False accusation + vandalism = FAIL
I knew nothing about this website before finding one of your post-it notes on my windshield on Monday of this week. After spending no small amount of time reviewing the pages, I felt compelled to share my observations for the record.\r\n\r\nI am permanently disabled with multiple sclerosis. My car bears disability license plates, which Virginia only issues to drivers with proof of permanent disability as reported by their physician. I also have a placard that I can use in my wife's car should I need to drive hers. Under Virginia law, I am required to carry the ID that goes with the placard whenever I use it. To not do so invalidates the placard. The same proof of disability was required by the D.C. public transit authority for me to obtain my disability fare card.\r\n\r\nMS is often referred to as an "invisible disability." As I was only diagnosed five months ago, most of my disease's open manifestations are limited to occasional use of a cane and help with cognitive issues (i.e. short-term memory loss, etc). As I don't usually walk with a limp, or stutter, or forget where I am, and as I do have an extremely demanding full-time job with 10-hour days, it's easy for people to forget that I'm disabled. To keep it to that minimal degree of public awareness, however, requires upwards of $13,000 per month in medications and several hours of physical therapy per week. And all that does is keep me functional - not free of pain, or fatigue, or muscle weakness, or confusion.\r\n\r\nI use disability parking when I'm alone (and my wife wouldn't be able to help me). MS is like the weather in Texas: you can have all four seasons in one day. I may feel fine when I drive to the commuter rail in the morning, but barely able to move by lunchtime. Being parked close to where I'm at becomes a absolute necessity, not a discretionary convenience. I would gladly trade in my plates and placard in exchange for not having MS. \r\n\r\nI do get occasional looks from people when I'm parking in a disability space. I've learned not to give it any thought. If someone's not willing to engage with me directly if they think I'm perpretrating a fraud, then I have no respect for their opinion. A lack of respect or honesty on their part reflects on them, not me.\r\n\r\nAt least, that was my opinion before Monday.\r\n\r\nI don't know why the person who left your note on my car felt particulary compelled to do so. They may not have seen my plates, only the absence of a placard. I suspect they saw me walking quickly from my car into a store and surmised that I was faking my disability. What they didn't know (or try to find out) was that I was in dire need of a restroom. Among MS's many symptoms is bladder control issues; I was moments away from incontinence when I parked my car.\r\n\r\nHowever, whoever left your post-it note must not have felt that the snarky "have a nice day" postscript sufficiently expressed their displeasure with my wanton "fraud." They felt it necessary to put a two-meter long, rather deep scratch down the left side doors of my car, presumably with their car keys. I've seen keying vandalism before and recognized it instantly.\r\n\r\nI do not discount the severity of the fraud you fight against, and I applaud the spirit of doing so. No small number of the abuse posts on this site speak to that very well. Sadly, no small number of other posts here strike me as all too similar to the individual who felt empowered to vandalize my car, simply because they "thought" I was a criminal. \r\n\r\nI must also ask how much you at least condone (if not quietly enable) this irresponsible vigilantism. According to your own guidance:\r\n\r\n[i]"Don't confront the person. These people may be handicapped, and we don't want to create any hassle for them." [/i] \r\n\r\nSo it's OK to name and shame someone on the Internet by publishing their license plate information (and enabling others to do more than just name and shame them)? Without proving their fraud? That flies in the face of our entire rule of law. All of the disabled people I know would tell you that they're happy to raise awareness about their conditions. We don't feel the need to prove anything, but do feel the need to educate others.\r\n\r\n[i]We are not qualified to know if someone is healthy or not.[/i]\r\n\r\nNo, you're not (short of being a qualified physician, but then I'm not expecting a doctor to be so reckless). But that doesn't stop you for advocating behavior that assumes the exact opposite.\r\n\r\n[i]If you accidentally report someone that truly is handicapped, there is nothing that will happen to them.[/i]\r\n\r\nI would argue that the several hundred dollars it'd cost to repair the vandalism to my car definitely proves otherwise.\r\n\r\nI would also love to quote your measures or instructions for redressing a false or mistaken allegation of abuse. However, you don't appear to have any. As inefficient as they are, even the TSA has measures to redress being put on a no-fly list. One can only assume that you don't have any real interest of screening out these errors: the interests of the innocent must be sacrificed to punish the guilty. Again, it flies in the face of much that this nation is about.\r\n\r\nAnd that is the ultimate fail here: the reckless accusations made here - and your lack of addressing them effectively - completely invalidate the real efforts made by responsible citizens to help eliminate this kind of fraud. The awareness you raise here reeks of the mob, and destroys its much-needed legitimacy. \r\n\r\nI am willing to be convinced that you're a responsible person. Not that I have any expectations of this website becoming resonsible, based on what I've seen so far. But I am responsible, so my next steps will be to find out who vandalized my car (if possible) and do my own awareness-raising with my contacts in the disability rights agencies in both Virginia and DC. They'll appreciate my situation more than your position, I'd wager. My Facebook post about this went viral within a matter of hours, so that's getting even more awareness.\r\n\r\nI'll not bother with this website any further. Insofar as you can, try taking your own post-it notes admonition: be ashamed. And then clean up your act.