By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: dwarf

Speaking out against dwarf-tossing

Angela Van Etten, an old friend from Little People of America, has written an excellent commentary for the Huffington Post on what’s wrong with dwarf-tossing. (And good grief, Arianna. “Weird News”? Really?) As you may have heard, a state legislator in Florida wants to repeal that state’s law against dwarf-tossing on the grounds that letting drunks hurl little people across barrooms would somehow help the economy.

Van Etten does a good job of explaining the difference between people with dwarfism who exploit their short stature for profit, like Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer, and people who allow themselves to be exploited — that is, the tossees. Among other things, dwarf-tossing is dangerous, because people with dwarfism have unstable spines.

In 2002, Van Etten and her husband, Robert, were interviewed by John Stossel, then of ABC News’ “20/20,” who mocked their opposition to a campaign led by a dwarf to overturn the Florida law. Fortunately, the law held.

I had the privilege of interviewing the Van Ettens during the 2002 LPA national conference in Salt Lake City, and they pop up several times in my book “Little People.”

More progress on the “M”-word

Robert Bertsche, a prominent First Amendment lawyer in Boston, passes along the latest news from the AP Stylebook Online (yes, I’m too cheap to subscribe):

dwarf The preferred term for people with a medical or genetic condition resulting in short stature. Plural is dwarfs.

midget Considered offensive when used to describe a person of short stature. Dwarf is the preferred term for people with that medical or genetic condition.

My 2004 edition of the AP Stylebook does not contain an entry for either word. Clearly the dwarfism community is making progress in its efforts to educate the public about the “M”-word.

In 2009, the New York Times’ then-public editor, Clark Hoyt, wrote that the Times had concluded the “M”-word was offensive.

I discuss the rise and fall of the “M”-word in Chapter Seven of my book on dwarfism, “Little People.”

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