It’s hard to believe, after all these years, that the word “midget” would pop up in a front-page story in today’s New York Times. David Segal writes:
After the Depression, Congress formed what became known as the Pecora Commission, which grilled top financiers. But the point was mostly to embarrass them, and the upshot was to set the stage for stricter regulations. The most indelible image of the commission’s hearings was a photo of J. P. Morgan Jr. with a midget who had been plopped in his lap by an opportunistic publicist.
The American Heritage Dictionary makes it clear that the M-word is “offensive.” In my book, “Little People,” I trace the history of this unfortunate word, possibly coined in the 1860s by Harriet Beecher Stowe and inextricably tied up in the idea of putting someone on public display.