Things on the Jian Ghomeshi side have now come to their logical conclusion. For those with Attention-Deficit disorders, the story is here and here. Jian has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and in a post-charge perp walk, the lawyers have said they won’t fight the case in the media.
After tapping the silence bar on our bullshit detector to keep it from wailing too loudly, we went back to the basics. Now that the person involved has been charged, we have to apply a certain mindframe, that being the hard one, of Innocent Until Proven Guilty.
It’s hard to do because like every other human around, we make judgments every day: Can I turn left between these two cars? Can I mix regular and premium? Does this smell bad? Is Person X guilty as hell? Do these pants make my ass look fat? Is that shoelace about to break or can I get through another day?
These are all judgment calls we make, sometimes in milliseconds (no, don’t turn now) and sometimes over days of agonizing about the minutiae and endless if-then (pants) internalized discussions that go on and on and on.
Simultaneous to Jian Ghomeshi’s fecal matter storm, it comes out that Bill Cosby has been the subject of sexual assault allegations, going back several years, usually involving younger-ish women who have claimed Cos drugged them, then sexually assaulted them. Cosby? WTF?
Here’s the conundrum about judgments. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and poops like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
A fast-talking puke at your front door offering to check your hot water heater for dangerous fumes and violent explosive potentials is probably a lying sack of skin that should be tossed off the front step with one of your shoes lodged in his backside. A beloved comedian, Jell-o pitchman, social activist, philanthropist and character actor with a secret life as a walking Pez dispenser of roofies and dick doesn’t quite fit with duck analogy.
Which is where we get discomforted. There is some kind of line where we have to consciously stop trying to come to a judgment and let the legal process go to work. If Cosby has been a scumbag (judgment call there) then the Law should be doing something along the lines of charging him with several counts of sexual assault and proving their case in open court.
Crap, there is that horrible term when it comes to sexual assault charges: Open Court.
We have reasonable rape shield laws in Canada and most US States have at least some vestige of the same thing: The trial isn’t about what the victim was wearing, or has done in previous interactions with the defendant, or others. Therefore many lines of questioning are inadmissible in court to keep the questions relevant to the issue of consent and the suspension of consent as that is the key moment when an encounter becomes non-consenting. A judgment point.
Even with rape shield laws, the judge has to make several hundred calls about the case and the facts at hand. Not all facts can be corroborated by dash-cam video of tab A in slot B, then a puff of smoke and Skittles everywhere. Reality doesn’t work that way. There was no cellphone selfie video of Lee Harvey Oswald speaking to camera then firing four rounds at a limo and running for the door to connect him with a President who was suddenly cured of migraines. Life is not CSI.
What we come down to is a judgment of who is telling the complete truth and who is not telling the complete truth.
Jian goes to court. We’ll see. Cosby, if he’s charged, will probably go to court too. And again, we’ll see. We have to make a judgment call here and trust the system to do what it needs to do.
Be prepared for a very icky ride.