Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sometimes You Learn More Than You Meant

Last week, I wrote about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and understandings I've gleaned for my readings of not just material about it, but also of the full text itself. I'm still not a lawyer, by the way, but the ADA is one of many pieces of legislation that isn't overburdened with legalese--as long as you work your way through it carefully, a layperson can get the gist.

No shirt
No shoes
No service.

Well, I reread it again while writing it, and stumbled across some information that, while related, was not sufficiently relevant enough to include without unnecessarily diluting the message.

There's been a resurgence as of late (read: in this COVID-era) of the old placards that you used to see all over the place if you're at least as old as I am. Those that read "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service."

As I think back, I realise I haven't seen one of those signs since I was a teenager. Is that because they've faded into the background, that I read them so many times and saw them so many places that after a while they stopped being something outside the norm? Or did they actually disappear?

They probably disappeared.

As I've recently learned, those signs had nothing to do with health. They were a cultural response during the release of the original Civil Rights Act of 1964 (upon which the ADA was built upon). They served as a way around the CRA, which made abundantly clear what you couldn't discriminate against, and through a simple matter of elimination, what you could.

It's in the nature of doctors to treat diseases and not symptoms. If you treat the symptoms, the problem never really goes away, and the patient either continues to be ill or gets worse.

The CRA prohibited discriminating on the basis of the disease, but didn't stop anyone from discriminating on the symptoms.

No shirt
No shoes
No mask
No service

You couldn't bar the poor from entering your business, but if shoes are a sign of wealth, then you bar people without shoes. And it didn't just go for the poor. It applied to hippies too, who, from reporting through news media, were stereotypically barefoot.

The resurgence we're seeing now is expanded to include the line "No mask."

Unfortunately, while people may try to use the injustice of the first two to define injustice of the third, this one does actually have the backing of the medical community.