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Feeling morally superior? Time to sign an online petition

5 January 2015

3:32 PM

5 January 2015

3:32 PM

Purely for the purposes of argument, it would be handy if Ched Evans had said sorry for the rape for which he was convicted. He hasn’t, for the simple and sufficient reason that he believes he is innocent and is challenging his conviction. So in this case, it’s not possible to argue for a repentant sinner to be readmitted to the fold.

But it’s still possible, isn’t it, for someone to serve their time for a crime and to be readmitted into society, on the basis that justice has been served? Well no, not if it’s rape rather than, oh homicide or GBH, that they’ve done time for. It’s the sin – along with child abuse – for which there is no forgiveness, no rehabilitation. At least if the online mob is to decide matters.

Oldham Athletic originally suggested they might sign Evans, but it’s now pretty well certain they won’t. That’s something the rest of us might usefully get on our high horse about. Why? Because of the sheer strength of public feeling manifest in an online petition that attracted over 20,000 signatories (though obviously you don’t go so far as to sign your name in ink – it just requires an email address). And the sponsors – those morally sensitive beasts – are even easier to bully with the threat of feminist disfavour.

An online petition. Does anyone even think how little effort that involves? Well, perhaps a bit on the part of the people who actually thought of setting it up. But to support it? Nothing so rigorous as finding a paper and envelope and buying a stamp (well, you wouldn’t, at 63p, would you?) to write to a club, or to make the effort to badger people to sign a form; just the ten seconds it takes to add your bit of moral authority to a lynching via your smartphone. It’s on the basis of this effortless expression of moral outrage that a young man is, it would seem, to be debarred from his chosen profession. Though maybe he’s to be hounded out of every other job he tries for as well.

I don’t really need to say, do I, that I find the sexual culture around young footballers repulsive – the notion that impressionable girls are part of footballers’ spoils of success, with sexual conquest part of the bonding culture. It’s hateful, not just for feminists. I don’t know whether there are good grounds for Evans to appeal his conviction but do I need to say that I take rape really seriously?

But the notion that the online mob can exercise a veto over the employment prospects of someone who has served his sentence and is entitled as a principle of justice to re-enter society – now that’s morally repulsive. He’s already banned from travelling abroad to work, in places where they haven’t really heard of him. Contemporary society has its own moral code all right, but it’s one that, from the looks of things, is relentlessly vengeful. I don’t think Evans should be lauded for his actions but simply allowed to be employed. Forgiveness, or just a willingness to allow a former convict to move on, seems to be the one thing that eludes contemporary Brits.

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