Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dear Jian

Last week I posted about the result of the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault trial.  Part of my post was based on the idea that the judge found the witnesses' testimony not credible based on their collusion, lying under oath, and withholding information.  I concluded that we really need to stop trying to put sexual assault victims in situations where they are giving information that isn't absolutely necessary to understand the event, and which will result in them being unfairly judged.  They will often lie in that situation, we know they will, it has nothing to do with the guilt of the accused, and it makes victims unlikely to come forward.

One of the underpinnings of my post was the assumption, based on a variety of mainstream media sources and legal experts, that the judge made a reasonable judgement on the issues with the testimony.  Ghomeshi is obviously guilty, but the judge found that the testimony was insufficient to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.  Or so went my thinking, and many others thinking.

However, when you actually read through the things the judge said you find that an awful lot of his conclusions had nothing to do with actual collusion or lying and everything to do with his unfair and immoral judgements of the victims.

He didn't think the victims behaved in a way that victims should.  Which is bullshit.  Victims don't all behave the same way, and insisting that they follow a specific pattern in order to be believed is disgustingly misogynistic.

He thought that the victims used foul language and were extremely angry, which cast doubt on their testimony.  Which is bullshit.  Being angry about their suffering and wanting revenge is not collusion.

I wasn't present for any of the crimes Ghomeshi committed, but I can know for sure that he committed them by looking at the complaints of the victims and their numbers.

I wasn't present for the trial, but I can be sure that the victims weren't given the credit that they were due because the judge holds archaic, immoral, and sexist views about sexual abuse and its victims.

Did the system and its flaws cause the witnesses in the Ghomeshi trial to say a bunch of untrue things?  Yes, and we should fix that.  But it isn't even clear that fixing it would have changed this outcome, because the judge had already decided that the people testifying weren't 'proper' victims and as such he didn't feel obligated to believe them.

Fuck that guy.  His screwup may have hurt even more people that Ghomeshi did, by promoting the idea that sexually assaulting women has no consequences and that coming forward to report assault will be ignored, disbelieved, and always judged as insufficiently well performed suffering.

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