All the trigger warnings. Has anyone actually been trying to follow Ghomeshi’s trial?
For the first few days, I did. I don’t like to use the word triggered to describe my reaction to the coverage, but I did have to stop. I’m not going to talk about process or do a play-by-play about the skilled defence lawyer, the letters or pictures, the colour of the damn car or accusations of collusion. I’m going to talk about how insanely ticked off I am at my local media.
I’m livid. I want to write nasty letters and scream bloody murder at the court reporters who leaked identifying information about all three of the women who were protected by the publication ban. I want to publicly shame the lawyer who thought it was appropriate to appeal to the judge for permission to print a photo of one of the witnesses in her bikini. (Only made worse by the fact the paper this lawyer represented had promised to protect this woman’s intensity when she came to them with her story.) I want every member of the prosecution to explain how they could be so utterly stupid and unprepared for such basic ‘blame the victim’ attacks. I want people to stop asking why one woman wrote Ghomeshi a flattering letter after the assault and ask why Ghomeshi kept all of his personal correspondence with women he went out with twice and assaulted, over 10 years ago. I want him questioned about his approach to ‘documenting consent’. Documents he used to silence accusers and then shared with his employers when his behaviour finally made the news.
When the reports first came out it felt like a watershed moment. We were having all these long overdue conversations about consent, violence and how the justice system treats victims of sexual assault and harassment.
Now, all those conversations, all those promises that things have changed and we can do better, have been exposed as complete and utter bullshit. We are exactly where we have alway been. Forgets the courts. It’s the rest of us in this community, in the media industry here where this predator operated. Turns out we’re all as complicit as ever.
For me, one of the worst parts of trying to follow this in the news is that no one, not Ghomeshi, not his lawyers, not the terrible journalists and columnists, not the even more terrible misogynists online who are so delighted to watch these women struggling on the stand, are putting forth the argument that Ghomeshi didn’t assault people. There are 23 women who have made allegations, including the 7 who have allowed their names to be used. There are also dozens of people, both anonymous and named, who have come forward to describe witnessing workplace assault and harassment. Every young woman who set foot at CBC during Ghomeshi’s time there was warned away from him. Everyone knew. Everyone knows.
No one thinks this man is innocent—that’s fine, I understand that is not equal to guilt under the law—but each day I read more coverage that delights in ripping these women apart despite us all accepting that they were almost certainly assaulted. As much as the defence will argue it’s because the crown has failed to prove the assaults happened beyond a reasonable doubt (and maybe the crown has failed, damn them), the message out in the community is the same as it was before: Sorry, you aren’t good enough victims.
EDIT: Opps, when I began this rant, I had meant to add at some point that if you were looking for really solid, but not rage-inducing updates, Chatelaine has been doing a stand up job.