Or is it just me?
No, I think I can safely vouch for the Toronto-and-environs portion of Ontario. We're reeling.
Since the bulk of this blog's traffic comes from the United States, it behooves me to give a little background, loath as I am to do it. I imagine most of you read the headlines and think, “Popular radio host. Scandalous — indeed indictable — behavior. Sacked by broadcaster. Legal action. Media shitstorm. Sounds like it's sorting itself out. What's so complicated for Canadians?”
Oh, but it is so very complicated. Perhaps some itemization will clarify.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: our national public broadcasting service. Canadians have, by and large, abandoned the television aspect of it, and joined the rest of the Netflixing lemmings. In contrast, CBC On-line is fairly solid.
In contrast to them both, however, is CBC Radio.
“It's kinda like NPR Radio,” an outside observer might say. Yes, but mostly not-at-all, because just about every Canadian has some reason to tune in at some point in their day to CBC Radio — especially new Canadians. Radio in this country is huge — as in, we'll buy tickets to watch it performed huge.
And Jian Ghomeshi was a huge part of that huge. So huge, in fact, that even Americans would buy tickets to watch his radio performance.
Charismatic guy, but not usually in a look-at-me way; more often in a well-this-is-interesting-tell-me-more way. With the exception of Billy Bob Thornton, he could get good interviews from notoriously difficult subjects — Lou Reed and Donald Fagen, for starters. As an on-air personality he was hip enough that my kids were fine with listening to him, and he was considerate enough to keep my parents listening also.
He was smart
He did good work
He knew his superiors
He disdained his inferiors
He was proud and dignified - T Bone Burnett, "House of Mirrors"
When CBC announced out of nowhere that it had fired Ghomeshi, I was stunned. I thought, Look at the last four years in Toronto and ask yourself, what sort of behavior gets a public persona fired these days? When Ghomeshi came out in front of the story on Facebook, I thought, Well, IF the matter is as he frames it — weird, but consensual sex — he's probably got an air-tight case. And I posted words to that effect on FB.
Goes to show you what a rube I am, particularly in this BDSM business.
Within seconds of that little opinion of mine, my LGBTQ friends were furiously throwing out BDSM cries of “Foul!” like so many safety words. They smelled a rat, and it didn't take me long to agree with them (and remove my post).
This is likely the only link to Dan Savage you will ever find on this blog, in which he interviews one of Ghomeshi's sexual partners who's gone (anonymously) on record as saying their kinkiness was 100% consensual. If you would rather be spared details, Savage's summary is:
This isn't about some poor persecuted pervert, but about either an abuser hiding behind the BDSM scene's culture of consent (and a celebrity leveraging his fame and power) or a sociopath who believes that initiating violent sex is the same thing as asking for consent.
In a later update, Savage adds:
As I continue to read more about Ghomeshi . . . I now think my interpretation — my attempt to reconcile the experience of the woman I interviewed with the allegations of the eight women who now report being assaulted by the radio host — was entirely too charitable.
Any expression of regret from Savage's pen is notable, to say the least.
So where does this leave us — or me, at any rate?
At this point I don't ever want to hear his voice again. That could change — I've watched Woody Allen, and Roman Polanski. But about the latter, I'm reminded of a Kevin Smith tweet in response to Hollywood Elite calling for Polanski's pardon: “Look, I dig ROSEMARY'S BABY; but rape's rape.” Indeed.
And it leaves CBC Radio in a weakened and very vulnerable state. Every Canadian government I've experienced has been quietly antagonistic toward the CBC, but the Harper government's hostility is exceptional. I would hope, stupidly, but for the sake of our national condition, that the ruling Conservatives might ease up a bit on their dismantling this public service. If our recent history should teach us anything it is to be careful about bringing our sworn enemies to absolute ruination; the enemies that arise from those ashes are inevitably worse.