Tag Archives: social media

Football, the Rapist and when you should just say nothing

It seems barely credible that just one week ago I had never heard of Ched Evans, Chloe Madeley or Sarah Vine, and Judy Finnegan was half of a TV duo with her husband Richard Madeley.

Fast forward seven days and I sit contemplating the fact that for the past few days social media has been flooded by mentions and criticisms of all five of the above named people.  Unless you have been living in a bubble I am sure you will be all too aware of the furore.  For those who are unaware of any of the key actors in the social media Psychodrama let me briefly explain who is who and why they have suddenly become of interest.

Ched Evans is a third rate footballer (soccer player) who plays for a third rate football team called Sheffield United who ply their trade in the lower reaches of English football.  Evans was a nobody until 2012 when he was imprisoned for 5 years for the rape of a young woman in a hotel room in Wales.

Judy Finnegan is one half a a television presenting team with her husband Richard Madeley.  They are ‘C’ list celebrities who’s greatest claim to fame is the fact that Madeley was once arrested, tried and acquitted on a charge of stealing champagne from a Tesco’s store in Manchester.  Chloe Madeley is their daughter and is a ‘D’ list celebrity who is famous only for being their daughter and apparently for appearing on some reality television programme or other on the back of that.

Sarah Vine is so famous that she doesn’t even have her own page on wikipedia.  She is however married to Michael Gove, the most unpopular Minister for Education in living memory.  Gove was sacked from his job as education secretary and moved to the whips office.   Vine writes a column for the Daily Mail, arguably the most right wing controversial and vilified tabloid newspaper in the UK.

Finnegan this week started a new job on a television programme called ‘Loose Women’.  Now I have never seen this programme and nor am I ever likely to.  I understand it is a magazine programme not a genre of ‘entertainment’ that I am ever likely to be drawn to.  The title of the programme identifies it in my eyes as of dubious value with its less than subtle implication that the content is likely to be titillating in some way.

Sadly for Finnegan her first day in her new job went badly wrong due in the main to a poor choice of words during a discussion.  The item under discussion was Mr Evans pending release from prison after serving half of his 5 year sentence and his assertion that he wished to return to his ‘job’ of kicking a football for Sheffield United.  A petition was duly instigated to try to stop this from happening and over 100k people signed it.  During the discussion Finnegan appeared to be supporting Evans and unfortunately said something like “He’s served his time and the rape was not violent”  she went on “He didn’t cause any bodily harm to the person. It was unpleasant, in a hotel room, I believe, and she had far too much to drink.”
Judy Finnegan

Finnegan was later forced to apologise after being accused of blaming the victim of Evans attack and of playing down the psychological effects of rape.  I have some sympathy for Finnegan.  Her comments were clumsy, ill advised and incredibly stupid and ignorant.  Finnegan was subject to a torrent of abuse on social media and of course the internet trolls raised their ugly heads threatening to rape and abused her daughter so that she could better understand the effects rape has on the victim.  Madeley was drawn into the row when he, perhaps understandably, stepped in to defend his wife and daughter.  He threatened to prosecute every internet troll who had abused his family.  He should perhaps have known better than to feed the trolls.

In my view it is easy to understand why people were angry with Finnegan.  Rape is a hideous offence.  Unless you have been subject to such an offence or have been involved in supporting those who have it is impossible to know how deeply survivors are affected (and I have).  A survivors response is a deeply personal thing every individual reacts differently.  For one person the fear they experienced by being beaten, threatened and raped by a knife wielding maniac may affect them more deeply than the rape itself, for others the act of rape and the feeling of powerlessness is worse than any physical injury.  For some the psychological damage experienced when they are raped by someone they hitherto liked and trusted is something they will never get over.  In my experience one of the most damaging aspects of rape is that survivors often blame themselves.  They ask ‘what did I do to make this happen’, ‘what could I have done to stop this’, ‘why didn’t I fight back,  why didn’t I stop him’.  This self doubt, self criticism and loss of self confidence is present in almost all survivors. It may be a cliche but in almost all cases the physical injuries heal much more quickly than the psychological injuries.

That is why my anger and contempt is reserved almost exclusively for Sarah Vine and the editorial staff at the Daily Mail (or the Hate Mail as it colloquially known in the UK).  Ms Vine you see insists on perpetuating the myth that rape survivors are in some way responsible for what happens to them. She didn’t just use some ill advised words in the midst of a conversation about the issue.  She chose to write on the subject, she chose to take a deliberately provocative stance by claiming that Finnegan was right to say what she did.  She chose to say that Evans victim was responsible in some way for her own rape because she had been drinking with Evans and went to a hotel room with him.  She suggests that by getting drunk she was ‘asking for it’.  What next, ‘she deserved to be raped because she wore a short skirt, tight trousers or a low cut top’?  She is to blame because ‘she had blue eyes’ or ‘she wore her hair in a certain way’?  This is simply warped and back to front thinking.££-Sarah-Vine

Lets be 100% clear the only person responsible for a rape is the rapist.  There should be no excuses and no playing down of the matter.  A rape is a rape and no-one other than the survivor is in a position to know how it affects them.  Any rape is a violent act and a violation.  What is even more contemptible is the fact that Ms Vine and the Daily Mail have been involved in a  similar furore in the past.  Not years ago as you might assume but in February of this year.  Clearly they have learned nothing from that experience and choose to print such a controversial article purely to try to sell a few more papers.

There are times when people should just stop themselves from speaking about an issue.  There is an old truism that says “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove any doubt”.  This, Ms Vine, is undoubtably one of those times.

Freemasonry and Social Media

On Friday 4th July 2014 I had the privilege of attending a meeting at the Masonic Hall in Poole, Dorset to discuss the use of social media in freemasonry.  This is believed to be the largest gathering of freemasons brought together by social media.  The purpose of the gathering was to discuss the use of social media as a tool to recruit, retain and inform members of our fraternity.

It is perhaps true to say that freemasonry as a whole has been slow and in some quarters somewhat reluctant to embrace new technology but there is little doubt that the benefits of electronic communication are now being realised.  Such was the interest in last nights meeting that RWBro Richard Merritt, The Provincial Grand Master, welcomed representatives of nine different Masonic provinces who gathered to hear two very interesting presentations.  The first was delivered by  W.Bro Nigel Harris-Cooksley who explained how his Lodge (North Harrow Lodge No6557) had seen a decline in numbers and had turned to the internet and social media to attract new members.  Over a period of 3 years this approach attracted a total of 50 New members to Lodges in Middlesex.  18 of these were initiated into North Harrow Lodge and 32 were passed to other lodges.  OOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAf the 50 initiates it is believed that 49 are still active and many of these new made brothers are already taking offices in a variety of Lodges.

It seems to me that the key to North Harrow’s success in this new venture is underpinned by a recognition that attracting enquiries is very much a starting point.  Nigel and other brethren from his lodge worked incredibly hard to meet, interview and socialise with perspective candidates before they were initiated.  Once initiated the new brothers were allocated personal mentors who were supported in turn by a lodge mentor.  The length of time between enquiry and initiation has varied.   In the early days some were initiated in as little as 3 months, at present 9 months is seen as ‘normal’.  During the waiting period candidates are contacted regularly, kept up to date and invited to social functions where possible.

The time and care put into supporting, vetting and socialising with candidates is hugely important.  It should engender a sense of belonging in the candidate and reassure members of lodges that candidates are not simply being ‘dragged off the streets’.  I realise that some brethren, who joined freemasonry by the traditional recruitment process, may have reservations about this method of recruitment but I believe North Harrow Lodges experience shows that there are men in our communities who want to join freemasonry but don’t know how to go about it.  Some may feel that the risks of initiating someone who is not personally known to a current member are too great.   It is a fact that there is a risk that any initiate may prove unsuitable in the longer term, but again, North Harrows experience shows that the benefits have far outweighed the risks.

As I mentioned above making access to freemasonry easier through the use of websites and social media should be seen as a starting point.  If we are to retain our members after they have joined it is important that new members, especially our younger men, are supported and made to feel welcome.  Our second speaker Colin(Lex) Luther Davies explained one of the mechanisms whereby the Metropolitan Grand Lodge are supporting its younger members.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Connaught Club is an organisation formed to support freemasons under 35 who are members of a Lodge in London or who live or work in London and are members go a lodge attached to the United Grand Lodge of England.  The club currently has some 200 members and has been founded to give young Freemasons in London a means to meet and socialise, with like-minded people of similar ages, within Freemasonry; whilst bridging the large geographic area and diversity of London’s many Lodges.

Primarily the Club’s role is to provide events and other occasions, of either a social or (Masonically) educational nature, for young Freemasons to meet each other and encourage their involvement within the fraternity.  Events range from informal pub socials to formal dinners and to visiting each others Lodges.  This is a fantastic example of what can be done to support our members and there is undoubtably much that other provinces can learn form this.

The evening concluded in fine Masonic style with all present dining together.  It must be said that the caterers laid on a fantastic meal and the ambience of the evening was helped enormously by the effort that W.Bro Brian Chidgey and his assistants put into the organisation of the event.  No event runs well unless effort has been put into the planning and preparation.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Richard Merritt, gave a short speech during which he explained his personal enthusiasm for making use of new and emerging technology and thanked the speakers and organisers for their efforts in putting together a most enjoyable and informative evening




The Province of Dorset was very well represented by brethren from across the County.  The PGM was supported by VWBro Clive Deakin, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, and VWBro Nigel Leonard, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master as well as several members of the Provincial team.  Brethren from the Provinces of Dorset, Hampshire & IOW, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Middlesex, Metropolitan and even the Serbian Grand Lodge were welcomed.  I am sure everyone went away with some food for thought and fresh ideas.