Jian Ghomeshi was trending on Twitter again on Friday.
Do people and things trend there for happy reasons? Maybe, sometimes. This wasn’t such an occasion.
Ghomeshi, the former CBC star who was charged with sexual assault and then acquitted, had dared to write, more than two years after he was found not guilty, an essay about his experience. The New York Review of Books had dared to publish it online and will publish it Sept. 27 in print.
Twitter was outraged; before the piece was even available online, before anyone could read it, the mob was denouncing it. People were enraged that a) he had been given such a platform; and b) that he had availed himself of it.
It reminded me of a line in The House of the Far and Lost, a short story by the American novelist Thomas Wolfe.
He was writing about a ruined family called the Coulsons. His character never knew what the source of their ruination was, he said, because no one would speak about it.
“But the sense of their disgrace, of a shameful inexpiable dishonour, for which there was no pardon, from which there could never be redemption, was overwhelming.”
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How is it that there should be no redemption for disgrace? For Ghomeshi? For someone who was acquitted?
The piece itself, called “Reflections From A Hashtag,” is thoughtful, clever, and in places even wry. “There are lots of guys more hated than me now,” he writes. “But I was the guy everyone hated first.”
And so he was.
His criminal trial in February of 2016 was preceded by more than a year of lurid allegations against him, unfolding in the pages of newspapers, chiefly the Toronto Star, as woman after woman (and even a man) came forward with complaints.
His fall from grace — his radio show, Q, had been very popular and he was in demand as a host and speaker — was truly spectacular and he was the first genuinely big name in Canada to fall this way, now so familiar.
The CBC fired him; the then-Toronto Police chief, Bill Blair, all but publicly begged complainants to bring their stories to the police; the then-head of the force’s sex crimes unit, who was an adherent of the #IBelieve …read more