I don’t know Jian Ghomeshi personally. I’ve met him in passing at certain events as have many people. He was the voice on the “Virtual Tour of the New Market Hall” video published by Market Hall Performing Arts Centre uploaded to YouTube the summer of 2010.
And because I don’t know Jian Ghomeshi personally and I don’t know any of the women involved personally, I don’t have an opinion specifically about what Jian Ghomeshi has written about online that he claims is the basis for the parting of ways between himself and CBC.
Some say that what is happening with Jian Ghomeshi is because business thinks it has a place in the bedrooms of employees. You see, CBC hasn’t said anything about Jian Ghomeshi’s personal life. What the CBC said was that the corporation’s relationship with Jian had come to an end.
There was no release of private information. There was no commentary that indicated what may or may not have happened in Jian’s — or anyone else’s — bedroom. And it ended with wishing him well.
Some say that what is happening with the Jian Ghomeshi situation is caused by white privilege because he is an Iranian-Canadian with dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin.
White privilege is a set of advantages and immunities that benefit white people on a daily basis that are in excess of those accorded other ethnicities, and can exist without conscious knowledge of its presence. The fact of the matter is, most people I’ve spoken to over the years think he’s got a really great tan and it never dawned on them that he was anything but Canadian.
White privilege wasn’t the reason why there was a parting of the ways between CBC and Jian Ghomeshi.
Cuts to CBC have been pretty brutal over the last few months. In June of this year, it was announced that between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs would be cut over five years. This was in addition to the more than 650 jobs that had already been slated for elimination. The end result was that there would be considerably fewer permanent, contract, and temporary employees working at CBC.
Based on the PR Newswire release, Jian wasn’t cut loose because of cuts to funding for the CBC.
For the general public right now, the facts are still in that netherland region where innuendo and rumor are colliding with allegations and claims.
Let’s take a look at facts that are in evidence.
Jian Ghomeshi was a member of Moxy Fruvous back in the 1990s, and the band was commissioned by the CBC to write “My Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors” for the Toronto Authors’ Festival. After the band went on hiatus, Jian was picked to host the CBC radio show PLAY after a CBC Newsworld producer hit on the idea of having Ghomeshi host the show. The show won a Gemini in 2005 for best general / human interest program.
The show that Jian is best known for is Q that was launched 2 years later in 2007. The Globe and Mail’s television columnist at the time (John Doyle) wrote: “It seems that somebody thinks Ghomeshi’s narcissistic natterings are the future of CBC.” To block any misinterpretation of what narcissitic means, this is the dictionary definition.
Jian was quoted in Maclean’s magazine in November 2012 stating that when it comes to job security, he had learned that there is no such thing as job security.
And then there’s Jian’s comment in Toronto Life magazine about an article written by Carla Ciccone, and published on the website XOJane. It was the story about a man named Keith whom she described as a C-list celebrity who was thought to be homosexual. Toronto Life magazine wrote in their article that Ghomeshi allegedly called his manager and his publicist over the article, believing the article was about him. His manager and publicist said there was nothing actionable in the article, and advised him to steer clear of it.
NOTE 1: Carla Ciccone became a target for a number of angry internet travellers, and was subjected to unwarranted abuse on the basis that the commenters believed they knew who Keith was. The attacks were not dissimilar to those attacks recently experienced by Anita Sarkeesian for her videos on video games and misogynistic culture in video games.
NOTE 2: In this same article, the writer alleged that Ghomeshi only dates “20-something media and culture types: pretty, bright young women who are likely impressed by [Ghomeshi's] status.” As there were no sources quoted for the comment, the assumption is that it was based on the women Jian either was or allegedly was dating at any given time. Ghomeshi also did not object to this passage in the article, implying that it was an accurate representation of his dating preferences.
Another fact is that Jian Ghomeshi has a powerful and large platform from which to tell his side of the story. With tens of thousands of likes and shares for his Facebook status update at suppertime on Sunday, and the ongoing vilification of the unnamed women, the Internet — and by virtue of that action, the search engines — was clogged with Jian’s version of events.
He has power and public opinion on his side. He’s the popular guy. His accusers are the unknowns.
Studies by reputable and respected researchers have shown that it’s human nature to believe those who are known or admired or idolized. And studies by reputable and respected researchers have shown that most victims of sexual assault are not believed or held responsible for being victimized.
What’s more, it’s a fact that fewer than ten percent of sexual assaults in Canada are ever reported to police.
But getting back to the matter at hand and the facts that are known, the CBC has refused to comment past the initial PR Newswire statement, citing privacy policies and the pending lawsuit from Jian’s lawyers. In fact, it’s business policy no matter what company is being discussed to not comment on the reasons for an employee’s dismissal due to confidentiality.
The women in question are claiming they were victims of assault as it relates to being punched and/or slapped, choked nearly to unconsciousness, and more. Jian claims that it was always consensual between all parties. And although I haven’t researched this in detail, I don’t believe a person can consent to being assaulted under Canadian law. In fact, under Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada, this is what’s stated regarding consent.
The women who consented to sex do not seem to be complaining about the sex aspect of the interaction to which they did consent; they seem to be complaining about the violence aspect to which they did not consent.
If, as the women have alleged, there was an application of force in excess to that which was previously agreed to, then this means consent was not given by the women. That would mean what comes of the act is not consensual.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, I don’t know Jian Ghomeshi personally and I don’t know any of the women involved personally. What I do know is that there are many troubling aspects to this story involving Jian Ghomeshi. Only time will tell if Jian has been wrongly accused, or if his accusers have been wrongly maligned and victimized a second time … this time in the court of public opinion.