A few weeks ago an extremely popular, Canadian interview host, Jian Ghomeshi, was fired from CBC radio. When this first happened, CBC said it was because of information they had received about Ghomeshi. Well, that was rather mysterious. I point out that I also heard this on CBC Radio, not on another station. (I don’t have TV so I get my news by listening to radio.) Then Ghomeshi put out a statement that he has a kinky lifestyle and indulges in bondage and domination, and that CBC found this “sexual behavior was unbecoming of a prominent host.”
Jian Ghomeshi hosted the popular radio show called Q. He interviewed many famous personages from writers and politicians to actors and singers. The interviews were good, with depth and Ghomeshi asked good questions. He received at least one award for his interviews. For those who watched the filmed versions, Ghomeshi had charm and women found him cute, handsome or some other mysterious mix of enticing.
Now, it’s a known fact that our current, super, ultra right-wing, Conservative government thinks the arts only consist of artists standing around in evening gowns and tuxes sipping champagne (to paraphrase a comment from our prime minster), which shows the lack of reality in how tough it is for artists to make a living and the disconnect when even political speeches and political party branding come from artists. It’s also known that Prime Minster Harper is trying to muzzle scientists and get rid of the CBC by drastic funding cuts. These days I’ve heard the same program as many as three times in one week, due to these cuts. Q and The Current are two radio shows that through their popularity have survived so far.
Now, because Prime Minster Harper’s strict and religious roots tend to show from time to time (and unlike the US, Canada has not mixed religion and politics) and from what looked like the unveiling of Ghomeshi’s sexual practices and CBC’s vagueness, it seemed pretty clear what had happened.
I posted the following on my public facebook page:
So CBC fires Jian Ghomeshi because he leads an alternative lifestyle. So what! Let’s get this right. He is not a criminal and hasn’t been charged with anything. This is the same as CBC firing someone because they’re gay, or single, or married, or like to do it in the missionary position. It’s no one’s business.
Let’s not mention how the Harper government has stripped CBC of programming so badly that the nakedness of this national broadcasting station is far more shameful. And as Pierre Trudeau once said, and CBC exec, you should pay attention: “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”
And what can I say…the vitriol started to fly. Remember, this was within 24-48 hours of the initial news and it sounded like he didn’t meet their ideal of upright citizen.
One response was this (language alert):
God, I am so sick and fucking tired of seeing this unexamined argument. The CBC fired Ghomeshi because he’s under journalistic (and not far off from a criminal) investigation into multiple instances of rape and a host of things too foul to mention. Ghomeshi is not the injured party.
At this point what I had heard on CBC Radio was that there was no criminal investigation, no mention of rape and no mention of things too foul to mention (Iif they weren’t mentioned, how do we know they are foul?). I have to say I wasn’t doggedly digging up every article coming out and I don’t live in Toronto, so perhaps the super irate people were glued to their media devices (I was at work). I thought it unfair to fire someone on hearsay of a possible kinky and consensual lifestyle as it was presented. I said, what happened to innocent until proven guilty and got even more anger.
…you’ve got the wrong end of the stick, and … actually, fuck it. I’m done. You go do whatever you want.
So, okay…the conversation had only just begun but obviously, according to some people, I’d thrown in with Jian Ghomeshi. More people made it sound like I hadn’t a clue about the world, that abuse doesn’t always go reported, that I thought rape was good, that I didn’t care about women’s rights. No one said this but they sure implied it. I responded with the following (if you want the full thread you can find me on facebook and read it):
Let’s put it this way. Let’s say you jam olives up your nose. While most people don’t (do this) and more don’t like it, it’s not illegal. However someone tells your employer that you’re an olive jammer and you’re fired on the spot, because they don’t like it and it’s shameful. Now let’s say you stomp olives and that’s illegal. Well then you’ll be charged and the courts will rule accordingly. Should you be fired while it’s going on, even if you only sell hot dogs or collect garbage? And yeah, Rob Ford wasn’t fired. They couldn’t wedge him out.
If Ghomeshi is guilty or if there is enough evidence then he’ll be charged for a crime. However, the CBC firing someone because of an alternative lifestyle is no different to when the gov’t used to check up on women on welfare in the 40s to make sure they didn’t have boyfriends. It’s about rights (and yes if women didn’t consent and were abused, that’s an abuse of rights) but the right to free speech and the right to having sex however you like it is there for everyone, unless it harms someone, unless it’s consensual. And sorry, but no matter what the courts say there are many many people who have relationships that are “kinky” however you define it and that’s consensual whether you or I like it or not.
Someone then said well yes, you can fire people before they’re charged and posted about the guy who was fired as a CEO because there was a video of him kicking his dog in an elevator. However, that’s tangible evidence…a video. At this point it was CBC and Ghomeshi saying he’d been fired because of the sexual practices. It was not yet clear on how much CBC knew or believed.
If anyone has a doubt about how I feel about women’s rights and sexual abuse and if anyone even presumes to think that I think this okay, then they’re guilty of jumping to conclusions. I was defending human rights based on what I heard, reported by the radio broadcaster that fired Ghomeshi. Perhaps people should think before they grab pitchforks and torches. I’ve been sexually abused by my father and I can say I never shed a tear when that monster died. I’ve spoken about rape culture and sexual abuse in such posts as “She Dressed that Way; She Must Have Wanted It,” and “Rape; It’s Just a Social Media Trend.” So if someone thinks I support sexual abuse, then they don’t know a thing about me.
Since I posted, something like eight women have come forward with allegations that Ghomeshi’s sexual practices were not consensual. I have only heard one interview and while it seems no one was raped, they were assaulted in other ways. I could be wrong about this. I haven’t seen the reports. That’s a lot of people, even without hard evidence. Witnesses are used in trial and there could very well be a body of information to convict him. I never said he was innocent except for saying he wasn’t a criminal when CBC was extremely vague about why they fired him. I was defending a person’s rights to be innocent until proven guilty. I saw an infringement on the rights of someone to an alternative lifestyle, not an infringement due to sexual abuse which was as yet not made clear. And now, CBC execs have given more information.
I wonder about Ghomeshi. Someone of his fame indulging in a fetish lifestyle that left marks would have needed to be extra careful. And I know people of many walks of life and of different lifestyles. Some sexual practices aren’t for the faint of heart but there are people who pursue and like variations that might be “too foul to mention” for others. As I’ve always said, if it’s consensual, then it’s no one else’s business. But I”ll stress. IT MUST BE CONSENSUAL (and of legal age).
If Ghomeshi is guilty of abuse, then he must have been arrogant and narcissistic to think something like this wouldn’t surface. Either that, or he wanted to be caught. Either way, the courts will decide. However, it is true that many women never voice the threats and abuse that have happened to them. My father got away with it. And it’s complicated why he wasn’t brought to trial. There were others who were too damaged to go through that. I’ve seen what a trial can do to a woman who was raped, how it’s made to seem that she enticed, that she flaunted, that she taunted, that she was the guilty party. I will never condone sexual abuse, and I’m pretty insulted that people presumed that about me and conflated my comments about human rights with supposedly supporting sexual abuse.
If I’ve made enemies, that’s fine. I’m glad that we have people running trials and gathering evidence. Otherwise, I might already have been lynched by misconceptions. Ghomeshi is on trial on many levels already. This has shed a light on the fact that rape culture still runs rampant, that women are still blamed when they are raped. Let’s not even get into other cultures and how a woman can be stoned if she’s raped or called a slut. It makes my blood boil.
I will however say again, that if someone was fired because they were into spanking, or bondage, or master-slave relationships that were consensual that they have that right to do in their own home as they wish with adult and consenting partners. You and I don’t need to like it. We might find it too foul to mention but that’s not a reason for a person to lose their job. Our private lives are our rights and gay and lesbian culture and relationships were once treated as being too foul to mention.