The tyranny of political correctness has clearly gotten out of hand.  It brings to mind a joke I heard in the 1970s:  you can't say 'Woman' any more because it has 'Man' in it.  But you can't say 'woperson' because it has 'Son' in it.  So the new word for females is 'woperdaughter'.

Ridiculous, right?  But it's also funny because society has descended to such an extreme level of political correctness and everyone knows it.  It is not that we shouldn't be kind, tolerant, and respectful of each other.  But the raft of insensitivity putting inadvertent turns of phrase in the cross-hairs of social shunning is often worse than the perceived insensitivity.  A subset of this out of hand social monitoring is the notion of support animals.

I have no doubt that people derive emotional support from their pets.  In my opinion there is nothing so satisfying as taking a cat nap with a real cat.  However, a lot of people are taking the notion of support animals to an extreme that is now threatening the efficacy of real support animals such as seeing-eye dogs.

Almost a year ago Newsweek reported on an artist whose emotional support peacock was denied boarding on a United Airlines flight.  In 2017 the number of so-called emotional support animals declared on United flights had nearly doubled from 43,000 in 2016 to 76,000 in 2017.  Did the number of people who are emotionally disabled that they can't fly really double?  Or are people taking advantage of something that may be legitimate for a minority of people in order to get free seats for their pets?

As of last December 22 states have dog laws.  In Utah it is a misdemeanor to falsely claim your pet is a service animal.  It defines a service animal as being specially trained to perform tasks for disabled people.  North Dakota lawmakers are currently thinking about enacting penalties for those who falsely claim their pet is a service animal.  Hawaii enacted a law last December that could result in a $500 fine for people who misrepresent their pets as service animals.

New York is among those 22 states, though it is far more forgiving than Hawaii.  It is a violation for "any person to knowingly affix to any dog any false or improper identification tag, special identification tag for identifying guide, service, therapy or hearing dogs or purebred license tag" punishable by a fine of not less than $25 for the first offense, and not less than $100 for multiple offenses within a five year period.  The license fee in Lansing, by the way, is $15 for a spayed or neutered dog, and $25 for those still able to reproduce.

Support dogs and other accommodations are a way for disabled people to function more normally in society.  A support bar in a bathroom can mean all the difference between being independent and needing another person to help you every embarrassing time you need to relieve yourself.  Some people love caring for others, but most people prefer to be able to care for themselves, at least in the sense of every day tasks.

People who take advantage of benefits for those who are legitimately disabled are stealing.  Years ago, when I worked on a hill-top campus, I hurt my ankle and needed crutches for about ten days.  The campus police were kind enough to issue me a temporary disabled parking sticker.  When I couldn't find a space near my building I did go to park in a disabled parking space, but a shiny red convertible sports car was parked there (with no disabled tag).  I finally found a space at the bottom of the hill, and crutched by way up the snowy, icy walkways.  I did leave a scathing note on the convertible, but I was so out of breath and hurting that I drew no comfort from it.  Let's face it I probably couldn't get a rise out of the entitled jerk of an owner unless I keyed his sporty ride (I didn't, but I wanted to).

The Town of Lansing amended a 2015 law in December that exempted service dogs from the Town's licensing fee.  Town officials explained that people were claiming their animals were service dogs to avoid the fee, so the Town responded by applying the fee to all dog licenses.  The fakers essentially took away a consideration the Town had offered to owners of legitimate service dogs.  So nobody wins, even those whose lives are already legitimately challenging.

I happen to be uncomfortable around dogs, and I especially object to having to navigate around them in stores and restaurants unless they are legitimate service dogs with which their owners can't function (and I am still uncomfortable around them).  In this politically correct society you would think dog owners would be sensitive to my uncontrollable discomfort, but instead they (without exception) tell me that their dog is very friendly and wouldn't hurt a fly, and just wants to lick me (which I find repulsive) and be my friend (I don't want them to be my friend).  So I suck up my discomfort, which manifests itself as a full body clenching -- I don't know what caused it, but I am really afraid of dogs -- that is most uncomfortable and distracting from whatever I am supposed to be paying attention to, such as having a conversation with a politically incorrect dog owner.

Now I don't feel so bad when a person actually needs a dog in order to get around. I still circumvent the animal, but I think their need for that kind of tangible support far outweighs my doggie discomfort.  Which, by the way, I never viewed as making me a disabled person.

However, don't ask me to sit next to your support peacock, chihuahua, pig, hamster, or chicken on an airplane.  And, by the way, I will be asking Delta for a free ticket for my wife the next time we fly on the grounds that she is my comfort person.  Or is that comfort perdaughter?