SethBlogs does not believe in trial by faith even when applied to a preacher of the religion in question.
GHOMESHI’S FEMINISM SERIES:
I: FAITH-BASED JUSTICE (you are here)
“I don’t know whether Jian Ghomeshi is guilty or not, and neither does anyone who wasn’t present if and when the alleged crimes occurred. If he is proven guilty, I will still be ashamed of how many Canadians have sacrificed a person’s right to a fair trial for the sake of proving their own feminist pedigree.”
Modern feminists are infamous for bullying their adversaries with the false dichotomy, “You either agree with feminist theory or you’re a misogynist.” Popular screenwriter and pop feminist Joss Whedon, for instance, tells those weary of being identified as feminists:
“There’s no fuzzy middle ground. You either believe that women are people or you don’t. It’s that simple.”
The intimidation has worked. When interviewing feminists, the otherwise serious Western media tend to disavow their traditional skepticism, criticism, or even cautiousness of agreement. After all, to imply a hint of incredulity regarding a shocking feminist statistic is (according to popular feminist rhetoric) to advocate for the very horrors their numbers claim to represent. I have ranted a few times in my Sethics vs. Misandry collection against feminist-fearing journalists for bobbing their heads in adulation as feminist advocates have made baffling, illogical, and sometimes offensive statements. Perhaps the worst and yet most charming patsy was Jian Ghomeshi. He never heard a feminist argument he couldn’t cheer on with the most soft and inviting questions for the inflammatory claims to land on.
Ghomeshi’s style of “with us or against us” feminism is a bed that he must now lie in as allegations that he abuses women have provoked his former feminist friends to convict him without trial.
At first, many fans of Ghomeshi irrationally defended him on social media (i.e. they proclaimed his innocence without having direct interaction with the facts in the case). Recently, Angelina Chapin, Blogs Editor for The Huffington Post Canada, has written an eloquent piece entitled, “The Jian Ghomeshi Story Turned Us Into Social Media Fools,” in which she argues persuasively why it was wrong for anyone not involved in the case to assume that Ghomeshi was in the right. She aptly quotes a psychologist, Ann Friedman, who points out that drawing conclusions in such social media wars tends to leave us supporting the perspective with which we most identify.
Chapin counts herself among the too-quick-to-defend-Ghomeshi (although, to be fair, she never argued that he was innocent). It’s a noble admission from Chapin that her initial public reaction to Ghomeshi’s firing was one of emotion over reason. The trouble is that this confessed conclusion jumper is only criticizing the side that has tweeted in defence of Mr. Ghomeshi. Far from adding that no one but the alleged victims have the right to assume his guilt, she goes on to say:
“The Ghomeshi story has proved that we desperately need to have open dialogues about consent, sexual abuse and powerful figures.”
So apparently, while she was wrong to assume his innocence initially, she’s now right to imply that he’s guilty. Ms. Chapin’s transition from irrationally defending to irrationally accusing is right on trend.
I believe the general shift was provoked when Ghomeshi defenders asked why his accusers didn’t come forward at the time of the alleged assaults. It is a question that could be asked of delayed claims by victims in other crimes. After all, the longer one waits to tell the police of a crime, the more daunting it will be to prove, and so waiting not only hurts one’s own chances of finding justice, but also lessens one’s opportunity to protect future victims from the same trauma. Thus, given the counter-intuitive and problematic nature of delayed reporting, asking adults what caused them to wait may be useful to police in assessing the veracity of the complaints. However, if the crime is violent, and the alleged victim is female, feminists take this otherwise reasonable question as proof of misogyny.
And so, upon hearing the blasphemous question, the feminist army’s ears’ perked up. Quickly, they announced that the “Why did you wait?” question was tantamount to blaming the victim, and was further proof of our rape culture. This immediately terrified the press, and so the media commentators who might have been willing to stay neutral in this scandal cowered as they saw their political betters approaching.
Both of the radio stations (CBC and CKNW) that I follow, for instance, began to interview “experts” (i.e. feminist advocates) regarding sexual violence against women: they asked the advocates to explain why Ghomeshi’s “victims” would have waited to come forward. Thus the stations were officially abdicating neutrality as they assumed in their questions that the alleged victims must have had good reasons for announcing themselves belatedly.
If CKNW or CBC had asked, “In your judgement, why might these women have waited to come forward?” and then also interviewed an expert regarding false claims (perhaps asking, “In your judgment, what are the distinguishing symptoms in those rare cases where allegations have been proven to be false?”) the radio stations could have held onto their claims of objectivity. Instead, the broadcasters’ neutrality was now permanently in hiding.
Of course, given the initially aggressive defence from some of Ghomeshi’s fans, I understand why victims’ advocates may have felt compelled to defend delayed victim reporting by pointing out that accusing a celebrity of sexual assault may come with special challenges (especially given that we currently live a Troll’s paradise that may devour such accusers). But they could have said something to the effect of:
Please be careful of assuming facts about these alleged victims. In our experience, many victims are terrified to come forward when attacked, so the delay in their accusations is not necessarily evidence that they are not telling the truth.
Sadly, the victims’ advocates knew that such circumspection was unnecessary: after all, they recognized that no member of the media was going to raise a single eyebrow against their political claims.
For instance, on CBC Vancouver’s Early Edition, Dayla Israel, Manager of Victim Services for WAVAW (Women Against Violence Against Women) told host Rick Cluff that only “.8%” of claims of sexual assault lead to convictions. Cluff sounded appropriately baffled by the shocking number.
“Point eight?” he said.
Were he interviewing a person representing any other issue, he would likely have asked for details of how such startling numbers were derived. But Cluff was speaking to a feminist advocate so he did not question her.
Meanwhile, when the same advocate said that false claims of violence occur in under 1% of cases (the feminist implication being that they’re so rare that they’re not worth considering), Cluff was again deferential (just as his former colleague Ghomeshi had been many times before him) and did not ask:
“But how can we ever know what percentage of allegations are false? Instead, do you mean less than 1% of allegations are proven to be false?”
Almost as significantly, Cluff did not point out the conspicuous feminist double standard in how Israel was interpreting her data. Consider the two cases:
PREMISE: A low percentage of accused men are proven to be guilty (of a crime).
CONCLUSION: Therefore, not enough men are being prosecuted.
PREMISE: A low percentage of accused women are proven to be guilty (of false accusations).
CONCLUSION: Therefore, not enough women are being believed.
In the latter case (against women), the results that have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt are depicted as identifying the maximum possible number of wrongdoers, whereas in the former case (against men), the results that are proven beyond the same reasonable doubt are implied to represent well below the minimum number of wrongdoers.
Thus, when statistics seem to support feminist theory, feminists portray them as bottled truth, but when the stats don’t fit their narrative, they reference them as proof of a biased system against women. It’s possible, of course, that they’re right that the system has significant internal biases against female victims of crime, but evidence is required beyond these one-sided interpretations of data. And the only way to push feminists into a neutral corner is if the media occasionally challenges their statements.
Instead, most media treat social justice agencies as truth beacons. The consequence is the same as it would be for an unchallenged politician. As with political parties, non-profit agencies have missions, which they’re naturally disposed to prop up by tweaking the data and information to best fit their narrative. That’s an unfortunate necessity of modern non-profit warfare, which can only be minimized with checks and balances such as skepticism from the press.
Meanwhile, with the critical press away from its desk, social media has continued to build its case against Ghomeshi. A petition, calling on former Q guests to “support the women,” (i.e. presume Ghomeshi’s guilt) has been signed by a variety of celebrities, including Shawn Majumder (of This Hour Has 22 Minutes), who stated:
“I have considered [Ghomeshi] a pal. However these allegations and even more, how he tried to use a statement to shame anyone in coming to speak the truth about his actions makes me lose all respect for him. I support every woman who has been dealt a blow. From him or anyone.”
Feminist and Canadian superstar author Margaret Atwood has also decided to lend her reputation to the modern-day McCarthyism. It’s baffling to see such a high-minded person add herself to the list of those unwilling to wait for Ghomeshi to be charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime before proclaiming his guilt.
“As former colleagues of Jian (our last show was in 2000), we are sickened and saddened by this week’s news. We had no inkling that Jian engaged in this type of behaviour… We abhor the idea of a sexual relationship of any sort being entered into without full consent from both parties and condemn violence against women in any form.”
While they don’t directly state that he’s guilty, they clearly imply so with their language regarding “this type of behaviour,” followed by a description of the illegal behaviour to which they’re heroically opposed.
“I was challenged by a friend to say something about the recent allegations against Jian Ghomeshi. Jian is my friend. I have appeared twice on Q. But there is no grey area here. Three women have been beaten by Jian Ghomeshi.”
This post was made after only three anonymous accusations had been announced, and from it we can deduce that either (A) Pallett already had evidence that his alleged friend was guilty of criminal violence before these accusations came out, but didn’t do anything about it; or (B) he’s merrily convicting his friend of a crime without a trial. With friends like that, who needs a lynch mob?
Finally, Ruth Spencer, who says she’s a former girlfriend of Ghomeshi, has also announced that he’s guilty, because, although he never assaulted her during their relationship, he had some strange behaviours, which she’s now decided are proof that he was “grooming [her] for the same violence he inflicted on other women.”
According to Spencer, for instance, Ghomeshi had anxiety issues, so voila, let’s grab onto the trope of the socially awkward (and/or mentally ill) male as a symptom that he’s a violent sociopath, and we have ourselves a bigger Twitter following than ever before!
I have no idea whether Ghomeshi is guilty or not, and neither does anyone who wasn’t present if and when the alleged crimes occurred. If he is proven guilty, I will still be ashamed of how many Canadians have sacrificed a person’s right to a fair trial for the sake of proving their own feminist pedigree. Ghomeshi, the feminist whom they thought they knew on Q, would have been proud.
Jian Ghomeshi may turn out to have been the vicious abuser Margaret Atwood has already decided he is, but that will not retroactively justify this attack on his right to reasonable doubt. To paraphrase Mr. Whedon, There’s no fuzzy middle ground here. You either believe that everyone has the right to a fair trial or you don’t. It’s that simple.
GHOMESHI’S FEMINISM SERIES:
I: FAITH-BASED JUSTICE (you were just here)