4 'Victims' We Have to Stop Feeling Sorry For
People love to play the victim these days. And why not? There are plenty of roles to go around. Be it a con artist preying on the kindness of others or a natural disaster wreaking havoc where it doesn't usually wreak, there seems to be an endless supply of new and exciting ways to turn regular people into marks and statistics.
It's in these moments of unexpected adversity when the best in people should (and usually does) shine through in the form of support for those who are legitimately suffering. That said, our sympathy is getting spread a bit thin. There's a lot of misery in this world and, sad as it is, we just can't feel sorry for everyone.
With that in mind, it's time to start applying some filters, and I think I have a few good places to start. Here are four "victims" we see all the time who no longer deserve our sympathy.
People Who Get Stranded While On Absurd Adventures
Remember Abby Sunderland? In 2010, she attempted to become the first person under the age of 18 to sail around the world solo. She departed from Marina del Rey, California on January 23, 2010 with plans to complete the journey without stopping. Those plans hit a proverbial iceberg when electrical problems forced her to stop in Cabo San Lucas. That's in Mexico, which is basically California with fewer Mexicans, so in terms of a trip around the world, she barely even made it out the front door. Nevertheless, she decided to give it another shot, restarting the trip from Mexico.
Doomed to fail? Of course it was! To the determined youngster's credit, she made it as far as Cape Town, South Africa this time before the need for repairs forced her to stop. Still undeterred, she decided to continue her journey unassisted even if she wouldn't be able to say it was completed without stopping, because that's still a pretty cool thing to be able to say you did as a teen.
Here's the thing, though, it's not the public's responsibility to make sure teens get to do cool shit. So when Abby Sunderland finally failed in a more catastrophic, "stranded in the Indian Ocean" kind of way, why was it the public's responsibility to see to it that she was rescued?
Before you get your pitchforks out, please understand, I'm not saying she shouldn't have been helped at all. Of course you send someone out to save her, she's still technically a kid. I am, however, saying that's why you save her. It's not her fault her parents don't give a shit if she dies in the ocean. If you're an adult who willingly puts yourself in the path of danger just to accomplish some worthless goal, though, I'm less sold on the idea that you deserve public intervention. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but nobody asked you to sail around the world, buddy. We haven't needed your kind of services since spices were hard to come by.
At the very least, you should be required to reimburse whatever taxpayer money goes into saving your ass. That's what bothered so many people about the Abby Sunderland fiasco. It's estimated that between $200,000 - $300,000 went into the rescue efforts, and her family offered to pay back not a single dime. That's a problem. If you have the money to build a boat that you even think is capable of traveling around the globe without stopping, you have the $200,000 to pay for your rescue efforts when you fail.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say you should be required to prove you can help finance your own rescue efforts if shit goes haywire. If you only have enough money to get yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, you don't have enough money to make the trip, period.
Good luck telling that to the Sunderland family, though. Not only did they not bother paying anything back, they actually had the gall to ask for donations to recover Abby Sunderland's boat after it had to be abandoned. That takes just a bit more nerve than sailing around the world by yourself.
And it gets better! It's not just overambitious teens who routinely ask for undeserved help. The US Navy and Coast Guard estimate they've spent a combined $4.2 million towing just two Carnival cruise ships, the inappropriately named Triumph and Splendor, to safety over the years. When the government asked them to consider paying some of that money back, the beleaguered travel giant responded with this:
"Carnival's policy is to honor maritime tradition that holds that the duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation of the entire maritime community."
Translation: You have to save us and we owe you nothing.
On the bright side, even though most of their cruises depart from Miami, they're incorporated outside the country, so they also don't have to pay taxes.
People Who Visit Unlicensed Plastic Surgeons
Right off the bat, I want to apologize for how long that first entry was. There are a lot of words there. Over 670, to be sort of exact. I've written entire articles that have fewer words. The one I linked to there in order to make my point isn't one of them, but it's close enough. And besides, Heidi Klum, right?
Right, and that's a really strong segue to the point I want to briefly (for a refreshing change of pace) make here, which is that it's time to stop feeling sorry for people who do things like this to their face.
That's Priscilla Presley who, as you might have noticed, has destroyed her once lovely face in ways age alone never could. Or, more accurately, she paid someone to do it for her.
Now, I have all the sympathy in the world for someone who goes to a legitimate medical professional to have a procedure done, cosmetic or otherwise, and winds up getting maimed in the face. That's sad, but it's also not what Priscilla Presley did. Her procedure was done at the home of Lionel Richie's former wife by some Argentinian dude who charged women with too much money $300 - $500 a pop to inject silicon goo directly into their lips. Shockingly, it turned out to be a scam. The substance he was injecting the women with was an automotive grade lubricant used to keep engine parts running smoothly in Argentina.
Look, you wouldn't expect quality dental care from some dude at a party just because he was wearing scrubs and had a clean pair of pliers. Why are you letting anyone inject anything into anywhere on your body if you don't know for sure that they're a trained medical professional? That's what people in the worst throes of heroin addiction do, and the accepted rules of society dictate that we don't feel sorry for people who make such shitty decisions. It's that simple.
People Who Get Offended at Comedy Clubs
Hey, you like rape jokes, don't you? Of course you might, which means of course you might not, too. It's a total crap shoot. That's what makes rape jokes so fun to tell! You just throw them up there and hope for the best. They're like the Hail Mary of comedy.
If you're the type who disagrees with the above sentiment, though, a rape joke at a comedy club can be a lot like a foul ball or a broken bat at a baseball game. If you choose to buy a ticket, you do so knowing full well one might come flying at your head.
That's what happened last summer at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles when, according to the version of events that work best for the premise of this article, Daniel Tosh popped in to do a surprise set. At some point, the talk on stage turned to what subjects can and cannot be considered funny.
That's where the details get hazy, but it's alleged that a woman in the audience yelled out "Actually, rape jokes are never funny!" or something to that effect, to which Tosh replied, "Wouldn't it be funny if that chick got raped by like five guys?".
Of course, they're both wrong, but we can't just collectively settle on that conclusion and power on as a team, so instead, the incident turned into a gigantic controversy that resulted in halfhearted apologies and everything.
Should it have, though? Surprise! I'm going to say no! For one thing, by all accounts, she spoke up first. Daniel Tosh didn't just out of the blue look at someone in the audience and make that joke. That would be fucking insane. No, she yelled something at him, a comic onstage at a comedy club. That makes her a heckler and, to put it in the most unfortunate way possible given the context of this discussion, that means she was kind of asking for it. You're allowed to be offended all you want at a comedy club, you just have to be quiet about it while you're at the club. Those are the rules and they've been in place for as long as we've been expecting people to not talk at porn theaters or jerk off at the library. That might be a hard pill to swallow, but the times when the crowd or ownership at a comedy club is going to side with the person shouting random stuff from their table are going to be rare.
That's especially true if they're mistaken about what they're shouting about. If you remember the Daniel Tosh rape joke controversy, you might remember that a few short days later, video of a bit by a comic named Ever Mainard started making the rounds at sites like Jezebel.com, which dubbed it "A rape joke that will actually make you laugh."
So apparently the Daniel Tosh rape joke wasn't racist enough? How rare is that? The point is, the woman at the center of the Tosh controversy was wrong about a lot of things, but the most important of those things was mistakenly believing she had the right to share her opinion in the middle of a comedy show.
And don't worry, if someone crosses a line with the audience in a really profound way, it's a problem that will work itself out when people stop asking that person to tell jokes at comedy clubs. If you don't believe that, find me some video of Michael Richards doing stand-up after 2006.
People Who Get Too Close to Wild Animals
It's time to start giving these animals a goddamn break, everybody. We already eat them, which isn't something we can really be faulted for, because they are delicious.
On top of that, we go and make things worse by constantly infringing on their territory. If you live in even a moderately sized city or town, right now there's likely a structure of some sort being built in an area that used to just be a wide open space where the wild animals of the world could frolic in peace. Again, not our fault. Animals should learn to use guns if they don't want strip malls in their living room.
There are some places, though, where the animals are still in control. And you know what? They can have every one of those places. If mankind hasn't built a Starbucks there yet, we probably don't want it anyway.
Unfortunately, that means if you choose to go to one of these places and the animals decide you have to stay (typically as a meal), the rest of us aren't required to fight them for you. Expecting that kind of support out of people only leads to disaster. That's the lesson we learned watching that Grizzly Man documentary, where a bear loving animal activist named Timothy Treadwell dragged his then girlfriend to Alaska so they could live with the bears for a while. Like, literally live with the bears.
She apparently wasn't too keen on the idea because, again, bears.
Sure enough, Treadwell overstayed his welcome and got attacked by a particularly unruly bear. Treadwell's girlfriend tried to intervene on his behalf but, sadly, both of them were killed.
Only one of them should have been, though, and that's the one who thought living with bears in the first place was a good idea. It's high time the rest of us start letting people do shit like this by themselves. For all of the same reasons mentioned in the "absurd adventures" entry and more, daredevils who tempt fate by buddying up with wild animals are just going to have to start figuring that shit our on their own when things inevitably go wrong.
That goes for people who choose to live in the wild and those who bring the wild to them alike. If you want to have a pet chimpanzee, you better learn how to fight a chimpanzee. The rest of us shouldn't have to learn just to accommodate your need to own wacky pets.
Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.