Monday, January 30, 2012


For those of you who don't remember the old Abbott and Costello comedy sketch "Whose on First?" Ya gotta Google it.  They go round and round for about 15 minutes talking about whose on first? and what's on second? and i-don't-know's on third.... It's hilarious.  Pure genius.

It's funny, until it becomes real life, and the jokes on you.  Sleight of hand... Don't look over here... Look over there.... I'm saying one thing, but meaning another... And, it's up to you to figure out what I REALLY mean..... Go ahead... Try.

There's also a saying:  "... I can't define discrimination, but I know it when I see it....."

My son and I were talking about discrimination this past weekend, and I told him that I had (finally) filed a formal complaint against my landlord, but expect an uphill battle trying to prove it.  And, he asked a perfectly legitimate question:  "Why?"

WHY.  Because it's 2012, and though we have a plethora of anti-discrimination laws in place, discrimination still exists.  People don't want to believe that (myself included), because we'd like to think - that after all the HELL this nation has been through - we've eradicated this particular nasty problem.  But, let me pose the following scenarios to you:

A wheelchair bound woman wants to attend the University of Maryland (this is purely hypothetical), but the building is not wheelchair accessible in many ways.  Ways that impede her ability to get an education at that institution.  So, she writes a letter to the Dean, asking for 'reasonable accommodations', such as a widening of the doors, automatic door openers, wheelchair accessible bathroom facilities.... But, the Dean responds:  "Sorry, no can do... You're asking us to expend 'X' amount of money - which we deem too much, so - we STRONGLY SUGGEST you transfer to another facility - maybe the University of Delaware?  I hear they're wheelchair accessible...."  Do you think this is an appropriate response?  No, because it's NOT.  That's discrimination, and it's illegal.

Another case in point:  This one is NOT a hypothetical, it's an actual, real-life situation:  A child (6-yrs-old) has been diagnosed as a violent, unpredictable, suicidal schizophrenic.  Her parents tried to have her attend their local elementary school, where one day she proceeded to slam her body into doors and through windows.  The Police had to be called, to take her away - and commit her to UCLA's inpatient mental health department for two weeks.  However, upon her release, her parents still desired that she attend that particular school.  It was agreed that she might not be able to attend a full day (like the other children), and as well, that she couldn't be trusted around the other children (for their safety);  But, rather than outright tell the parents that she couldn't attend the school, the School Board accommodated (there's that word again) them by paying teachers overtime, thereby allowing the child to attend the school after hours.  THAT'S an appropriate, legal, anti-discriminatory response.

Now, consider what happened to me:  I live in a house rife with toxic mold, inform my landlord, have independent tests done to prove my assertions; ask them to remediate the mold, get laughed out of the office summarily, and threatened with eviction on a particular day should I not comply with their desire to have me move to a more deficient property.  Does that sound logical or legal?  No, because it's NOT.  So, they're providing housing, but it's deficient housing... Which brings me back to my original question:  Whose on First?!

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