THE DISABILITIES ACT is llkelynto entertain C-SPAN viewers fornmonths to come. The bill, which in itsncurrent form is a comprornise workednout between the Bush administrationnand congressional Democrats, extendsnsweeping civil rights protection to thennation’s blind, deaf, lame, and degeneraten(AIDS is, of course, a handicap).nTimes being what they are, the onJynserious debate is over money. Thentelephone companies alone may endnup paying up to $300 million a year innspecial services to the deaf, while manynsmaller businesses — faced with the billnfor access ramps and special restroomnfacilities—will have to close up shopnentirely. If we really do decide thatnthere are 43 million handicapped citizensnwhose rights must be protected bynfederal law, the lawyers, as The WallnStreet Journal observes, are the onlynreal winners.nForty-three million. That is somethingnlike one-fifth of the population. Ifnyou throw in blacks and Hispanics,natheists and religious minorities, oldnpeople and children, it will be hard tonfind an American who is not coverednby some form of civil rights legislation.nAnd 43 million is probably a lownestimate, because a legally recognizedndisability in the 1980’s means what anpatent of nobility meant in the 17thncentury. The first thing that happensnwhen a new privileged class is creatednis that millions of hitherto normalnpeople suddenly discover that they toonbelong: members of the DAR marriednto descendants of Spanish grandeesnboast of their Hispanic surnames;nNorth Carolina rednecks realize thatntheir village really constitutes an Indianntribe; and deafness, which once meantnthe inability to hear, now is stretched toncover all forms of hearing impairment.nIf you think about it long enough,neveryone probably has some disabilitynor another. I have this friend, a moderatelynsuccessful white man from anmiddle-class family, but he does wearnglasses and even had two operations onnhis eyes. What’s worse, nature wasnunwise enough to give him a sharpntongue without the physique to match.nThe painful result was more than onenCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSnconcussion administered by sore losers.nWho knows what sort of money thenpoor fellow might have made if he hadnbeen normal? Everyone, I repeat, isnhandicapped by nature and experience.nThe children of the rich are sonlazy and arrogant that they lose thenfamily wealth in only two generations.nThe bourgeoisie spends so much timenworking and saving that it never learnsnhow to enjoy life. Southerners arenundisciplined, Scandinavians rriorose,nshort people neurotic. Which is thenworse handicap, deafness or an IQ ofn105? Who’s going to decide? Obviously,nCongress and the courts. Thendeaf law student with an IQ of 135 willnreceive- every assistance, at taxpayers’n.n5ERIES OF Sm5nnnexpense, to minimize the effects of hisnhandicap, while the hardworking 105nwould be well-advised to find anotherncareer or else start a lobbying group fornpeople of ordinary intelligence.nFrankly, I don’t think I am the onlynAmerican who has heard aboutnenough whining. How many times anday do you circle a parking lot, notndaring to go into one of the dozenn(always empty) places reserved for thenofficially handicapped? Who has notnread of historic public buildings thatnhad to be demolished because it wouldncost too much to provide access fornwheelchairs, or college summer programsnthat had to be eliminated becausenof the high cost of providingnDECEMBER 1989/5n