In re: this Jian Ghomeshi sexual harassment/assault/wrongful termination/libel thing: fuuuuuck. There’s no way it isn’t eerie, and no, I don’t mean the mistake on the other lake. If the women accusing Ghomeshi of unwanted groping, suffocation, battery, and so forth are lying in order to get back at him for jilting them or to protect their own reputations from sordid tales of kink, the CBC has been drawn into a morass of presumed guilt, tortious interference in the professional lives of the accused, lawless ex post facto revocation of consent, and general perversion of justice. If these accusers are telling the truth, the CBC was until earlier this month harboring a Canadian counterpart to Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Michael Jackson, and Jerry Sandusky, a sexual predator who got away with gross predation on the powerless and vulnerable by sole virtue of his celebrity. But Woody and Michael have never been convicted of sex crimes! Cool story, bro. They’re both well weird in a sexual way, and you know it.
Another cool story, sis: this masterpiece by Ghomeshi compatriot Carla Ciccone. The bottom line about Ciccone’s ethics: regardless of the truthfulness or falsehood of her story about Jian “Keith” Ghomeshi, or about a different Canadian radio personality rather resembling him, she is openly unscrupulous and craven in her professional life. This is how she sets up her sorry tale:
I met a man I’ll call Keith at an outdoor concert in Toronto last year. I was sitting with a group of people, Jake Gyllenhaal among them (sorry for the name drop, but he factors into the story later), and Keith* walked up to introduce himself to us. I knew of Keith because he has a successful radio show in Canada. A lot of Canadians love him for his views, interviews, and radio voice.
As Keith schmoozed with the people around me, I enjoyed the concert and also tried to make Jake fall for me using telepathic love vibes. Just kidding. There were no love vibes, and the only feeling Jake had was annoyance after Keith arrived.
He kept trying to talk to Jake, who wasn’t feeling his “I really want to get you on my show and maybe into your pants” vibe, so Keith soon turned his attention to me.
Sorry I name-dropped Jake Gyllenhaal actually not sorry I totally wanted to fuck him but this gay dork hit on me instead.
Did I mention that my parents once had dinner with Geraldo Rivera at O’Hare? #NeverForget
“Sorry, how do you pronounce your name again?” he said.
“Um, Carla,” I replied.
“Oh, I thought it was more complicated, like Carafalooota,” he said. I laughed. A few minutes later, the concert was over, and my party and I left.The next day, I sent Keith a public Twitter message saying it was nice to meet him. It was. I, like many Canadians, was a fan of his show. Actually, truth be told, I’ve never listened to his show, but still, I appreciated him as a talented radio personality.
Oh wow I love your work actually I’ve never listened to your work but saying that was totally the politically correct thing for a social climber like me to do.
Keith wrote me a private message soon after saying he read some of my work online and really liked my writing. He also asked me if I’d like to join him to see Metric play the next night at the Opera House. I’d always wanted to see Metric live, and I thought I might be able to make Keith my best gay friend in Toronto. I was still a newbie and needed friends. I also figured that the friendship might lead to exciting Toronto career opportunities down the line. He did say he liked my writing.
“My best gay friend in Toronto.” Also, a real career-booster to chill with this dude. My parents weren’t like that with Geraldo, and Geraldo wasn’t like that with them. Just sayin’.
The next night, I met him at a wine bar for a quick drink before the show. When I walked in, I was greeted by both the overwhelming stench of his cologne and the sinking feeling that Keith was not, as I had assumed, gay. This wasn’t a friend date; it was a date, date –- at least to him. He looked at me the way a creepy older man looks at a young, silly girl he’s going to buy a drink he’s planning to slip a roofie into. I didn’t know what to do. He was 15 years older than me, but what’s more, I found him totally unattractive and didn’t want to be on a date with him. But I couldn’t just leave.
Uh, yes, you could just leave. Canada is a free country. Keith is not the law of the land. Keith is not Canada’s sovereign. Good grief, there’s not even a law against walking away from the Queen if she turns into a total boor, and she in fact is Canada’s head of state. At least I don’t think there’s any such law. I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a Canadian; I’m just a downwardly mobile bougie whose parents once had dinner with Geraldo.
“So, you’re friends with Jake Gyllenhaal?” he asked.
“No. I met him yesterday and we talked about baseball for five minutes,” I said.
“Oh. He seems like a jerk, eh?” he said.
“I thought he was nice,” I said.
A lot of people say that about Geraldo, eh, and I’ll concede that the former Gerald Rivera is an acquired taste. What else did you expect? He’s from Long Island.
Nervous and trying to avoid eye contact with him, I proceeded to talk about nothing in particular for the next 20 minutes with such speed, he might have thought I had just done an eight ball in the bathroom.
He checked his phone approximately 35 times and mentioned the memoir he was writing about 10 times. Apparently, he was in a band when he was younger, or something. I wasn’t really paying attention.
Before my drink was finished, Keith rushed me out of the bar to get to the concert down the street.
In front of the small venue, he introduced me to a bunch of people he thought I would know.
“You’re meeting the who’s who of Canadian indie rock!” he whispered into my ear enthusiastically. I had no idea who they were, but most of them had cool beards. The way he introduced me, however, was disconcerting. I was being “presented,” in the same way Tom Cruise used to present Katie Holmes on red carpets. I did not like it.
I wanted to let him know I wasn’t into him, but he seemed like a harmless dork, and I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his bearded friends.
OMG I have no idea how to set boundaries with this C-list Canadian celebrity because I might embarrass him in front of all these guys I don’t know from Adam.
As I talked to one of them, I’d look up every now and then to catch a glimpse of Keith staring at me intently with a strange smile on his face. He was giving me the heebie jeebies and, again, I wanted to leave.
But Metric. It’ll be fine once we’re inside, I thought, we’re just watching a concert.
Wow Much decisions Very freewill. It’s fitting that Rush are from Toronto: if you choose not to decide, etc., although I choose mostly not to listen to them because their vocals suck.
There was no assigned seating, and we were standing on the balcony. As soon as the lights went down, and the first notes started playing, I felt a sweaty hand travel across the back of my dress and grab my ass.
That hand was Keith’s.
Shocked, I looked up at him like “WHAT?!” He looked back at me with sex eyes and smiled. Disgusted, I asked him to stop, and stepped away from him and his hand.
“I looked up at him like ‘WHAT?!'” Okay, that’s a start, but:
I figured he’d get the point since I moved, but instead, he followed me. I watched the concert intently, but he soon grabbed my hand to hold it.
His friends were right behind us, and they all smiled when I looked back. Despite my extreme discomfort, I felt I couldn’t tell Keith off, so I discreetly pulled my hand away, crossed my arms over my stomach and stared straight ahead.
When he started rubbing my back, I again told him to stop, and when he put his hand over my shoulders, I said I was hot and lifted it off.
“Oh yeah, you’re hot,” he replied.
Say it again: Canada is a free country. Liz reigns, but she does not rule.
Dying inside, I felt sad that not only had I lost interest in watching Metric, but they were also starting to sound like tainted torture music.
I was planning my exit strategy when Keith grabbed the strap my large purse and took it off my shoulder.
“What are you doing?” I said.
“Shhh,” he replied, placing my purse on the ground and slipping his arm around my waist to pull me closer.
“What the fuck?!” I said. “You don’t put a woman’s purse on the dirty ground.” Apparently, I have more respect for a leather purse from my mom than for my own body. Not really — but this was my breaking point.
“But it’s in the way,” he said. He seemed intrigued, and challenged, by my passionate reaction.
“I’ll be back.” I couldn’t take it anymore. Keith had gone from harmless dork to repulsive sexual predator.
I doubt that Metric were any good in the first place, but many people have said exactly the same thing about Geraldo. This might be a good time to get the hell out of the venue and into the city, Stadtluft making frei and all that. But first:
I ran down the stairs and called my sister from the bathroom. “What do I do?” I was concerned that he would somehow ruin my fledgling career in Canadian media forever if I bailed on him, as stupid as that sounds.
Yeah, the career thing. That awkward feeling where the weirdo who’s just been pestering the shit out of you at a rock concert holds the keys to your making the big time in the big city.
“Get outta there,” my sister said. I wanted to. Desperately. Running down the stairs had given me a taste of the freedom that could so easily be mine if I just ran outside and never looked back. But I didn’t want to be rude, and I thought it best to leave on good terms.
No shit a bitch should get outta there. That taste of freedom: escaped slaves felt it as they walked the Underground Railroad, and some of them a much bigger taste of it when they arrived in Toronto, free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I don’t have to wonder whether I’d have the courage to run away from some weirdo who’s been freaking me out at a minor arts venue because I’m free at last.
(This is the part where I really want to go back in time and shake myself.)
You don’t say!
I did what any good, failed Catholic girl plagued by a crippling sense of guilt would do: I lied.
“I have to go, I have a terrible headache — a migraine. I also have to work very early. Sorry,” I said, looking towards the EXIT sign with a renewed hopefulness that I hadn’t felt in hours.
“Oh no. I’ll drive you,” he said.
“NO! I mean, no. I don’t want to ruin the show for you. I’ll get a cab.”
I know good Catholic girls from Northeast Philly, well not entirely good Catholic girls, but one of them prays to her deceased druggie ex-boyfriend for intercession, who wouldn’t have been crippled by that guilt because it wasn’t like they did anything wrong in getting hit on by this aggressive dork. They’d have screamed at him to get your fucking hands offa me and fuck you you are not getting me a fucking cab! But I guess that isn’t the Canadian way. It certainly isn’t the Carla way.
“I can’t let you take a cab if you have a migraine,” he said, leading me down the stairs with a “concerned” creepy hand on the small of my back.
I insisted on taking a cab until I realized that he was walking me to his car, which was right outside.
All but defeated, I got into his car, pissed off that I was doing so, and stared out the window listlessly.
Jian Ghomeshi or not, “Keith” was not Robert Pickton, and Carla Ciccone wasn’t drugged out of her mind working the night shift on the Low Track. This all happened in front of a concert venue in Toronto. But she was “defeated.” By herself, it seems. Remember, it’s a free country. Liz reigns, but she does not rule.
Even though I had a terrible fake migraine, he insisted on talking to me.
“Do you recognize the colors of my car?” he said.
“They are black and red. Like Spider-Man?” I said.
“Ha! No. That’s silly. They’re the colors of my show,” he laughed.
Actually, I’ve listened to more than my share of Q, and I didn’t know that it had its own colors. I guess red and black are all right.
“But your show is on the radio, and I don’t listen to it,” I confessed. I was DONE.
My God, the tangled webs we weave.
“Did I tell you I’m writing a book?” he asked.
“Multiple times,” I said. “You can stop here.”
We were a block from my apartment and there was no way he was going to know my address.
“I’ll walk you to the door,” he said, unbuckling his seatbelt.
“No, you won’t,” I said. “Thank you for the concert and the ride. Have a good night.”
He leaned in and I avoided his lips by giving him a half-hearted hug, but he still managed to peck the side of my pursed mouth as I was turning to get out of the car. I urgently yanked on the door handle until the door sprang open, and scurried out.
Once I reached my front door, I started crying in shame. A thick layer of self-loathing had settled over my once-optimistic heart. Why had I handled the night that way? Why didn’t I tell him he was acting like as asshole and I only agreed to meet him because I, like the rest of Canada, thought he was gay? Why am I so passive in awkward situations? WHY? WHY? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?
Because you’re a shrinking violet, eh? I can’t fix that.
I had a hot shower to remove his gross cologne stench, which had stuck to me like an airborne virus.
The next morning, I awoke to a text from him.
“If you’re late for work, blame it on me ;)”
I didn’t reply to Keith’s text, thinking that he would take the hint; but based on past experience I should have known Keith does not a hint take.
As his messages became more and more pathetic, (e.g., “Did we break up already?”), I eventually confessed the truth and told him that I was sorry but I thought it was a friend date, not a real date, and I wasn’t interested.
To this, he replied: “Eeep! Totes diff. vibe from yest.” (He actually texted those words. Like that. To a girl he was interested in.)
This much I’ll grant: if Ghomeshi in fact wrote that, it’s fucking embarrassing.
Over the next two weeks, his texts begged me to give him another chance. He even went so far as to promise that he looks better with TV makeup on, like that would make a difference.
I felt sorry for him. Clearly being a C-list Canadian celebrity hadn’t afforded him any “game.”
Time out. Did you catch that? “Game.” “Keith” didn’t have any “game.” He’d been molesting a woman he had just met at a concert and then pestering for two weeks with unwanted text messages, but his problem was that he didn’t have game. This begs the question of what’s really the problem with his sexual aggression. Is it just the wrong kind of let-me-rape-you vibe? Are there ways to do it right? Were his come-ons objectionable because, to modify Todd Akin’s parlance a bit, they weren’t legitimate?
He finally stopped texting, but every time his name came up in conversation, or I saw his face in an ad, I cringed.
In talking to my friends Crystal and Melissa, I found out that Keith has tried his same creepy-ass moves out on many other girls. He once lured a friend of theirs into a hotel room to “watch a movie,” and tried to sleep with her once she sat on the bed. She, too, had thought him harmless and gay beforehand.
Two months later, I was walking down the street and past a man who was wearing an offensive amount of Keith’s pungent cologne. Overcome by scent-memory nausea, I vomited into a nearby trashcan. A concerned older lady came up to me. “Are you pregnant, dear?” she asked.
“Only with disgust, thank God,” I said, smiling. She smiled back, perplexed.
And that was how I expelled the gross feelings left over from the worst “date” I’ve ever gone on.
This is just one tale of Ghomeshian sexual aggression, and it’s a fucking mess. Carla Ciccone went public with it on a “feminist” gossip-cum-confessional blog. She published under her own name but protected her harasser with a pseudonym, apparently because she still wanted to protect her own career advancement from any critical comments by this “Presumed Gay Canadian C-List Celebrity.” Despite giving him this cover, she provides enough identifying information about him to narrow down the suspect field to not a whole lot of people other than Ghomeshi: he’s a radio personality, he’s popular in Canada (i.e., probably carried by a major broadcaster like, gee, CBC), he does interviews, he seems to live and work in Toronto. Ciccone certainly had grounds to take civil action against Ghomeshi over these matters, and may still (I know nothing about statutes of limitation in Ontario), but if she were to try after publishing that piece on XO Jane his defense attorneys would rip her allegations to shreds. She isn’t a credible accuser. For crying out loud, she openly had ulterior professional motives for putting up with him.
It must be asked why Ciccone didn’t inquire about obtaining a protection order against “Keith.” She could at least have flagged down a sympathetic-looking beat cop and asked about what she could do to legally put a stop to this man’s ongoing harassment. But she writes nothing about having tried to talk to the police, either formally or informally. Nor does she mention having attempted to consult with an attorney. She was apparently sober throughout these incidents, and she provided extensive detail in her XO Jane piece. Swearing under penalty of perjury to these same details should have been enough to establish a public record of Jian Ghomeshi, or possibly not Jian Ghomeshi, as an accused repeat sexual harasser who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Alternately, had she publicly accused him under his own name, she could have responded to a libel suit by asserting the truth of her allegations as an affirmative defense. Discovery in cases like these is ruinous to parties with histories of sexual aggression, and Ciccone looks a lot cleaner than Keith Ghomeshi does. By any name, he’s easier to spell than Piya Chattopadhyay.
But she didn’t do any of these things. Instead, she resorted to innuendo leavened with admissions of abject cravenness. There isn’t a whole lot of civics lying around Toronto, it seems. Rob Ford looks better by the week. If you don’t believe me, just look at the alternatives. Ford, for one, has gotten to the point of admitting that yeah, I probably smoked crack because I was blacked-out drunk, can’t think of any other reason why I’d do that. As we’ve seen, that isn’t the worst recreational option available in Toronto.
And now there are all these other stories in circulation, about various other women whom Ghomeshi is said to have pestered or battered or suffocated. Somehow, none of these people had the courage to go on the record–not with the press, not with the police, not with the courts–stating that Jian Ghomeshi did these things to them. The accuser who blew this scandal out of the water didn’t even publicly accuse Ghomeshi of any sort of misconduct. She went privately to Ghomeshi’s bosses at the CBC, who summarily fired him. Ghomeshi has claimed that the CBC offered him an opportunity to say that he had resigned voluntarily.
There are much more effective ways to stop a predator. This sounds more like HR covering its ass after a third party stopped by to destroy an employee’s career over claims of inappropriate behavior after hours. It doesn’t mean that Ghomeshi is not a creepy-ass sexual predator, but it doesn’t prove it, either. It certainly doesn’t suggest that Canadians truly take sexual predators seriously. By some accounts he has a longstanding reputation in certain circles for being a pervert and a huge Mr. McFeely pain in the ass, but no one had the gumption to stand up to this Canadian version of Terry Gross. Canadians need to realize that Kevin Vickers can’t lend them his balls in a pinch. An important part of self-reliance is growing one’s own.
As with Dov Charney, the only incontrovertible truth of this matter is that it’s a gift of first fruits to the trial bar. Raise a joyful voice in parte because this freak show is, as Jian Ghomeshi always said, To Be Continued.