"As soon as one of those handicapped people wants to park a car they don't want to be treated 'like everybody else' anymore. Well, here at the group to revoke handicapped parking permits we say: "May every man, woman, child, and retard, be treated equally."
Do they really need it? If they're so messed up they can't drive, then why doesn't the person they're with just drop them off and find a fucking spot? If they are able to drive, but use a wheelchair then there's absolutely no need for a close spot - they're on wheels. a convenience that's gonna get them there easily and faster anyway. Now for those who are just so weak and tired that they aren't able to drive and have too much pride to get a wheel chair - I say stay home! You've probably got somebody catering to your every need there, too! Why do you feel you need to get that kind of attention when you leave the house as well?"
Hilarious, right? That's what creator of The Facebook group, Group to Revoke Handicapped Parking Permits wants you to believe. According to the author of this passage this group is, in her words, "a joke page. and a pro-equality page".
The apparent hilarity continues with the group's Call to Arms:
Actions to show your support:
1- get out there and send in a photo of yourself 'illegally' parking in a handicapped spot, then post it accordingly;
2- steal a handicapped placard from a car;
3- remove any 'handicapped parking only' sign you possibly can; and, finally,
4- flip off handicapped people in the name of equality!"
Subsequent comments on the group's page demonstrate the usual response to criticisms of such hate speech. There are cries of equality, that the able-bodied community are the ones being discriminated against, that the disabled are essentially a lazy and privileged group, and the final justification, that the disabled are overly sensitive and have no sense of humour. Such responses are predictable in their lack of originality and are the usual province of those using Hate 101 to support their views. So common is their usage that word 'handicapped' could easily be replaced by 'GLBT', 'women', or different ethnic and religious groups.
These groups follow the same scripts each time. They fail to own their own language and beliefs. They show no empathy for the groups they disparage, and portray themselves as the 'true' victims.
What they forget is that they may have the right to speak the words, but they cannot do so with impunity. Rights come with responsibilities and, with consequences. This group is not simply voicing their misguided belief that they are somehow victimised by those with disabilities, they are openly encouraging criminal behaviour, including theft based solely on a person's level of functioning. This is hate pure and simple.
The fact that they cannot see the reality of their behaviour is not surprising. And I have no desire to try and reason with those of this mindset. Facebook has failed to remove this group despite multiple reports. It has even responded to one complainant stating,"After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific group you reported violates Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities".
This is as equally disturbing as the group itself. That Facebook will remove a picture of a breastfeeding baby, a natural and frankly inoffensive act, and yet will not remove a group that advocates crimes against a specific group and justifies these actions on the grounds of humour and equality, is appalling. Failure to sanction or remove the group or those like it, gives tacit approval to the views espoused.
Sadly this group is but one of many, and a disturbing trend that perceives the disabled as lazy and somehow the recipient of preferential treatment, and in turn, that the wider community is therefore being discriminated against. Disabled parking permits seem to attract the ire of many. There are many willing to abuse users for not looking disabled enough, or the repugnant and cowardly who leave anonymous notes on the cars of users. There are those who park in the designated bays because there need overrides that of anyone else. Or the more passive-aggressive who park so close to cars in the bays that the user can no longer fit their wheelchair or walker to access their vehicle.
There is nothing funny about this group, or the views they espouse. They may be small in number, but the hurt and anger they provoke is large. They do represent a segment of the population who also rail against programs such as language education for new immigrants and healthcare and housing assistance for the poor. They feel that they are somehow missing out on their share and fail to recognise that the groups they despise are not granted equal access to the world at large. That these groups by virtue of their disability, sexuality, socio-economic status, gender, or language, are hardly brought onto an equal footing with the wider, supposedly, 'oppressed' society, even with small programs such as disabled parking permits.
Small or large, these groups need to be called to account as do those who lend their name or support to them. The Internet is not a Wild West where anything goes. It is not okay, and in some cases constitutes a criminal offence, to insult or actively encourage criminal behaviour against a specific group in the community. Humour is not an excuse. Nor is an imagined sense of discrimination or an inflated sense of entitlement. Hate in any form should not be tolerated.
It is easy and seductive to hate others, as it diverts a person from truly looking at their own failings.
Update: Thankfully Facebook has now reversed it's decision and the site has been removed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to report this group.