Thursday, October 07, 2010

3120 Disability and resentment

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.
-- Groucho Marx --


Becs commented on my Clint Eastwood post #3117 - "...the big kerfuffle about making his Carmel hotel accessible to people in wheelchairs. His reply to the request was something along the lines of 'Why don't they all just die like they're supposed to?'".

I feel like I have to respond to that. His attitude has been misrepresented, probably to sell Mary Johnson's book, Make Them Go Away; Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve, and the Case Against Disability Rights. The title of the book is purposely inflammatory, and makes it sound like the sentiment comes from Eastwood and Reeve. It doesn't.

You can read the first few pages of the book at Eastwood comes across a lot better than the book title would imply, making it seem unlikely that he actually expressed a "die" sentiment. His argument was not against disability rights, but against the lawyers that file discrimination cases against small businesses without warning. Most of these cases are settled out of court, paying off the lawyer. They amount to extortion. Note that in those cases, the disabled person, under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), cannot win any award - only the lawyers get paid if they win! (Note also that Eastwood's hotel had installed handicap restrooms before the ADA.)

Eastwood's actual comment was that the lawyers drive away from the lawsuit in Mercedes, and the disabled person drives off in a wheelchair.

Eastwood decided to fight the lawsuit because he can afford to, where most small businesses cannot and are forced to pay inflated "legal fees" in the face of the threat of fabulously expensive litigation. He also took his campaign to Washington, NOT to overturn the ADA, of which he approves, but to make changes in the law to stop legal extortion on the basis of the ADA and create fairness.

(BTW - the lawsuit itself had problems. There is some question that the woman had ever actually been to the hotel. There is some suspicion that the lawyer conceived of the suit, and went shopping for a client. Kinda like most class action suits - where the lawyers decide to bring a suit, advertise for clients, collect a gazillion dollars in an out-of-court settlement, and the clients get $2 each.)

So if Eastwood wished death on anyone, it was probably the lawyers, not the handicapped.


Heard on the radio yesterday: New Jersey has decided to allow medical marijuana, BUT will allow only two producers, and only four dispensaries in the entire state. In other words, yeah, you can get it, but we're going to make it next to impossible to do so.

The people on the radio show seemed to think that New Jersey wanted to avoid the problems in California, where you can go to a storefront "doctor", who will diagnose glaucoma and give you a prescription, for a price. Their conclusion is that it's the abusers who make it difficult for the people who really need it, and that the state should strengthen regulation of the prescriptions, and relax the distribution.

Yeah, I agree.

And I think it's the same with those blue cards you hang from the windshield mirror that allows you to park in handicap spaces. Those need to be better regulated.

I'm especially sensitive to that because when Jay was in a wheelchair, I needed a van-accessible space to get the ramp down, and too many times, drivers who didn't need those spaces were in them.

Piper and I went somewhere a few months ago, and when we parked, he pulled into a handicap space, and pulled one of those cards out of the glove compartment and casually hung it on the mirror. I totally freaked. I shouted, "No! Don't you dare!" He's not disabled, spends time on the treadmill every day. I made him take it down and move. I told him I'd walk home before I'd get back in the car if he didn't take it down. He said he had it from his heart surgery - which I know was more than seven years ago, probably more like ten. Sheesh. When Jay died, I threw the card away. I had never used it when he wasn't in the van.

There was another incident a few weeks ago. A group of us went on a hike. One of the women in the car I was in is very heavy. When we arrived at the park, she told the driver to park in a handicap space, and hung the blue card on the mirror. I didn't object, because, well, she's huge, maybe breathing problems, maybe knee problems. I assumed she would not be going on the full hike. And then, having parked in a handicap space, she walked the full trail, probably almost three miles. Turns out the card was from her knee surgery, a few years ago.

I consider that abuse! It's been bothering me ever since. It pisses me off. I wish I had said something.


There's nothing wrong with accommodation, or with laws that provide accommodation, but it's the abuse of laws that makes people resent that accommodation.


the queen said...

Those placards are dated. Ticketers do look for the year. I still have Mom's, but I've never used it. It is in my car, though. In case I can't bribe anyone.

~~Silk said...

Jay's had an expiration date - it was good for two or three years, but Piper's had no date on it at all - I did look at it, the white space at the bottom was blank - and I don't think the woman's had a date, either.

~~Silk said...

Oh, also, back when Jay needed the special parking spaces, I tried to complain to the police when people were illegally using them and ---- now this is amazing ---- even though there's a law that businesses must provide the spaces, the police DO NOT ISSUE TICKETS for invalid use of them, because the spaces are on private property. They can issue a ticket only if the OWNER of the parking lot calls and requests enforcement for a specific car.

Becs said...

It's good to know the Mr. E is not the unpleasant man he was made out to be.

But I still won't go see a Woody Allen movie.

And "Million Dollar Baby" made me ill.

the Gypsy said...

Ed's mom has one of those blue handicapped parking cards. The expiration date is September 2014. It was for Ed's dad, who needed oxygen and couldn't walk very far in his final days. He died last month. Ed's mom still uses the card and acts like she's entitled to it. She's overweight and smokes a lot. I think that if more people who are overweight and have breathing, knee, hip, or spinal problems would walk a little more, they wouldn't need the damned handicapped parking cards!

My grandmother needs one. She's 88, has lung cancer and has been sitting doing nothing for the past 21 years since my grandfather died. She really can't get around easily. Ed's mother is PERFECTLY CAPABLE of walking the extra 20-50 feet from a non-handicapped parking space. Makes me insanely crazy that people abuse those cards!