It began slowly. “Selene Nelson is a vile disgusting bitch,” the first tweet read, “she deserves a disease.” The next, a few minutes later, was even worse: “I hope this self-righteous, vindictive bitch never appears on a byline again,” it went. “Lonely miserable (here there was a four-letter-word) with no substance in her life.” For a few days the abuse came in thick and fast, as did the media requests – Good Morning Britain, LBC, The Daily Mail and many foreign publications too, from New Zealand and Australia to the US.
They say you can’t put a price on life, but what about death? Earlier this year I spoke to Jerry Givens, a former state executioner turned death penalty abolitionist. He told me that for people who carry out the death penalty, the real, enduring cost is emotional. “If I had known what I’d have to go through as an executioner, I wouldn’t have done it. It took a lot out of me to do it. You can’t tell me I can take the life of people and go home and be normal.”
In the past few weeks there have been many people expressing their views on convicted rapist and ex-footballer Ched Evans. Sadly (but unsurprisingly), many of those are ignorant of either the law, the case, or both. From the aggressive, uninformed die-hard supporters calling the rape victim “whore” to the legal uncertainties of more balanced posters, the same questions keep circulating on social media: How can it be rape if the victim can’t remember if she consented or not? How can Ched Evans be guilty of rape if his co-accused Clayton McDonald was acquitted? If Evans is guilty of rape, then surely any drunk girl who has sex can say she’s been raped?