Rep. Ritch Workman is a regulation-chopping Republican lawmaker who says yes to liberty, personal freedom and "dwarf-tossing," but no to gay marriage, medical marijuana and other libertarian causes.
The Florida state representative is battling Big Brother in some, but not all of its forms. In his quest to eliminate what he describes as unnecessary Sunshine State laws, Workman has exposed himself to controversy this month by pushing to legalize "dwarf-tossing."
Make no mistake, Workman is no fan of the banned bar competition in which little people are literally turned into human shot puts.
"It's a barbaric activity," said Workman, first elected to the statehouse in 2008 to represent Melbourne, a city of 78,000 residents east of Orlando.
"But they [little people] don't need government to decide for them," he added. "This is insulting. Their actions aren't endangering anybody else. For every law that's on the books a little piece of your liberty and freedom is lost."
But don't ask Workman to advocate for gay marriage, medical marijuana or prostitution.
"I'm not a libertarian," Workman said. "Prostitution and drug abuse are not situations that don't affect anyone else. Prostitution spreads communicable diseases. Medical marijuana is just a way to legalize marijuana and we don't need to give our kids other things to get high on."
"I understand the almost-irony of me fighting to remove this ban [on dwarf-tossing] and my not wanting to legalize drugs and prostitution," Workman said. "I don't see them as parallels."
Workman, who says he is a Christian, said he wasn't interested in writing a state constitutional amendment allowing same-sex marriages either. He does, however, favor legalizing adultery among heterosexual couples.
There are other prohibitions and illicit activities that Workman said he sees as pointless intrusions on personal freedom. He's introduced bills this term that would repeal the statutes banning beer bottle collections and requiring bicyclists to ride with at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. Another Workman number would allow unmarried men and women to legally live together.
The chances of scrapping these allegedly inane measures are not promising. Workman said he doesn't expect a sponsor to emerge in the state Senate for the bills, because there's little to be gained politically by tackling the obscure topics.
Nothing's whipped up more controversy than his bill to lift the 22-year-old ban on "dwarf-tossing," an activity that took root in some bars around the state in the 1980s.
Complaints and criticism have flooded his office, he said, especially from little people around the country. The Little People of America launched an Internet petition to voice disapproval of his idea.
"The issue with dwarf-tossing is it objectifies the entire little person community," said Jennifer Arnold, the 3-foot-2-inch co-star of the reality show "The Little Couple." Arnold, who has dwarfism, is now a Texas pediatrician, but grew up in Florida when "dwarf-tossing" was legal.
"My biggest concern is to feel that we're going backwards," she said. "It seems okay today to still make fun of little people. It's not okay to do that for races, religions and other disabled people."
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