I'm currently reading a very good novel (and by good I mean well-written, well-structured, powerful, convincing etc etc) by someone who appears to me, from her worldview generally, to be a somewhat unpleasant piece of work. With decades of going to writers' festivals and so on behind me, I don't find this particularly surprising. It would be a naive reader who expected good writers to be, necessarily, both Good and Nice People, or even just the one or the other. Look at Truman Capote. Look at Hemingway and Lawrence. Look at Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf.
*Carefully avoids naming anyone who's still alive*
And what's clear, even after reading only half the book, is that the author's au contraire type personality is exactly what has given her book its exceptional qualities. She has sharp unkind eyes, and a sharp unkind tongue.
Yet there's a powerful instinct to want someone whose gifts you admire to be an all-round admirable human being. As expectations go it is unrealistic and unreasonable, but it's there. I'm sure this novelist is as unlike swimmer Nick D'Arcy as it's possible to be in every conceivable way but reading this book has made me think of him (his second appeal against exclusion from the Olympic team was turned down yesterday), and in a way the principle is the same. He's an Olympic class swimmer and it's likely that the same qualities that got him into the team in the first place are those that have now got him into so much trouble.
This isn't by way of advocacy or defence. One does not smash other people's faces, and if one does then one needs to understand that this is not an okay thing to do. On points, I sort of weakly hope they don't let him back into the team. But at the same time all this stuff about him being a role model rings hollow, possibly because I'm a bit shocked at the way some parents seem to expect other people (usually teachers, poor sods) to provide their kids with moral training. That's called parenting. Nick D'Arcy shouldn't be expected to do it.