UK Proposed Troll Legislation Doesn't Make Sense In Light Of Finnegan/Madeley Meltdown

The petition demands that
Sheffield United do not offer Evans a new contract
and has over 150,000 signatures.
Over the years we've seen numerous examples of what the press likes to call 'trolling', the online bullying and threatening by comments and messages, that has become much more prevalent and visible since Twitter became popular.

The UK government has begun a process to ensure that those guilty of this abuse receive a stiff sentence and in the last few days has suggested that the maximum penalty by law for this 'crime' will be increased from six months to two years.

Currently the media has focused on this issue due to the Ched Evans, Judy Finnegan, Chloe Finnigan debacle that is running its course right now.

Evans is a professional footballer who was found guilty of the rape of a teenage girl and sentenced to five years in prison. His expected release after just two and a half years has prompted protests from football fans warning clubs not to offer him a new contract.

There are some interesting questions here. Is five years an appropriate punishment for the offence? How can two and a half years be? Having served his time should Evans be allowed to continue to practice his trade, or does its high public profile and visible riches mean that it is an inappropriate trade for a convicted rapist.?

Judy Finnegan, someone who appears on British TV now and again, appeared to defend Evans on an appearance on the Loose Women TV show, claiming that 'the rape was not violent. He didn’t cause any bodily harm to the person.' As you can imagine this didn't go down well at all. The lack of empathy for the victim and the dismissal of what amounts to a brutal physical invasion was met with howls of protest and calls for the presenter to be sacked.

Finnegan's daughter Chloe Madeley took to Twitter to defend her mother and the response was a backlash of epic proportions. From the deeply unpleasant (rape and murder threats) through to the unkind (comments about incest) to the humorous, Twitter users rejected the arguments, explanations and apologies of both mother and daughter. The Madeley's father threatened prosecution against the trolls.

And here's where the UK legislation will fall down. In a discussion about a subject as emotive as rape it's inevitable that boundaries will be overstepped. Twitter is not a good medium to have this sort of discussion, but in today's world it seems to be a place where these sorts of battles are going to be had.

Are the 'trolls' who have been wishing rape on Judy and Chloe any worse than Finnegan taking to TV to tell rape victims that they haven't suffered any physical harm just because they haven't been beaten? Would she really have said that face to face with these victims? Is it any wonder that those rape victims and their relatives, friends responded by wishing rape on Madeley and Finnegan? It's the equivalent of them saying 'walk a mile in my shoes'.

Hauling up hundreds (maybe thousands) of people before the courts will be both expensive, time-wasting and completely pointless. If Judy Finnegan is going to appear on TV and make such inflammatory comments she is going to have to learn to deal with the backlash. And threatening to sue those who she stirred up is absolutely not the way to go about it.

Most of all it seems that the real question that should have been asked here has been lost in the circus frenzy.

Why, having been found guilty of rape, was Evans given such a light sentence that he was in a position to resume his career as a footballer after his release? Five years (never mind two and a half) isn't even close to the sort of term that should be served for rape.

Judy Finnegan and the other hosts of Loose Women should have spent more time demanding that the punishment fit the crime.


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