Saturday, November 1, 2014

Much to Frown Upon in the Ghomeshi Saga

        Anthony Furey (Ghomeshi not a lynch-mob victim, Ottawa Sun 1/11/2014) has a couple things right. Whatever the former CBC radio superstar could be called, victim is not one of them. At least, not as yet. He got fired for a cause which by now almost everyone in Canada knows, even people like me who never heard a single Ghomeshi interview.  He is suing the broadcaster or so the papers say.  It is known because he has become a front-page news because some people think his sex proclivities is a front-page material because he is - well I have said it - a former CBC radio superstar and he was fired because of his sexual proclivities. This naturally calls for big fat headlines where he is lambasted as Don Jian and cautioned to Put Your Hands Where We Can See Them.  As hyperboles go, a lynch-mob is probably too strong a word given that the worst that will happen to Ghomeshi is that he will not be employable in Canada in a job that has a public profile, after a media shit-storm ahead of judicial proceedings (if any) against him materialized. 

         At the moment, not much seems to be available in the gossip exchange and the kinky kangaroo court that Anthony Furey feels morally impelled to partake in.  Two women stepped forward with public accusations against the radio host.  One, an actress described some of the rough sex scenes from the first date with the radio host in 2002 but gauged them “not terrible”. Not terrible enough at any rate for her not to agree to see him again. Two, a lawyer who says only she was not raped but pillories generally the judicial system, saying it has bias which prevents sex assault victims like herself to step forward with charges. Sounds pretty self-serving if you ask me.  Other than that, we don’t know except that the business of combatting rape culture on campuses has evidently its own contingent in the melee with Carleton U. claiming multiple victims among its journalism students ready to step forward and tell tales of being groped, fondled or otherwise diminished as persons by the libertine miscreant.  In the latest twist in the bizzare web of accusations, a former girlfriend of Ghomeshi complains in The Guardian of his withholding sex and thus sparing her the martyrdom of being his lover.  Mistaken though you would be if you thought this was a positive and a defence of the beleaguered host. No, she found him weird and feels compelled to tell on him because she feels assured the other women told the truth and he was grooming her for later abuse. Evidently, in the minds of those disappointed with him, Jian must be guilty of something, even if nothing happened.    

          As I hinted, I hold no brief for Ghomeshi.  I can't do more for him that I myself would feel entitled to from him, should I by any chance be treated unfairly on account of different tastes in matters sexual. I do have concern that the complaints against his indecent outrages against his dates, coworkers (?) themselves show lack of that very quality which alone can claim a higher moral ground: yes, I am talking about decency.

         There seems to be, behind the barrage of denunciations against the celebrity an unspoken assumption that he did criminal things of the sort on which there should be no statutory limits, and that he did them knowing full well what he did was out of bounds.  Problem is, you need to prove this and the high-minded Furey and his buddies at the Sunmedia (Ezra Levant, Michael Coren)  have had difficulty with that part.  I don’t care for Furey’s description of Ghomeshi as a “self-important wanker”.  It has no significance in the issues at hand.  Worse, it is transparent painting of the radio host with the intent to deny him a defense if a criminal case against him arises.  Where is the bigger picture, Anthony Furey ?  We live in a sex culture where everything goes. Not true?  Go to a sex toy shop!  See all the ball gags, harnesses, strap-ons, nipple clamps, whips, handcuffs, bondage tape, rope, pulleys, choking manualsThere they are, take your pick if you are into that!  None of this is contraband, or even, if one can use George Constanza’s memorable phrase, “frowned upon” by anyone these days who does not fit the category of a sexual naif.   

         The thing that seems to be missing for nearly all the commentators (with Christie Blatchford the one honorable exception) who talk or write about Jian Ghomeshi’s sex-capades is relevant context to make the judgement call they are in a hurry to make. But, as many popular indictments from Salem, Mass. to Martensville, Sask. have proven, claims of moral certainty that his Satanic majesty was involved have been notoriously hard to sustain.  It is unseemly, almost like trying to cry hard enough at Kim Jong Il's funeral: one would not want to be suspected as one of those giving a bloody nose, fat lip or a shiner to a sex partner as regular par for the course. 

         Listen, CBC’s self-serving commission-of-inquiry-after-the-fact des not convince anyone. Sunmedia’s collective glee over CBC’s battered image as a public broadcaster in Canada are not going to prove anyone’s guilt. Ghomeshi’s political outlook is irrelevant, nor are his skills with the mike. The tweets of support to him from Margaret Atwood are not a proof of anything.  We don't know and we will not know what really happened and this is why:  whatever comes out now against the host has been tainted by a process in which a silent but diligent character assassination preceded an objective investigation, and the firing of the man by the broadcaster preceded evidence of any wrongdoing that was produced.  If there was “graphic” evidence of violent, non-consensual sex, it should have been handled by the police first.  That much decency for Jian Ghomeshi was certainly not that much to ask for.

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