I wonder how many of the thousands of people petitioning for Convicted Rapist Ched Evans not to be signed by Oldham Athletic Football Club are remotely interested in football, let alone the prospects of Oldham Athletic Football Club.
My guess is about six. Or possibly seven if you count Labour leader Ed Miliband (who I suspect only took up being a “fan” of his alleged team Leeds United in a desperate attempt to make himself look “normal.”).
Whatever the exact figure, we can be certain that it is going to be vanishingly small. That is because the people campaigning against Convicted Rapist Ched Evans are all either angry female Social Justice Warriors (who like football about as much as they like washing the dishes, jokes, or shaving their armpits) or (spiritually, if not always physically) castrated male Social Justice Warriors (who may once have liked football but now recognise that it is the very embodiment of the vile, misogynistic, racist, disablist machismo which makes modern Britain such an oppressive place for women to live, way worse than Mosul or Islamabad or Teheran, probably..)
Note, by the way, that I am calling Convicted Rapist Ched Evans by his correct media name. I believe he used to be called just Ched Evans, once. But apparently he lost that right when, despite having served two and a half years of a five year sentence for rape, he made the mistake of a) showing insufficient remorse (possibly on the advice of his lawyers, because he is appealing against the sentence; probably also because he feels that he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice, on which more in a moment…) and b) imagining that having served his sentence he would be able to pick up the pieces of his ruined life and attempt to continue with his career doing the thing he loves and which he’s apparently quite good at – being a professional footballer.
Personally, I’m suspicious of this Convicted Rapist Ched Evans tag. I don’t dispute that, technically it’s accurate. But it seems to me that it is being brandished not so much to enhance understanding of his case as to obfuscate its complexities and to tarnish his name beyond redemption.
“Convicted Rapist” to anyone unfamiliar with the case is a phrase which will surely conjure up images of the very worst kind of sexual crime: a powerful predatory male following a woman down a dark alley, perhaps, and raping her violently at knife point.
Except this isn’t what happened. Far from it.
One of the very few people in the media brave enough to have pointed this out is columnist Allison Pearson. A proper journalist, Pearson did what few commentators on this affair have done: she read up everything she could about the details of what happened on the night of the crime. Here is what she found:
Sensitive readers should look away now. Footballer Clayton McDonald, a friend of Ched Evans, picked up a 19-year-old girl who was drunk at 4am, and went back to a hotel room with her. McDonald texted Evans: “I’ve got a bird.” McDonald and the girl then had sex. Evans turned up, and the court was told that the girl asked him to perform oral sex on her, which he did. Evans then had sex with the girl, whom he claimed was enjoying herself. A hotel porter said there was no sound of distress or cause for alarm. A few of the footballers’ charming mates showed up and filmed through a window. The next morning, Evans departed via an emergency exit. The 19-year-old awoke to find she was naked, with, she says, no memory of what had happened to her. That evening, she reported McDonald and Evans to the police.
Sordid, definitely. Rape? Well possibly, but it rather depends on your definition and the mood of the jury on that particular day. Personally, I’d say that detail about Evans performing oral sex on the girl at her request ought to have been the clincher: is that really the act of a brutal oppressor on a helpless victim?
And certainly, when Pearson asked the girls in her local beauty salon about the case they weren’t nearly so convinced as all the vengeful harpies screaming for Evans’s blood apparently are.
“Sounds to me like she woke up, realised she’d been dogging, felt really embarrassed about herself and called the police,” said Hayley, aged 22. The other young women agreed. Hayley told me she had almost been raped herself, when she was “totally pissed”, by her boyfriend’s best mate. She had never mentioned the incident because she thought it would make her unpopular with their social group, who would regard her as a prude. It would be Hayley who was shunned by them, not the guy. Another therapist said that lots of girls from her school went to posh London clubs to try and bag themselves the ultimate prize: a footballer. I’ll spare you the lengths those girls would go to.
But I really don’t get the impression that Ched Evans’s tormentors are particularly interested in nuance or mitigating circumstances, let alone in points of broad principle.
Rapists, she ‘argues’, should be “publicly, endlessly awful, unrelentingly humiliating, without prospect of absolution”, should “see their lives reduced to ash” and “society should stop believing in redemption for a while.”
Here’s Lucy Hunter Johnson in the Independent:
“Rehabilitation for Evans is not analogous with playing professional football. He could be rehabilitated without ever touching a ball again.”
Here, inevitably, is that delicate flower Suzanne Moore wielding her sledgehammer intellect in the Guardian
I see no need for Ched Evans to stop playing the beautiful game. There are parks and grounds all over the country. He is entitled to use his skills to make a living. He can coach. But like many others, I find the idea of this convicted rapist returning to professional football, by signing to Oldham Athletic, sickening.
Here is Claire Cohen in The Daily Guardiangraph
By anyone’s standards this is scumbag behaviour. Even if the night hadn’t ended with rape, Evans would still have had a lot of apologising to do.
(R-i-g-h-t Claire. So “scumbag behaviour” – which no one disputes – should now be a career-destroying offence in professional football? Well if the FA were ever to act on your vindictive whim, I foresee a distinct shortage of talent in the Premier League. All the other leagues too, come to that. Kebabbing, anyone?)
Here is football writer Henry Winter, apparently keen to write his speciality subject out of existence, also in The Daily Guardiangraph
No responsibility. No respect. The stench of the “I’ve got a bird” text lingers.
(That’s right Henry. All the other professional footballers apart from Ched Evans are like monks, with an attitude to women so fastidious and refined it makes that Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey look like Jack the Ripper)
I’m not a football fan myself, by the way. I think it’s a yob’s game, full of the most frightful, grotesquely decadent, thick-as-pigshit louts whose behaviour off-pitch – as you would unfortunately expect of spoilt young men – is often execrable. But what I’m not about to do is allow my snobbery (and maybe jealousy, too) to override my sense of basic justice. Ched Evans may be a footballer but he is also a human being who deserves better than to be thrown to the wolves just because it suits a bunch of embittered harpies and their amen corner of eunuch males to sacrifice him on the altar of their warped, knee-jerk politically correct prejudices and their fanatical desperation to prove the existence of the fantasy they call “rape culture.”
As for this vengeful lynch mob’s attempt to claim the moral high ground – that is perhaps the sickest thing of all about this sordid affair. Mob justice is no justice. It is barbarism, pure and simple.