Today in news that makes me want to opt-out of society and live as a hermit in the wilderness, Jamie Oliver has hired a sex offender as an apprentice at his London restaurant Fifteen. David Mason, 24, admitted to raping a 12-year-old girl and was sentenced to four years in young offenders’ institution. He served two years and spent two more doing probation work for the Prince’s Trust, a charity that supports 13 to 30 years old who are unemployed and usually disadvantaged.
“He was completely honest about his past when he applied and we decided that, as he’d served his sentence, he should be allowed a place on the programme.
‘It is not unusual for us to work with people who want to try to turn their lives around. David spent two years in prison and two years doing probationary work with the Prince’s Trust, so four years of punishment.
‘We took great care deciding whether he was appropriate and he is six weeks into the course and doing very well.”
The internet, quite rightly, is in a state of absolute outrage. And I really cannot keep silent about this.
It makes me sick to think that this man, guilty of one of the worst crimes a person could ever commit, has been given a stellar opportunity to make a fabulous career for himself, over applicants who didn’t commit this crime I might add. I’m finding it difficult just to express how disgusting I find this, but I’m damn well going to try.
I’m all for rehabilitation, I really am. I am solidly against the death penalty, and I do believe that if a person has been rehabilitated they should have their chance to live harmoniously in society once again. But I don’t believe they should get their life back, especially if they have mercilessly taken away someone else’s by either killing them or damaging their psyche beyond full repair.
By hiring this man, and by defending their actions to the press, Jamie Oliver and his restaurant have informed us all that it is their decision whether or not to forgive him for his crime. By reminding us all that he has served his time, and by giving him a lovely job, they are telling us that they forgive him.
Excuse me…when was that ever your choice to make?
The only person who can forgive this man is the victim. Not a representative of the victim, not the fucking justice system, and certainly not your high and mighty goddamn restaurant.
I don’t give a shit that he’s out of prison now, rehabilitated, a new man, whatever story he’s flogging these days. I’m not even going to go into detail about how unbelievably flawed the justice system is, the shocking amount of repeat offenses, or even our abhorrent ignorant cultural perception of the meaning of consent and our collective tendency to victim-blame. I could rant and rage for yonks about this shit, and I probably will at some point, but that’s not the point of this story.
The point is that Jamie Oliver and his restaurant don’t care. Either that or they don’t know, which could be even worse.
We live in a world where an astounding amount of sexual offenders just walk free, and this is mainly because we are not treating rape the way it should be treated. We are letting criminals off, giving them lesser sentences, victim-blaming, withholding support for victims, offering too much support to the perpetrators and not educating our children enough about everything they need to be informed of. I didn’t even have sex-education at school, and that is not fucking good enough. YouTube is currently experiencing a series of sexual abuse scandals, and it is not fucking good enough. Jamie Oliver taking it upon himself to forgive a rapist is making him part of the fucking problem, and it is not. fucking. good. enough.
Give this man a job teaching sex-ed to teenagers (supervised at all times, of course). Give him a government-funded (and reasonably paid) job going round schools, telling kids his terrible story and that what he did was wrong and that he’ll never live long enough to repay his debt to his victim. It’s an idea. I’m not saying it’s brilliant and that it’ll work, but it’s a start. We need to be doing something better than handing sex offenders a sparkly second chance on a silver platter. Because I don’t believe simply serving a prison sentence earns forgiveness. And I’m sick of being triggered by news stories about people who clearly do, and reading about them feeling good about themselves and even being commended for their actions.
At the end of the day, what’s good about the Crown Prosecution Service is that it never wipes the slate clean. This man will always have a criminal record. If the CPS doesn’t give an offender a blank page to start over with, this should be an indication to all of us that that is the direction we should be taking as well. We can be humane about it, we can give offenders their chance to be in the outside world, to earn money to fund their lives (preferably in education or civil service), but not by handing them their fucking dream job and saying they deserve it. Because they should not be forgiven by us. If a victim ever forgives their attacker, then they must surely have the moral fibre of a saint, but if that ever happens then that, and only that, should be our cue to forgive them as well.
It’s at times like these I feel I fully understand why super-villains want to take over the world and force everyone into their way of thinking.