Mark Whicker began his whimsical sports column for the Tuesday edition of the Orange County Register with this line:
It doesn’t sound as if Jaycee Dugard got to see a sports page.
Jaycee Dugard, in case you’re having trouble placing the name, is the 11 year old child that was abducted, raped, impregnated and held captive in hell for 18 years.
Box scores were not available to her from June 10, 1991 until Aug. 31 of this year.
She never saw a highlight. Never got to the ballpark for Beach Towel Night. Probably hasn’t high-fived in a while.
She was not allowed to spike a volleyball. Or pitch a softball. Or smack a forehand down the line. Or run in a 5-footer for double bogey.
Now, that’s deprivation.
It goes on from there, and it just gets creepier.
The reactions have been overwhelmingly negative. The OC Register received an onslaught of complaints from readers. Shock and outrage seems to be the general reaction in the blogosphere.
The question, of course, is what was he thinking? What were his editors thinking? Could they really believe that abduction and rape and abuse were something to make light of?
Of course they could. The sports world has a history of making light of violence against women, especially when it is committed by star athletes. Accused of domestic violence, sexual assault, and murder, athletes can depend on their fans and handlers to shift the blame to the woman, to say that she had it coming, or that she’s lying, or that it isn’t such a big deal anyway – boys will be boys and all that.
Whicker has since written an apology, but he gives no indication that he understands why the things he said were wrong. He may be more careful in print, but there’s no reason to believe that he’s evolved past viewing violence against women as anything more than a joke.
Maybe firing him would help?