Saturday, July 06, 2013

You Have To Like This!

I'm in the middle of reading Covering by Kenji Yoshino (ISBN 978-0-375-76021-1), about the sly discriminatory pressure on Americans to minimize anything that might make them stand out from the crowd.  He focuses on racism and heterosexism, but the issues in here apply to anyone who ever wondered if her hairstyle was too "ethnic" or thought about covering a tattoo before going to a job interview. 

This flies in the face of the other pressure experienced by every American, the one in which you are supposed to stand up and be what you are, and proudly dammit, but the two pressures (as many of us know) coexist cheerfully.  It's like being forced daily to eat a peanut-butter-and-sardine sandwich, with a smile.

Well, this example he gave on page 175 just wowed me:

Karen Sutton sued United Airlines for discrimination because they would not let her fly their planes unless she had perfect vision WITHOUT using corrective lenses.  The point of her lawsuit was that she could just wear contacts and fly perfectly well.  She was suing based on the idea that she could use her corrective lenses as a "reasonable accommodation" (a key phrase used in the changes required by the ADA) that would allow her to do the job.  The court ruled that anti-discrimination laws only apply to IMMUTABLE conditions, like -- I don't know -- being born without eyes, say.  If she can wear contacts or glasses to correct her vision, the courts ruled, she is not really disabled and does not deserve accommodations according to the wording of the law.  So United doesn't have to hire her.

This decisions warrants a BIG THUMBS UP on the grounds of Olympic-level hairsplitting, general absurdity and MISSING THE FRIKKIN' POINT.  I want you to notice that it also peels back a corner of the Americans With Disabilities Act:  if your wheelchair can get you around despite your paraplegia, that means you have a mutable condition.  In other words, YOU'RE NOT REALLY DISABLED, CHUMLY, so don 't expect us to widen the doorways so you can get into the library  And you can forget about the ramp you're asking us to build.



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