Jian Ghome­shi re­flects on fall­out from trial in The New York Re­view of Books

The Hamilton Spectator - - Canada & World - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN AND ADINA BRESGE

TORONTO — Dis­graced former CBC Ra­dio host Jian Ghome­shi penned a per­sonal es­say in The New York Re­view of Books that drew swift back­lash on Fri­day, with many so­cial me­dia users ques­tion­ing why he was given such a pres­ti­gious plat­form to de­tail his life post­trial.

Ghome­shi was ac­quit­ted in March 2016 of four counts of sex­ual as­sault and one count of chok­ing in­volv­ing three com­plainants. In May 2016, he apol­o­gized to a fourth com­plainant and signed a peace bond that saw an­other count of sex­ual as­sault with­drawn.

In the piece, ti­tled “Re­flec­tions from a Hash­tag” and pub­lished on­line Fri­day, Ghome­shi re­veals that he had sui­ci­dal thoughts in the af­ter­math of the al­le­ga­tions and re­flects on his tra­jec­tory from a high-pro­file Cana­dian per­son­al­ity to a self-de­scribed “out­cast.”

He also ex­presses “deep re­morse” for the way he treated some peo­ple, ad­mit­ting he was “de­mand­ing on dates” and “emo­tion­ally thought­less.”

“I’ve be­come a hash­tag. One of my fe­male friends quips that I should get some kind of pub­lic recognition as a #MeToo pi­o­neer,” he writes. “There are lots of guys more hated than me now. But I was the guy ev­ery­one hated first.”

Far­rah Khan, manager of Ry­er­son Univer­sity’s Con­sent Comes First of­fice, won­dered why the semi-monthly mag­a­zine gave an op­por­tu­nity to such a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure when many peo­ple af­fected by sex­ual vi­o­lence are not given such an op­por­tu­nity.

“Why was he given this plat­form? Why now?” Khan said, also ques­tion­ing if the mag­a­zine factchecked the piece.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing, who gets to have that plat­form. Pub­li­ca­tions of­ten­times are in­vested in giv­ing space to peo­ple like Ghome­shi to boost their sales, to cre­ate this hyped con­ver­sa­tion about it.”

Ghome­shi came off as “ar­ro­gant” for sug­gest­ing he’s part of a decades-long fight for the rights of sur­vivors of sex­ual vi­o­lence, she added.

“When read­ing the ar­ti­cle, one of the things that was re­ally salient to me was his speak­ing about how he was one of the #MeToo pi­o­neers, or mak­ing a quip about it,” Khan said.

“He didn’t start the move­ment on sex­ual vi­o­lence — we did.”

In an­tic­i­pat­ing the re­ac­tion to the roughly 3,400-word es­say, which marks the first time Ghome­shi has ad­dressed the trial pub­licly, he ac­knowl­edges that it fo­cuses on his own ex­pe­ri­ence, “which may be seen as not help­ful in ren­der­ing women’s ex­pe­ri­ences more vis­i­ble.”

The cover story, billed as “Jian Ghome­shi on Jian Ghome­shi,” is set to ap­pear in the mag­a­zine’s Oc­to­ber is­sue on “The Fall of Men.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the New York Re­view of Books said the pub­li­ca­tion had no com­ment on the mat­ter.

As his pro­fes­sional and per­sonal sup­port sys­tems col­lapsed, Ghome­shi said he faced “fi­nan­cial calamity” be­tween his fir­ing from CBC and le­gal fees. He also fumed over what he char­ac­ter­ized as “in­ac­cu­rate” de­pic­tions of him on so­cial me­dia, and said he fielded a bar­rage of racist re­marks over his Ira­nian her­itage.

MARK BLINCH THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Former CBC Ra­dio host Jian Ghome­shi ar­rives at court in 2016.

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