Last week, New York Review of Books published a Jian Ghomeshi article that outraged pretty much everyone, the former CBC radio host and Moxy Früvous band member penning a long essay titled “Reflections From a Hashtag”. (Click here for the Straight's account, which details how Ghomeshi writes that friends joke that he's a "#MeToo pioneer".)
Today, the editor of the magazine, Ian Buruma, has stepped down. It isn’t clear if the 66-year-old was fired or if he resigned.
In the New York Review of Books article, Ghomeshi discussed what his life has been like after a series of high-profile sexual assault allegations, and subsequent trial and acquittal, ended his career.
The tone of the article suggests that his interest in rough sex and the way he has treated certain women in his life got him unfairly painted a monster, and that he has made serious strides in changing his behaviour over the past couple of years. It was roundly criticized as self-pitying, with Gomeshi slammed for trying to downplay his past actions.
Some pundits in Canada went as far as to break down the article for inaccuracies and half-truths. Click here for Jesse Brown’s excellent dissection.
Buruma leaving the magazine comes after Slate had a writer contact him to ask him explain why he green-lighted the piece. In that article (click here), the editor defended himself.
Buruma started off with the explanation of Ghomeshi being treated as a pariah, the editor arguing that he was acquitted of charges against him. “It is an angle on an issue,” Buruma says, “that is clearly very important and that I felt had not been exposed very much.”
After going to note that he as “ambivalent” feelings about the #MeToo movement, Buruma goes on to state in Slate: “like all well-intentioned and good things, there can be undesirable consequences.”
Subsequent Buruma statements on Ghomeshi from that interview include:
- “I am talking about people who behaved badly sexually, abusing their power in one way or another, and then the question is how should that be sanctioned. Something like rape is a crime, and we know what happens in the case of crimes. There are trials and if you are held to be guilty or convicted and so on, there are rules about that. What is much murkier is when people are not found to have broken the law but have misbehaved in other ways nonetheless. How do you deal with such cases? Should that last forever?”
- “The exact nature of his behavior—how much consent was involved—I have no idea, nor is it really my concern.”
- “I am not judging him for the exact rights and wrongs of what he did in the past.”