Duh, Duh: the People versus Jian Ghomeshi make Tom Wolfe's job easy
Whatever he’s doing now, Tom Wolfe should drop it and skedaddle to Toronto. His next novel is already being written in the provincial court room where defrocked CBC icon Jian Ghomeshi awaits the verdict in his trail on one count of choking and four counts of sexual assault. If one can identify a case with more sign posts for the decline in modern Canadian society I defy them to show it.
First, the conflict: For the better part of 20 years I was friends with Ghomeshi at CBC. Not close friends but friendly enough to go on each other’s shows or chat on the phone. I quoted him in a CBC Ideas documentary, and he had me as an original regular guest on the Q Sports panel (till I was purged for opinions unpopular to upper brass at the Corp).
I found him, like everyone did, an engaging plugged-in hipster. There was always a current of mystery about him, but most of us attributed that to his Persian upbringing. Sexually I can best describe his vibe as TBA. But CBC is full of ambivalent characters. Two other CBC acquaintances have similarly run afoul of the law in recent years on sexual charges. The previous two English language vice presidents of broadcasting reached into CBC’s star roster for a spouse.
So I was struck by many feelings when the allegations emerged against Ghomeshi. I was sorry for the women who’d been treated so brusquely. Ghomeshi made no attempt to deny the rough handling. In his final ill-fated Facebook outburst he admitted to liking S&M. Consensual he said. While some of his accusers proved less than airtight witnesses, I also knew some others had been traumatized by him. As a man and a father this dismays me more than I can say.
I was less moved by the snowflakes who whined about Ghomeshi dismissing their witless story pablum or not reading the “crafted” scripts they’d written for him. The vanity culture at CBC defies description, but let it be said many in the place — from vice president to janitor — believe they are the saviour of public broadcasting if only given a prime time slot. Ghomeshi had that slot, and they hated him for it.
I was likewise sorry that Ghomeshi had tossed away one of the most unique careers in Canadian broadcasting. Having seen his rise from band boy to Newsworld host to Q, he’d fashioned a tremendous legacy already. His sad, dopey countenance in the courtroom underscored how far he’d fallen. Everyone’s idea of the sexual monster, he is effectively finished in polite society.
I also knew that his family, who’d just lost Jian’s father, would be crushed. They accompanied him to court, looking like it caused physical pain to simply mount the courthouse steps amidst an army of paparazzi. It is a tragedy of epic proportions for him and them.
And for the CBC which had pushed all-in on his ethnic hipster sex appeal. It’s not too strong to say he represented the Corp’s best (last?) chance at plugging into anyone beneath the age of 50. Such was the fury and embarrassment of management that, when the allegations of rough behaviour could no longer be denied, they fired Ghomeshi and several lifelong CBC loyalists whose bitter fate was to become involved in the forensic review. The behaviour of upper management in avoiding responsibility was execrable but completely unsurprising.
Speaking of failings, the Toronto police and the Crown caved to public pressure to “kill the witch” with some hasty and poorly investigated charges to slake the progressive thirst of the Toronto Star. The non-performance of their star witnesses in the witness box is all one needs to see of their handiwork to understand what a hash Bill Blair made in one of his final high-profile cases as police chief. Hearing Ghomeshi’s lawyer reading crush notes from the accusers to Ghomeshi and the sexual favours they did him — all after the alleged incidents — one wonders how the Crown thought, “Hey this should go just swell.”
Real victims of sexual assault took note of the incompetence and will act accordingly in the future. It seemed even lifelong cops were vulnerable to the rabid rages of social media.
Because their fevered scribblings are not enough, the prophets of parabolic fury showed up in court to decry a judicial process that requires, like, evidence and, like, reasonable doubt. That it might defend them some day escapes the Hillary Clinton acolytes who claim every women who makes a sexual assault must be believed. Just because.
They spent their time attracting TV reporters with their banalities about how witnesses were being harassed when questioned over story lines that shifted daily during the trial. This lust for trampling a thousand years of juris prudence is nothing new for progressives, who’ve always had a taste for the leather boot and the gulag. Seeing it in the Toronto court room was a reminder that the perfect society wished for by the Furies is not a world you want to live in if you have a difference of opinion from them.
Finally, Wolfe has his bankable star from central casting, defence lawyer Marie Heinen, who appears to be just about everything the social media scolds are not. To borrow from Kipling, Henein kept her head when all around her were losing theirs. Whatever her allegiance to women’s rights she appears to subordinate them to the right to a fair trial (to the chagrin of the sob sisters in the court hallways, her killer wardrobe oozed sexuality).
Most feel she’ll get Ghomeshi off on most, if not all, the charges. Which would be both a coup and a concern. But that reflects contemporary Canada, where rushing to justice is more important than justice itself
If anyone survives this auto da fé unscathed it will be Henein and some semblance of truth under oath. Wolfe would like that. So would his readers.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy
Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).