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Ryan Bakken, Forum News Service, Published July 07 2013

Ryan Bakken: It’s tough being a Weiner or a Wiener

GRAND FORKS - For two consecutive days last week, the most-read story on the Grand Forks Herald’s website was about a Fargo man being busted for shoplifting a sex toy.

It even topped a story regarding UND hockey — the Danny Kristo trade. The only other online reading competitor to UND hockey in recent years was the Marilyn Hagerty-Olive Garden-Anderson Cooper love triangle.

So, you likely realize that this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill shoplifting. It wasn’t.

First of all, I’m too embarrassed to actually be specific about the sex toy because, well, I’ve never typed that word before and I’m afraid grandma might choke on her Raisin Bran if she sees it in her morning newspaper.

So, yeah, it was not your run-of-the-mill stolen item.

But here’s the real kicker: The man charged had the misfortune of having “Wiener” as his last name.

The poor guy likely has weathered unfathomable grief about his name. I remember being disturbed as a youngster from the neighborhood kids calling me “Bacon,” a takeoff of my last name.

So, can you even imagine his pain from constantly fielding “wiener” gibes?

Although The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead newspaper showed restraint by placing the story on Page 6A, I’m guessing his name played a role in warranting a 10-paragraph story and a mug shot. After all, shoplifting typically doesn’t reach the threshold of being a story in any newspaper, large or small.

I’d like to offer Mr. Wiener some sympathy and advice. The advice is to plead not guilty by reason of being emotionally scarred by your name. As proof, you can subpoena Anthony Weiner to testify on his behalf.

You remember Mr. Weiner, the New York congressman who resigned in 2011 after it was discovered that he sent via Twitter a sexually suggestive photo of a certain body part. The entire world heard about that, partly because of his position and partly because of his unfortunate last name.

Mr. Wiener also can learn from Mr. Weiner that he can recover from this setback. Mr. Weiner is running for New York City mayor this fall — and not even under an alias.