Thursday 18 October 2018

If Humphries had been a rock star, he would still be idolised

There are double standards when it comes to who is - and who is not - condemned by society for sexually exploiting children, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

JAILED: Unable to reach Tom Humphries to vent their anger and disgust at him directly, some of those outraged by his sentence look for the next nearest target.
JAILED: Unable to reach Tom Humphries to vent their anger and disgust at him directly, some of those outraged by his sentence look for the next nearest target.

Former sportswriter Tom Humphries received what most people would regard as an unduly light sentence for the grooming and defilement of a 14-year-old girl. Most people are right. Humphries can consider himself remarkably fortunate to be looking at such an early release date.

That gap between the severity of the offence and the leniency of the sentence has left what might be called a moral justice gap; and since nature abhors a vacuum, it's been filled with outrage at his friends, fellow journalist David Walsh and former Clare GAA coach Donal Og Cusack, who provided Humphries with character references in advance of his sentencing. That in turn has extended to those, such as Eamon Dunphy and Joe Brolly, who've defended his friends.

This is a form of displacement, obviously. Unable to reach Humphries to vent their anger and disgust at him directly, those outraged by his sentence look for the next nearest target. Many innocent bystanders can get hurt in that eruption of fury, so it took considerable strength of character for Newstalk host Ivan Yates to defend those who'd stood by Humphries, saying that, while deploring his crimes, he wouldn't fault his friends for showing what they thought of as compassion. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to use his position to simply vent some populist spleen.

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