Johns’ reputation is a key part of his future earning capacity. At the moment his reputation is sinking faster than the Irish economy. Sydney talkback callers are ignoring the Budget to keep talking about Johns. Even his well-meaning supporters are doing him damage with arguments like: ‘sure group sex is disgusting but …’. Instead of bunkering down in Broome, he needs to do something about it, and fast. Here’s a three-point plan:
1) Apologise. He doesn’t have to admit rape or anything illegal. But he does have to apologise, and publicly, for any hurt or damage the woman has felt as a result of this incident. We all do this. We do something without intending any hurt, but if we subsequently discover our actions have hurt someone we apologise for these unintended consequences. It’s called accepting personal responsibility not just for our intentions but for the consequences. Only children can get away with “I didn’t mean it”. If he apologises he will help the woman and he will earn respect from fair-minded people. Because we all stuff up, what you do afterwards is what matters. The good guys accept responsibility.
2) Make restitution. He should do something to help the woman i.e. give her some money to help with medical bills or something. This will again help the woman, but it will also demonstrate that his apology is sincere, and meaningful.
3) Make a difference. He should offer to help an organisation that deals with abuse of women, perhaps one that deals with domestic violence or rape or the plight of abandoned mothers. Anything that will show that he ‘gets it’ and that he is determined to change his attitudes. This should include working with the NRL to help change the culture among younger players.
The plan will be hard to implement. Many people will scoff, that’s why he needs to do more than a few words on the footy show. But the issue will go away if he does these things and he will have his reputation, his earning capacity and his self-respect restored. Surely, that’s worth the initial embarrassment.