Monday, October 15, 2012

...nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Hamlet was prescient in foreseeing the grounds for one of today's recipients (Alvin Roth) of the Nobel prize for economics, a theory of repugnance;

Dwarf tossing is an activity in which a large person throws a small person. The venue often is one in which alcohol is served. It is often a source of livelihood for the small person, with the large person paying for the privilege. While dwarf-tossing is legal in many places, it is sometimes banned by law.
....The matter came before the United Nations Human Rights Committee after the French Ministry of the Interior in 1991 issued a statement saying that “dwarf tossing should be banned on the basis of, among other things, article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.” After bans were subsequently enforced in some municipalities, a French dwarf, who had been employed by a company called Socie´ te´ FunProductions, successfully sued in French courts to have the bans overturned. However, the bans were upheld on appeal in 1995 by the French Council of State on the grounds that “dwarf tossing . . . affronted human dignity.”
The dwarf then brought his complaint to the United Nations, asserting that he was the victim of a discriminatory violation by France of his right to employment. A report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002) further notes that he stated “that there is no work for dwarves in France and that his job does not constitute an affront to human dignity since dignity consists in having a job.” However the UN committee found in favor of France: “The Committee considers that [France] has demonstrated . . . that the ban on dwarf tossing . . . did not constitute an abusive measure but was necessary in order to protect public order, which brings into play considerations of human dignity that are compatible with the objectives of the Covenant.” Thus the UN committee, like the French Council of State, essentially concluded that dwarf tossing was so repugnant that it imposed a negative externality by diminishing human dignity, a public good.
Well, in some places it seems it isn't;
....while dwarf tossing is repugnant in many places, wife carrying, another sport that involves persons of disparate stature, has North American and world championships. In wife carrying, large men carrying small women (not necessarily their wives) race to complete an obstacle course in the fastest time, with the prize traditionally including the “wife’s” weight in beer.
And a good time is had by all.

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