Friday, November 1, 2013

Home of the Midgets

(Smart Ass Cripple Disclaimer: It is my sad duty to report that the following story is true.)

I used to say that one good thing cripples have on other oppressed minorities is that nobody names sports teams after caricatures of us. You never see the Seattle Spastics, the Pittsburgh Palsies or the Detroit Droolers.

But I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo wrong!

Gary Arnold is president of Little People of America. One of his duties is to vigilantly monitor the use of the word midget in our culture. A lot of little people consider midget to be a slur. It doesn’t matter why. They just do, okay? That ought to be good enough.

Keeping track of how cavalierly we throw that word around is a big job. “Every day I get a Google alert for the word midget,” Arnold says. And every day between two and 10 references pop up. Some of the references are about Penn State assistant football coach Anthony Midget. But most of the rest are about the midget classification in Pop Warner football.

And a few years back, Arnold got an email from a Midwest mom who said her local high school football team was named the Midgets. “She said she hopes by the time her kid goes to high school that name will be gone.”

So Arnold and an LPA colleague did some research and found seven U.S. high school teams called the Midgets. And yes, they were all in small towns. It seems like there’s some sort of David and Goliath overcompensation syndrome going on. We’re small but we’re mighty, dammit!

 Arnold wrote a letter of complaint to the school boards in all those places. Most ignored him. Arnold and his colleague were invited to Freeburg, Illinois to visit Freeburg High School, home of the Midgets. They were received cordially. But as far as Arnold knows, none of the schools have dropped the Midget name.

Some people get pretty irate when you try to take their “m” word away. The sports teams at Dickinson High School in Dickinson, North Dakota are called the Midgets. In 1996, the Dickinson school board voted to drop that name. This riled the locals so much that three board members were recalled and the name was restored.

I don’t get it. There are a lot of different ways these schools could keep the small but mighty thing while losing the midget thing. If they want to promote that whole David concept how about this for a team name: the Davids. It’s simple and direct. Or why not the Mosquitoes? Mosquitoes are small and mighty, especially the ones that spread malaria. The team logo could be a pissed off mosquito that’s morbidly obese because it’s full of malaria. But even the regular old American mosquito is a pain in the ass. I tried to meditate once. I was sitting by a lake and all was quiet and peaceful. So I tried to close my eyes for five minutes and just be in the moment. But I couldn’t do it for more than five seconds because I kept getting buzzed by fucking mosquitoes!

 It looks like it will take a lot more than letters to bust this thing. Arnold will probably have to marshal up a couple hundred little people to chain themselves to the turnstiles at high school football and basketball games. And in response, governors will probably send in the National Guard.

And it’s not just in small towns or at Pop Warner games. The word midget is batted around like a beach ball even in the highest levels of the U.S. government!

More on that is coming up next time in part two of Home of the Midgets.

(Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps Smart Ass Cripple going. Please help if you can.)