Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: What is the "PC" way to exclude the developmentally disabled from an organized group? I run a bowling league. Management at the bowling center where we play has informed us that our yearly contract will not be renewed unless we accept teams from local assisted-living facilities into our league. If the league admits individuals with vastly inferior skill levels and low mental awareness of league bowling rules, that will greatly slow down the normal pace of play and frustrate many of our existing members. A majority will likely drop out rather than take four hours to bowl three games every week. Moving the league to another bowling center is not a practical option. Few of our current members are willing to drive 10 or more extra miles every week to another facility with different ownership. It seems we are left with a Hobson's choice -- open our membership to anyone (no matter how unqualified), or face the demise of our league.
Bowled Over by PC-ness
DEAR BOWLED OVER: I can't provide a "PC" way for you to exclude these people, because the very notion is so unkind that the mind reels. The heart takes a hit, too.
I can think of many ways this arrangement could work for your league -- and for you as human beings.
I shared your letter with Terry Bigham, with the United States Bowling Congress (bowl.com), who suggests that most bowlers are enthusiastic about sharing the sport with anyone who wishes to play: "We believe in bowling for everyone from 3 to 103.
Bowling is one of the biggest events in Special Olympics, and wheelchair bowling is hugely popular.
"Bowling is supposed to be a fun sport for anyone. Bowlers are very charitable; they have donated over $50 million dollars to organizations ranging from local charities to veterans organizations to 'Bowl for the Cure' (supporting breast cancer research). They're a nice, big, fun family." Management's new rules might be surprising, but it is the bowling center's right to attach new requirements to future contracts. It is your right to take your business elsewhere.
I'm going to assume that none of this inspires you, and so I'll leave you with this: If your members are too lazy, inept or unwilling to drive as little as 10 extra miles to preserve their exclusivity, then perhaps your league is not as "special" as you think.
DEAR AMY: My daughter is due to be married in the fall to a wonderful boy. However, there are issues with his mother, who has done all she can to make my daughter feel unwelcome in the family. She has made inappropriate comments about sensitive issues regarding OUR family. She reached out to me, too. I was shocked at the level of antipathy she has for her future daughter-in-law. When I mentioned this to her, even asking, "Do you even like my daughter?" She said, "Yes! I just have issues letting go of my son." For his part, my future son-in-law, who is a good man, has let his parents know how he feels about their behavior. Both parents claim they will try to improve, but then they go back to the same backhanded tactics to control both of them (through disapproval if they don't attend family functions, sending "family" letters about how to conduct oneself, and encouraging other family members to join in). I am wondering what my daughter and future son-in-law can do to solve this issue.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your daughter and her future husband should push back every single time a boundary is crossed or she is disrespected. The in-laws have admitted their destructive actions, and the young couple will have to re-train them to behave appropriately.
Otherwise, the in-laws won't have so much trouble letting go of their son, because he will let go of them.
DEAR AMY: "Distraught" was upset because his boyfriend wouldn't be "out" with him. Perhaps he needs to ask if he is part of the problem. He describes his partner's parents as "extremely religious and ignorant." It sounds to me that his definition of ignorant is "anyone who doesn't agree with me."
DEAR OBSERVANT: Good point.