MADD removes paralyzed woman from booth at Idaho state fair

Rose Harn peers out at the world with one working eye, her arms curled tightly against her shriveled body. A rag under her chin catches her drool.

In the two decades since Harn was left brain-damaged and paralyzed by a 16-year-old driver, her husband has taken her to numerous Mothers Against Drunk Driving events in Idaho to speak to the consequences of drinking and driving.

But that was before MADD removed Harn from its booth at a state fair last month amid complaints that the sight of her was too disturbing.

The Harns have filed a discrimination complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission against MADD and the company that operated the fair. MADD is taking a closer look at its practice of bringing accident victims to public events.

And the incident has stirred up townspeople in this community of 50,000, situated in a sugar beet- and onion-growing region 20 miles from Boise.

“People with all kinds of disabilities, disfigurements and challenges have the right to be at public events, no matter how queasy someone may be,” the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa said in an editorial.

Exactly what happened at the fair is in dispute, and the state agency is investigating.