Wolf of Wall Street

Dwarf Tossing in the Movies

The Wolf of Wall Street (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)

Since the release of Wolf of Wall Street on Christmas Day 2013, a lot of exasperation has been expressed over its opening scene. In the movie, a room full of boisterous stockbrokers is shown taking turns throwing two dwarfs wearing helmets at a large dartboard. The main character (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) offers a $25,000 reward to the first “cock-sucker to nail a bullseye”. Protests were made to Paramount before the film was released, imploring them to remove the scene in question. The Little People of America released a statement and there were efforts to contact Leonardo di Caprio personally. Now that the movie is an Oscar candidate for Best Picture, the controversy has brewed up again. The arguments are basically that a film showing a vile activity such as dwarf tossing shouldn’t be considered for an Academy Award.

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Classroom Setup Check off List

When you read our son’s list of grade school adaptive equipment, it’s like reading a rider list for a rock star.  Well, he is a rock star in his own right, but this equipment helped him safely maneuver around campus.  He has had some of this equipment since he was 2 years old in the Early Intervention program.  Over 6 years later, I’d say that this equipment was worth all the struggle to get it.  We had several physical therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, and adaptive equipment specialists help us start collecting these pieces.  In the end, it was the special education department’s staff who worked with physical health and impairments that assessed his needs and got the equipment.  They simply assessed his needs by watching him maneuver around campus and the classroom. From there, they made a list of equipment and measurements for any adaptations. He was assessed and monitored as he got older for adjustments. It was very cool to see some of the equipment leave.  And once he got past kindergarten, it got better.

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Midget Jokes

PSA (Public Service Announcement): Midget is considered an offensive term. We prefer to be called by our name. And more appropriately, we prefer to be called a person with dwarfism or some prefer Little Person (LP).

National Public Radio’s (NPR) World Have Your Say (#WHYS) asked: Have you been offended by a joke?

Well, yeah, I’m a dwarf and a parent of a dwarf. Midget jokes have been the “guaranteed punchline” forever. Why shouldn’t you hire a midget chef? The steaks are too tall. Google’s first auto-suggest response to a search on “Midget” is “Midget Jokes”. Groan. That means it’s a very popular. Again, we are the one disability community that is considered free game.

Talking this over with Dwarf Dad, he reminded me of the freedom of speech. It’s one of the rights as Americans that separate us from most countries. Look, I’m not protesting against my country for allowing the midget jokes. I just want to stop hearing blasts about our size and abilities coupled with offensive, Rated R sex jokes.

Don’t get me wrong. I used to love Chris Rock, Carlos Mencia, and Rex Navarrete. I snicker at the Filipino jokes told by a Filipino even more, probably because I can relate. The thick Filipino accent coupled with shots at our quirky culture is too rich to not chuckle at. But then it gets old. It gets really, really old. And before long, I’m looking at the time and I’m completely bored.

Being a comedian is an honest living that requires talent unlike dwarf tossing. You’ve gotta keep writing new material because before long your shtick making fun of people with differences isn’t so original or hilarious. So, don’t worry Brad Williams. I’m not going to protest outside the next comedy club you’re performing at. I’ve got bigger fish to fry without worrying about these types of dumb jokes. I’d rather not have jokes about my son and our family exist, but I bet President Obama feels the same way about his family. Just hope all you comedians can come up with better comedy material beyond midget jokes.

A Word About Dwarf Tossing: Degrading

An Average Height parent of an LP recently posted that a restaurant in New York is advertising a dwarf tossing event. She thought it was completely disrespectful and that it “goes back to the whole idea of little people being used for entertainment purposes.” This mom of an infant LP son encouaged people to call into the restaurant and voice their opinion to the manager. Well, you would expect the dwarfism community to all be on the same side of the fence and be up in arms. Nope! We all have a different opinion on our role in the world just as we differ on politics and religion.

After watching the thread continue on with this conversation of “I want to be tossed like a salad” and “Government shouldn’t be my mommy to tell me what I can and can’t do”, I had to post about the big picture. Dwarfs outside the US and developed countries have a greater responsibility, which is to be treated with dignity so that other countries will follow. A friend of mine posted this article and is very active in the movement to stop human trafficking. Someone posted on that thread about how dwarf tossing can be a form of human trafficking. I think that is a very valid point and one thing to consider when thinking that possibly LPs “choose” to participate in dwarf tossing. Who’s to say that dwarf tossing in other countries outside the US isn’t a choice of an individual?

We should not condone dwarf tossing in the US, as much as we do not condone human trafficking. According to this article:

As the sexual attractiveness or labor power of victims are the object of exploitation, there are very few individuals with disabilities among victims. However, a study of children trafficked into circuses found a significantly high number of children with dwarfism. Said to be shunned socially in Nepal and India, these individuals are in high demand by traffickers to be exploited as clowns in circuses. Begging is another sector of exploitation where disability is in demand to generate sympathy among onlookers. Physically challenged minors are trafficked from Southeastern Europe to beg in the streets of Greece and Italy.

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Playing Musical Instruments in Grade School and Beyond

Hands on violin in sepia

Question:  I’m thinking of starting my older AH son on violin soon, which got me thinking, how that might work for my child with achondroplasia if/when he wants to start. Do any of your achon kids play? I guess they make violins small enough? Will his fingers make it around the strings? Does the asymmetrical posture have any impact on orthopedic issues?

This Dwarf Mom played violin from grade school until high school as well as piano for 10 years. Yes, they make violins small enough for LP children. I still own my 1/8 modern acoustic violin and look forward to passing it onto my LP son. He will be able to learn the strings by the time he is in 5th grade.  If not, the violins can go even smaller (such as this 1/10 novice violin).  Though, I hope he will keep mine after it’s well tuned and given new horse hair on the bow.  When I took it out to take these pictures, he was actually very anxious to begin playing it.  I assured him he will get to . . . once he learns the piano first.

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