Whether or not obesity is a moral issue or health condition is a hot-button topic among Canadian newsreaders today in response to a story about the Quebec Human Rights Commission ruling in favour of a morbidly obese woman who was denied a handicap parking space by her condo board.
Marise Myrand, who has diabetes, uses a wheelchair and needs an oxygen tank to breathe, asked her condo board for a spot closer to her building, reports the Canadian Press. According to the article, the board told her to ask the woman who held the spot is she would give it up, but she would not. The Human Rights Commission ruled that the board discriminated against Myrand because of her obesity and ordered they pay $10,000 in damages. Myrand will also receive the better parking space next month.
Check out some of the comments on CBC.ca and globeandmail.com and you’ll see that while some of the posts are sympathetic towards Myrand, many are scathing: one commenter on CBC.ca calls her lazy while another calls her irresponsible for bringing her health problems on herself.
While we will never know the details of Myrand’s physical condition, we do have a snapshot of the kind of attitudes she probably experiences on a daily basis. Why do some people react with such anger towards people who are obese? I wonder: Would attitudes towards someone suffering from smoking-induced lung cancer be the same? What about a person who lost a limb in a surfing accident? We all make private choices every day that affect our health one way or another. Why is obesity different?
Do you think the Quebec Human Rights Commission ruled correctly in this case?