Jian Ghomeshi and Picking Sides

Jian Ghomeshi is generally a pretty well-loved figure for the under 40 crowd in Canada and syndicated across the US as well. I’ve never really listened to his show, though, so don’t have any particular personal attachment. Yesterday afternoon the CBC issued a 3 sentence statement that they were cutting ties with him over accusations about him. He quickly shot back, saying he would sue CBC for $50 million and writing a very personal Facebook post detailing the allegations. In that post, he talks about how he likes BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadomasochism) but that it was always consensual and now the accusations from jilted exes are that it was not.

Source: http://taylormann.com/2014/10/jian-ghomeshi-the-cbc-real-time-pr/

For those who are more curious in this strictly in terms of the PR, Ghomeshi clearly won. It isn’t necessarily CBC’s fault. They would not be allowed to share those details of why he was fired even if they wanted to. But many people will unfortunately assume that his seemingly heartfelt Facebook post – which was quite possibly crafted by lawyers and/or PR professionals – coupled with CBC’s brevity means that he was clearly wronged and the accusations are false. For more on the PR side of it, I saw this post shared on Twitter.

In short, I think the CBC made the right move and I hope they stand by it. There is a slim chance that the accusations are false. False accusations of abuse don’t happen often, but they do happen. There’s also a chance that the truth is somewhere between his plea for total innocence and the accusations; e.g. he thought they were consenting but he wasn’t clear what he was going to do to them, which is still abuse but we can feel a bit more sorry for him. The courts have to rightfully operate on “innocent until proven guilty” but an employer does not – not when part of the job is being a role model.

The big reason is that we must not send the message that women cannot step forward with abuse. People are rushing to Ghomeshi’s defense and it does clearly send that message: “Don’t bother talking about your abuse because we won’t believe you anyway.” Ghomeshi’s posts also clearly stated it was just bitter women exacting revenge when he broke up with them, in many ways basically saying “bitches be crazy.” That is probably why some didn’t step forward sooner. It is definitely why many abused women decide not to say anything about abuse every day. If the CBC didn’t respond to the accusations, they would be sending that same message.

I choose to pick the side of the oppressed as much as I can precisely because I believe that God does. As he stood up for Israel enslaved in Egypt and all through the biblical story, he continues to stand up for the poor, the weak, the sick, the widow, the orphan, the abused, the ignored, the outcast, the less-than-famous, etc. That isn’t necessarily saying they are always right, as that could create a new class of victims if we settle for only turning the tables but with the same tactics, but it does mean coming alongside them and making sure they are heard.

I don’t know whether Ghomeshi is guilty. I hope the courts can decide that as fairly as possible when the time comes. In the meantime, we need to make sure there is plenty of room for the women allegedly victimized – who do not have Ghomeshi’s fame – to tell their stories. I’m glad CBC made a clear statement that they will be given their due process without their alleged abuser still having his spotlight.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.