The Unjust and Jian Ghomeshi (II)

Some of the women who declined to go public with their charges against Ghomeshi cited the case of Carla Ciccone. Ciccone wrote a thinly disguised account of her date with a C-List Canadian celebrity radio host whom she had always assumed was gay. As she described it, he was rude, inappropriate, creepy, and annoying. Most people deduced immediately that “Keith” was Jian Ghomeshi, and apparently, she received a torrent of abusive e-mails and blog-posts defending “Keith”.

Nobody deserves that kind of abuse, but nor does she deserve to be held up as an example. As she herself described it, in spite of endless opportunities to end the date and go home, she ended up spending the entire evening with him at a concert, and even accepting a ride home from him after deciding to call a taxi. After all, she “couldn’t just leave”, no matter how over-whelming the stench of his cologne. Why? She didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his friends? She herself suggests that she was still hoping to take advantage of his celebrity status for purposes of self-promotion.

I was concerned that he would somehow ruin my fledgling career in Canadian media forever if I bailed on him, as stupid as that sounds.

Now, we readily condemn a man who uses the leverage of his power and influence to extract sex from an unwilling woman.  Is there anything wrong with the idea of using sex to extract a favor from a man with power and influence?

In other words, there was an offer on the table and I didn’t want to withdraw it just yet.

One also has the impression that she kept throwing herself at him in order to see if he would at least kindly provide her with more ammunition for her blog, if he wasn’t going to be nice enough to promote her career.

A student from the University of Western Ontario related that Ghomeshi lost interest in her as soon as she suggested he help her land a job at “Q”. She made this suggestion, apparently, after he had hugged her twice from behind, “inappropriately”.

Has everyone completely lost their minds here? She doesn’t allege anything illegal or abusive in this story. What she does do is smear somebody, publicly, for having bad taste, while making sure we all get the message that she was so desirable that he just couldn’t help himself. Yes, ick.

And let’s be clear: this has nothing to do with excusing “Keith’s” behavior– obviously, he’s a jerk. But not that much of a jerk, in this story. He’s interested in sex, obviously, and he’s into the chase, and he presses on for too long, but we’ll never know if Ciconne really gave him the clear signal that she wasn’t interested or if she was playing him. She certainly did play him in one respect: blogging about the date is an invasion of his privacy. If the shoe were on the other foot, who would be up in arms about it? Nothing that Ghomeshi allegedly did on this “date”– by her own account– was so transgressive as to deserve to be slimed like this.

And this is the narrative that justifies several other women making anonymous accusations? Because they make their case one with Ciccone’s claim that the contempt she received was unearned?

Why does Ciccone get to turn into a narrative the fact that she is ostensibly clueless– if she really is that clueless? She doesn’t mind you thinking she is clueless? It’s preferable to you thinking she’s a tease? And why is she so careful to clue you in that “Keith” pursued her…. well… why would he, if she really felt the way she says she felt after first meeting him? Because she didn’t say so? Or because she pretended to be interested in him just to tease out more of a pursuit?

Like I said, the abuse directed at her is repellent, but criticism of a public posting is not. It’s fair game.

I have a strong suspicion that if Ciconne had said, right at the start of the evening, “I am not interested in a romantic relationship with you– is that clear?– but I would sure appreciate it if you would advance my career” there would have been no material for her to blog about.

We now hear that a former fellow at York University, student, Jim Hounslow, has come forward with allegations that Ghomeshi touched his genitals. Once. That would be more than 25 years ago. This is breathlessly reported at Yahoo as if students never made any moves on each other and if they did they now need to be shamed. It’s piling on and it’s as ugly if not uglier than the other allegations against Ghomeshi.

The Unjust and Jian Ghomeshi Part I

The Unjust and Jian Ghomeshi (I)

The first lie is that anyone who dares to question the almost hysterical rush to pile on Jian Ghomeshi, is therefore defending Jian Ghomeshi, even when what is being criticized is the distasteful spectacle of the media hyping a particular issue beyond all reason and rationality. But hey, Ebola might be over soon: we need to whip up something to keep the public reading.

On Ghomeshi’s Actual Trial

I have now read and heard three specific commentators who insist that what this means for our justice system is that women are always telling the truth in these matters and must always be believed. This very morning on the CBC, one of their panelists in a discussion of why women are so reluctant to bring charges against a man who assaults her, asserted that the justice system must be changed so that the victim does not have any burden of proof.

The accused is guilty until proven innocent.

This is a repulsive, stupid, deeply offensive idea.

Joel Rubinoff in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record raised the issue of why, to his credulous incredulity, would anyone make up something so humiliating? So they must be telling the truth. I can’t believe that anyone, in 2014, still believes this. In first place, why would the woman be humiliated? Some guy was a jerk and you don’t want to say anything because it makes you feel humiliated? Is it awful to humiliate someone? It is awful to engage in the public shaming of someone? Is it different?

He couldn’t have invested the slightest effort in checking into his theory: has any woman ever lied about being sexually assaulted?

How wickedly casual this upending of the foundations of our justice system slips into the conversation. It should not be countenanced. It is outrageously, fundamentally, horribly wrong.

Oh, they say, but it makes it so difficult to punish people. It should be difficult. History is loaded to the brim with governments and authorities and mobs who made it easier to arrest and imprison people. It has taken hundreds of years and millions of lives to establish the principle that no one may be imprisoned unless it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he or she has committed a crime.  Be it noted that the U.S., in the case of black suspects and white juries, regularly dispenses with this rule.

The last reason anyone should contemplate sacrificing that principle is this media frenzy piling on one particularly distasteful individual. The second last reason might be because of one shooting in Ottawa.

It’s also something of amusing paradox that, while insisting that women are never believed, virtually everyone in the media believes them. They all go on and on about how Jian Ghomeshi is a monster who needs to be locked up because, as Elizabeth May says, you should “always believe the women” (unless you’re a 15-year-old pimp from Ottawa). Is there even a single pundit out there who does not believe the women? (Haven’t you even read “To Kill a Mockingbird”?) Yet, the blather from the CBC and Toronto Star and even the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, goes on and on about how our society constantly excuses male aggression and abuse and ridicules the victim. Who? Who is excusing it? I’m sure there are some marginal tabloids and perhaps Fox News, but nobody serious is defending Ghomeshi.

A national radio program is raising the allegations against Ghomeshi and treating all of them as fact and simultaneously complaining bitterly that nobody ever believes the women and that that should be fixed by simply ordaining that the women who charge men with bad behaviour should always automatically be believed, as if there is not the slightest evidence that any woman ever lied about what a man did to her.

It even made it’s way to the Ontario Legislature where, long, long before any trial or investigation, the NDP asserts that this proves that the government needs to do more to prevent workplace sexual harassment.

Like what? Make it “more illegal”?

The Unjust and Jian Ghomeshi Part II