The unfolding of the secret, vicious and violent life of one of Canada’s most popular radio hosts has dominated the news in Canada this week. In the course of a fast-moving story, I initially defended Jian, as a friend, then learned of the actual accusations and apologised for my initial reaction.
Unfortunately, another misunderstanding has surfaced which I need to correct – the absurd idea that I was upset by the Ottawa shootings and blamed that for my initial reaction. I never did that.
First, just to nail this down (given that tweets circulate as though they are “fresh” when they are out of date), I sent out a tweet late Sunday night. The next day, after reading the media accounts, realizing four women were sharing their stories of being sexually victimized, I wrote a blog apologizing for not waiting to see what was being shared before suggesting I supported Jian in relation to those charges.
When the accusations were made clear, I supported the women involved. Though I still insist on the legal principle of the presumption of innocence, I cannot insist on it in a way that would ever cast doubt on the experience of any woman. As a lawyer, too, I also acknowledge the role that the criminal justice system can sometimes play in re-victimizing women and I understand and support the women who wish to remain anonymous. I commend the actor Lucy DeCoutere for her bravery in coming forward.
Subsequent to all that, I was interviewed by Laura Kane of Canadian Press. I expressed regret that I had not waited to see what was being shared before tweeting support. And I said I wished I had waited to see the nature of the allegations before relying on Jian Ghomeshi’s self-serving Facebook post to frame the nature of what would be revealed against him. I reiterated my support for any woman who has faced a violent assault. Tweets out of context had been flying around (and continue to circulate).
One tweet accused me of “buying into rape culture” which I took to mean being accepting and contributing to a culture that normalizes violence against women and silences their voices – or worse, even celebrates it as in the “rape chants” in frosh week last year. To correct that, I tweeted back that “as a feminist I do not buy into rape culture.” I would have used quotes around the words but it was too much for the 140-character space of Twitter.
All of this I explained to Laura Kane. At the end of the interview she asked if reflecting on all this, I had any lessons learned about Twitter. And thinking it over, reconstructing sending the tweet between flights Sunday, I said that it reinforced that I always need to review what I have written and reconsider before hitting “tweet.” That is my usual practice, but on Sunday night I was still feeling somewhat unsettled. She asked why and I explained that it had been because of the experience of being in lock down for ten hours on Wednesday, the “close calls” for so many of my friends, and that I was a bit more emotional than usual. I never “blamed” my actions on the shootings. It was a question about lessons learned. Stop and review every message before hitting tweet. In times of additional stress, be double sure.