Even though it has been quite a while, I once used this blog, from time to time, to talk about things happening in this country, and what I philosophized about them. These things I write are my own, divorced from absolutely everything and everyone I know or care about elsewhere in the universe.
With that in mind… Ghomeshi-gate.
For those of you who are foreign or oblivious, Jian Ghomeshi, once a shimmering star on Canadian radio, was suddenly cast out by the CBC amidst a number of reports from women, some known and some anonymous, that Mr. Ghomeshi, having used his charm and influence to seduce them, would sadistically beat them without their consent. Accounts of these claims of sexual assault, if you care to find and read them, paint a picture of a creepy pervert foisting his kinks on unwilling women. Mr. Ghomeshi, in return, released a statement confessing his predilection for BDSM, gave the predictable excuses, and has retained counsel. If these affidavits against Jian Ghomeshi are proven true in a court of law, then certainly we should fervently hope these crimes he has done are met with a stringent punishment.
The revelations surrounding the (alleged) despicable misogyny of a man so dearly swaddled in the bosom of the nation’s liberal elite has unleashed, Pandora-like, a flurry of public debate on the integrity of women’s rights in our broader society. Despite the noxious wheedling of certain chauvinists continuing unabated, this debate has been widely constructive, and it is heartening to know that crimes which doubtlessly would have been hushed up by powerful men barely twenty years ago are now, in this time, being brought out in public so that the course of justice may run unimpeded.
Which makes this rather troubling.
Much to-do was made when Margaret Thatcher said that there was no such thing as Society, but in a sense, she was right: a lot of people seem to operate under the assumption that there is some sort of Society Unicorn living in a government basement, and bad times befall our country when the prime minister won’t feed it the nicest oats.
Society is you, but bigger. The nation rises and falls on the actions, taken together, of each solitary individual. It is by observing the actions of the individuals that all manner of leaders make the decisions in spending, staffing and planning that will shape the sides of the world around you. And those decisions depend on statistics.And statistics, especially crime statistics, are often compiled from reports made by citizens to the authorities. If nobody reports crimes, then the leaders have no other option but to assume there is no crime; and they will act accordingly.
If you are the victim of any crime, no matter how small, no matter how unlikely it is that you will ever see justice, report it to the police as soon as you are able. It is as important a civic duty as voting or picking up litter. When they’re making decisions on your community’s safety at City Hall, or the Legislative Assembly, or Parliament, your voice could make a difference. And don’t make the excuse that you don’t like or trust the police because you had a bad experience with an officer. Systems exist because they succeed much more often than they fail. Not using the police because you had a run-in with the law is like becoming Amish because you got shocked by an outlet once.
You may have legitimate emotional reasons you do not want to revisit something. If that’s the case, keeping it to yourself is not going to make yourself better. Most places have support services to help people like you through things like this. Your taxes pay for them, so you may as well use them.
I confess that I am a man, and white, and largely untroubled, and it may be facetious of me to make these assertions in the face of the difficulties that people different from myself encounter when interacting with the instruments of governance. For my part, I say it is a dirty thing that these civil rights are not to everyone as fundamentally axiomatic as they are to me.
These are trying times. But remember that our history has largely been one of social progress. At this time there are fewer laws prohibiting the liberties of women or minorities then there have been for centuries. Even within my short lifetime the USA has gone from a place where romantic love between men was an unlawful act to a place where same-sex marriage is available in dozens of jurisdictions. The most downtrodden peoples in many civilized places are the poor; and it is their uplift that has proven eternally difficult to the liberal heart. But until all shades of prejudice in race, sex or class are bleached away, and the character of each person stands alone to colour the world, all of us will need to keep doing what is needed to reach that day.