Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Short Rights Movement: A Brief History (Partial)

Note: This essay is complete baloney, except for the statistics, which are all true.

Looking back over five decades of progress in securing the rights of Short-Americans (SAs), one cannot fail to marvel at how rapidly this group transformed from second-class citizenship to full membership in the diverse communities that make up contemporary America. In the early 2000s, studies showed alarming disparities at both ends of the economic scale. The working-class SA could expect 2.6% lower earnings for each inch of height deficit after controlling for other variables. And fully 90% of CEOs were above average in height, with only 3% being shorter than 5' 7". No President since McKinley has been shorter than 5' 9".

Discrimination against SAs extended to the social realm as well as the economic. Confirming a long-suspected truth, women reported that, other things being equal, a 5' 4" man would have to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more per year to compensate for his shortness, compared to a six-footer. Incredibly, personal ads at dating sites allowed women to specify a desired height, often stating things like "Under 5' 8" need not respond." However, women themselves were not immune from anti-Short discrimination. In fact, a significant thread of the women's movement pinned their inferior status not on gender, but on the height differential between the average woman and the average man.

The media compounded the problems by consistently portraying short people as somehow defective. Joe Pesci made a career playing obnoxious short men, and fictional characters like George Costanza of Seinfeld, Lord Farquad from Shrek and Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air were objects of ridicule because of their below-normal height.

The first rumblings of discontent were, as usual, heard on college campuses. SAs at Princeton, Yale and other elite schools formed chapters of Short Advocates. This group's stated mission was to "raise awareness of issues affecting SAs by any means necessary." A more radical group, Napoleon Complex, lambasted the Short Advocates' mission statement, claiming that the phrase "raise awareness" tended to privilege height. Napoleon Complex was implicated in several violent disruptions of college basketball games in which especially tall players were "pantsed" by activists equipped with portable ladders. Their most famous event was of course during the 2023 NCAA Championship in which they replaced the display cards of the Georgetown cheering section with cards that spelled SHORT HATE MUST DIE. A visibly moved Bob Costas could be seen briefly clenching his fist as the broadcast was cut to the studio while order was restored.

At this point I had to stop writing the essay on account of excessive silliness.

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