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.
© 2014 Maggie’s Bear
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