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Disability rules go off course

July 30, 2008
The Leader Herald

Political correctness may be coming to a miniature golf course near you. So may be higher prices to take a shot at getting the little ball past the blades on that windmill.

Justice Department officials are proposing new regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 1990 law intended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of physical limitations.

Among the new rules contained in a thousand-page Justice Department document are requirements that would affect most businesses, including miniature golf courses. The Associated Press reports that one proposal calls for miniature golf courses to make at least 50 percent of their holes accessible to people in wheelchairs.

Disabled Americans indeed do need protection against discrimination. For example, public buildings such as courthouses should be accessible to them. But priorities need to be established, or the cost to the nation of complying with the ADA will become astronomical.

For example, by the Justice Department's own logic in proposing the miniature golf course rule, at least 50 percent of the hiking trails in every national park should be made accessible to those in wheelchairs. Somehow, we doubt that any provision like that is included in the government plan. Washington usually is better at telling the rest of us to comply with its rules than with including government in them.

In a perfect world, those with disabilities would be able to enjoy all the recreational pursuits open to those who don't have to cope with physical challenges. But the world isn't perfect - and attempting to make it so in that regard would bankrupt us all in short order.

Choices need to be made. Priorities need to be set. Compromises recognizing Americans' financial limits have to be made. Someone - Congress would be a good choice - needs to convince the Justice Department of that.



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