A Washington state lawmaker has proposed legislation that would outlaw dwarf tossing, claiming that “it ridicules and demeans people with dwarfism.”
Dwarf tossing, by the way, is when a person with dwarfism volunteers to have someone throw him or her against a padded surface or Velcro wall, usually while wearing protective gear. Let me be clear: No one is forcing these dwarves to be thrown anywhere. Participation is completely and totally voluntary, and the dwarves who choose to participate are even usually paid for their performances, but the lawmaker — Republican state senator Mike Padden — wants to take this option to make a little extra cash away from them.
“There’s nothing funny about dwarf-tossing,” Padden said in a statement. “It ridicules and demeans people with dwarfism, and causes others to think of them as objects of public amusement.”
“Even when participants are willing, it exposes them to the possibility of lifetime spinal injury,” the statement continues. “Dwarf-tossing is an offense to our sensibilities.”
Padden co-sponsored SB 5486 along with two other state senators. It states that businesses with liquor licenses or “adult entertainment venues,” such as strip clubs, may not “allow or permit any contest or promotion or other form of recreational activity involving exploitation that endangers the health, safety, and welfare of any person with dwarfism.”
There will be a hearing on the bill in the state senate’s law and justice committee on January 31. Representatives from Little People of America — which is generally against dwarf tossing — will testify at the hearing, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
But not all dwarves are happy about the bill. As Reason’s Joe Setyon notes, one performer — “Mighty Mike Murga,” who was tossed at the Deja Vu Showgirls club in October — says he considers his participation in dwarf tossing to be just like anyone’s participation in any sport.
“It’s a sport that started in England in the 1800s,” he said, according to the Spokesman-Review. “This is not for every little person.”
“If you’re not cut out for it, don’t do it,” he continued.
Personally, I tend to agree with Murga. I know that the aim of this bill is supposed to be to help dwarves, but I think it’s actually kind of offensive to them, if anything. After all, saying that such a bill would be necessary is basically suggesting that dwarves are not capable of making the decision about whether or not to participate in these sorts of activities for themselves. It’s also taking away from dwarves the opportunity to make a little extra cash — an opportunity that some dwarves might really want to take advantage of. Hell, I know that I’ve done things that were just as crazy for cash in the past. In 2014, I dressed up in a very heavy Angry Birds costume and danced around a bakery for some money. Was this “demeaning”? Absolutely. Did the weight of the costume hurt my neck and shoulders? Hell yes it did. But still, I would never have wanted the opportunity to make a little extra cash to help me pay my New York rent to be outlawed.
As for the potential injury risks? Well, as Setyon points out, those risks certainly exist with other sports as well, and yet there hasn’t been some huge legislative push to ban those. Like most things, this should be a matter of personal choice.