Sunday, October 04, 2015

Jian Ghomeshi Pleads Not Guilty

Last year's story about Jian Ghomeshi left me wondering about two things. Why is it so hard for victims to come forward? And should we skip trial if the defendant is accused by more than one woman? An update.

Jian Ghomeshi arrives at court, 08 january, 2015
January 2015: Mr. Ghomeshi arrives at court.

In 2014 the Canadian broadcaster was accused of multiple accounts of rape and other non-consensual violent sexual acts. The press loved it. Famous sadistic psycho's guarantee a few extra clicks.

The Kink community got up in arms as well. Some, including myself, wondered what it meant for BDSM's public profile. Others assumed he was guilty because of the sheer number of women that came forward and accused him.

Short memory
Our collective indignation did not last very long. Before we knew, everybody returned to getting their daily fix. Publishers were looking for the next click-bait story. Kinky bloggers resumed sharing "useful" tips for prospective play partners - read how to mould someone into your perfect fix. One thing we all had in common is that none of us cared for Jian Ghomeshi or the women who accused him after the hype had gone.

More women came forward, and in January 2015 Mr. Ghomeshi faced eight counts of sexual assault. In May the prosecution dropped two cases because there was no reasonable prospect of conviction based on the evidence. On October 10, Jian Ghomeshi pleaded not guilty to all remaining charges. He is currently out on bail and his trial is set for February 2016.

When the story broke, I did not say so, but the assumption of guilt based on the number of women that comes forward, felt uncomfortable. If so, what is the minimum number of accusers? One, two or nine perhaps? If you believe that, you may also think that the word of a man matters more than that of a woman.

Justice is hard
People call me the king of cynics. The days when the law (supposedly) equalled justice are long gone. Legislation is the result of negotiations between political factions, trying to further their own agenda. They don't care about their constituents. Money, race and other socio-economic factors shape the outcome of most trials. It is why inequality continues to reign supreme. Justice as most people see it - if such a concept ever existed at all - is an illusion of the past.

By expressing our indignation, one way or another, we only prove we are good "social media" citizens. We slavishly blurt out our politically correct opinions and move on. No-one gains from that: Neither justice, nor Mr. Ghomeshi or his alleged victims. And yes, defendants have rights too.
If the system is broken, help fixing it. Telling the world someone is guilty because of the number of accusers that comes forward, serves no-ones interests.

Change is necessary. The law has to start treating people equally. The only way to do so is by eliminating the influence of money, race and socio-economic factors. How? I don't know, but here are some points to consider.

Is Justice blind? Do we care? (Image: Kink.com, edited)

Why wait?
In the case of Mr. Ghomeshi - and others like Bill Cosby - why did their accusers wait so long to come forward? Blame society. If you are a victim of abuse, you should be able to step forward without fear or hesitation. Go to the police and be taken seriously. Officers should treat you and your complaint in a respectful and professional manner. Any potential evidence has to be secured without disagreeing with the victim or mocking her. If a case goes to court, victims should feel safe into knowing that giving testimony does is just that. It does not mean being classified - and abused - as the victim of a heinous crime for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately that is not how it works.

Instead of using our brains, we vent our anger. It makes us feel good: Look at me, no brains, but I am with the majority. Whatever. It does not prevent the next crime from happening, nor do more abusers get convicted.

Victims deserve justice and future victims should be prevented from becoming one. Victims have to feel secure in knowing their claims are taken seriously. Once that happens, more abusers will get caught, because victims are less afraid to come forward, which reduces the number of future victims.

Remember what Mama Keating told her daughter in "How To Get Away With Murder?" I second that. With all of my heart. If Mr. Ghomeshi is guilty, I want that to happen to him. With a vengeance. But first stop following the hype and find out if someone is actually guilty. We owe that to ourselves and victims, past and future. The best thing you can do, is help victims to get justice - real, solid justice - as in the kind where no-one in their right mind questions the perpetrator's guilt. That is true justice.

Why so aggressive?
 I am a guy, I am privileged. I play for keeps. If it was just me, I'd forget about fair play. In the real world that would be the stupidest thing ever. Life is not about stuff, but about the people you love. The people I love and care about deserve protection and justice, independent of me or anyone else. Real and effective justice is the only way to ensure their safety and happiness. So stop saying silly things. It's just as useless as a like on Facebook. Your indignation makes you feel good, but your politically correct anger won't make anyone safer or happier.

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