To be honest I really do not know what to make of this story. Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuiness and his wife were apparently verbally assaulted by a man for parking in a disabled parking bay. They have three children with autism, and therefore have a blue badge, but the man disputed their right to park there because they didn’t look disabled.
As soon as you start opening this story up it becomes an ethical minefield, Disabled parking spaces are at a premium, so part of me thinks they should be reserved for people whose disabilities effect our mobility. Yet that immediately raises the question, how do you define a mobility impairment? Do you need to be a wheelchair user? If so, what about those of us who can walk short distances? Aa soon as you start trying to limit blue badge parking spaces to people with certain kinds of disabilities, you open yourself up to a rhetorical minefield: as the article states, it can be argued that conditions like Autism can effect mobility, or that people with it need the wider, closer parking spaces just as much as people with conditions like cp.
Yet there is a small, cynical voice in my head which has a problem with that; which says that disabilities, particularly so-called invisible ones, seem to be in fashion these days, More and more people seem to be claiming to have an invisible disability or mental health problem in order to tap into a kind of social position: that of brave, downtrodden outsider persevering against societal oppression. In this case McGuiness’ wife Christine seems keen to assert that all three of her kids have autism, despite only two having been diagnosed: why do I get the impression that this is more a case of a tv star being too entitled and privileged to park alongside everyone else and demanding a parking space closer to their destination?
Of course I feel guilty for admitting that; I have no right to begrudge anyone their blue badge. Yet if I was forced to park further away from somewhere because all the disabled spaces were taken up by people who were perfectly ambulant, would that really be fair?The further people with conditions like cerebral palsy need to walk, the harder walking becomes and the more likely we are to fall and hurt ourselves. But then, how does that trump anyone else’s need for the same parking space? The problem is, more and more people seem to be being diagnosed with increasing kinds of invisible disabilities these days, but with only a certain number of disabled parking spaces, some tough decisions might have to be made.