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When I was a young lad, my grandfather told me, “don’t go stabbing raccoons. Especially if you are a columnist for the Toronto Star.” I never knew what that meant, until today.
If you are a raccoon apologist, I suggest you tread lightly entering this article.
Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick stabbed a raccoon. Don’t worry, the raccoon is fine. But her reputation on Twitter is not.
I saw the peculiar headline on The Toronto Star and decided to give it a read. As soon as I finished, I knew that the good people on Twitter would have plenty to say about Heather’s column.
So I logged onto Twitter, and there I saw a barrage of insults being hurled at Ms. Mallick. Some raccoon sympathizers were calling her evil, others were calling for her arrest. One went so far as to say that they will be filling a report with the Toronto police over this horrific act of animal cruelty.
To everyone out there that is quick to stab Heather with their own figurative dessert fork, I say to you: chill out, dude (or dudette).
The story–as detailed in the article–goes as follows: Heather admits to stabbing the raccoon. She claims she doesn’t know the reason the raccoon charged her, saying “I don’t think food and I hope not sex.”
This line caught a fair amount of heat. People were quick to call Heather sick and twisted, when this was an obvious attempt at humour. I’m not going to be the judge of what is and is not funny, but let’s put it this way. Do you REALLY think that Heather believes a raccoon was trying to have sex with her? Or are you just looking for something to get angry about?
She recounts eating a cold souffle with a dessert fork, when she heard a shout from her neighbour’s yard. The raccoon was being shooed away, when it entered her yard. Heather opened the door and gave the raccoon some grief, when it suddenly began charging at her.
Heather gave the raccoon a spray with a hose, but to no avail. She then had no choice but to stab the furry bastard in the side with a dessert fork.
“Anyway I stabbed him, hard, with the fork,” says Heather. “It was a terrible sensation. I have sliced myself badly before but rose thorns and secateur blades slide in easily. Forks don’t.”
Heather also clearly paints a picture that she did not enjoy stabbing the raccoon. Quite the opposite! She says that the stabbing was “instantly awful, like stabbing a live, furry airport tarmac.”
The raccoon was apparently fine, as Heather said that the dessert fork “wasn’t even pointy.” Raccoons have dense fur and thick hides. So, to this fury combatant, a “stabbing” was more like being combed by a Toronto Star columnist. Nothing too worrisome here!
The response online, though? Chaos. Everyone wanted Heather fired for what was clearly a colourful recount of an unusual experience with a raccoon. Do you really want to live in a world where this story can’t be written? I don’t.
I reached out to Ms. Mallick for a comment. Although I don’t typically agree with her point of view on a variety of topics, I thought this would be a great opportunity to show some solidarity. Extend an olive branch of sorts. In a way, I wanted to tell her, “I am happy that you stabbed that idiot raccoon. He deserved it.” I obviously did not put it in those exact words.
Have you ever been charged at by an animal? It’s not fun. Raccoons, while cute on the surface, can really do some damage if you mess with one on a bad day. They have thumbs. They have sharp teeth. They’re tricky, smart, and resourceful. And they’re not afraid to charge.
Heather responded to me and agreed that she believes some of the backlash is due to the Toronto Star being paywalled. “They likely didn’t read the column. Dessert forks aren’t even pointy. You cannot damage a raccoon that way.”
I am strictly against call-out culture and firing people for hot-takes or attempts at humour. Unorthodox writing can be a great way to have fun and tell a story from an atypical angle. Do you really think Heather should be fired for this silly story about a raccoon and a dessert fork? I don’t.
“Callout culture is small-town gossip writ large. That’s it. It’s for people with lots of time on their hands, for whatever reason,” said Heather in her email response to The Post Millennial.
Heather finished by saying that people “blow little balloons into big balloons, and the next day another balloon floats by. Oh no, now I’m back to dessert forks and popping balloons.”
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.