Morality and community values are evolving as individual privacy erodes, writes Greg Cary.
In the great movie, The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey’s character says “the best trick the devil ever played was to make you think he didn’t exist”. Evil encroaches stealthily and incrementally, often arriving before it’s identified.
So it is with the evolution of morality and community values.
We have seen it at work in the Todd Carney controversy with former players like Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns not understanding what all the fuss is about. Somewhere along the way (some) people’s ideas changed to the extent that they can no longer differentiate between that which is acceptable and that which is not. Just as Lance Armstrong dropped his moral compass somewhere over the Pyrenees so this lot wanders aimlessly in an ethical wilderness.
That Carney behaved disgracefully is not in doubt but that doesn’t necessarily mean he should’ve been sacked. At least not in the pre-emptive, arbitrary way he was. It unfolded with a haste that precluded the calm consideration of other related matters.
Double standards for instance. Carney has now been virtually banned for life for an offence that was not criminal and injured nobody. Earlier this year James Tamou drove with a very high blood alcohol reading whilst unlicensed and played State of Origin.
Cronulla, like most commercial entities, would have in its contracts clauses related to bringing the club into disrepute so they have every right to do as they did.
The NRL, however, should’ve stayed out of it. They have no business saying they might not sanction any new Carney contract when they looked so leniently on other incidents.
Conrad Hurrell from The Warriors, for instance, engaged in a sex act with his girlfriend whilst driving at speed and received a tap over the knuckles. Their exploits were uploaded and, as is the way with these things, went “viral”.
I would welcome an explanation as to why what Carney did was worse – as gross as it was. Of course he had “form” but you sense the club was happy to see his back.
There is another interesting and important issue in all of this: the death of privacy.
This entire sorry mess began with a photo taken without Carney’s approval. It was then passed to a third party without either his knowledge or consent and was then uploaded for all the word to see … and see .. and see again.
I think you’d agree there might be moments in all our lives we’d prefer to keep private. With phones now carrying cameras and recording devices it would be an optimist who assumes confidentiality. Sad.
Meantime, many a leading politician, businessman, public servant and media identity (as well, perhaps, as the odd league immortal) will be thankful that they didn’t have “friends” as enthusiastic as Todd’s. The hypocrisy of some of them in their rush to judgement has been breathtaking.
Cronulla is also not without blame. Whilst the primary responsibility for Carney’s downfall resides with the player himself, The Sharks have a duty of care to a player whose frailties they well understood when they signed him.
Carney is a gifted player and a pleasant person who clearly has a problem with alcohol. It might be that a total change of environment and circle of friends is exactly what he needs.
Like it or not, seems that’s what he’s going to get.