Sunday, November 19, 2006

Country Club Neighborhood

The "nicest" neighborhoods can be the most unfriendly, and it seems like people become less charitable when they have more money.

The Republican-American ran another article today ("Praying for Acceptance") about the on-going wrangling over the new home for mentally retarded people on Country Club Woods Circle. This time they interviewed one of the people living in the home. He seems like a nice kid, not really all that different from any other boy his age. I like a point his father makes--the opponents of the home have said that it will bring down their property values, which is pretty much the same as saying this boy will bring down property values simply by standing in the yard (essentially the same argument made by white residents a few decades ago if blacks tried to move into their neighborhood). The opponents are better organized than they were at first; now they insist that they never said anything like that. Someone must have warned them against being openly bigoted.

They can't legally chase out their new neighbors on the grounds that they might commit crimes (one opponent was quoted as saying that one of the retarded residents could prove to be a rapist--well, gee, so could someone who isn't retarded, for example, John Regan, who would have been warmly welcomed to the neighborhood three years ago). Instead, they've got the state attorney general trying to determine if proper bidding procedures were followed in the purchase of the house, and they claim that this is their only complaint. Yeah, right. If that really is their only gripe, then why hasn't anyone bothered to say hello to the new neighbors? Why ignore them? Why treat them like they don't exist, or have a plague? I can certainly understand the desire to preserve the character of your neighborhood, but you don't do it by banning people who are different. If they are worried about the group home becoming overcrowded, then find a way to address that issue without forcing them to move. Develop some human compassion. Try talking to the people who live in the home. Get to know them. Find out what they really are like before making bigoted generalizations.

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