How to Honor Someone Else’s Identity

Most of you remember the free ebook I gave to our subscribers as a Christmas present, Midget: A Fable of Giant Inner Healing. I plan to sell it later this year on Amazon and wanted you, our subscribers, to have it first for free. (It’s available on the downloads page; click the “Free Stuff” link above.)

A friend pointed out that “midget” is a pejorative term among little people. So I emailed the LPA (Little People of America) and asked them (1) if that was so, and (2) for suggestions about how to fix it. I said I’m not averse to changing the title (and the name of the main character), but would prefer to include a disclaimer with their approved wording.

Cuquis Robledo, the Public Relations Director of Little People of America, sent me a very timely and polite response. She congratulated me on the ebook and thanked me for reaching out to them. I believe they were sincerely touched that I cared enough to ask.

They suggested a title change and a disclaimer educating people against using the word “midget” at all, which they call the “m-word.” The LPA is trying to remove usage of the word from our vocabulary in general; for example, working with the USDA to rename certain food products. I confess I originally thought this was a little extreme, but then I actually listened to them. I listened to why from their point-of-view. Here is what I learned.

The m-word was used in the Freak Show era to de-humanize little people. “Come see the bearded-lady! Come see the elephant man! Come see the midgets!” I think little people have a right to be angry over the use of this de-humanizing word. Working in post-abortive recovery, I feel the same anger when pro-abortion advocates de-humanize a child as a “fetus” or as a “product of conception.”

When my dad grew up in Oklahoma, Brazil nuts were called “n-word toes”. They didn’t mean anything bad by it, and my dad was not a racist. It was just the thing’s name as they were taught. But I think it’s good that today we no longer use that de-humanizing word. I never realized the m-word was in the same category, but it is.

So this is not about political correctness gone mad. This is about respecting real people and their identity. It’s about sensitivity to not hurting other people unnecessarily. (Yes, there are times when we need to say painful truth, but this isn’t one of them.)

Even if the term doesn’t hurt me, and I don’t think it should hurt them, the fact that it does hurt them should be enough for me to not use it. Especially a word that was used in the past to de-humanize them.

While there’s certainly no constitutional right to avoid offense, we as Christians answer to a higher authority. We can voluntarily choose to follow the moral compass Jesus laid out for us in, among other places, 1 Corinthians 13 and Matthew 25 (especially the sheep and the goats parable). We can choose to walk in love.

So, all that to say, I’m voluntarily changing the name of the ebook. The question is, To what? This is the exciting and fun part! This is where you come in. I’m asking for your help. What’s a good name? Here’s some guidance to think about:

  • The words “midget” and “giant” are clear opposites. In changing the title, I’ll also have to change the subtitle, “A Fable of Giant Inner Healing.” Help me also find a word for the subtitle that’s the opposite of the new name.
  • I veto “Dwarf” right out-of-the-gate because, with the popularity of LOTR, people will expect something quite different from an ebook called “Dwarf”.
  • It should be mildly disrespectful or snarky. When the “tall ones” call the main character by the m-word, they aren’t complementing him. They are limiting him and his identity. It was meant to be a mild put-down.
  • Ideally, it would still fit on the cover in a similar way.

So what are your ideas? Leave them in the comments! Let’s have fun with this!

7 replies
    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Thank you, Charlene! Your vocabulary is better than mine, I had to look up “homunculus”. It totally fits, but I’m afraid people won’t know what it means.

      Reply
    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Thank you, Randi! I am actually thinking of “The Runt” (a reader’s suggestion). I can tie in “the runt of the litter” lie for more specific inner healing.

      Reply

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