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Florida lawmaker wants to repeal dwarf-tossing ban to create jobs
Florida lawmaker wants to repeal dwarf-tossing ban to create jobs

Some news on the job-creation front in Florida.
A state legislator has found yet another example of government regulation getting in the way of job creation.
So Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, filed a bill this week to bring back "dwarf tossing," the barbaric and dangerous barroom spectacle that was imported from Australia and thrived briefly in Florida before it was outlawed in 1989.
"I'm on a quest to seek and destroy unnecessary burdens on the freedom and liberties of people," Workman said. "This is an example of Big Brother government.
"All that it does is prevent some dwarfs from getting jobs they would be happy to get," Workman said. "In this economy, or any economy, why would we want to prevent people from getting gainful employment?"
State lawmaker's not-so-lofty effort
Yes, the viral government-kills-jobs theme is being repackaged into what might be called a Leave No Tossed Dwarf Behind bill.
"I would never force anybody to take this form of employment or pay to watch it," Workman said. "I think it's repulsive and stupid. But it's none of the state's business if somebody wants to do this."
Workman's efforts to create employment opportunities for little people willing to be objectified as flying objects was not done after consultation with anyone eligible for this line of work.
"The people who were thrown were alcoholics with low self-esteem," said Robert Van Etten, 62, of Stuart. "Many of them were injured. One committed suicide."
Van Etten, a 3-foot-5-inch engineering consultant and former president of Little People of America, has worked with his wife, Angela, for years to educate people about the physical and psychological dangers of dwarf tossing.
Dangers and painful memories
Bringing dwarf tossing back to Florida is a step backward, he said, a move that signals a permissive air of mockery on an entire class of people.
"It's something that brings out the worst element in some people, and it's focused on people who are the most vulnerable," Van Etten said.
David Dodge, 43, of Vero Beach is a computer network consultant and the 4-foot-4-inch Florida district director of the Little People of America.
"The possibility of getting paralyzed is high," Dodge said, "and then to be used as an object for people's amusement is very degrading."
The little person credited with bringing dwarf tossing to Florida died of acute alcohol poisoning in 1989.
David Wilson, 27, was a former carnival worker who had been traveling with a promoter, getting tossed by barroom patrons around the state. Wilson died in Gainesville with a blood-alcohol level of 0.43 percent.
Later that year, the state legislature moved to end dwarf tossing by passing a law that punished bars with $1,000 fines and a revocation of their liquor licenses if they staged these events. The Palm Beach County Commission voted that same year to pass a local dwarf-tossing ordinance if the state legislature failed to act.
Ten years ago, Dave Flood, who was employed as "Dave the Dwarf" by a Tampa morning radio station, filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the state law that banned dwarf tossing.
But the suit was more of a publicity stunt than anything else for Flood, 37, who engaged in a variety of stunts imagined as humor by his bigger-sized radio co-workers.
"Why should there be a law against something because other people find it humiliating?" Flood told me after filing his lawsuit. "If you want to be tossed, and you're a dwarf, that should be up to you."

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