Dwarf-Throwing and the UN:
The Shape of Things To Come
by Alexander Cockburn
Here's why I'm against the UN as promoter of federalism and world guv'mint. This just in from Geneva, Switzerland, via Reuter's wire: "U.N. upholds French ban on 'dwarf throwing'." It turns out that a diminutive stuntman who had protested against a French ban on the practice of "dwarf throwing" has lost his case before some sort of a U.N. human rights judicial body. The tribunal issued some typically pious UN claptrap about the need to protect human dignity being paramount.
The dwarf, a fellow called Manuel Wackenheim, argued that a 1995 ban by France's highest administrative court was discriminatory and deprived him of a job being tossed around discos and similar venues.
The U.N. Human Rights Committee said it was satisfied "the ban on dwarf-tossing was not abusive but necessary in order to protect public order, including considerations of human dignity". It also said the ban "did not amount to prohibited discrimination".
Dwarfs and their throwers will have to search out venues, like prize fighters in eighteenth century England. Soon some place like Iceland will be the only venue. No doubt a UN embargo will then ensue, with draconian sanctions, appointment of inspector/spies, followed by the inevitable intervention and occupation.
So here's a bunch of UN administrators, each of them probably hauling down an annual salary hefty enough to keep a troupe of dwarfs in caviare for life, dooming poor little Wackenheim to the unemployment lines, before going home to scream at their underpaid Rumanian maidservants or to get a blowjob from a 13-year girl from Kiev in the local whorehouse. (UN guys would do that, you ask? Oh yes they would, remember the nasty little sex scandal about UN observers in Kosovo?)
In the old days dwarfs could stand proud, strutting down the boulevards, around circus rings, or forming part of some amusing display, or matching themselves against pitbulls (a popular nineteenth-century English pastime). I can remember plenty of dwarfs from my childhood in Ireland, along with other bodies remote from conventional anatomy. Walking down the mainstreet of any Irish town reminded one of Breughel. Not any more. I guess even in Catholic Ireland the doc takes a look and chokes nature's sports before they've got out of the starting gate.
If the UN had been around at the time, the hunchbacks of Philip IV of Spain would have been forbidden to pose for Velazquez, and Jeffrey Hudson (18 inches at the age of nine, albeit gracefully proportioned) would never have been permitted to step out of a pie on the dining room table of his boss, George Villiers, the first duke of Buckingham. Having emerged from the pastry, Hudson saluted Villiers' guests, King Charles I and his Queen, Henrietta Maria who promptly adopted him.
Spared a UN sponsored abortion to save him from an existence incompatible with human dignity, Hudson led an adventurous life and survived two duels, one against a turkey cock and the other in combat with a certain Mr Crofts. The arrogant Crofts turned up for the duel with a water pistol, but Hudson stood on his dignity and insisted that the engagement be for real. They put Hudson up on a horse to get him level with Crofts and he promptly shot the man dead. Captured by Turkish pirates, Hudson said his tribulations made him grow and having held steady at 18 inches from nine to 30, he shot up to 3' 9".
Another dwarf, Charles Stratton (aka General Tom Thumb) killed one of my favorite painters, Benjamin Haydon, who was exhibiting his vast work "The Banishment of Aristides", in the Egyptian Hall in London. But the crowds preferred to gawp at General Thumb, on display in the same Hall. Thumb drew six hundred pounds sterling in his first week, while Haydon got only a measly seven pounds, 13 shillings. Haydon went off home to his studio and killed himself.
Dwarf tossing? The job came with the stature. William Beckford, the eccentric millionaire who wrote Vathek and built the famous folly at Fonthill, was one of the last to have a dwarf in private service, though E.J Woods, author of the useful "Giants and Dwarfs" (1860) says Beckford's dwarf was "rather too big to be flung from one guest to another, as was the custom at dinners in earlier days."
The "Ark of Hope" and the Earth Charter
As the repellent harbinger of world guv'mint the UN holds scant allure. Its kangaroo tribunal, the International Criminal Court (rightly denounced by the Bush administration) bears all the same features as the International Criminal Tribunals on Yugoslavia and Rwanda (heartily endorsed by the Bush administration). To quote a fine, recent piece on the CounterPunch site by George Szamuely, addressing US hypocrisy on this issue, "The prosecutor is out of control. Prosecutor and court are one and the same. Appellate court and trial court are also one and the same. The court is answerable to no one. There is no jury. Prosecutors may appeal an acquittal and insist on continued detention of a defendant."
Perhaps the most grotesque recent display of UN Kulchur at full stretch was the carrying of a cheesy "Ark of Hope", containing the Earth Charter from the US to the Earth Summit in Johannesberg last month. This same charter is the spawn of Steven C. Rockefeller, Canadian eco-mogul Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev who has said of it, "My hope is that this charter will be a kind of Ten Commandments, a Sermon on the Mount, that provides a guide for human behavior toward the environment in the next century and beyond."
The portage of the Charter at the end of last year began at an Earth Ceremony in Vermont, where Rockefeller (chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Earth Charter International Drafting Committee,) is professor emeritus of religion at Middlebury College. Present was Jane Goodall, of chimpanzee fame, one of whose thumbtips was once nipped off by a chimp asserting its dignity when Goodall tried to cosy up to it at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates, part of NYU and located in Sterling Forest. (Goodall tried to cover up by saying she's caught her thumb in a car door.)
The Charter, which finally puffed into Johannesburg in time for last month's Earth Summit, is housed and transported in the cheesy Ark of Hope, furiously described on the New American Patriot website as "a blasphemous mimicry of the biblical Ark of the Covenant, which held the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses." Accompanying the Charter and the Ark are the "Temenos Books", containing aboriginal Earth Masks and "visual prayers/affirmations for global healing, peace, and gratitude," created by 3,000 artists, teachers, students, and mystics.
"Temenos" is the word for the precincts of a temple, and accurately reflects the erzatz religiosity of UN ritualism.
According to the Charter, we must: "Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value..." ( except of course for human foetuses, which are not included in the UN's definition of "every form of life", merely as disposable protoplasm). There's the predictable affirmation of faith in the "inherent dignity of all human beings", excluding those who are finished off by euthanasia or haled before the ICC or required to give blowjobs or clean the bathrooms of overpaid UN bureaucrats.
Now comes the jackboot: The earth must "adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations Prevent pollution of any part of the environment Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling priceEnsure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction." In other words, population control, as promoted through the century by the Rockefellers, who of course assigned the Manhattan real estate to the UN for its hq.
is the author The Golden Age is In Us (Verso, 1995) and 5 Days That
Shook the World: Seattle and Beyond (Verso, 2000) with Jeffrey St. Clair.
Cockburn and St. Clair are the editors of Counterpunch, the nationís
best political newsletter, where this article first appeared.