If you have offended #MeToo, you pay forever
God but there is something deeply unpleasant about the #MeToo movement. It is vicious, it is unforgiving, it is organized and it is relentless: All that we knew.But its hypocrisy is, well, breathtaking.Just look at the reaction to Jian Ghomeshi’s essay last week in The New York Review of Books.Whatever one thinks of the writing or the degree to which the former CBC star, in the modern parlance, “owns” what happened to him, the piece was the first time in four years he has opened his mouth to offer his view of his spectacular downfall.(And yes, he could have testified in his own defence at his 2016 criminal trial, at which he was acquitted, but by then, his accusers had been so thoroughly discredited it wasn’t necessary.)Ghomeshi was of course excoriated for daring to open his mouth.And it’s not that four years in exile is not enough. For #MeToo, there simply is no road back from an allegation of sexual assault. An accused man must pay forever. He will pay forever.The very sorts of people who claim to believe in rehabilitation in prison, who support halfway houses and needle exchanges and safe-injection sites — who believe, in other words, in second and third chances and that the human animal can change himself for the better — appear to have no compunction in throwing a man accused of sexual wrongdoing to the wolves, forever.It’s the one-strike-and-you’re-out rule.Compare this to the treatment accorded Omar Khadr, the former child soldier who pleaded guilty to killing U.S. special forces soldier Chris Speer and partially blinding another soldier by throwing a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan.He was all of 15.There are lawyers and reporters who made careers ensuring that Khadr’s full story was told sympathetically.And it is a story worthy of sympathy: Khadr was raised by the first family of Canadian terrorism, never had a chance of being a normal kid and was imprisoned and tortured at Guantanamo Bay — oh yes, and questioned there by Canadian officials and CSIS as well.In 2010, at a military tribunal, Khadr pleaded guilty to war crimes, including murder. Because of a pre-trial deal, he was sentenced to only eight years.Under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, Khadr was repatriated to serve out the remainder of his sentence in Canada in 2012.Last year, the Justin Trudeau government went Harper one better, and formally apologized to Khadr and paid him a $10.5-million settlement.That’s how Omar Khadr, for all the complications nonetheless a man once convicted of murder, was treated by this country — the federal government apologized to him, gave him a big cheque and Canadians, for the most part, embraced him.And in fairness, it appears that Khadr is a remarkable person, who is bent on building a good and honourable life.But for Ghomeshi, who was merely accused and then acquitted, there is no coming back.And consider what’s happening south of the border to Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.A 51-year-old woman named Christine Blasey Ford has accused him of sexual assault more than three decades ago, when they were both teenagers, she 15, he 17.Her allegations were revealed last week, but it was in late July that she sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford, according to the Washington Post, is also a registered Democrat.The allegations may derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing at the judiciary committee. Democrats are baying for a delay.In the letter, Ford said the assault occurred in a suburban Maryland home, that Kavanaugh and a buddy pushed her into a bedroom and locked the door. “They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state.” She said Kavanaugh put a hand over her mouth, and that the assault ended only when the other boy jumped onto the bed, and the “two scrapped with each other.” She believes it happened in 1982. Kavanaugh has “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegations; the other man, identified as a conservative writer and author named Mark Judge, says he has no recollection of the event.Ford did not report the alleged assault to anyone, though she says she has been haunted by it for years, until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband.She showed the Washington Post, which last weekend published a story, the therapist’s notes; those notes refer to four boys being involved, but Ford says it was the therapist who got it wrong.Ford claims she is acting out of civic duty: “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”Kavanaugh is certainly a conservative judge, but always before, he was considered smart and strategic, not an absolutist. His work ethic is prodigious; he has written hundreds of judgments. As law professor Justin Walker once said of him, “Whatever the opposite of a Georgetown cocktail party person is, that’s what Judge Kavanaugh is.”He has a law degree from Yale. He clerked for three judges, including Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom he hopes to replace on the Supreme Court. He was a prosecutor.In other words, in the intervening 36 years since Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh briefly assaulted her in a bedroom at a party, he has had a distinguished career in public service. He is married with children.Yet now, he may be done, all because, at its worst, one woman says that 36 years ago, he assaulted her. Does one act define a man forever?Not if your name is Khadr. But if it’s Ghomeshi, or Kavanaugh, or you have offended the little crazy children of #MeToo, the answer is yes.
Jian Ghomeshi continues to face the wrath of the #MeToo movement, Christie Blatchford writes.
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