Thursday, April 2, 2015

The long and short of it

When I was a sports reporter at the start of my career, I worked at a newspaper that held a Secret Santa gift-giving exchange one Christmas. Funny what you learn about your coworkers -- and what they think of you -- when anonymity offers a shield. Office Twitter before Twitter.

The gift I received that Christmas? A framed portrait of Herve Villechaize. For those who don't remember the name, he's the guy from "Fantasy Island" who would point up at the sky and shout, "The plane! The plane!" Villechaize was what people today would call a little person -- someone diagnosed with dwarfism.

I was amazed that anyone would go through that much trouble to publicly humiliate me just because I happen to be 4-foot-11. But it wasn't the first time my height was the subject of jokes, nor the last. Honestly, I've had to put up with short jokes all of my life. I've even told a few myself, if only to have people laugh with me instead of at me from time to time.

I've never really thought it was funny to insult people because of their physical appearance, though. Try mocking an African American because of his skin color and you will be called a racist. Make fun of short people and that's somehow OK?

As I wrote in an article for today, studies show short people are paid less and get fewer C-Suites. Russia just adopted a law banning short people from driving certain vehicles. If you saw "The Wolf of Wall Street," you'll probably remember the midget-throwing contest. I guess it was supposed to be funny.

You know what? It's not funny. It's offensive. It shows a lack of respect. And it hurts.

So please stop. I don't want to hear it anymore.