telegraph the gag… Interestingly we got 94% on Funny or Die… whereas on YT we just got nailed… I even wrote to Sarah Churman to ask her opinion but she’s not replied…
Also, on a more serious note, it was scary to watch the interweb outrage in action… people already offended before they’d even stopped to think… then I started to think about democracy and the baying mob and the film Gladiator and “Win the crowd and you will win your freedom…”

Still, we thought it was funny.