Eye for an eye, is it?

It’s a story so horrifying that you almost have to will yourself to believe it. Approximately 50 people, including the parish priest who gave a positive character reference, walked passed a woman in court to offer sympathies to the man convicted of sexually assaulting her, a man who was proven to have lied about the incident. There is no grey area here. It was an attack, and those who shook the attacker’s hand compounded his crime. It’s understandable that we’re angered by this, but Jesus, that’s not an excuse to let our anger run free.

Mark Coughlan has an excellent post on the incident on Irish Election (with thanks to Suzy). However, someone by the name of “Joan” has posted a comment in response that at best is bizarre and at worst is, well, I really can’t imagine what it is at its worst.

Brave girl. She did the right thing to tell the truth. The fifty handshakers show the attitude of men towards women today. I myself, have noticed a huge lack of respect. They ‘expect’ sex as their entitlement. Are they human at all, or dogs?
Someone might give this ‘nice guy’ a taste of his own medicine in prison.
That’s rich, a priest giving a character reference. I’m sure paedophiles can be ‘nice’ people also. But an evil act is evil. Hitler would also get a good character reference as he also had a following of thick eijits.

Brave girl is right. We must indeed commend the extraordinary level of bravery displayed by the woman at the centre of this. Unfortunately “Joan” goes on to immediately attack all men for the crimes of Danny Foley. It seems us men expect sex (with “expect” in quotation marks, though it’s not immediately clear who she’s quoting) as an entitlement. So, this is the attitude of all men towards women, huh? Did every man in the country line up to shake Foley’s hand? Is there a gender divide between those have expressed outraged at this and those defending Foley? To answer your question, “Joan”, yes men are human, not dogs, and you’re an idiot (and just to be clear, I’m not attacking you because you’re a women, but because you’re an idiot).

I wish I could say that this is as ridiculous as the comment gets, but she continues with: ‘Someone might give this ‘nice guy’ a taste of his own medicine in prison.” Ok, it’s not spelt out, but the implication is clear. We all know the stories of what happens in prison shower-rooms. “Joan” is expressing a desire to see Foley attacked as he would have attacked his victim. It’s a call I’ve seen echoed many times today, if in the less vitriolic “I hope he gets his” variety. Now, I would be a liar if I said I didn’t briefly share this same desire, but I very quickly came to my senses. How exactly would raping Danny Foley be justice? It’s still rape. Do we punish that rapist with another rape, a sort of rape-chain? We’ve already seen “Joan’s” low regard for men, so maybe she’s suggesting we should all attack each other. Or maybe it’s ok to rape Foley because of what he did. In which case what we need is a sort of sex-offender version of Frank Castle, chasing down men who attack women and giving them what-for. Obviously “Joan’s” argument is so debased we shouldn’t legitimise it further by discussing it. There is, however, one further point that does need to be addressed. Foley was convicted of sexual assault, not rape. Labeling him a rapist, as far as I can tell, serves only to further victimises the woman he attacked.

One of the most remarkable responses to this whole affair was a Facebook page defending Foley. It was taken down before I had a chance to see it, but I did find this wee musing (thanks to the folks at Politics.ie).

Notice the attempt to blame the victim with “slut” etc. It’s an age-old, yet still incredibly offensive, tactic to defend sex crimes. Of course Foley himself tried a similar approach with his “yer wan” talk. If there’s a positive to be taken from this incident, maybe it should be that it didn’t work here. Now, I realise this may be insensitive, but can we focus on “she had it coming” sentiment expressed by Foley and this Geraldine character for just one moment. Surely I’m not the only one who finds it has a lot in common with “Joan’s” comment.

2 Responses to “Eye for an eye, is it?”

  1. December 19, 2009 at 9:55 am

    There’s a simple rule: any comment that references Hitler can be disregarded. It’s the equivalent of a reference to “Baby Jesus”.

    • 2 Damien
      December 20, 2009 at 1:40 am

      Ain’t that the truth. It’s not only a lazy response that frees the speaker from actually considering what they’re talking about, but it’s deeply offensive to victims of the Holocaust to see their suffering commodified like this.

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