Published: 14:39, 03 May 2018
| Updated: 14:57, 03 May 2018
A burger van owner says his decision to hire a 4ft 7ins friend to advertise his business with a “mention the midget” discount is “just a bit of banter”.
Peter Gallacher is paying Shaun Clark to walk up and down Sturry Road with a sandwich board promoting Burger Lips on the Canterbury City retail park.
Mr Clark, who was dressed as a leprechaun, says those offended by the stunt are being “overly sensitive”, while Mr Gallacher described it as a “a bit of harmless fun”.
But the controversial promotion, offering 10% off for customers who “mention the midget”, has been branded “sad and pathetic” by charity groups.
The chairman of the Restricted Growth Association, Gill Martin, says it demonstrates “how many people still think dwarfism is an acceptable target for ridicule and abuse”.
“How sad and pathetic that the owners of this food van thought the only way to sell burgers is to degrade and dehumanise people with dwarfism,” she said.
“The word ‘m*dget’ is deeply offensive to people with dwarfism.
"It has strong historical associations with the freak shows of years gone by where we were paraded and abused. It should never be used.”
Mr Gallacher, 35, says the stunt was thought up by Mr Clark himself as the pair shared a drink in the pub.
“Most of the people I’ve spoken to haven’t been offended by it,” he said.
“Even Shaun wasn’t, otherwise he wouldn’t have done it.
"If he’s not offended then others shouldn’t be on his behalf.
"Many of my customers were almost crying with laughter. It definitely helped business.
“There’s no difference between Shaun doing this and others appearing in pantomimes – it’s a job, they get paid for it and if they don’t enjoy it they won’t do it. It’s harmless fun.”
About 20 people claimed the discount on the first day of the promotion, which will run every week.
Mr Clark, who has worked in nightclubs and attended stag dos as “a little person”, supplied the costume himself and has a wardrobe full of other outfits.
He said: “I don’t mind it - people who take offence to it are being overly sensitive.
"I agreed to do it and we spoke about it properly. I’ve got no problem with the word midget – as I walk down the road I get called it most days anyway.
"I was just helping Pete out.”
More by this authorJack Dyson