Bullying or Big Brother?
While season four of TLC’s The Little Couple recently ended, another plotline continues... as real as any reality TV show.
In an effort to create jobs in his Orlando-area jurisdiction, Florida state representative Ritch Workman is attempting to lift a 1989 ban on dwarf tossing — a bar room attraction in which willing short-statured participants are literally “tossed” onto Velcro-covered walls or mattresses.
"We're still part of a community that gets bullied, both physically and mentally."
In a recent piece for The Daily Beast, Houston businessman and Little Couple co-star Bill Klein spoke out against Workman’s repeal, calling dwarf tossing abusive and segregating while labelling the legislative move an act of bullying.
“My younger brother in Florida brought the efforts to legalize dwarf tossing to my attention,” Klein told CultureMap. “We contacted our publicist to see if we could speak out against it, hoping to catch the ear of any news sources.”
Klein and his wife Jennifer Arnold, a doctor at Texas Children’s Hospital, have taken an active stance against bullying since their reality series started in May 2009.
“Jennifer and I were both picked on as kids, but we’ve faced issues as adults as well,” he noted, citing the surprise he felt upon witnessing discrimination in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, fields he once felt were inherently compassionate.
“We’re not a huge voice, with only 40 to 50 thousand short-statured people in the United States. Nevertheless, we're still part of a community that gets bullied, both physically and mentally,” he said.
Workman claims he, too, is against dwarf tossing. Yet, as a Tea Party conservative, he feels the ban infringes on the rights of individual citizens.
"I'm on a quest to seek and destroy unnecessary burdens on the freedom and liberties of people,” Workman told the Palm Beach Post in early October. “This is an example of Big Brother government."
"Why in 1989 did this state decide that dwarf tossing was bad?" Workman asked in the four-minute bit. "It didn't do it based on some public health concern. It didn't do it to protect others. It did it because one group of little people said they didn't like it and the other group wasn't loud enough to keep it."
Workman spoke with CultureMap to further clarify his position, noting that he was unfamiliar with Klein's Daily Beast essay.
"Bullying isn't consentual, whereas dwarf tossing involves at least two consenual adults — no matter how stupid the activity is... An American has a god-given right to act like an idiot."
"I haven't read the article, but I can tell you that Mr. Klein has it wrong in calling dwarf tossing bullying," he said. "Bullying isn't consentual, whereas dwarf tossing involves at least two consenual adults — no matter how stupid the activity is... An American has a god-given right to act like an idiot."
Among other likeminded consentual activities, the state representative listed stripping and wet T-shirt contests.
It's also worth noting that while Workman respects personal liberties, he opposes both gay marriage and medical marajuana. However, he does support legalizing adultury among constitutionally-protected heterosexual couples.
"My argument is more in line with gangster rap and pornography," he said. "People may not like these things, but we can't make them illegal." Judging from his inclusion of dwarf tossing on a list of 1,000 state laws to repeal, Florida governor Rick Scott appears to feel the same.
“People should be free to live their lives the way they choose,” Klein wrote in The Daily Beast. “However, there is a driving force that separates us from all other creatures on this planet: morality.”