Little Things, Big Difference?


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There is a bar in Ermita, Manila which is the least politically correct bar I have ever ended up in, as far as I can (or wish) to remember.

The Hobbit House, founded in 1973, is run by very short people and is a good place to sip on ice-cold imported beers opened by very short people. It is a location where one can enjoy very short people singing, others strumming on banjos and guitars. You can have a meal there too, cooked by very short people and delivered to your table by very short people. I recommend the grilled liempo washed back with a bottle or two of Carlsberg, or, if you have a throat of iron and a head of granite, local Red Horse beer.

I don’t think it’s right or proper to embarrass the person – Antonio Ignacio of Antipolo – who arranged a business meeting for me there. A ridiculous venue for a project presentation. Nonetheless, midday heat in the Philippines can be stifling and once you’ve walked a few streets with the stench of sewage steaming up through the pavement, and avoided some rats as big as cats, you’re happy to be served a refreshing beverage by anyone, even if they have to use a step to fetch one’s drinks off the top of the Hobbit House bar.

The air conditioning in the Hobbit House is certainly worth the slalom required to reach the place. After a while the offers on the pavement from transvestite sex workers and hawkers flogging Viagra lose their novelty value. It’s stressful enough walking in the dodgier parts of this sprawling, bursting metropolis – keeping one hand on one’s wallet, one hand on one’s phone and wishing you had a third hand to ward off the unwanted yings of one’s yang.

I am told there is an even less politically correct bar to be found in Manila (no, not that sort… wash out your filthy minds) …  

The Ringside Bar on the Burges Strip is a boxing (not a table tennis tribute) joint. It employs around a dozen dwarfs who box against each other in ‘midget bouts’ from 8pm until 4am every night. Western tourists are encouraged to give tips or buy drinks for the dwarf competitors and in return they get to join in with the bouts.

But is there really a market for dwarf punching?

John Bercow doth protest too much but what about Maria Glorian Tomen? The Daily Mail reports that Ms Tomen, from the Little People Association of the Philippines, said the bar was offensive just for referring to the workers as ‘midgets’:

‘Aside from fighting for our rights and welfare and the equal opportunity, part of it is to abolish the use of the ”M” Word’

Should one go so far as to disapprove of dwarfs fighting dwarfs? Heavyweight boxing is after all one of the world’s richest sports. If the dwarf participants, like the workers in the Hobbit Bar, are happy in their work then why take all that joy and earning potential away from them? Giants like Tyson Fury and Lennox Lewis would knock your block off for banning heavyweight boxing.

In any case should one really care what the difference is between a dwarf or a midget or a little person or a transvestite or a transexual or a giant and – sorry, diversity officers – but should we really be bothered to learn? If I wanted to re-read tedious Foucault and understand more fully the intricacies of the (unintended) destructive thought missiles of identity politicking then, frankly, I would, but I’d need industrial quantities of speed before I turned one page.

Haven’t we reached peak divide yet?

This trend for pointless, endless division, renaming and pronouning is tiresome and unnatural; hardly mitosis or meiosis. It’s as uncivilised as those drivers in foreign lands who honk their horns when stuck in motorway traffic – soon forgotten, their point temporary and bound not to stick. As dim-witted as clinging to someone who is not interested in you. As anti-meritocratic as those dullards who write off meritocracy as mere myth.

But what do I know?

I have only met such short people once and they were the very pleasant employees of the Hobbit House. They did not seem oppressed. I cannot recall ever talking about dwarfs except perhaps in the context of Snow White. But how ridiculous and tragic that an organisation called the Little People Association of the Philippines feels that it needs to exist.

Sure, difference can be jarring…

I am the first to confess that I once got a hell of a shock bumping into the Bearded Woman of Guildford when I turned a street corner beside TK Maxx. In the darkness of a half-electrified Accra night in 2012 I tripped over and landed atop a one-legged nude fellow in the street. On our year off a pal of mine fell down a sewer in a back street of Udaipur – so my Accra trip, despite its soft landing, could have been worse.

Is not difference what makes us human and makes us resist the drone-like dreams of collectivist dystopians?

Hobbit House is a fine bar and restaurant, its staff were kind and attentive – so let it prosper. Let the woman sport a beard. Let the one-legged Ghanaian lie naked in the dark as long as he’s minding his own business and puts on his y-fronts when the sun rises. Let the transvestites persist with their propositions, the hawkers flog their pick-me-ups, and the dwarves knock ten bells out of each other if that is what they so desire.

For variety is the spice of life. We don’t need Black History Month or the circular firing squad of identity politics to tell us otherwise or to try trap our liberties in postmodern treacle. Pointing out division, building walls between our fellow human beings risks turning us all into the racists the identity politickers desperately want us to be.

Difference only exists to our detriment when collectivists despise individual expression. Pointing out difference is the chosen sport of modern progressivism, with its hairshirtist, flagellant, religious, puritan, absolutist concept of what progress is. Do not fall into their traps, linguistic or philosophical! Individual beauty and variety should be treasured and honoured. Without the myriad of our hues and idiosyncrasies we are but sheep, our freedoms lost to oppression.

Dominic Wightman is Editor of Country Squire Magazine.