As soon as Florida state representative Ritch Workman (R) said he would push to legalize “dwarf-tossing” to improve employment prospects in the Sunshine State, those who would be affected by the law spoke up to say they didn’t want it.
This morning, I received an e-mail from Bob Whittemore, 55, a marketing communications manager in Phoenix and TSA Disability Commission delegate. Whittemore has a condition called Achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, and he has a lot to say about Workman’s proposal. Below, an excerpt from his note:
Have you ever been out on beautiful day at a shopping mall with your spouse or significant other, when, from out of nowhere, someone with a video camera jumps in front of you, giggling, and begins to video you?
Have you ever, after a productive day of business, walked into a bar with your colleagues and customers to celebrate the day, and are suddenly grabbed by a total stranger who wants to pick you up and throw you as far as he can, because it would be a “hoot”?
Fortunately, shortly after the incident in the Florida bar where the drunk tried to "toss me," Florida passed a law making the highly-publicized crowd-drawing sports bar "sport" of "dwarf tossing" illegal.
Since then, I can truthfully say that life has gotten better... Employers measure me by my results, not size, architects are making the world more accessible, actors with dwarfism are getting dramatic roles because of their acting talent, not their "strange appearance," and the world seems to be getting a tad more compassionate...
On October 3, 2011, Florida Representative Ritch Workman introduced HB 4063, legislation that would repeal a state ban on dwarf tossing.
This political stunt, if allowed to move forward, will end up with people getting seriously hurt. Many people who are born with dwarfism have serious spinal issues. I recently had back surgery on six levels on my back, due to severe spinal stenosis. I bounced back after surgery, due to talented doctors and physical therapists, and now travel more than 75,000 miles per year for business, but if one drunken idiot inspired by Representative Workman’s bill grabs me a decides to toss me, I could easily be paralyzed for life.
When you make a joke of a population segment, Representative Workman, you empower others to do the same. With power comes responsibility – as an elected official, you should never forget [that].