A major online retailer is taking a big step towards acknowledging the rights of little people by removing midget-themed products.
Cafe Press had been selling T-shirts, mugs and baseball caps, among other items, emblazoned with slogans like "Midget Hooker" and "I've had it up to here with midgets."
One coffee cup offered the thought, "Midgets were put on this planet for our amusement. Use them as you will"
These novelty items were no laughing matter to members of Little People of America, a support group for thousands of people with dwarfism and their families.
"A shirt that says 'Little people are awesome pets' is dehumanizing," Leah Smith, LPA's vice president of public relations, told The Huffington Post. "You'd never allow this with any other group."
Smith said the word "midget" was used in time when circuses and sideshows were the only places where little people could find work.
"We hate the term," she said. "We can't even say it. We still use 'The "M"-word.'"
The word actually dates back to 1816 and was derived from "midge," a term for a sand flea. Smith said LPA actually called itself "Midgets Of America" its first year of existence, but quickly changed its name and has been protesting the use of the word ever since.
Meanwhile, the group considers "dwarf" as as acceptable, since it simply describes a group of medical conditions that cause extreme shortness.
After one LPA member posted a Cafe Press link, members started contacting company headquarters in San Mateo, Calif., to express their distate.
At first, Cafe Press officials responded to HuffPost's inquiries with a statement that products on the site "[vary] widely in topic, taste and opinion."
"At times, users may upload designs that others find distasteful or offensive, but are nevertheless consistent with our policies for expressions and content on our website."
The official also said that while at least one "midget"-themed product had been removed as of Thursday, it might take a while for others to be removed since "the word midget also refers to a type of car."
After HuffPost pointed out that the Cafe Press Questionable Material & Prohibited Content Policy specifically prohibits "derogatory references to race, gender, religion, mental or physical disability or impairment, or obesity," the decision was made to remove all uses of the word "midget."
It has been recently brought to our attention certain content on our site that may be considered offensive. Please know that these designs do not reflect the views of CafePress employees and we regret any offense or concern caused by the images in question.The very nature of determining what designs should and should not be removed from the website is often seen as a statement in itself, which we do not believe reflects our role as a platform for self-expression. However, in this case we have taken action to extensively remove content containing the term “midget” and will continue to review for other designs that do not meet our content usage policy.
The decision is being greeted enthusiastically by actor Danny Woodburn, an LPA member who is best known as Kramer's pal "Mickey" on Seinfeld.
"Ah, the small and mighty," he told HuffPost by email while working on the set of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
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