Now that Jian Ghomeshi is facing multiple accusations of nonconsensual violent sex, more people are coming out to say they'd known all along. Gawker opened the lines of communication today by asking people to come forward with other similar stories of perpetrators who are hiding in plain sight.
We know some rumors, but the more sources we have, the better off we are. Has that beloved comedian who likes to force women watch him jack off done that routine with you? Has the conservative journalist with a drinking problem hit you or your friend? Has the aging punk legend boasted of his passed-out "conquests"? You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or me at email@example.com. We can assure anonymity.
As valiant, as this is, I have to ask, does Gawker really give a shit? Sure, I have no doubt that everyone at Gawker would happily put a stop to hurtful actions by the likes of Ghomeshi and those like him. But there's a reason why people like that are able to hide in plain sight: a good portion of society are initially reluctant to do anything unless Rome has already caught on fire.
The Sociopath Next Door explains it better, but here's why people like Ghomeshi can get away with their behavior for so long. We're so charmed and conned by these people, that we still can't admit there's a problem even if multiple people say so. Even then, there's still reluctance. Or if we know we've been had, we're ashamed to admit we got taken for a ride. One example in the book is of a woman who posed as a therapist for seven years even though all of her credentials were falsified except her college degree. Rather than go public and endure humiliation and scrutiny, the hospital where she worked let her go quietly with no consequences for her behavior.
I can think of a few examples where Gawker has turned a blind eye.
Hugo Schwyzer and his troubles come to mind.
Every time Gawker cites the two or three Capitol Hill journalists I know for a fact to be crappy, I call it out in the comments, and I include other news sources to support my claim. I've also seen other Hill staffers call it out as well. In one instance, I was literally at the same event that was being reported on. I've even talked about it here. But in all that time never once has Gawker responded or asked me about the questionable journalism. (I don't know about the other Hill staffers who commented.) Gawker still relies on a small number of reporters' whose work is shoddy.
Another example is a female politician — routinely praised on Jezebel for her work on women's issues — who pays her female staffers far less than her male staffers. She also promotes men faster than women regardless of credentials. Sure, I'm an anonymous inside source so I can't go as far as I'd like, but it doesn't take much to search for the answer, especially when salary and job titles are public information.
To be sure, none of these actions are the same as reporting an individual who engages in nonconsenual, predatory behavior. But my point is that the reason this was allowed to go on for so long is for the same reasons this other crap goes on: it's easier to ignore it than to investigate it.
It's easier to overlook a feminist politician's inner-office operations because she's doing amazing work for women's rights. It's easier to blow off comments about the two or three journalists who aren't up to snuff than to challenge what appears to be a valuable source, especially when the bulk of Gawker's political sources are top notch. It's easier to ignore someone's violent past when he's saying all the right things for a good cause.
I do believe Gawker's attempt today is totally sincere, and I hope some good comes of it. But Gawker can guilty of overlooking red flags when it comes matters that fall in gray areas.