questionswhy is there a human trafficking joke on woot?


Not only in bad taste, but in bad grammar as well. I live on the border, and I administer grant funding for programs that include services to victims of human trafficking, so I can tell you for a fact that this is no laughing matter. Here's a taste:

US Customs searched an 18 wheeler passing into Mexico because the driver was acting oddly and they thought he might be carrying firearms or some other restricted cargo. In the sleeper compartment they found a 13 year old girl he'd kidnapped somewhere in the Midwest, sexually abused on the cross country drive, and was taking to Mexico for unknown purposes. After receiving medical treatment the girl was taken to one of the children's shelters we fund to stay a couple of days until her parents could arrange a compassionate flight to come and get her. During those couple of days we brought numerous services to her aid, but nothing will ever repair the damages she suffered. This is not a fit subject for humor.


Thanks for your feedback. We've made changes with the write-up and will continue to review the content.

Human trafficking is obviously a very serious matter. If anyone would like to learn more, you may wish to visit or


@rayray8822 : for what it's worth, please accept my personal thanks for raising this issue.

@moondrake, please accept my gratitude for your follow-up information.

And @gatzby, thank you for a fast response.

Now, can we please have some assurance from someone way up the ladder, perhaps @jumbowoot, that the woot staff will get some sort of official reminder that there are topics which just can't be made cute or humorous?


What gets me is the ad that used to show up on the right side of the screen on deals for a t shirt company where a good looking girl is wearing a shirt that says something along the lines of "admit it, I'm worth going to jail for." To me, since the girl is obviously at least 18, that is referring to rape (what else would you go to jail for?). I have installed an add-blocker (not because of that add) so I don't see it anymore. Maybe I'm just mentally ill and there is a more innocent meaning (or it is meant to be worn by underage girls but that just makes it seem worse). I realize Woot probably had no say in the content of that ad but it still kind of got under my skin.


@magic cave: It's been escalated up and it'll get editorial review, for sure.


@benyust2: If you ever see offensive ads on the site, please let us know! If you have the link to the landing page, that is very helpful.

We can't necessarily control what shows up, but I believe we can ban campaigns.


It is the worst thing in the world to offend someone.


The worst part was that it was light-hearted. I'd be much happier if they'd made a malicious joke about it and maybe threw in a few racial epithets for good measure.


The only thing offensive here is that woot won't let me downvote everybody that woke up on the wrong side of the shed this morning.


So I missed the writeup, let me throw that out there. For all I know it said human trafficking explicitly.

However, I see no evidence of that here. The only reference I see is it said 'something' about a human being locked in a shed. I'm wondering exactly what caused the mind to immediately jump to human trafficking. Now, there are tons of other reasons, and sure, they're not pleasant. But person locked up in a shed doesn't scream human trafficking to me as the first option, it screams lone psycho, it screams serial killer, it screams torture (I could go on, but I think I've made my point). Screaming "the person has been sold/traded or is about to be" ranks pretty far down the list.

That said, cracking jokes about it really isn't all that cool, but one wonders why one's mind jumped immediately to human trafficking. When you see a child at the mall on a leash, does the mind immediately jump to human trafficking, or bad parenting?


@rapidmonkeyoncrack and WARNING to all :
I clicked on your link. There were a couple paragraphs and then a bunch of code ( wondering if anyone else got that )
It gummed up my computer. I had to force quit, empty my cookies and cache and trash, and reboot to get it back working.
Now it's a pain cause the cache is gone.

Don't know if it was something funky with just my computer and that site not meshing or if anyone else had the problem
Just wanted to warn you .


@ceagee: I clicked on his link and I got the regular page with the article and then about 2000 responses to the article. Nothing fishy there.


meh, woot is a very tongue in cheek site that seems to have very few topics off-limit to a humorous write-up. I went ballistic a year ago when they decided to have some fun on memorial day. Now I could care less. In the immortal words of George Carlin,

"Say you can't joke about something because it's not funny. Comedians run into that sXXt all the time.
Like rape. They'll say, "you can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny."
I say, "fXXk you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?"
I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.
See, hey why do you think they call him "Porky," eh?

You have every right to be offended. But that's where it ends, everyone is offended by something these days, and most of the time I classify the offended person/group as a bunch of crybabies screaming for attention. I could not care less if something I say offends someone. Freedom's a wonderful thing, ain't it?


For those wondering, the original post made mention of a "disheveled girl cowering in the corner" of the shed. That's the mental image that sparked this post.

Like I said, I highly encourage everyone to listen to the Stuff You Should Know podcast I linked to (it's in iTunes and whatnot as well). It's a great series and they cover all kinds of subjects, but their podcast on Human Trafficking was eye-opening.


Humor of this nature is one of the harder ethical problems in pop culture. When I was younger, I would completely have been on Woot's side here—like the George Carlin bit posted here implies, no topic should be taboo in comedy, and comedy of the free-world has expanded and evolved thanks to those willing to make light of horrors. That a commercial retail store like woot can write something like that is, in a way, a kind of amazing reflection on American values; our faith in freedom of speech, even repugnant speech, has made its way even into the commercial sector.

As I get a little older, though, these jokes just tend to turn me off, but I think it may just be the lazy jokes that do it. The Carlin bit is inventive, and its payoff unexpected. It's plain funny. I didn't see the woot writeup, but I can understand what was intended. It takes an elementary joke—thing (shed) used for different purpose than intended (er, human trafficking)—


(continued...sorry) and adds the layer of absurdity of a commercial retail store suggesting something horrible in a casual way.

In fact, this joke has already been done, almost verbatim, in a form that we have all accepted and laughed at—remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine promotes the sociopath at her J. Peterman job, and he is writing copy for the catalog? He looks at a hiking boot and suggests: "Great for crushing a human skull" (or something along those lines). We found this joke funny 20 years ago, even though it involves murder, violence, and human cruelty. Granted, human trafficking is, in my opinion, a far crueler crime.

Which is all to say that the woot joke here kind of turns my stomach, especially by injecting realism into the description of the victim, but I see where they were going with it. It is hard to draw a line when we talk about humor, which in our culture is supposed to be a fundamentally safe zone for free, even disgusting, speech.


@poopfeast420: Well, for you to offend them. For them to offend you, of course, is free speech don't ya know.


I'm more offended that they're now storing 200 cupcakes in an outdoor shed. This is a waste of cupcakes for the following reason.
1) There is no temperature control in these sheds
2) There are all sorts of creepy crawlies outside that will no doubt find there way into the shed and onto the cupcakes. Ants!
3) 200 cupcakes for 1 guy?...stale fo' sure.

Hiding your mistress in the shed would be better than wasting cupcakes. IMHO


I live like an hour and a half from the border, and my next door neighbor is a Border Patrol agent. That being said how can anyone take something written to be a mock/joke write up and be offended by it (i mean unless you were trafficked yourself) ? If you thought that was bad I dare you to ask my neighbor about one of his more interesting days on the border.

I once asked him where the weirdest place he found someone hiding. He said that a lady managed to hide herself behind the dashboard on an older Chevy Astro van, and the only way they caught her was she sneezed through a vent during secondary inspection.


You listened to a podcast?! On the internet??

Now that you are an expert in Human Trafficking, perhaps you can explain how humor is being used to perpetuate this crisis.

Also, will woot! be providing an up-to-date, politically-correct guide to what we can and (more importantly) can't joke about?


HAHAH! This whole conversation is amazing.