Trying to write a blog at the moment that does not involve Donald Trump is like trying to go cold turkey. An orgy of executive orders, immigration bans, unsavoury political appointments and sackings of those who dare to say boo to The Donald’s goose have all offered a smorgasbord of political skag to those inclined to comment.
Whilst not quite adopting the lengths of Trainspotting’s Renton to escape Trump’s junk by barricading myself into my hovel of a bedroom with various life affirming provisions, my anxiety is palpable. It’s huuuuuuge. It really is. Believe me folks. It is. I’m telling you. Huuuuuuge. Aaaahhhhhhhh, Trump’s junk, Trump’s junk…
My methadone has come in the form of a story about a lawyer (I’ll call him City Bloke as an ex rower, public school boy and owner of a £900,000 detached house according to Mail Online, as if such details have any relevance whatsoever) who has just been convicted of “racially aggravated assault” and “sexual assault”. City Bloke’s crimes include pouring beer over an Australian girl, calling her a slut and slapping her bum at a Christmas party in 2015. So basically some bell-end in a chalk stripe has got shitfaced, made a twat of himself and sex pested a girl who was already known to him. I can only imagine the utter misery of his ongoing psychological hangover.
Mail Online reports, in a familiar pique of self-righteous indignation, that City Bloke was “spared jail” but given a 12 month community order and had to sign the sex offenders register. He was also sacked by his erstwhile employer and may be prevented from practising law again. Various comments from Mail Online Man include such gems as: “Ponsey rich boy can’t take no for an answer”, “It seems amazing what people who went to the right school can get away with when you know someone who went to a comprehensive would have received much worse punishment”, and, my personal fave, “Henry has stopped saying hooray”. In the Mail’s court of public opinion, very few have focused on facts or contextual objectivity, preferring instead to mete out prescriptive justice through inverse snobbery. He’s “rich” so he deserves everything that’s coming to him. Pathetic.
(At this point, I would just like to flag that I in no way condone pouring beer over a girl, especially an Australian girl. It would be a terrible waste of ale and an Australian just wouldn’t appreciate the irony of being doused in hoppy throat charmer at room temperature.)
Beer wastage does not concern me. What does, amongst many aspects of this case, is when exactly did “Australian” constitute a race? The lawyers amongst you will no doubt split this hair and point out that under UK law, the term “racially” constitutes any term of ethnicity or nationality. Smart-arses. Ok, fine. I’ll put it another way. Why exactly did the guardians and arbiters of our law choose to invoke such a loaded and pejorative verdict to describe some vernacular that is no more than somewhere between bloody rude and rank offensive? Isn’t living in a world that is perpetually at the mercy of genuine “racial aggravation” sufficient, without exacerbating it by perverting the line between what is indisputable and the politically correct agenda of judicial interpretations like this?
As to the count of sexual assault, the water gets a little choppier. Pulling up the girl’s skirt and slapping her rump “about five times” (intriguing imprecision) is not good form on any level of understatement. And following her into the girls’ loo (to apologise apparently) is an action of the alcoholically misjudged, verging on the creepy-creepy-rape-rape. But “sexual assault”? Is it? Really? It’s inappropriate, demeaning, humiliating and wrong for sure. Punching somebody in the face is assault. Rape or attempted rape is sexual assault. Are we now saying that the slapping of a girl’s bum (once the original cliché of relatively harmless impropriety as popularised by the Carry On slapstick) is now labelled in the same breath as universally abhorrent and unequivocally criminal sex crimes?
Alumni of the sex offenders register include some of society’s worst scumbags. They are all rightly tarred with the same brush of deviancy and pariah. Their crimes would render a smacked arse as welcome as a greeting from Bridget Jones’s favourite Uncle Geoffrey. City Bloke is now smeared with that brush. Whatever happened to the principle of proportionality?
In the good old days of common sense and vigilante social justice, the barometer of acceptable social behaviour would have taken the temperature of the situation and meted out appropriate and efficient remedy: City Bloke might have got a kicking from the girl’s male mates; he might have got a verbal kicking from the girl’s female mates; he might have got a verbal kicking from his own mates. Christmas may have come early for City Bloke and he might have got all three stocking fillers to avoid criminal escalation. Profuse apology would have flowed and drinks bought in appeasement before the perpetrator would have skulked off into the shadows and beaten a sheepish retreat. Instead, the police get dragged in and suddenly a booze fueled fracas of the utmost unpleasantness and inappropriateness morphs into racially aggravated and sexual assault. WTF.
Further concern is the impact on wider gender relations that this case may have in the future when roles are reversed. Picture the scene in a Croydon Wetherspoon’s. An Aussie girl with ten bottles of blue WKD down her gullet repeatedly squeezes a chap’s bum before chucking a drink over him and screaming “Pommie wanker” when he rejects her “sexual advances” (City Bloke’s prosecution’s label for his request for a hug). Could you blame Pommie wanker for scuttling off to find a uniform on this evidence, notwithstanding that most men would probably think he was a wanker for doing so?
In practice, could you ever see Pommie wanker’s case even getting to court, let alone his testimony being upheld as the victim of racially aggravated and sexual assault? Absolutely not, thankfully. But inverse sexism (like the inverse snobbery of Mail Online Man) is no more acceptable than the traditionally defined sexism of prejudice against women by men.
Doctrines like feminism that espouse sexual equality must, must infer that Pommie wanker’s case is treated with the same impartiality, non-gender bias and outcome as the Australian slut’s case. But some feminists routinely and expediently miss the point about what feminism actually means, promoting instead the militant, corrosive and socially regressive crusade that is, at its core, anti-male. They undermine their cause as the carte blanche that City Bloke’s case gives the militants to pursue their lazy, “all men are bastards” stereotype may empower men like Pommie wanker to defend his position as a reactive expression of “maleism” (not chauvinism). And our increasingly litigious society (thanks America) and “I know my rights” victim culture only adds fuel to the fire.
On an equanimous and just interpretation of City Bloke’s case that is based on sexual equality, we must surely see women being convicted of the same “crimes”. And yet it has recently been reported that a 31 year old female teacher repeatedly had sex with one of her 15 year old male pupils. Her punishment? Sacked and banned from teaching for life. Er, sorry but isn’t that de facto sexual abuse of a minor which should carry a custodial sentence?
City Bloke was a dickhead. He has lost his job, his career, his reputation and, possibly, his home, his wife and his baby. He is a certified sex offender as a matter of public record. Did the punishment really fit the crime and does this verdict serve society’s best longer term interests?
Right, who wants to slap my perfectly formed arse…?