Dwarf tossing is a bar attraction in which dwarfs wearing special padded clothing or Velcro costumes are thrown onto mattresses or at Velcro-coated walls. Participants compete to throw the dwarf the farthest. A related activity was dwarf bowling where the little person was placed on a skateboard and used as a bowling ball.
In Ontario, Canada, the Dwarf Tossing Ban Act, 2003 was introduced by Windsor West MPP Sandra Pupatello. This private member's public bill did not proceed beyond its introduction to second or third readings, nor did it receive royal assent, and therefore died at the close of the 37th Legislature. The bill proposed a fine of not more than $5,000, imprisonment of not more than six months, or both. The bill was hastily tabled in response to a dwarf tossing contest that was held at Leopard's Lounge in Windsor, Ontario with a dwarf nicknamed "Tripod".
The mayor of the small French town of Morsang-sur-Orge prohibited dwarf tossing. The case went through the appeal chain of administrative courts to the Conseil d'État, which found that an administrative authority could legally prohibit dwarf tossing on grounds that the activity did not respect human dignity and was thus contrary to public order. The question raised legal questions as to what was admissible as a motive for an administrative authority to ban an activity for motives of public order, especially as the conseil did not want to include "public morality" in public order. The ruling was taken by the full assembly and not a smaller panel—proof of the difficulty of the question. The conseil ruled similarly in another case between an entertainment company and the city of Aix-en-Provence.
The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights judged on September 27, 2002, that the decision was not discriminatory with respect to dwarfs. It ruled the ban on dwarf tossing was not abusive, but necessary to protect public order, including considerations of human dignity.
Nevertheless, dwarf tossing is not prohibited outright in France. The Conseil d'État decided that a public authority could use gross infringement on human dignity as a motive of public order to cancel a spectacle, and that dwarf tossing constituted such a gross infringement. However, it is up to individual authorities to make specific decisions regarding prohibition.
Robert and Angela Van Etten, Florida members of the Little People of America, convinced the state's legislators in 1989 that dwarf tossing be made illegal. A measure banning dwarf tossing was passed with a wide margin. New York later followed suit.
A lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court by Dave Flood, who appears on the MJ Morning Show as "Dave the Dwarf," names Governor Jeb Bush and the head of the state agency that enforces the 1989 law allowing the state to fine or revoke the liquor license of a bar that allows dwarf tossing. The sport was popular in some Florida bars in the late 1980s.
In October 2011, Ritch Workman introduced legislation that would overturn the ban on dwarf tossing, claiming such a ban to be an "unnecessary burden on the freedom and liberties of people" and "an example of Big Brother government". Although not a personal advocate of the activity, Workman stated "if a little person wants to make a fool out of themselves for money, they should have the same right to do so as any average sized person".
Popular culture references to dwarf tossing
In The Lord of the Rings film trilogy at the broken bridge in the Mines of Moria, Gimli tells Aragorn, "Nobody tosses a dwarf!" before jumping over a large gap himself. Later, at the Battle of Helm's Deep, Gimli allows Aragorn to throw him over a narrow defile to battle Saruman's armies after making Aragorn promise to never mention the act to Legolas. The director's commentary in the special extended DVD edition of The Fellowship of the Ring debates whether the sport originated in the United Kingdom or Australia. The director's commentary goes on to say that the writing team did not realize that dwarf tossing is not as common in the United States and other regions as it is in New Zealand, and thus did not anticipate that many fans ultimately did not know what the joke was referring to. Neither incident, nor anything like it, appears in the actual book of Lord of the Rings.
Author Hugh Cook includes a dwarf-tossing scene in his 1992 fantasy novel The Witchlord and the Weaponmaster.
In the 2004 comedic film Dodgeball, a magazine titled Obscure Sports Quarterly features midget tossing.
American legal drama "L.A. Law" featured a legal dispute revolving around dwarf tossing in an episode aired on 11/23/1989.
In the Steve Jackson Games card game Munchkin, there is a card called "Dwarf Tossing".
In Brett Easton Ellis' Novel American Psycho main character Patrick Bateman watches a TV show called "The Patty Winters Show". One of the episodes is referred to being "about a new sport called Dwarf Tossing"
Wall Street firms (according to a 2005 Wall Street Journal article) furnished private jets and paid female escorts for attendees to a bachelor party for a Fidelity Funds trader Dennis Bruderman who was to marry the daughter of the disgraced Tyco International Ltd. boss L. Dennis Kozlowski. The party featured dwarf-tossing.
The group Bouquet Of Veal released the song "Dwarf Tossin'" which is available on The Obscurity File and Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes 2.
The Oblongs, an animated television show, featured an episode with a run down bar showcasing dwarf tossing.
In episode three of the third season of American Dad, Stan and his new friend Brett Morris are seen to be competing in the fictional "Dwarf Toss '07".
In episode 5 of season 5 of Squidbillies Early Cuyler wears a hat advising "VOTE YES RE-LEGALIZE MIDGET TOSSING".
In Married... with Children Season 6, Episode 16 Rites of Passage, Al takes Bud to a gentleman's club for his 18th birthday, and the sign with the "House Rules" states "NO DWARF TOSSING"
In the TV series Life's Too Short with Warwick Davis at the beginning of episode 3 a variety of dwarf tossing, dwarf bowling is shown using a greased up little person, a slip-and-slide mat and over sized bowling pins.
As Peter Dinklage accepted his Golden Globe award on January 15th, 2012, he ended his acceptance speech saying he was thinking about Martin Henderson and told the audience to Google the name. Henderson, a 37-year-old dwarf and aspiring actor in the UK, was badly injured after being tossed by a drunk man outside a pub in Somerset, England.
- International Dwarf Tossing Association
- Dwarf Bowling on Staten Island Lands in Gutter: Gothamist
- Dwarf Tossing Ban Act, 2003
- Legislative Assembly of Ontario Transcript of Debates for Thursday, June 12, 2003
- Canadian Press (2003-06-12). "Ontario MLA sweats the small stuff". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). ISSN 0319-0714. Retrieved 2009-03-11. "The organizer of a dwarf-tossing contest vowed the show would go on Thursday even as an angry Ontario politician made an 11th-hour bid to stop the event."
- Conseil d'État statuant au contentieux, n°136727, lecture du 27 octobre 1995
- Commentary of the ruling on the Conseil d'État's site
- Conseil d'État statuant au contentieux, n°143578, lecture du 27 octobre 1995
- "UN cuts short dwarf's war on tossing law"
- Florida Ban on Dwarf Tossing Must Be Upheld, Announces LPA, Inc.; Dwarf-Tossing is a Dangerous, Demoralizing Activity That Poses Specific Hazards to Persons with Dwarfism
- Midget Throwing: A Lost Art
- Cuomo Signs Bill to Ban Dwarf Tossing - Los Angeles Times
- "Florida Radio Personality Files Suit To Allow Return Of 'dwarf tossing'". Ludington Daily News, December 1, 2001
- Cerabino, Frank (2011-10-05). "Lawmaker wants state to reinstate dwarf tossing". The Palm Beach Post.
- L.A. Law: The Mouse That Soared - TV.com
- Craig, Susanne; Hechinger, John (July 18, 2005). "A Wall Street Affair: This Bachelor Party Gets Lots of Attention". The Wall Street Journal.
- The Mad Music Archive