Friday, 9 January 2015

A Most Unworthy Dreyfus, by David Lindsay

Of the Iran-Iraq War, Henry Kissinger probably never did say that it was a pity that only one of them could lose. But someone first used that line about something. I salute whoever that was. I find the saying to be of at least weekly utility.

Everything about Ched Evans is repulsive. As for Karl Massey, he is the kind of patriarch that gives patriarchy a bad name, almost making Margaret Thatcher look good for having dismantled its economic basis except in the very richest sections of society.

Natasha Massey is her own woman, young, attractive, from a monied background, and doubtless well-schooled at her father's expense. It is hardly as if she could do no better than a man who, by his own admission, booked hotel rooms in which to have sex with strangers. But if even her dad is not going to tell her that, then what hope is there?

That Evans's case is before the Criminal Cases Review Commission can only be because of the emergence of what his legal team submits is new evidence. It cannot be based purely on the evidence heard at his original trial, because that is not how the Criminal Cases Review Commission works. In view of that ongoing process, comments on this article will be closed.

Yet it is not as if Evans's detractors are any more sympathetic than his defenders. At best, they are possessed on an astonishing sense of their own entitlement. At worst, they have been issuing their own threats of rape and other violence against the relatives of those who might happen to get in their way.

Exemplified by The Guardian's Hadley Freeman on Woman's Hour earlier this week, there is an obvious campaign to say the word "paedophile" as often as possible in relation to this case of sex between a 19-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man.

Even by the Daily Mail's Sarah Vine in discussion with Freeman, that 19-year-old woman is always called "a young girl" of whom, even by his own account, that 22-year-old man "took advantage". Ordinarily, feminist opinion would rightly be outraged at the description of an adult woman as a "girl".

All in all, Evans is being turned into a most unworthy Dreyfus. Should his appeal be upheld, then it seems quite possible that British feminist academia and journalism might never recover, so much has been invested in vilifying him quite beyond his undeniably just desserts.

But who or what are the Dreyfusards, and who or what are the anti-Dreyfusards?

It is impossible to believe today's Guardian's implication that the only people in Oldham who could be found to defend the hiring of Evans were men who were willing to be named, while the only people who could be found to oppose it were women who were not willing to be named. That was not what Twitter looked like. That was not what Question Time, both the panel and the audience, looked like.

Rather, this mere footballer, and this fundamentally bad man, is being held up as the hero of a resurgent, especially male, working class.

But if all the anti-Dreyfusards really were to be cast out of public discourse at some point in the next year or two, then would their places in it be taken by the working-class men who are so strikingly underrepresented in the media and among those politicians whose existence the media acknowledge? Of course not.

It must be added that working-class women are even more underrepresented in the media, and are very underrepresented indeed in politics, rather than merely being found among those 19 out of 20 MPs whose existence the commentators choose to ignore.

There are still quite a lot of working-class men among those 19. There are now barely any working-class women in Parliament, or anywhere else in politics.

Grandes dames of what was once Fleet Street, what do you have to say about that? Or about the distinct paucity of working-class women among your own colleagues, something about which you could do a very great deal more, if you had a mind to?

It is the class thing that is striking when one compares the calls for Evans to be denied at least prominent or well-remunerated (indeed, I am the first to say, obscenely overpaid) employment over something that had nothing to with football, with the warm welcome back that is simultaneously being extended by journalism itself to the privately schooled plagiarist and fabricator, Johann Hari.

City types whose incompetence or outright criminality has brought ruin to vast numbers of people, while sending the bill to each and every one of us, are rarely dismissed in the first place, and see their incomes continue to rise exponentially.

Tony Blair continues to make what he and his sycophants clearly assume will be received, and will be entitled to be received, as significant political interventions. It bears its frequent repetition that Blair is, of all things, a Middle East Peace Envoy.

None of the writers and broadcasters who cheered on the Iraq War, all of them safely upper-middle-class or above, has ever suffered the slightest adverse effect of that catastrophic misjudgement. Quite the reverse, in fact.

Until his retirement, Judge John MacMillan, who had used the n-word in order to brand black people lazy in the course of his work as an Employment Tribunal judge, and who had been found to be biased against plaintiffs, was permitted to continue to sit without even having to notify the sides in cases subsequent to his double disgrace.

And so it goes on.

Some lightning rod for all of these and similar concerns has been necessary throughout the present century. But even if his appeal is upheld, the pity, the tragedy, the shame will be that that will have to had to have been the disgusting Ched Evans.

One and all, J'accuse.

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