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Big Ears Teddy and the Radio Star

Earlier in the week I wrote that I wasn’t interested in hearing the sordid details of the Jian Gomeshi rough-sex scandal and I meant it but there doesn’t seem to be any avoiding it now.

Has it really only been five days since this story broke? There have been so many reports, commentary and opinion published that it feels like it has been going on forever. Even the attack on Parliament Hill didn’t get this much coverage or opinion.

When it’s all said and done, it still comes down to a simple case of he said vs. she said and she said and she said and she said and she said and she said and she said and she said. That’s nine “she saids’ and counting versus one ‘he said”. It stretches credulity that there isn’t a least some fire under all this smoke.

But, it is only smoke so far; only allegations versus denial. There are lots of allegations to be sure but allegations are not fact until they are proven and nothing has been proven yet.

That hasn’t stopped the High Courts of the Mainstream and Social Media, however. They’re in full robe and in a hang ‘em high mood. All that’s missing is a rope and a tree – and Jian Gomeshi who apparently has high-tailed it out of Dodge to the City of Angeles in California.

In this era of global social media, somebody probably should have mentioned that you can run but you cannot hide. The mob will find you wherever you are.

If even only a few of the allegations against Jean Gomeshi are true, I hope that some of the women who have made them will proceed to press charges. As the father of a daughter, I don’t believe there is any room in this world for men who harass, abuse or bully women with physical abuse or sexual intimidation.

Actually I don’t believe any form of bullying or abusive behaviour by anyone against anyone else, male or female – adult or child – should be tolerated in a civilized society but that isn’t what I came to talk about.

What has caught my attention is how quickly support for Jian Gomeshi evaporated.

When the story first broke last Sunday with CBC’s announcement that they had fired Mr. Gomeshi and his subsequent epic defense posted on Facebook later that evening; many came to his defense including more than a few of the trendy and beautiful people.

Entertainment celebrities, a few politicians and even some media types all jumped on board to show support for a guy they thought was more than just a little cool.

Two days later, that all changed and many of the glamourati were doing a backwards sphincter crawl in their rush to not only distance themselves from any association with Mr. Gomeshi but from their own strong words of support.

Apparently those words were about as strong as the support behind them; which is to say, fairly fragile.

Such notables as Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, aging feminist Judy Rebbick and the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wendt all did a one-eighty and virtually without making themselves dizzy – or dizzier than they have always been – in the process.

Since then, support for Jian Gomeshi started to disappear faster than a politician’s election promises after the votes have been counted. Even his publicist, Rock-it and his PR/Crisis Management firm, Navigator, have bailed and you know it’s getting rough when you can’t even buy support.

There are intimations that there is at least one video out there recorded sureptishously and we all know what video did for the radio star.

The social media verdict is in and Gomeshi’s Facebook page is bleeding followers like a hemophiliac who has just had an unfortunate experience with a chain saw.

Even Carlton University has announced it is opening an investigation based on tweets from an alleged graduate of their journalism program that surfaced on Twitter .

I have a rock with two googly eyes and some yarn approximating a beard glued to it that my daughter made for me in kindergarten. I have kept that rock for 35 years but – and I want to stress this – as much as I love that rock, I never talk to it. I haven’t even given it a name.

But so detailed is the flow of information about Jian Gomeshi, we have even been told that he has a stuffed teddy bear that he talks to and that he calls Big Ears Teddy. Well, isn’t that special!

To be honest, that’s more information than I actually needed.

No matter how much we might wish otherwise and for all the wrong reasons, Jian Gomeshi is trending and that, my friends, is not only what makes him news; for many – it’s all that is actually important.

Truth, facts and evidence are unnecessary. Innuendo and allegation are all that are required to get the social media machine wound up and in full gear.

Everyone has an opinion about him now, even the majority of us who had never heard of him before this week. He is the flavour of the moment on social media and people are rushing to have a taste.

It never seems to occur to anyone, however, that if the early support for Gomeshi changed so rapidly, how do we know his early supporters are getting it right now and didn’t pull their support for fear of an online backlash? In other words, were they right in the beginning or are they right now?

Sure, there are the allegations but for now at least, they are only allegations and nobody has stepped forward to actually press charges. So what is true and what isn’t?

I don’t know but I would suggest that the overwhelming majority of us don’t either.

I’m not defending Jian Gomeshi. If he did only some of what he has been accused of doing, I hope he gets nailed to the wall for it. I’m defending a couple of increasingly arcane concepts called ‘presumption of innocence’ and ‘due process’.

We don’t seem to care about them any more – unless, of course – it’s us being attacked.

Both are fundamental protections guaranteed to each of us under our constitution. They are rights accorded to us by our legal system and they are there to protect us from being condemned and ruined by false allegations.

We seem to have become quite content with the idea that the better place to try things is online or in the media rather than in a court of law where there is a need to bring evidence to prove guilt. The bar is much lower on social media. A few allegations or perhaps an out of context smart phone video is all it takes.

Many of us are even prepared to take to the streets to protest – sometimes violently – when our opinions are not translated into the appropriate action by law enforcement. The problem with that form of justice is that it is very much like the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland; sentence first – the  trial after, when and if we get around to it.

The Gomeshi scandal is more than just something trending on social media. It’s a real issue involving real people. The rush to judgment in the mainstream and social media is not justice, is lynch mob mentality.

People’s lives can be easily destroyed by erroneous virtual mob swarmings and very difficult to rebuild if the mob got it wrong. It’s why we have courts with a high standard of proof of guilt requirement.

The simple fact is that if we are not prepared to respect the basic rights to presumption of innocence and due process for others, we have no right to expect it for ourselves.

What is happening now does not serve the women who have raised the allegations, or us, well.

It undermines the protections and rights guaranteed to us all and that, my friends, should be of more concern to us than Big Ears Teddy and the Radio Star.

               

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© 2014 Maggie’s Bear

all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it might be of interest to others

Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear  – ivmaki@sympatico.ca

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  • TerrorSquad

    The irony here is this guy used to be part of the lynch mob.

    • MaggiesBear

      You know what they say; the higher you fly, the farther you fall. It seems to happen more and more these days First worshiped and revered then condemned. I’m not sure which is worse.

  • V103115

    I never knew who Jian Ghomeshi was untli last Monday morning, when I saw and read his Facebook post, after seeing a story on National Newswatch.

    What little I found in the way of background roused my curiosity and after I got the jist of the story – especially thr amount of the lawsuit he was suing for, I saw red, not for the he-said-she-said allegations, but the fact that this highly paid radio star – would be paid (if successful) by us, the taxpayer. When I posted this on my own FB page, I was roasted alive by Ghomeshi supporters, mainly because I have never listened to him or knew who he was and how this story was all lies and I posted it before knowing the details. I stood by my comments and again, I was taken to task. I lost friends because of this post – I knew this hit a nerve.

    Once the story took on a life of its own, the fury of my Ghomeshi loving friends died down and I actually got apologies from them, for jumping the gun and they were the ones that began the rush to judgement of Ghomeshi, posting the Kevin Donovan articles on their Facebook pages that started the whole mess

    throughout the week, I still held back, maintaining some form of neutrality but, like others, reading all of the juicy stories, especially about Big Ears. Trying not to make a judgement got harder as the number of girls stepped forward. We all knew that if it was going to go anywhere, the girls would have to go to the police. It’s rock and hard place time, As of today, two women have gone to the police so, it’s now in their hands. To me, that took a whole lot of courage to do, the consequences of that are pretty nasty.

    Today, with social media, throwing allegations out against someone is as easy as tweeting or posting on FB and yes, it has ruined lives. People do rush to judgement and the author of the Star articles – which we all read word for word, was the one who did the hatchet job on Rob Ford. Both articles relied on anonymous sources and had the potential to ruin lives.

    Thatbeing said, the articles got people talking, it gave us a taste of the other side of the story. It showed us that this kind of harassment and intimidation goes beyond Ghomeshi at the CBC. It’s up to all of us us to decide whether we believe the stories and the presumption of innocence for a person. Time will tell as to what happens in the courts of law. In the meantime, it has once again, brought all of us to have the conversation about where the line of consent and assault meet where a case should be tried-in a court or, the court of public opinion.

    • MaggiesBear

      Like you, I had never heard of Jian Gomeshi before Sunday. I think you raise a very valid point at the end of your comment. Social media can be a venue for serious discussion about serious issues and I support and applaud that. Ever person, man and woman, has the right to the sanctity of their own person without exception. When someone violates that, there must be consequences but I believe the consequences come after the facts are proven not while they are allegations by unnamed sources. It’s too easy for that to be abused to the harm of the innocent.

      I particularly agree with your last paragraph. Social media can be a real force to promote the broader discussion of issues like this. Unfortunately, as I wrote in my post, it is being used by too many as little more than a lynch mob rushing to judgment. That is a danger to all of us.

      Thank you for your comment. It was thought provoking.

  • Bec

    The allegations are more than disturbing and they need to be taken seriously. Instead of questioning the victims and why they haven’t pressed charges….well,.. be ONE not knowing there were 9 +++++ and then, evaluate perhaps?.
    I cannot imagine being a young female, trying to ‘connect’ in his world plus then CBC power. Doing some research on this story has uncovered a ton of info that this may have been going on for decades?
    “Lynch Mob mentality”? Are you serious? These kind of evaluations are why women DO NOT COME FORWARD! Especially when they are not aware they have any support. Your rant confirms it in a nutshell.
    It’s your blog, you can rant but you sure do it a lot and they are never fun or informative.. Your blog is a drag. Maybe you need a Journal or a voice recorder to get this stuff off your chest? Just a thought.

    • MaggiesBear

      The post quite clearly states that I believe Gomeshi should be nailed to the wall if any of the allegations are proven to be true. It is about the simplistic morality of social media and not at the women who have raised the allegations. My issue is about how people not connected to this story simply proceed to jump on it, determine guilt without evidence beyond anonymous allegations. How you interpret that to mean that I am victimizing the nine women eludes me but then, I appreciate that reading and comprehension are difficult for some people.

      For the record, my daughter was the victim of sexual assault in the workplace and I was the one who confronted her company with her so that she would not have to stand alone. I personally was sexually molested by two different pedophiles at different times as a child so I have some first hand knowledge of what it is like to be afraid of abusers. So do us both a favour and take your uninformed, self–righteous sanctimony elsewhere. This is a blog for people who can think and discuss issues rationally and civilly

  • charlie98

    Faulty legal advice in a possible attempt to dissuade others failed. Live by the sword …

    • MaggiesBear

      It was terrible legal advice. Imagine a law firm of that calibre not knowing that a unionized employee cannot sue for wrongful dismissal.

  • Frances

    Well said. However, it was Jian who fired the first salvo, claiming that an vengeful ex was lying about him and trying to get others to lie as well.

    • MaggiesBear

      Absolutely true which is why I wrote my first post but since then, the mob has taken over. They’ve go rope in hand and are looking for a tall tree.

  • dikmeover

    Well said. Respect for one another has indeed gone out the door with the trash it seems.

    • MaggiesBear

      While I agree with you that respect for one another has gone out the door, I would suggest that a lot of trash got left behind :-)

      • dikmeover

        Oh yes! The trash we have been so stuck with in society. The putrid smell.