Does the court of public opinion supersede the courts of our legal system?
Today, Jian Ghomeshi publicly apologized in court (see the transcript of that apology below) and a charge of sexual assault was withdrawn. He was found not guilty in his first trial and there will be no second trial. Toronto writer Joe Warmington however says the former CBC host is a the victim of an “organized smear campaign” and he’s been condemned as guilty through social media.
In Warmington’s article he writes, “The digital lynch mob ravaged the former CBC radio star, disregarding any sense of justice in terms of the expected Canadian credo of innocent until proven guilty.
“That standard was thrown out the window in Ghomeshi’s case. And we should all be concerned about preventing it from happening again, from allowing online outrage and emotion to influence actual justice, or to pressure Crowns and police from difficult but reasonable decisions – including decisions not to charge individuals.”
Do you feel Ghomeshi is the victim of an organized smear campaign? Even though he was found not guilty do you feel his public apology is an admission of guilt? And do you think the women who came forward to charge Ghomeshi may be even more condemned than he is now? Taking your calls and texts after 1pm: 204.780.6868.
You can catch Joe Warmington’s chat with our Toronto sister station AM640 here.
Transcript of Ghomeshi’s written apology:
“I want to apologize to Ms. Borel for my behavior towards her in the workplace. In the last 18 months, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on this incident and the difficulties I caused Ms Borel, and I have had to come to terms with my own deep regret and embarrassment.
I enjoyed a position of privilege in my job at the CBC as the host of a program I loved. I was a person in a position of authority and leadership, and I did not show the respect that I should have to Ms. Borel. I did not always lead by example and I failed to understand and truly appreciate the impact of my conduct on Ms. Borel’s work environment. That conduct in the workplace was sexually inappropriate. I realize that there is no way for me to know the full impact on her personally and professionally.
I now recognize that I crossed boundaries inappropriately. A workplace should not have any sexualized tone. I failed to understand how my words and actions would put a coworker who was younger than me, and in a junior position to mine, in an uncomfortable place. I did not appreciate the damage that I caused, and I recognize that no workplace friendship or creative environment excuses this sort of behaviour, especially when there is a power imbalance as there was with Ms. Borel. This incident was thoughtless and I was insensitive to her perspective and how demeaning my conduct was towards her. I understand this now. This is a challenging business to be in and I did not need to make it more difficult for Ms Borel. The past 18 months have been an education for me. I have reflected deeply and have been working hard to address the attitudes that let me, at the time, to think this was acceptable.
I apologize to my family for letting them down and in particular for the impact that all of this has had on my dear mother and my sister. I apologized for the burden my actions have placed on those dear friends who have stood by me throughout this difficult time. I regret my behaviour at work with all of my heart and I hope that I can find forgiveness from those for whom my actions took such a toll.”