Monday December 10, 2018
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PERSONAL, UNDILUTED VIEWS FROM TOM WINNIFRITH

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I #SUFTUM as #MeToo hysteria claims two new victims

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- Tom Winnifrith

A few weeks ago, after a nine week trial, two Ulster and Ireland rugby players, Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, were found not guilty of rape. At once the hashtag #Ibelieveher started trending and hundreds of protesters gathered in Belfast and other cities across the island of Ireland. You will note that those tweeting and protesting were not in the Court room or on off-site visits with the Jury but, based only on what had been reported in the media, they asserted that the jury, who had been there, had got it wrong.

You will also note that some of those protesting had also demanded that Ireland and Ulster captain Rory Best be sacked before the Six Nations for merely attending the trial for one day showing solidarity with team-mates who were innocent until proven guilty and, as it happened, innocent of the charges laid. The Best protesters have yet to apolgise to him. They do not believe in freeedom or principles of natural justice it appears. Theirs is the way of the mob.

There is no doubt that Jackson and Olding are the sort of rotters you'd not want your daughter to meet. They exchanged sordid and offensive texts post the event which are really unpleasant to read. But the justice system has found them not guilty of rape. So what has happened next? Protestors who - I bet the ranch - have never watched a rugby match in their lives, took out a crowdfunded advert in the Befast press demanding that Ireland and Ulster sack the two men. Before Ulster played the Ospreys 300 protesters, largely from the "Belfast Feminist Network" marched and demanded the same. Corporate sponsors of Ulster were contacted and, since PLCs are terrified of any accusation of sexism, racism, homophobia or reading the Daily Mail, they buckled and started intefering in team selection.

You could see that the writing was on the wall. Folks with no interest in rugby have managed to stop two men from working in the only job they have ever had, that is to say as professional rugby player. Jackson and Olding have today had their contracts terminated by Ulster and Ireland. They might get work in Japan or South Africa or they might be out of work and on the dole.

Some, with no knowledge of rugby or indeed any sport, will say this will improve the game. Really? Do you think that when young men relax after playing sport and having a few beers they will in future only send texts approved by the #Metoo movement? For these two men are being thrown on the dole on the basis of texts - they were cleared of rape. Sure Jackson will never get a job in the sociology department at Queens Belfast but that is not what he is applying for. If all sportsment are to be judged for team selection by what they say or text about women you would see the Premier League decimated.

Or are we saying that society can somehow over-rule the courts if folks shout loudly enough? Really?  Mob rule is now deemed progress? I don't like the sound of Jackson and Olding but they are now the new victims here. Will no-one else SUFTUM?

This article first appeared in Tom Winnifrith's weekly Tomograph newsletter. If you would like to join 20,000 others in receiving the Tomograph, it costs nothing, sign up here

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