A man with dwarfism.
Critics of dwarf tossing find it both demeaning and dangerous. (Photo Credit: CC Public Domain/Amitkajitajhya /Wikipedia)

Florida state Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne) wants to boost his local economy, bringing jobs to the little people who are scuffling daily. That’s why he wrote Florida HB 4063, a bill that would lift the state’s ban on “dwarf tossing,” a bar game in which  dwarfs wearing protective costumes are thrown for long distances onto mattresses or at Velcro-covered walls. However, as some find the practice barbaric, demeaning and dangerous, the dwarf tossing champion is in for quite a fight.

Dwarf tossing banned in Florida in 1989

Dwarf tossing, which was initially imported from Australia, was banned in Florida in 1989 after former carnival worker and dwarf tossing performer David Wilson, 27, died of blood alcohol poisoning. Excessive drinking has frequently been a part of dwarf tossing culture. Workman feels it’s time to turn the tables:

“I’m on a quest to seek and destroy unnecessary burdens on the freedom and liberties of people,” Workman said. “All (they do) is prevent some dwarfs from getting jobs. … In this economy, why would we want to prevent people from getting gainful employment?”

Alcohol and exploitation

If it passes, HB 4063 will overturn Florida Statute 561.665, which prohibits all those who sell alcohol on their premises from allowing any recreational activity to take place on the premises that exploits any person with dwarfism. Currently, violators can be fined up to $1,000 or have their liquor license suspended.

Workman told local media that his “Leave No Tossed Dwarf Behind” bill is fighting for little people to have the right to participate should they choose to do so.

“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.”

Some dwarfs aren’t game to be tossed

Three-foot-five-inch Robert Van Etten, 62, of Stuart, Fla., objects to the prospect of being objectified as a projectile.

“The people who were thrown were alcoholics with low self-esteem,” he said. “Many of them were injured. One committed suicide.”

Etten is the former president of Little People of America, an organization that has worked to increase awareness of issues that affect little people, including the physical and psychological dangers of dwarf tossing. He believes the activity mocks an entire segment of society.

The toss is up to you

In 2001, Tampa morning radio personality “Dave the Dwarf” Flood filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the dwarf tossing ban. While part publicity stunt, Flood reasoned in favor of free will and self-determination.

“Why should there be a law against something because other people find it humiliating?” Flood said. “If you want to be tossed, and you’re a dwarf, that should be up to you.”

The Tampa judge ruled Flood’s lawsuit was “without controversy,” as the state had passed the dwarf tossing law, but had made no enforcement efforts at that time. The lawsuit was tossed out of court.

Dwarf tossing began Down Under



Broward-Palm Beach New Times: http://bit.ly/nnGdMB

The Florida Current: http://bit.ly/pTLr2o

Florida Statute 561.665: http://bit.ly/nd1zjZ

Palm Beach Post: http://bit.ly/qyCSVQ

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