Sport Cricket McGrath the latest victim of trial by Twitter

McGrath the latest victim of trial by Twitter

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I’m the kind of guy who will take 10 minutes trying to shoo a fly out the door, rather than break out the Mortein.

My heart sinks when I hear a snail crunch under my foot in the rain. I own a very spoiled dog.

The thought of shooting an elephant repulses me.

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But reading some of the vitriol directed at Glenn McGrath after photos emerged of him holding a high-powered rifle next to the corpses of some big game (an elephant among them), I was flabbergasted.

The scandal widened on Sunday, when a photo appeared of recently retired quick Brett Lee posing alongside McGrath on another hunting trip.

Some declared they’d never give money to the cancer-fighting charity founded by McGrath and his late wife Jane. Some called for sponsors and corporates to abandon him and the organisation. Some were just plain abusive.

It was, in the parlance of the day, a Twitter storm.

I’ve never met McGrath, but it wasn’t a surprise to discover his thinking isn’t particularly enlightened. He is a former Test fast bowler, not the Dalai Lama.

In fact, he’d already discussed his fondness for guns and hunting in an interview with Australian Shooter magazine in 2006.

(The very fact we have a magazine entitled Australian Shooter seems to suggest McGrath is not unique.)

In the magazine he discussed his desire to one day hunt in Africa. 

“I’m keen to get into trophy hunting, no animal in particular, but a big safari in Africa would be great,” he said.

“I’d prefer to do the safari on foot, like they did in the old days and just take the camp with you, not driving around in 4WDs.

“That to me would be perfect. It’s not about the quantity of trophies; although quality is important, it’s not everything. Just being out there in that environment would be amazing.”

McGrath, of course, made these comments when social media was in its infancy, before anybody with an internet connection became judge, jury and executioner of character.

McGrath, to his credit, got on the front foot with a swift expression of regret for his part in the safari, seven years ago in Zimbabwe.

What the collective ‘social media’ can forget, in the rage of a Twitter storm, is that people make mistakes, people have pasts and people can change.

Abuse seven years after the fact is not constructive.

Expecting anything on Twitter to be constructive is possibly a bridge too far.

Withholding money from a charity set up to fight breast cancer helps no one.

The McGrath Foundation raises money to place breast care nurses in much-needed locations across Australia, as well as increasing breast awareness in young Australian women.

The operating surplus for the foundation at the end of the June 2014 financial year was $1,564,962.

People were threatening to cease donating to the McGrath Foundation. Photo: AAP

Social media is a black-and-white world, where one mistake can lead to a ‘good bloke’ being branded a ‘bad bloke’ forever more.

The New Daily‘s Facebook page was flooded with comments.

Sentiments such as “another d***head exposed” to “reputation, toilet, flush” were the overwhelming majority.

But one comment stood out, from Pam Harrison, who wrote: “What state of mind would you have to be in the [sic] kill an elephant? I hope only good comes from this and he never hunts again.”

And right there, Pam did what all the weed whackers who like to cut people off at the knees just couldn’t grasp: that something positive could come of the whole experience.

That perhaps a man like McGrath, who’s spent periods of his adult life in the bush with a rifle trying to kill animals, might be able to change his thinking and evolve.

Because human thinking does need to evolve – one glimpse at Facebook, Twitter or the inevitable argument raging beneath a YouTube video (or this article) will tell you that.


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