Saturday, January 21, 2012

Peter Dinklage's platform

In 2011, Peter Dinklage thrilled the dwarfism community when he won an Emmy Award for his role in "Game of Thrones." For little people everywhere, it was a break through moment. On an international stage, a dwarf was recognized for talents that had nothing to do with dwarfism. This recognition was all the more powerful because it came within the field of entertainment, an industry that is often criticized for exploiting the physical stature of people of short stature. When he took the stage, Dinklage made no reference to his dwarfism or to the marginalization of his community. But he didn't need to. Simply accepting the Emmy sent as powerful a statement as any speech could have.

Last Sunday, Dinklage took the stage again, accepting a Golden Globes Award for "Game of Thrones." This time, Dinklage made reference to dwarfism, using the platform to build support for a dwarf in England who was the victim of assault. According to news reports, Martin Henderson was celebrating his birthday at a bar when a stranger picked him up and threw him to the ground. In interviews after the incident, Henderson linked the assault to dwarf tossing, suggesting that the stranger was inspired by the English Rugby Team, which, after a match in New Zealand, participated in a dwarf tossing event. Again according to reports, the assault has left Henderson partially paralyzed.

Though what happened to Henderson is tragic, it positively underscores why H.B. 4063 in Florida must die in committee. The proposed legislation would allow Florida bars to host dwarf tossing. Arguing against H.B. 4063, LPA has claimed that dwarf tossing is a threat not just to the individuals involved, but to the entire community. Long before what happened to Henderson, others within Little People of America have come forward, claiming to be victims of assaults inspired by dwarf tossing. The Henderson incident sends a message to an international audience that all dwarfs, not just those that chose to participate in dwarf tossing, are threatened by barbaric assaults if dwarf tossing is legalized.

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