Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Can a convicted rapist continue a career in the public eye?

Apologies for this blog not coming sooner, quite a lot of water has passed under the bridge regarding this issue, but I still felt the need to add my quite considerable weight of opinion and national influence to the debate. The debate being whether or not Ched Evans should be allowed back into football.

The answer is quite simply, no. There can be no question as to whether an athlete who steps into a cauldron of emotion every few days, can continue to do such. It's unfair on everyone; the game, the fans, to sport in general. There are a small percentage of the population, who are lucky enough to be blessed with enough talent and good fortune, that they end up doing something they love and are idolised for it.

Unfortunately, whilst a certain amount of celebrity status might open doors locked to us mere peasants, some return journeys aren't available, because of said status. Despite there being a few instances of footballers getting caught up in rape stories in recent years, most of them come to nothing. I don't think there is any kind of culture there to suggest that footballers are any worse than the rest of the general public.

Some people are questioning what rapists can be expected to do, once they've served their time.

Well I think the answer is quite simple. If your previous role in life was in the public eye, if that role in any way can occasionally make you look a hero, idol or a role model to children for instance, then surely you can't go back. Now, it's easy to begin to wonder, that if someone who drinks or takes drugs excessively, may be allowed this kind of status.....which would be 90% of the celebrity circuit. The difference is that having vices is a lifestyle that generally only affects the individual who chooses to live that way. People may admire a 'celebrity' who they know takes drugs, but it is still up to them if they choose to follow a similar path.

Rape is a direct crime against another human being. It robs them of their dignity and sometimes, their life. Letting anyone return to a role that is seen as a privilege, no matter how hard they worked to get there initially, sends out completely the wrong message. The fact that he reportedly hasn't shown any remorse, is irrelevant yet significant. The lack of remorse just solidifies the case against him.

An example of someone who was allowed back into the spotlight, and into a position to make millions, was Mike Tyson. At the time, I was one of those people who claimed that he could have been the victim of a set-up, that he'd served his was only fair to be allowed a route back. I think maybe because he was already a villain in the eyes of the majority of people, it softened the reaction. It's interesting how people's opinions form and develop. This is a guy who allegedly stole handbags from old women even before his phenomenal career had begun. Because he was a complete hooligan from the start, and because it was his job to smash people's faces in, he got an easier ride! Funny old world we live in really......still, clearly wrong. The fact is, he WAS convicted and I was clearly an imbecile for thinking that way.

There are many more cases of disgraced footballers returning to the sport. In 2004, West Bromwich Albion striker Lee Hughes, was sentenced to six years in prison after causing 'death by dangerous driving' and failed to report the incident for 36 hours....a cynic might say he sobered himself up before handing himself in. In 2008, Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper Luke McCormick, was jailed for causing a crash that led to the death of two boys, aged 8 and 10. He was over the limit and driving nearly 100 mph. Not only was he allowed a route back into football, he recently rejoined Plymouth and was awarded the club captaincy. I don't know Luke McCormick, but I hope he's doing some fantastic work within the community to warrant that level of forgiveness.

So, the question then becomes, where do you put these people? If Ched Evans is, for instance, is a gifted administrator, then let him apply for a job with the council. However, what if women (or anyone for that matter) in that office, feel uncomfortable working in the same vicinity as a convicted rapist? Should colleagues be asked as to whether they would object to an appointment of anyone with a conviction behind them, for an offence that they may repeat in the future?

I guess the only answer is to allow the communities and people who may have to work amongst them, to decide their fate. The footballing community has already made it's mind up on Ched Evans, although it seems Manchester City added some obligatory (much needed) dark humour to the whole incident, sending kids homes with certificates (for coaching courses they'd attended at the club) with Ched Evans' picture on. You couldn't make it up really. They have apologised, I might add, but REALLY?!!! I can even see the slogan, "Do you want to be the next Ched Evans?". "Erm, no thanks, he's a rapist and his talent doesn't even begin to offset his misdemeanours, can I be like Luis Suarez instead?!" Now's that's what I call a role model!

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