I’m not going to share (many of) my own thoughts. Instead I present for you, a massive collection of the thoughts of other people on this story.
No, it’s not sewing related. But who can think of sewing at a time like this?
OK, yes, I can. But not yet.
Background, for those of you thinking “Jian who?” or “don’t you mean John?” Though at this point, that might be two people total in North America:
Jian was a popular radio broadcaster at our national public broadcasting corp, CBC. He’s got quite a fan following. Last week we heard he was taking extended leave for “personal reasons.” On Sunday, CBC said they fired him because of “information” that had come to light. Late Sunday, Jian published this letter on FB, claiming he was let go as part of a BDSM Persecution Witch Hunt, where everyone knew everything he did was consensual but they disapproved so they canned him.
In order of relevance to the sections of his FB post, links!
I am writing today because I want you to be the first to know some news.
This has been the hardest time of my life. I am reeling from the loss of my father. I am in deep personal pain and worried about my mom. And now my world has been rocked by so much more.
Today, I was fired from the CBC.
For almost 8 years I have been the host of a show I co-created on CBC called Q. It has been my pride and joy. My fantastic team on Q are super-talented and have helped build something beautiful.
Also true. Not sure it’s relevant. See: Woody Allen, Charles Dickens, etc. Doing good work does not mean you are not an asshole.
I have always operated on the principle of doing my best to maintain a dignity and a commitment to openness and truth, both on and off the air. I have conducted major interviews, supported Canadian talent, and spoken out loudly in my audio essays about ideas, issues, and my love for this country. All of that is available for anyone to hear or watch. I have known, of course, that not everyone always agrees with my opinions or my style, but I’ve never been anything but honest. I have doggedly defended the CBC and embraced public broadcasting. This is a brand I’ve been honoured to help grow.
Does this link cause you to think that his behaviour, on and off the air, is dedicated to “dignity”?
And maybe think, while you read this letter, how much assistance the PR firm Navigator provided him in crafting this “deeply honest and personal heartfelt appeal.”
Plus, should it matter whether or not you like Jian Ghomeshi?
Anyway. This paragraph serves little than to cause people to react patriotically to his message, much like American Republican senators caught with some hanky-panky in their personal lives immediately try to wrap themselves in the flag.
All this has now changed.
Today I was fired from the company where I’ve been working for almost 14 years – stripped from my show, barred from the building and separated from my colleagues. I was given the choice to walk away quietly and to publicly suggest that this was my decision. But I am not going to do that. Because that would be untrue. Because I’ve been fired. And because I’ve done nothing wrong.
Please note, then, that the airing of allegations was his choice. He aired the allegations.
Also: CBC does not have a history of firing staff for their public sex lives. See Sook Yin-Lee.
I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.
Jilted Ex Girlfriend
However, there were at least 3 women involved in The Star story
Plus a coworker
Plus the xoJane article from last year, linked above
As well as numerous rumours about his dating conduct for quite some time now (there are forum links all over the net to discussions among women sharing stories, but those are all password protected, so no shares here)
A beautiful piece from out west about the rumours circulating about Jian for over a decade.
And already, another woman has come forward with her own abuse allegations from a decade ago. Then, about an hour later, another three. God knows what the total will be by the time this gets published.
Here’s the “freelance writer”
As friends and family of mine, you are owed the truth.
I have commenced legal proceedings against the CBC, what’s important to me is that you know what happened and why.
Forgive me if what follows may be shocking to some.
I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners.
Friends and family, huh? His FB followers? Are friends and family? Wouldn’t actual friends and family deserve something more than a post on FaceBook?
Response of BDSM community part 1
Really to me it looks like they’re just not having it.
As well, is this about BDSM, or is it about consent?
About two years ago I started seeing a woman in her late 20s. Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady’s Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don’t wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone’s business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right.
Late 20s? The man is 47.
According to the Star, all women who have come forward so far are in their 20s. I haven’t yet heard him denying that he was involved with them. So this is a man who likes to date women 20+ years younger than he is. Moreover, when he hurts them, it makes him come. Whatever else has gone on, he sure don’t like having women in his sex life who are his equals. That is the best-case scenario based on his own words.
Sexual preferences are a human right, but Canadian courts and law do not permit a person to consent to sexual abuse. Whether or not you believe it should be illegal, currently, it is.
Also, one’s personal human rights to one’s sexual preferences ends where harm to another person begins. See: pedophilia
Also also, see BDSM community reactions to Shades of Grey comparison in above links. I.e., not actually helpful. Because Shades of Grey misrepresents abuse and rape as consensual BDSM.
Despite a strong connection between us it became clear to me that our on-and-off dating was unlikely to grow into a larger relationship and I ended things in the beginning of this year. She was upset by this and sent me messages indicating her disappointment that I would not commit to more, and her anger that I was seeing others.
How dare she! Plus, you may want to see the court documents, which have more detail. In that he claims they were dating non-monogamously by mutual consent, and he didn’t so much “end things when it became clear that it was unlikely to grow,” as cut her off when she decided that the non-monogamous thing wasn’t working for her anymore. So that’s two stories, that contradict each other, already from Mr. Ghomeshi.
After this, in the early spring there began a campaign of harassment, vengeance and demonization against me that would lead to months of anxiety.
It came to light that a woman had begun anonymously reaching out to people that I had dated (via Facebook) to tell them she had been a victim of abusive relations with me. In other words, someone was reframing what had been an ongoing consensual relationship as something nefarious. I learned – through one of my friends who got in contact with this person – that someone had rifled through my phone on one occasion and taken down the names of any woman I had seemed to have been dating in recent years. This person had begun methodically contacting them to try to build a story against me. Increasingly, female friends and ex-girlfriends of mine told me about these attempts to smear me.
Someone also began colluding with a freelance writer who was known not to be a fan of mine and, together, they set out to try to find corroborators to build a case to defame me. She found some sympathetic ears by painting herself as a victim and turned this into a campaign. The writer boldly started contacting my friends, acquaintances and even work colleagues – all of whom came to me to tell me this was happening and all of whom recognized it as a trumped up way to attack me and undermine my reputation. Everyone contacted would ask the same question, if I had engaged in non-consensual behavior why was the place to address this the media?
Well. When I broke up with the abusive/stalkery guy some women did reach out to me via email and FB, and I’m glad they did. Those conversations were helpful. Not sure what this proves of her, even if it is true.
And maybe she went to the media because our courts are broken, so far as sexual assault goes. If you don’t go to the courts, of course, you’ll be accused of making it up and trying to destroy an innocent man. But if you do go to the courts, you will still be accused of trying to destroy an innocent man. Plus, since so few accused are found guilty, the man then effectively has been publicly exonerated for his behaviour. He gets a shield. He gets to go around for the rest of his life saying, “Yeah, that crazy bitch accused me of rape, but the judge saw right through it.”
AND THEY DO. This happens. I’ve seen it. I have friends who were advised to this effect by their lawyers.
When I went to counseling to deal with my abusive ex, my counselor advised me to just wait it out. “Eventually he’ll latch on to someone else,” she said. “They always do.” So my best way out, according to a professional, was to sit tight until he started victimizing someone else.
Women who want to protect other women from rapists and abusers are better off using gossip. That is simply a fact of our current judicial system.
Now, how about this “vindictive ex-girlfriend” thing?
That he has friends who told him what was happening is quite possibly true. But it is not relevant. Plenty of famous rapists have friends. This does not mean that they are good people or don’t rape. Plus, at least one of his friends has publicly come out on the side of the victims. Plus a group of Canadian musicians put out a petition supporting the victims. Whether or not you think this was appropriate is beside the point; his insinuation that his friends are unanimously in support of his version of events is simply not true.
The writer tried to peddle the story and, at one point, a major Canadian media publication did due diligence but never printed a story. One assumes they recognized these attempts to recast my sexual behaviour were fabrications. Still, the spectre of mud being flung onto the Internet where online outrage can demonize someone before facts can refute false allegations has been what I’ve had to live with.
This was clearly not true, as the Star’s decision to then print the story demonstrates.
And this leads us to today and this moment. I’ve lived with the threat that this stuff would be thrown out there to defame me. And I would sue. But it would do the reputational damage to me it was intended to do (the ex has even tried to contact me to say that she now wishes to refute any of these categorically untrue allegations). But with me bringing it to light, in the coming days you will prospectively hear about how I engage in all kinds of unsavoury aggressive acts in the bedroom. And the implication may be made that this happens non-consensually. And that will be a lie. But it will be salacious gossip in a world driven by a hunger for “scandal”. And there will be those who choose to believe it and to hate me or to laugh at me. And there will be an attempt to pile on. And there will be the claim that there are a few women involved (those who colluded with my ex) in an attempt to show a “pattern of behaviour”. And it will be based in lies but damage will be done. But I am telling you this story in the hopes that the truth will, finally, conquer all.
So what exactly are we to think that these girls would get out of it? The pleasure of seeing him unemployed?
And if she didn’t succeed in contacting him, how does he know what she was going to say?
Also, see analysis from this lawyer about whether or not his lawsuit is going to go anywhere.
And more analysis about why, when he must know that his suit is not likely to be successful, he would go ahead and file it anyway.
I have been open with the CBC about this since these categorically untrue allegations ramped up. I have never believed it was anyone’s business what I do in my private affairs but I wanted my bosses to be aware that this attempt to smear me was out there. CBC has been part of the team of friends and lawyers assembled to deal with this for months. On Thursday I voluntarily showed evidence that everything I have done has been consensual. I did this in good faith and because I know, as I have always known, that I have nothing to hide. This when the CBC decided to fire me.
CBC execs confirmed that the information provided showed that there was consent. In fact, they later said to me and my team that there is no question in their minds that there has always been consent. They said they’re not concerned about the legal side. But then they said that this type of sexual behavior was unbecoming of a prominent host on the CBC. They said that I was being dismissed for “the risk of the perception that may come from a story that could come out.” To recap, I am being fired in my prime from the show I love and built and threw myself into for years because of what I do in my private life.
Look at that last sentence a few more times. Does it seem familiar? Perhaps because it is the same appeal used by Rob Ford when the crack cocaine story first broke. “I am the best mayor in the world and I am being persecuted for what I do in my personal life!” Maybe because every prominent abuser in recent history has used that line–“it shouldn’t matter what I do in my personal life!” Except that when you use your prominence to befriend victims, and carry out crimes, it very much does matter.
Also, it is legal to fire employees for what they do in their personal time, even if it’s legal, under some circumstances.
Also also, even if BDSM were legal in Canada, it is impossible to demonstrate consent to an employer. A text message or an email would not mean there is consent. It would mean that, at best, in advance of the event in question, a woman expressed some interest or enthusiasm for the idea in concept. But that doesn’t mean that she consented to what actually happened once she was in his apartment, or house, or whatever. So that doesn’t hold up at all.
Let me be the first to say that my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks. They may be strange, enticing, weird, normal, or outright offensive to others. We all have our secret life. But that is my private life. That is my personal life. And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life.
That is not true. See above.
And so, with no formal allegations, no formal complaints, no complaints, not one, to the HR department at the CBC (they told us they’d done a thorough check and were satisfied), and no charges, I have lost my job based on a campaign of vengeance. Two weeks after the death of my beautiful father I have been fired from the CBC because of what I do in my private life.
I have loved the CBC. The Q team are the best group of people in the land. My colleagues and producers and on-air talent at the CBC are unparalleled in being some of the best in the business. I have always tried to be a good soldier and do a good job for my country. I am still in shock. But I am telling this story to you so the truth is heard. And to bring an end to the nightmare.
News on the CBC’s ongoing internal investigation.
This is a fantastic example of the pity-the-abusers story that gets trotted out whenever someone with a promising career is charged with abuse. See: Ray Rice, Steubenville football stars. Their “nightmare,” their suffering, is invoked as if it compares in any way with the suffering of their victims. It does not.
There are two possibilities here that I can see:
Jian Ghomeshi is telling the truth, despite the inconsistencies in his account. Three women plus a freelance journalist are out to get him. They went to his boss and complained. The boss, despite excellent legal and HR teams and a history of dealing with sex in more progressive ways, decided to fire their highest-grossing staff, even knowing that he was going to sue and that they had no real cause. At that point, another four women came forward, and the same rumours that have circulated about him for years–even where I am, and my connection to the Canadian arts scene isn’t even cobwebby, more where a cobweb strand might be if a spider decided to spin it–have become something like public knowledge. But it’s all a conspiracy.
Or Jian Ghomeshi is a liar and an abuser.
You are entitled to come to your own opinion, of course.
As am I.
Contrary to what you may believe, my brain is not a courtroom, and I am not obliged to apply the same reasoning to my opinions as judges do when making legal findings. “Innocent until proven guilty” applies to the legal system, not whether or not I like someone, or find him credible.