… we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’ve had a series of wake-up calls recently in Canada, but the same is true pretty much everywhere. This may come as a nasty, unwelcome surprise to a lot of people out there, but crime, drug and alcohol addiction and bad and even deviant behaviour is not the exclusive territory of the underprivileged and uneducated among us.
Easy and convenient as it’s always been to point fingers at them, while denying, ignoring and doing nothing about what’s going on behind closed doors right in our own backyards. Yes, my dears, on university campuses, in corporate boardrooms nice, middle class neighbourhoods and luxurious penthouse apartments and sprawling estates.
Just look at our soon to be former mayor, Rob Ford. There are videos of him drunk, consorting with criminals, buying crack, making offensive racial slurs and comments about women and even threatening to kill people. He’s got three siblings — two brothers and a sister and each and every one of them has had involvement with drugs.
His brother, Doug, sold hash in the ’80s. His brother, Randy, not only sold drugs, he was once charged in relation to a drug-related kidnapping. His sister, Kathy, is an addict, among other things, and Rob Ford was caught yet again on video, while at her house, in her basement, smoking crack with her. It was after that he finally ended up in rehab; and she’s been
banished to God knows where — she didn’t seem to be at any of the recent family gatherings — when they announced Rob Ford’s cancer diagnosis, his dropping out of the mayoral race, Doug’s entering the mayoral race and on election night awaiting results.
All this to say the Fords, despite their lack of couth and character, are millionaires.
And then last week we got hit with another bombshell. A biggie, involving Jian Ghomeshi, a very successful, well-known Canadian broadcaster, and his proclivity for rough sex. “Fifty Shades of Grey” rough sex, in case you’re not sure what I mean. Beating, slapping, choking, demeaning sex.
Although it appears people in and close to the music/publishing/entertainment/broadcasting industries claim to have known, for years, what he was into, it sure shocked the rest of the country. We didn’t have a clue. Not that we needed to know. Not that we were even entitled to know.
But the story came out. Every gory, miserable, awful, sordid detail.
Ghomeshi claims the woman responsible for the whistle-blowing is a jilted ex-girfriend with an axe to grind. You know, “hell hath no fury”. He also claims she let her fingers do the walking through the list of contacts on his mobile device and managed to convince eight other women (and maybe more to come) to join her in conspiring against him. He insists the sex was consensual but you’d think he’d have been smart enough to make sure the girls signed contracts outlining, explicitly, what they were agreeing to participate in.
After all, he
is was, a ‘celebrity’ of sorts, which certainly would have made him extremely vulnerable when it came to greedy or disgruntled sex partners deciding to cash in, by selling their stories or even attempting to extort money from him.
Well, unbelievable as it may sound, he wasn’t that smart. At least it appears that way. Because he’s been fired from his job at CBC, his PR firms are no longer willing to represent him, he’s the ‘headline’ in newspapers and on news shows across the country, Facebook is literally ablaze with articles and opinions and allegations about him — and wouldn’t you think if he had proof the girls agreed he would have used it to stop all this before it happened? To nip it in the bud? He did go to his bosses at CBC without paperwork — to ‘fess up and show them videos before the first article was published, in an attempt to ‘get ahead of the story’.
Clearly that didn’t work. And now he’s a pariah.
What he isn’t, though, even now, is a member of the underbelly of our society. “The kind” you would expect this from. A member of the lower class. Poor, with no education. One of the ‘left-behinds’.
So it’s time to stop believing that myth. Anybody can turn out to be “that kind”.
So guess what. Not all black male teenagers wearing hoodies are armed and ready to shoot you. Guess what. Teachers and professors and professional coaches and star athletes and wealthy businessmen DO abuse children, women and seniors. Sometimes they even murder them. Guess what. Fraud is committed everywhere, not just in subsidized housing units. Guess what. The rich and famous tell lies, pay prostitutes for sex, cheat on their spouses and like being flogged.
We have to stop stereotyping. We have to stop believing bad things can only take place beneath us. We have to stop tolerating. We have to stop burying our heads in the sand, looking the other way. And most important of all we have to create an environment where victims — from all walks of life — are not afraid to come forward. Where they’re not afraid they’ll be vilified. Where they’re not afraid they’ll be blamed.
Some of the girls who have finally stepped of the shadows and are willing to share their Jian Ghomeshi stories have kept quiet for more than ten years. All of them have said they were afraid no one would believe them because of who he was.
Enough already. We can’t just click our heels and hope this will all magically disappear.