Give Me a Break: Dwarf-Tossing

ByCommentary<br>By John Stossel

March 8, 2002 -- Dave Flood is angry, because he says his rights are being violated: "I'm a dwarf and I want to be tossed," he said.

Tossed? Well, yes, it's actually done around the world, often in bars. Men compete to see who can throw dwarves the farthest.

The whole thing repulses me, and maybe you, too. But do we get to decide for Flood?

He said he can make money being tossed. He's already a showman in Tampa, Fla., earning cash doing other seedy things like working as a referee in a strip bar, as women pretend to wrestle.

And he's a regular on a radio show that is fighting a Florida law banning dwarf-tossing.

Little People of America

Several years ago, Robert and Angela Van Ettan, members of a group called Little People of America, convinced Florida's legislators that dwarf-tossing should be illegal. The vote wasn't close. Dwarf-tossing is not a sport, they argued, and the dwarf is objectified."

"Think of football," said Angela Van Ettan. "The dwarf actually is the ball. He's the object of the competitions … Being objectified is dehumanized."

And, they argued, it's dangerous.

"You're dealing with individuals who are tanked up on some alcohol," said Robert, "and when you're in this kind of activity you have a higher risk of paralysis or possibly even death."

But, asks Flood, why do the Little People of America and the politicians get to decide for him? Don't we own our own bodies? Don't adults have the right to use their bodies as we see fit?

"I'm a grown man. I'm 37 years old, I could protect myself," he said. "I don't need them to tell me what I should and shouldn't be able to do."

Making Money With Your Body

Flood just wants to use his body to make money. "I'm capitalizing on what I have. If I was 7 feet tall, I'd get paid to put a basketball through a hoop. I'm not 7 feet tall. I'm 3-feet-2 and a dwarf, so I'm capitalizing on getting tossed."

Lots of people make money with their bodies: Boxers, football players, fashion models. Plenty of actresses have enhanced their careers by having their breasts enlarged, and other surgeries. Is that less risky than being tossed?

"That is a little different," said Angela Van Ettan. She said dwarf-tossing could put all dwarves at risk.

Little people will be grabbed out of bars and thrown around? I asked.

"That has happened," said Angela. "But primarily, probably, it's more a threat and a fear which impacts on the way people live … it is the discrimination that results."

This fear justifies a ban? Why should the Little People of America decide for all dwarves? If activists get to decide for everyone, then the busybodies, in the name of perfect safety, will eventually take all our freedom.

Give me a break!

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