Mostly online petitions are counter productive, their sole effect usually being to allow signatories to let of steam. Petitions serve to give the concerned the illusion that they are taking action when they are merely adding another name to a petition which will usually be ignored.
Occasionally, however, there is an interesting petition. Currently there is a Facebook petition circulating asking that Welsh internationalist Ched Evans be dropped from the Professional Footballers Association League One team of the year. It is just as well that this is a notional and not a real team as Ched Evans would be unable to play. At present he is serving a five year prison sentence for the rape of a nineteen year old woman.
Evans committed a despicable crime and a sentence of five years, effectually two and a half years, seems lenient. Rape deserves the most serious punishment, it is one of those crimes which deny the very humanity of the victim. In rape the victim ceases to be a human being and becomes an object to satisfy the lust to power of the perpetrator. Like slavery and murder the victim’s essential humanity is denied and they become a means to the desired ends of the perpetrator, a “thing”. In all three crimes there is a denial that the victim is a full human being in the image of God “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Appalling as his crime is Evans is not, as the petitioners claim, a bad role model. He is not a role model of any kind. He is a young working class man who had a certain skill which he developed in order to make the most of an inevitably short lived career in professional football. People choose their own role models and it is difficult to imagine any sane person choosing a rapist as a role model, no matter how good he is at a game.
There are double standards at work here. There are intellectuals, icons and newspapers who set out to change the way people think and look at the world. People who deliberately wanted to influence the standards and behaviour of us all, and who were for the most part successful. They are studied and their work lauded in universities worldwide, many have become icons or role models. Some of them were despicable human beings, but their actions and crimes are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant to their work.
Arthur Koestler CBE who wrote Darkness at Noon one of the greatest anti-totalitarian novels of last century believed that “without an element of initial rape there is no delight.” There is good reason to believe, as she alleges, that he did indeed rape Jill Craigie, wife of Michael Foot. There is still a department at the University of Edinburgh named after him.
Salvador Dali, a major influence on many modern painters such as Hirst, Fielding and Koon, was a brilliant draughtsman, and a disgusting human being. Apart from his personal predilections he sent telegrams to the fascist Franco congratulating him on signing death warrants for prisoners.
Ezra Pound the poet was a major figure in the modernist movement who helped discover and promote the work of TS Eliot, Robert Frost and Earnest Hemingway. He was also a fascist. Not the “You uphold traditional Western civilisation therefore you’re a fascist,” of the great progressive uneducated. Pound was the real article, a dyed in the wool, 100% genuine supporter of Mussolini and Hitler.
George Bernard Shaw, one of Britain’s greatest playwrights excused one of the gravest crimes of last century, the deliberate murder of many millions in Stalin’s man made famines and the gulag. After visiting the USSR he described the gulag as a kind of holiday camp, its large population due to “the difficulty of inducing [prisoners] to come out… As far as I could make out they could stay as long as they liked.”
The Guardian, which printed Shaw’s arguments that stories of Stalin’s famine were slanderous lies, famously dispensed with the services of Malcolm Muggeridge and refused to print in full the articles he wrote exposing the famine because it went against the editorial policy of support for Stalin.
The New York Times not only printed the lies of Walter Duranty covering up Stalin’s genocide but refuse today to fully acknowledge their error. After coming under pressure in 2003 concerning Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize the New York Times hired Mark von Hagen, a history professor at Columbia University, to review Duranty’s articles. The report concluded that the prize should be rescinded. The Times retained the award.
Hemingway was one of the 20th century’s foremost novelists. He was also a self-aggrandising fantasist and a brutal misogynist who loved humiliating women. He lied almost compulsively about his war service and had no hesitation in betraying his friends.
Noam Chomsky idealised guru of progressivism is said to be the most searched name on the internet. He also still refers to “alleged Khmer Rouge atrocities.” Even when the facts of the killing fields where at least 20% of Cambodia’s population were murdered by communists were widely accepted Chomsky wrote, “the evacuation of Phnom Penh, widely denounced at the time and since for its undoubted brutality, may actually have saved many lives.” One biographer still proclaims “Chomsky is one of this [past] century’s most important figures, and has been described as one who will be for future generations what Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Mozart or Picasso have been for ours.”
Che Guevara, the ultimate progressive icon was a psychotic and sadistic killer. He was also a racist. Speaking of blacks he said: “The nigger is indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent.”
The list could go on. The difference between Evans and those listed above is that Evans never tried to change the world, they did. Evans will never find his vile crime excused or ignored, whereas their crimes will be. There is one rule for plebs and another for intellectuals.