28 November, 2005

Handicaps: Are YOU Worthy?

News Channel 5, according to the teaser for tonight's broadcast, is doing a story about people who have unnecessary handicapped parking permits.

Now, I know where I fall on this issue. If you use a permit that you don't need so you can wrangle a prime spot, then you are a Grade-A piece of fossilized vomit. Handicapped parking permits are for people who are, you know, handicapped.

But what got me (keeping in mind that I've just seen the teaser) was the salacious glimpse of the reporter yelling at a black woman getting into her car. "What's your handicap?!?"

Couple of things:

First off, way to show the black woman. Nice going. Reinforce that 'welfare queen' stereotype in any subtle way possible. Cause we all know that the only people cheating the system are those black people. [Obligatory Disclaimer: Of COURSE this is sarcasm.]

Secondly, I really think it's very crass to assume that just because someone's not waddling into a store on stumps that they aren't handicapped in some way. Sure, a lot of mobility limitations are obvious. If you need a hydraulic lift to get your wheelchair out of the back of your car, then no one is going to freak out over your brief sojourn in the blue spot. But what if, say, you are a cancer patient undergoing chemo? Or a person with lupus in the middle of a flare? Or a person with rheumatoid arthritis? These are conditions that cause intense pain and limit mobility. But they are also not generally visible to a stranger in a parking lot. I'd imagine that many of the apparently-healthy people you see getting out of a car with a handicap tag are truly suffering from a non-visible, high pain ailment.

I can be pretty naive, but not so much so that I don't get that there are people who cheat the system. Close relatives of mine continued to use their husband/father's handicap tag for a year after he died of colon cancer just because they really liked the easy and free parking. Again--fossilized vomit. But really. I'm satisfied to let karma/fate/universal justice sort them out. I'd like to think that we as a society have better manners than to enquire about a stranger's ailment simply because he's parked twenty feet closer to the door of the Kroger.


At 10:37 PM, November 28, 2005, Blogger Ivy, the Great and Powerful said...

100% agreed. St. Mark could easily have a "handy tag" as we call it in my family- he has rheumatoid arthritis, and even though he walks a little slumped when he's having bad problems with it, it's not necessarily that noticeable to the normal observer.

Of course, St. Mark probably never will be talked into a handicapped tag, it's a sign of weakness or something. I had to practically force St. Mark's mom to get one. Honestly, though, that was more for my convenience than hers. You've just not *lived* until you walk from the back of the WalMart parking lot, taking 20 years because Grandma generally loses races to snails.

At 10:56 PM, November 28, 2005, Blogger Kleinheider said...

Sometimes I park in handicapped spaces
While handicapped people make handicapped faces

~ Denis Leary

At 5:01 AM, November 29, 2005, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

Good post, Katherine.
There are so many invisable disabilities, as you mentioned.

I have a handicapped sticker, but I don't park in a handicapped parking place if it's a good day. But if it's not, it's very important that I can park in one.

At 6:09 AM, November 29, 2005, Blogger Exador said...

Good post. My only complaint is this:

Wouldn't that be news bias at its best, to have the reporter say, "Ooh look there's a handicapped spot, let's look." As they run over with their microphones. "Ohhh, it's a BLACK woman. Don't film her. Let's go look for a white person cheating."

At 7:32 AM, November 29, 2005, Blogger Michael said...

I saw that promo as well, but didn't run to tune into the episode.

My ex-father-in-law had a bad knee..he'd had a bunch of surgeries on it and getting around at times was still a task for him. For those times he had the handicapped sign for his mirror that he'd use. But let me say he'd only use it if he needed it. If he felt fine, he'd walk.

My ex-mother-in-law, on the other hand, used the thing all the time. Even when her hubby was not there. I remember right after I'd got married to the ex, her mom came down to do something and we had to go to Wal-Mart. Her mom whips into the handicapped space and pulls out the tag.

"But we're not handicapped and &&&&&&& isn't here," I said.

"Doesn't matter," she replies. "I've got it, I'm gonna use it. I deserve it."

You can see the type of person I'm dealing with here.

I was horrified and a bit ill at this. I called her on it but my wife told me to shut up and let it go.

At 8:30 AM, November 29, 2005, Blogger jag said...

I caught the tail end of the broadcast, and it was obnoxious enough for me to change the channel immediately. The reporter was going on about the process for getting a handicapped tag, and how you need a doctor to authorize your request. The news crew signed some fake name and listed the Metro courthouse as the address and got the tag.

She went on a rant about how anyone could get a tag since noone is obviously checking them, told the public how to do it, and then, as an afterthought, added that they got permission to do this before cheating the system and showing every lowlife with basic cable how to do the same thing.

At 9:46 AM, November 29, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Wouldn't that be news bias at its best, to have the reporter say, "Ooh look there's a handicapped spot, let's look." As they run over with their microphones. "Ohhh, it's a BLACK woman. Don't film her. Let's go look for a white person cheating."

Yeah, it would. But I would seriously doubt that the footage from last night's broadcast teaser was the only one they filmed. Especially since it was a TEASER, meaning that the larger chunks of footage were saved for the broadcast. Someone picked that piece for whatever reason to air as the teaser.

before cheating the system and showing every lowlife with basic cable how to do the same thing.

I was thinking that, too. Especially when the bright eyed anchor said "Coming up at 10:00, we'll show you how easy it is to get [one]." All I could think was "Great. An instruction manual for the bottom-feeders of society."

At 11:44 AM, November 29, 2005, Blogger dolphin said...

I'd be embarrassed to run up to somebody and ask them what their handicap is. I have to guess that most people don't necessarily want to talk about things that are going badly for them (some do but it should really be left up to them).
As the great and powerful oz said, for some people even having a handicapped tag is a sign of weakness, and so rubbing it in their face that they need it is more than a little rude.

I can see them doing a news story on how easy it is to fraud the system (hopefully inspiring change in the system), but to publically embarrass people on the chance that you might catch somebody who IS abusing the tag seems not to be what I'd call "news"

At 7:20 AM, November 30, 2005, Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

My 85 year old Mom has a handicap tag. She needs it. When we go out she treats to parking. Yeah, it's nice.
And doesn't the media suck most of the time?


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