Saturday, May 14, 2016

Thank God for Prophetic Voices

Earlier this week a peace bond was issued against former media celebrity and interviewer Jian Ghomeshi. In the byzantine workings of the law, Ghomeshi took responsibility for his inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power with a female co-worker, Kathryn Borel admitting guilt. Figure that one out.

Later Borel bravely stood before the media and made a statement that everyone should read, or hear. Here is a portion.

And that is what Jian Ghomeshi just apologized for: the crime of sexual assault. This is a story of a man who had immense power over me and my livelihood, admitting that he chronically abused his power and violated me in ways that violate the law. Mr. Ghomeshi’s constant workplace abuse of me and my many colleagues and friends has been corroborated by multiple sources, a CBC documentary and a third-party investigation.

In a perfect world, people who commit sexual assault would be convicted for their crimes. Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of having done the things that I’ve outlined today. So when it was presented to me that the defence would be offering us an apology, I was prepared to forego the trial. It seemed like the clearest path to the truth. A trial would have maintained his lie, and would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I am currently trying to stop.

Jian Ghomeshi has apologized, but only to me. There are more than 20 other women who have come forward to the media and made serious allegations about his violent behaviour. Women who have come forward to say he punched and choked and smothered and silenced them. There is no way I would have come forward if it weren’t for their courage. And yet Mr. Ghomeshi hasn’t met any of their allegations head on, as he vowed to do in his Facebook post of 2014. He hasn’t taken the stand on any charge. All he’s said about his other accusers is that they’re all lying and that he’s not guilty. And remember: that’s what he said about me.

I am grateful for Borel's courage and her prophetic voice. What might have happened if this situation had quietly gone away? What if she had been too weary or intimidated to make a statement.

At the time of Ghomeshi's first trial many pundits felt that the evidence suggested he would be acquitted, for a number of reasons. The inconsistent testimony of his accusers sealed those opinions. The judge's ruling came across as punitive toward the three women, even though they weren't on trial. We still seem to trot out scarlet letters for women, despite what we say about equality in our culture.

As people of faith we should pay attention to what unfolded this week, and the real issues of sexual aggression, abuse of power, and even the cult of celebrity.

It's important to note the failure of my beloved CBC in all this. While Canada's broadcaster offered an apology as well, it is clear that the CBC failed Borel miserably, and likely others as well. Too often institutions, including churches, move immediately into a defensive posture rather than seeking the truth.

Was justice done? I don't think so. Let's pray that we become a more just society.



1 comment:

Frank said...

It seems to me that there has been no provision or recognition whatsoever for a restorative justice role. The same old/same old, adversarial, guilty/not guilty approach to exposing truth and promoting reconciliation denies genuine justice. And on it goes.