I try to avoid writing about sports here, because I have other venues for that kind of stuff.
But then again, this isn't really about sports today. It's about common decency---and an ill-conceived idea for a sports column.
Mark Whicker is a sports columnist for the Orange County Register, and he needs a spanking. Some would say he needs a lot worse than that, and I can't say that I blame them.
Whicker apparently has never heard of the old equation, "Comedy= Tragedy + Time."
And no, this isn't about 9/11, despite today's date.
Whicker wrote a column the other day, making light of the 18 years lost by Jaycee Dugard, the young woman who was held captive and forced to bear children.
And yes, he was making light of it, despite his "apology" and anything he goes on record saying.
The column ticked off a laundry list of news events in the sports world that Jaycee has missed, in light of being a prisoner for 18 years.
As if she---or her family---gives a rat's ass about any of them.
Whicker took ownership of the piece, which he maintains he conceptualized all by himself, under no directives by any editor(s).
The column has been slammed, predictably and justifiably.
The Huffington Post said Whicker's piece was "The Single Most Tasteless Sports Column In The History Of Written Language."
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. I only wish the HP could have made a stronger statement.
Whicker, who I'm familiar with, unlike most folks, committed the most faux of pas. He's a good writer who lost his sense of decency--completely.
Dugard has only been free for a few weeks now. And, to be frank, I'm not sure there would ever be an appropriate time to write the garbage Whicker wrote, much less so soon after the fact.
So Mark Whicker figured he stumbled upon a great idea for a column: "inform" poor Jaycee of all that she's missed in the world of sports.
What a clever, yet dumb man.
Showing Jaycee instead of Whicker, because she's much more beautiful---inside and out
As usual, the uproar has completely taken the offender by surprise. Which is just more fodder to classify Whicker as a complete moron.
I'm not sure which is worse: writing such dreck, or being shocked and surprised by the negative reaction.
Whicker seems to feel some justification for writing the piece---again, adding fuel to the fire.
Here are portions of what he said about the column, in an e-mail to a Fanhouse writer, with my comments in bold italics:
1. It was my concept, which was to... show just how long 18 years in confinement really is, in the context of sports, which is something sports readers understand, presumably.. If you say "18 years" that's a little abstract and incomprehensible. If you say "Michael Jordan hadn't won an NBA championship yet," that's a little easier to fathom.
Oh. My. God. Whicker doesn't think we stupid sports fans can comprehend 18 years except in terms of sports events? Eighteen years is "abstract and incomprehensible"? The only thing "incomprehensible" is Whicker's stupidity.
2. I don't think writing about something in a sports context "trivializes" it at all. The idea that sports writers should ignore the outside world went out a long time ago.
No, but the idea of mocking it should have gone out a long time ago, too.
3. I am quite surprised by the angry tone of the reaction. Some have asked me why I didn't make light of the 9/11 attack or the Holocaust while I was at it, ignoring the fact that this woman is alive. For 18 years the family didn't know if she was or not. Obviously I mis-read the emotional component of this story because the reaction really has been quite extreme. I think the intent of the column was still valid. I could have changed some ways of expressing it to make it more palatable, I suppose.
Oh, so because Jaycee is alive, then all is well. She's fair game. The fact that she's alive must mean that she feels so lucky to be so, and that it could certainly be worse. I won't even bother to write one word that states how obviously abhorrent that viewpoint is.
And Whicker thinks he could have made his offensive, disgusting column "more palatable"??
In other words, just as churlish but not as offensive. Now THAT'S a pro for you!
So here's to Mark Whicker, whose name should now be made into its own noun, a metaphor for classlessness, bad taste, and stupidity. From here on out, anyone who commits such an egregious display of poor taste and idiocy should be described as having committed a "Whicker."