Alex Massie

Hey, Jaycee Dugard! Here’s the sports news you missed while you were being raped!

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This is perhaps the single worst column I've read. Ever. Anywhere. I have absolutely no idea what Mark Whicker thought he was attempting when he wrote this. But that the editors at the Orange County Register would then actually see fit to publish it is utterly incomprehensible. Mr Whicker begins:

It doesn't sound as if Jaycee Dugard got to see a sports page.

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.

Can you imagine? Dugard was 11 when she was kidnapped and stashed in Phillip Garrido's backyard. She was 29 when she escaped. Penitentiary inmates at least get an hour of TV a day. Dugard was cut off from everything but the elements.

[...]So, Jaycee, whenever you're ready, here's what you've missed...

And ballplayers, who always invent the slang no matter what ESPN would have you believe, came up with an expression for a home run that you might appreciate.

Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard.



PS: Nice to see that the OC Register warns that comments that "joke about tragedies will be blocked."

UPDATE: Mr Whicker says he's "quite surprised" the reaction to this column has "really been quite extreme".

UPDATE 2: Fairness demands that we note that Mr Whicker has apologised. He made a terrible mistake, but his editors are equally culpable for not saving Whicker from himself. Something to remember next time you hear someone sounding off about how the blogosphere doesn't have the checks and safeguards that make newspapers so much better than anything produced by online scribblers.

[Hat-tip: Matt Welch]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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