Nobody tosses a dwarf (in Washington).
According to MyNorthwest, a Republican state senator is seeking to ban the practice of "dwarf tossing" in Washington state because it "demeans and exploits those of small stature."
So, what exactly is "dwarf tossing"? Apparently, it started in Australia in the 1980's and usually takes place in a bar or pub where drunken revelers compete at who can throw a dwarf (little person) the farthest. The little person is typically suited up with Velcro and thrown onto a mattress or a Velcro-coated wall.
In Washington State, Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) recently announced legislation to prohibit dwarf-tossing contests at bars and strip clubs. If passed, the state would become the third in the United States to ban "dwarf tossing," an entirely voluntary contest.
"There’s nothing funny about dwarf-tossing," Padden said in a press release. "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. Dwarf-tossing is an offense to our sensibilities."
MyNorthwest notes that "dwarf tossing is hardly commonplace and the Washington Post recently indicated that little people overwhelmingly reject the contest." Not all people with dwarfism object to the practice. One such dissenter is "‘Mighty’ Mike Murga, an actor and performer who regularly participates in dwarf-tossing events at bars, house parties and strip clubs in Michigan."
The debate over whether to outlaw "dwarf tossing" in the United States has been ongoing. In 2001, Dave Flood, a.k.a. "Dave the Dwarf," filed suit against Florida to overturn a 1989 law allowing the state to fine or revoke the liquor license of a bar for holding such contests. In 2011, Florida State Rep. Ritch Workman introduced legislation to overturn the state's ban, arguing that it creates an "unnecessary burden on the freedom and liberties of people" and "an example of Big Brother government."
"If a little person wants to make a fool out of themselves for money, they should have the same right to do so as any average sized person," Workman stated.
Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo also banned dwarf tossing in all New York bars in 1990, denouncing it as a "strange diversion" that belongs in the Middle Ages.
"Any activity which dehumanizes and humiliates these people is degrading to us all," Cuomo said. "This bill recognizes that and, in effect, declares these bizarre games to be debased."
The bill passed the New York state legislature with just one dissenting vote. Any bars that participated in the practice could have their liquor licenses revoked.
The bill, similar to one that became law in Florida last year, amounts to a ban because the events have not been popular outside bars. It passed the legislature with only one dissenting vote.
"Dwarf tossing belongs in the Middle Ages, not the modern age," said state Sen. Nicholas Spano, who sponsored the bill in 1990.