RAFFERTYVILLE, FL—According to reports coming in from around the country this morning, people are steadfastly refusing to read a news headline past the words "4-Year-Old Girl Forced To," with most saying they simply don't have it in them to deal with whatever information lies beyond that six-word phrase.
"Nope—not gonna do it," said Rockville, MD project manager Arnold Willis, who threw his copy of The Washington Post into a garbage can outside his home after reading the headline from the words "Police Say" to "Forced To." "I've got my whole day ahead of me, and I'm not going to let it be completely ruined before I’ve even left the house."
"Off to work!" Willis added before engaging in some strained whistling as he got into his car.
In similar incidents, millions of Americans confirmed they quickly closed their laptops after visits to news websites such as MSNBC.com and CNN.com, saying they simply would not be able to reconcile the headline's content after "Forced To" with the accompanying photo of the adorable child.
"First of all, it was right on the front page, and you just know there isn't going to be anything good about a 4-year-old kid on the front page," said Kathy Wortham, 39, a Providence, RI receptionist and mother of two. "I only read it to the word 'Girl,' and that was more than enough for me. I knew there wasn't a verb in the English language I would have been able to handle after that."
After being informed the next word was "Forced," a cringing Wortham paused before replying, “Well, I hope she stops being forced to do whatever it was she was being forced to do. If it’s not too late, that is. I’m sure it will all work out!”
In addition to not reading the entire headline, the majority of Americans said they also would not engage in any speculation as to the article’s content, because there was no possible ending to the headline they could conceivably tolerate, other than "Go To An Amusement Park" or "Brush Her Teeth"—highly unlikely topics for new stories, they grudgingly admitted.
"I accidentally looked down and saw the words 'garbage bag' in the first paragraph," Tulsa, OK retail associate Sandra Porter, 27, said as her coworkers scattered, holding their hands over their ears and yelling, "I don't want to hear it! I don't want to hear it!" and “Christ, what the fuck is wrong with people?” "After that, I made the decision to just sort of let my brain shut down so I could ride out the rest of day."
Members of the Associated Press, where the headline originated, said they too were anxiously waiting for the no doubt emotionally devastating story to pass through the news cycle.
"I really can't blame anyone for not wanting to read that whole headline; when the article came across my desk, I myself got to the words "4-Year-Old Girl Forced To," immediately signed off on it, and had it sent out over the wire," AP senior editor Mike Siegel said. "Since then, I've been keeping myself busy editing articles about unlikely animal friends."
"Did you know a female dog in Missouri adopted a litter of piglets?" Siegel continued. "Ha, ha, ha! No little girls being forced to do anything in that story!"
Other media professionals confirmed the U.S. populace shouldn't even bother following the news tomorrow, as there will be a high prevalence of headlines containing language such as "Dragged," "Kindergartner," "6 Hours," “Syria,” various random phrases trending on Twitter, and "Blunt-Force Trauma."