The Campus Conversation: Little People Wrestling

As juniors and seniors remember, two years ago ASCMC threw party centered around a jello wrestling tournament. To those who don't remember, I'm sure this sounds a like pretty standard CMC debauchery. However, at this particular party there was an unexpected surprise... Little people wrestling. ASCMC paid an agency representing an assortment of little people to come to our fine campus and wrestle for the entertainment of all. Their brawl introduced a new debate to campus over ethics, economics, and morality, a debate we're happy to revisit as we approach its two year anniversary.

Editor's Note: This piece is the first in a recurring series of discussions of controversial campus issues. For the sake of argument, the authors were asked to creatively defend a position that they may not fully endorse.

Let Them Wrestle By Ron Jeremy

Now amongst those who still cling to antiquated Victorian morals, little people jello wrestling evokes a response of pure disgust and outrage. A quick glance at my opponents post demonstrates this fact beyond reproach. But if we move beyond our visceral socially programmed response and analyze the situation with cold rationality, is it really that bad? Let's apply some of that economic theory we all learned in ECON 50. The little person, by choosing to accept our 200 dollar appearance fee, is through implication claiming that he is better off in a world in which he/she is paid to jello wrestle. No force is involved. Now some of you might believe that they should not choose to subject themselves to such obvious humiliation. But this is paternalism at its worst. If they view their dignity to be worth under 200 dollars, who is anyone else to tell them otherwise?

Along these lines, many will trumpet the claim that we exploited and demeaned little people for our own benefit. They will argue that the little people are only choosing to do this because they have no other choice. I won't bother even denying this. All jobs by their very nature are inherently exploitative. A job is an activity that you don't enjoy, yet engage in anyway because the monetary benefits are overwhelming. We're told as children to do what we love, but the cold fact remains that most people don't. The accountant demeans himself when he chooses to crunch numbers instead of fly fish. Hell, I without a doubt demeaned myself when I worked at Chuck E. Cheese as a giant freaking mouse. Yet I chose to do it anyway, because the monetary compensation I received made it worthwhile. I question if I should even use a word as inherently pejorative as demean. Even extreme examples like a stripper or prostitute are simply people willfully performing a service for a small fee. If anyone is being taking advantage of, it's the horny clientele, forever the prisoner of the brain below their waist.

Now thus far I have spent my time arguing in defense of the little people's decision to engage in jello wrestling. Other people, however, will argue that the outrage lies on the other end of the transaction. They will yell at the top of their lungs that anyone who would gain any sort of enjoyment from watching this display is beyond sick. I couldn't disagree more. We cannot control how we feel. If we find something entertaining, we find something entertaining. Trying to repress our feelings won't do anything but maybe provoke a Freudian dream. So if enough people at CMC enjoy watching little people wrestle, we should embrace this reality.

In fact, given my initial arguments, trying to deny our feelings would hurt the little people as well. Not only would we be limiting our own entertainment, we would be preventing others from cashing in on something that they have already demonstrated to be in their best interest. In this situation, everyone is forced into a non-optimal outcome. And since utility is the only true metric of morality, I will contend for all to hear that not only is little people wrestling alright, it is in fact moral. Yes, all of you who partook in this “debaucherous” event two years ago, not only are you not a creep, like my opponent will contend, you were, in fact, looking down from a moral high ground.

Equal Respect No Matter the Height By Cato

Our opponents will argue that the right of contracts between individuals is sufficient grounds to justify our student government paying two little people to wrestle in jello for the pleasure of a crowd of inebriated college students. They misinterpret entirely the general problem represented by this event. The issue at hand is not at all whether the right of contract is generally valid, there is no disagreement there; it is whether we are right to make this contract in particular. It is our intention to demonstrate that our opponents’ argument is not consistent and that for this student body to condone and participate in such an exhibition is degrading to our own public image and sense of social responsibility. While our opponents treat these wrestlers as individuals in order to defend their right to contract, they neglect the fact that they have been hired by virtue of their membership in a certain minority group. If this were nothing more than a transaction between individuals why did we seek members of this group in specific? It is undeniable that it is the specific physical characteristics of little people that provide the entertainment that we look to derive from their wrestling in jello. This is a contract between individuals, but it is also much more. This is the subjugation of a minority group defined by its particular physical attributes by the majority for the express reason of those characteristics.

For such a large segment of our student body to so actively and so publicly participate in this oppression is despicable and disgusting. What if instead of little people in the ring instead we had hired two African-Americans to battle it out with spears and shields. The crowd surrounds them amused by their simulated savagery and tribalism. This is how the majority has always oppressed the minority. The specifics have been different but the result has always been the same; the majority exerts and expands its power over the minority by humiliating them and reasserting their inferiority. What this student body and our opponents are explicitly saying is that these people are nothing more than an amusement, not individuals at all. To assert the individual rights of people who you treat as less than human in other circumstances is inconsistent to the point of hypocrisy.

It is not wrong for us to hire others to perform for the sake of our personal entertainment, and it is not wrong for anyone to voluntarily humiliate themselves for the sake of others’ entertainment. What is wrong, egregiously and sickeningly wrong, is for us to voluntarily participate in the continued subjugation of a group of people for nothing more than some set of physical traits that they possess by chance.

Even if you find yourself unable to accept the fact that you are a heightist bastard there is at least one thing that is clear. The majority of society does consider "midget jello wrestling" to be hedonistic and discriminatory, and it has become a stereotype of idiotic college students to objectify women and dwarfs in this manner. It is not in our best interest as a college community to degrade ourselves by becoming the perfect example of what society finds wrong with frat-boy culture. I will not deny that there is a monetary benefit to the individual dwarfs who jello-wrestled, and I suppose some of us students took pleasure in the debasement of those wrestlers, but the costs to our image as a community, and the general costs to a society that still keeps short people from achieving on the same level as tall people are much greater.

For more arguments from these writers, see http://www.duelingdiatribes.com/