Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Public enemy

I found myself thinking about public enemy number one, Ched Evans today. His photograph was all over the newspaper everyone was reading on the tube. For those who have been living in a barn (or a country where sex crimes are not titilatingly sprawled across newspapers), Evans is, or probably was, a Premiership footballer, who was sent to jail for raping a young woman. We're told he's appealing the conviction, but the current situation indicates that he did the crime and, furthermore, that he's served his time.

Now, I can't possibly get into the nitty-gritty of what happened. I wasn't there. I don't know any of the people involved, and in fact, I'd not heard of Ched Evans until he was released from prison a few weeks ago. Judy Finnegan has already got herself into a lot of trouble for suggesting that there may be more to the story than a cut and dried case of rape. Whatever the truth, it's interesting to note that Evans' girlfriend is sticking by him.

Regardless of his guilt or innocence, the fact remains that Evans went to jail. The case was presided over by a judge who, one assumes, used intelligence and experience of the law to work out what he felt was a fair sentence.

Now, of course, everyone is screaming blue murder because Evans is hoping to return to playing football. Of course he is. It's his job. It's how he earns his money. It's what he's good at, just as I would hope to return to composing if, god forbid, I went to jail. Jeffry Archer continued to write books after serving time, and Nelson Mandella became the president of South Africa!  Who are we to decide when one crime is more worthy of forgiveness than another?

When it comes to sex crime, it seems that people always assume that the perpetrator is a recidivist. Once a adulterer, always an adulterer. Once a rapist, always a rapist. "Think about the children" they yell. But we don't say this about murderers... Or arsonists. They were whinging about Evans on Loose Women the last time I switched the telly on. The only person who seemed to be making sense was the singer Jamelia who, quite rightly, was pointing out that part of the experience of prison is rehabilitation.

So here's my question. What do these people actually WANT to happen to Evans? Do we live in a world where we all think we're above criminal justice? A world where, because we read about a crime in The Sun, we all feel we know more about the case than the judge who spent weeks in a courtroom deliberating over it?

Should Evans sign on? Should he try and find work in a shop? Frankly, whatever he does, he will be hounded, and his life will be miserable and that seems to be what people want to happen. But what about redemption? What about giving someone a second chance? What about acknowledging that they made a mistake, and trusting our ancient legal system to select a suitable punishment?

I sat in my favourite cafe after osteopathy, but the experience was deeply marred by a woman screaming at someone on the phone. It put me completely on edge. She literally shouted in an agitated manner at a friend for more than an hour. After a while it got into my bones like damp winter weather, and I could hear nothing else. As she spoke I became aware that they were playing 1960s vibraphone-based splatter jazz on the sound system, which created an almost unbearably tense atmosphere.

I changed caf├ęs and headed into Soho to continue writing. I was meeting Nathan for a late lunch, but four cups of tea, a lack of food and sleep, and ears full of headphones, turned me into a jittering idiot. By the time I found Nathan, I was climbing the walls!

I've had a quiet evening in tonight. Working. Cooking. And latterly, catching up on Downton.


No comments:

Post a Comment