The Worst Thing Ever: Mark Whicker, Jaycee Dugard, and Why Rape Victims Aren't Funny
Hey, you know what I like? Jokes. How about you guys?
You do? Well that's just great. Have I ever got a treat for you.
Have you heard the one about the little girl who was kidnapped, tossed into some dude's yard, raped repeatedly, impregnated, forced to give birth in a shed, and kept imprisoned in a state of perpetual fear and misery for eighteen years?
Well, she certainly doesn't know much about sports, now does she?
AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Get it? She doesn't know sports!
Why aren't you laughing? She's way behind on sports. See, it's funny because she was tortured and sexually violated for almost two decades, and during that time, the sports world had a whole lot of stuff happen she doesn't know about! See? Funny!
Nothing? Really? Man, you guys have no sense of humor whatsoever. You know who would have found that hilarious? Mark Whicker. Now there's a guy who knows funny when he sees it.
See, Mark Whicker is a sports columnist for the Orange County Register in Orange County, California. And like I said, the man knows funny. When Jaycee Dugard was freed from eighteen years of hellish confinement in the back yard of Philip Garrido and his wife last month, Mark Whicker saw funny. So what did he do? Like any true man of the people, he shared that funny.
Mark Whicker wrote a column in which he ran through a variety of sports-related events which have happened in the eighteen years in which Ms. Dugard was imprisoned. He talked about John Daly. He talked about Barry Bonds. He talked about all those funny, unbelievable moments Ms. Dugard missed on account of her being busy, what with all the raping and enslavement and all.
And just to show he truly gets it, Mr. Whicker closed his humorous column with a line for the ages.
"Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard."
Got that? Wait, just let it sink in for a second. Just, you know, let it sort of rattle around in there for a while.
That's right. Mr. Whicker made a joke about the fact this woman was imprisoned in the yard. Yup. Again, he knows funny. In fact, the man is so in tune with funny I'm really surprised he didn't include one of those faux-inspirational "Jailbait" posters in his article. Now that would have been tasteful.
Let me just take this opportunity to say to Mr. Whicker: "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!"
No, seriously. What the fuck is wrong with you? I'm not leaving until I get a goddamned answer. A woman was kidnapped at eleven years old and imprisoned in a fucking pederasts' backyard for almost two decades, during which time she was repeatedly sexually violated and gave birth to two of her captor's children, and you thought you would commemorate her release with a sports pun making fun of where she was kept?
Or how about this gem:
"The Florida Marlins, who did not exist when you left, won two World Series and are getting their own ballpark."
When she left? Did you just say when she left? Oh, you mean when she left as in when she was kidnapped? You have got to be kidding me. People kept in captivity are not referred to as having "left." Sorry. Just doesn't work that way. When people go away to college, we say they left. Not when they were abducted and turned into sex slaves for twenty years.
I am not, in any way, a particularly uptight individual. Nor am I the sort who shies away from broaching rather, shall we say, touchy subjects if I happen to think they're funny. When I wrote a column about Michael Vick being honored a while back, it was only on the advice of several very good friends of mine that I pulled back from making a rather unfortunate joke I'm sure would have caused quite a bit of trouble. That's right, everybody; the bit about children drowning ponies for giving bad rides was the absolute most toned-down version I could come up with.
But this? You've got to be kidding me. Kidnap, rape, torture, punchline? One of those doesn't fit. I'll give you three guesses which one.
Just as horrifying is the fact there were several comments in the comment section of the article in question supporting Mr. Whicker. In fact, several people actually blamed the people bothered by the article for being too thin-skinned. Again, what the fuck? Being offended by someone making fun of a rape victim is thin-skinned? We're supposed to think it's funny this woman lost two decades of her life living in a tent in the yard with the children her captor fathered? What the hell is wrong with you people? You don't find it the least bit upsetting this man is trivializing this woman's tragic ordeal, which I'm sure has completely ruined any chance she may ever have of a normal life, by waxing nostalgic about a bunch of funny sports moments?
Of course, following the resulting firestorm, Mr. Whicker did issue an apology. He apologized for disconnecting the bond he has with his readers. Oddly enough, he didn't see fit to apologize to the subject of his unfortunate column, nor to her family and loved ones who endured eighteen years of abject misery. Fascinating.
I don't consider myself much of a bastion of journalistic integrity. I write my pithy, snarky little columns and occasionally do a bit of actual analysis, but let's face it, I'm not doing anything noble or special or even particularly entertaining most days. But after reading Mr. Whicker's column, I have to say I'm literally ashamed to share his profession.
Now I'm going to go take a shower and try to wash that column off.