Equal rights for all?
Every year, millions of people enjoy going to movie theaters to watch films. People of all ages, races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds attend movies in theaters for a plethora of reasons.
Whether it’s for pure entertainment, for educational purposes or simply to escape the reality of the daily grind for a few hours, everyone should have the privilege of enjoying movies on the big screen. Most people don’t think twice about this freedom; however, the physically handicapped members of the Roaring Fork Valley are being prevented from enjoying the movie-theater experience.
Over the past six months, the Bowtie Cinema Movie Complex in the town of El Jebel has made the decision to tighten its fire-code regulations, which greatly restrict disabled people from being able to enjoy the movies. These newly enforced regulations restrict wheelchair users from sitting in a reasonable location. We are exiled to the least desirable seating locations in any given theater, the first row and the back row.
Bowtie Cinemas and its affiliates demand that wheelchair users, such as myself, sit only in the areas that they have designated appropriate. Movieland insists on taking the easy way out by enforcing this restriction rather than altering the seating arrangement in its theaters to accommodate disabled community members.
After being confronted regarding the inequality its theater purposely perpetuates, Bowtie Cinemas continues to argue that it meets the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act code. But is the bare minimum really enough?
I have been a member of this community for 26 years, and as a regular patron of any establishment, I expect more than the bare minimum. Not only does Bowtie Cinemas adamantly refuse to accommodate the handicapped, but it has plans to build a new theater in five to six years that leaves even less room for disabled moviegoers.
According to Bowtie Cinemas, the aisles will be an entire foot smaller, and disabled people will only be allowed to sit in the very front of the theaters. In a valley that is so diverse and community oriented, there is still disability discrimination. The management of Movieland refuses to acknowledge that it is a part of the problem, a perpetuator of discrimination and entirely complicit in its poor treatment of disabled persons.
Shouldn’t we hold our valley’s businesses to higher standards? Shouldn’t every member of our community be allowed to enjoy the movie theater? I think so because I believe in equal rights for all.
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