Right after I published my last post on Jian Ghomeshi, a really eerie thought occurred to me: maybe Ghomeshi’s involvement of Big Ears Teddy, his favorite furry Canadian, as a prop in his assaults was an uncanny move to discredit his victims in case they decided to come forward about his behavior. Maybe he isn’t just a serial batterer, but a calculating one who tailored the context of his abuse to sound unbelievable. It’s a scary thought. He may be even more dangerous than most of his critics think.
What I think he may have done here is used a version of the Big Lie. In the classic sense described by Joseph Goebbels, the Big Lie takes advantage of the public’s assumption that their leaders have more or less the same relation to the truth that they have, i.e., that they might tell little lies but never just totally make up shit that has no basis whatsoever in reality. Ghomeshi’s modification of the Big Lie, it seems, was to take advantage of the common assumption that no one, certainly not anyone of his reputation, would do something as utterly bizarre as to introduce them by name to one of his stuffed animals, then purport to shield that stuffed animal’s eyes from a sudden and completely unforeseeable violent attack. In his assaults, the truth about Big Ears Teddy’s involvement was so ridiculous as to sound like a lie.
Put yourself in the shoes of an assault victim. Assume that you’re too scared or angry to worry about the professional or personal ramifications of reporting the assault. You don’t care how beloved or well connected this guy is; he got violent with you, and you’re damn well going to the police. Now, imagine yourself explaining each of the three following scenarios to the police:
1) He got drunk, and then he started screaming, and then he started choking me.
2) We were hanging out, just a normal night, nothing weird about his behavior, and then all of a sudden he started choking me.
3) He invited me back to his apartment and introduced me to his teddy bear by name. He seemed sweet about it, maybe a bit dorky and weird but nothing scary. Then he said that the bear shouldn’t have to see any of this stuff, and he turned it around, then grabbed me and started choking me. Yeah, seriously, I know he’s a national radio host, but I swear he did all that.
There’s nothing surprising about the first scenario. The second one is a bit surprising, since it involves a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation, but it’s plausible enough. The third? Yikes. It’s like saying, “No, I swear, Stephen Harper invited me back to his official residence, and he introduced me to Marty Moose, who’s like this big taxidermed moose in the living room, I guess it was a living room or something like that, and then all of a sudden the moose turns around on a lazy Susan that was built into the floor and Harper grabs a riding crop and starts pounding me on the ass with it, and he’s saying Marty Moose doesn’t like violence against women.” “You said Rob Ford?” “No. Stephen Harper.”
The Jian Ghomeshi thing looks clear, up to a point, in hindsight, but this is after the CBC, the Toronto Star, the Toronto Police, and various attorneys and independent journalists have been investigating the complaints against him for weeks or months. Before Ghomeshi was fired, only a handful of people who were directly involved in the investigations, personally victimized by him, or closely connected to people who were in the loop had any credible reason to suspect that Ghomeshi was up to anything weird or perverted. Introducing new acquaintances to one’s stuffed therapy bear meets the generally accepted standards for weird, and contriving to involve-I-mean-not-involve the same bear in a sudden Jekyll-and-Hyde assault on a new acquaintance is a range stranger. It’s an incredible enough story when told about a no-name private citizen; telling it about one of the most popular radio hosts in the country is just, I can’t even.
Would you want to have to explain to sex crimes detectives how this famously urbane radio personality introduced you to his teddy bear and then acted like the bear was sentient enough to witness violence, but apparently not hear it? It sound fucking psychotic. Maybe you’d sound psychotic for it, too. It’s far weirder than the early allegations against Robert Pickton. The Pickton allegations were of a dirtbag “farmer” abducting and murdering streetwalkers. The Ghomeshi allegations were about an internationally renowned radio host beating and choking women without explanation and talking to stuffed animals.
A life sentence is on the table in the Ghomeshi case, and I’m thinking that it might be appropriate. He sounds like a mini-Beria. There’s no fixing people like who are that depraved. At least Canada has the spare prison space to warehouse them.