NIMBY: Bigotry Against the Disabled is Bigotry

A proposal to build a home (note: I do not know the people building or running this home, so I cannot vouch for it. I am generally opposed to this kind of large-scale establishment, but some are alright for some people) for adults with developmental disabilities in Atlantic met with opposition. Not in backyard, they said. Then, the opposers were treated as if they were bigots, and their feelings got hurt.

Baker was fuming Thursday night after the Hall County commission meeting at which the board approved a planned community for adults with developmental disabilities. It wasn’t the facility getting OK’d that made her so mad. It was the way it was approved, she said, with the board seemingly in agreement before the vote and residents who were in opposition castigated as bigots.

Note: Bigotry against the disabled is bigotry.

There’s an interesting local internet wrinkle though.

This rezoning vote was a typical exercise in local politics: someone proposes to build something. People see a change is coming. Conjecture builds. Worry ensues. Folks pack a room.
But what happened here demonstrates a new wrinkle in this age-old process. Here, the Internet aided public engagement, which is good, but enabled people to create a narrative, often ugly and untrue, that built upon itself. The petition against the plan drew comments with the usual zoning buzzwords like “traffic” and “density.” But then, terms like “mentally challenged” and “Section 8 deadbeats” and “near a school” came in and the controversy took on a life of its own.

We – meaning the media and those who consume it – spend a lot of time thinking about the internet conversations, whether productive or destructive, on a global scale. I’m very interested in the localized internet and the way it can foster connectivity or magnify dissension.

Which is to say my local suburb internet can be pretty nasty sometimes.

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