Owen Pallett, Amanda Palmer Weigh In On Jian Ghomeshi Scandal

Over the weekend CBC announced that they’d ended their relationship with longtime broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, former Moxy Früvous member and longtime pillar of the Canadian indie music scene. The CBC’s statement: “The CBC is saddened to announce its relationship with Jian Ghomeshi has come to an end. This decision was not made without serious deliberation and careful consideration. Jian has made an immense contribution to the CBC and we wish him well.” Rumor had it that Ghomeshi’s firing had to do with some sort of sexual allegations, and Ghomeshi’s response via Facebook confirmed those suspicions. Ghomeshi wrote that he’d done nothing wrong, that he enjoys BDSM practices and that a jilted ex-girlfriend who’d joined him in such practices was colluding with a Toronto journalist to organize a smear campaign. An excerpt from his Facebook post:

I have been open with the CBC about this since these categorically untrue allegations ramped up. I have never believed it was anyone’s business what I do in my private affairs but I wanted my bosses to be aware that this attempt to smear me was out there. CBC has been part of the team of friends and lawyers assembled to deal with this for months. On Thursday I voluntarily showed evidence that everything I have done has been consensual. I did this in good faith and because I know, as I have always known, that I have nothing to hide. This when the CBC decided to fire me.

Not long after Ghomeshi’s post went up, The Toronto Star reported that four women had accused him of beating them during sexual encounters.

In the days since Ghomeshi’s dismissal, a number of musicians have spoken out. Ghomeshi is scheduled to be a guest at Amanda Palmer’s Toronto performance on 11/25 at Lee’s Palace; Palmer announced on Facebook yesterday that “of course” Ghomeshi would still be a part of the show. In a series of Facebook comments screencapped by Twitter user Charles Brokowski, Palmer wrote that “what happens behind closed doors is never knowable.” Regarding her plans for the performance, she wrote: “honestly, like the rest of the nights/guests on the tour, we’re going to talk about whatever we feel like. It looks like Jian is having a pretty rough month any way you slice it. maybe we can talk about how hard it is to live in public, regardless of whether people think you’re a hero or a villain. or maybe we’ll just talk about our favorite eighties bands. I’m looking forward to the tour a lot for this reason. there are. no. plans.”

Today, Owen Pallett added his voice to the fray with a lengthy Facebook post of his own. He described himself as a friend of Ghomeshi’s but condemned Ghomeshi’s actions.

Jian is my friend. I have appeared twice on Q. But there is no grey area here. Three women have been beaten by Jian Ghomeshi.

I have sat with Jian over drinks and discussed our respective anxiety disorders. We have been photographed hugging on camera.

Just ten days ago, I helped him find musicians for his father’s funeral. Three women have said that Jian beat them without their consent.

“We will never really know what happened.” Yes we do. Jian beat, at the very least, three women. Three women said so. “They were jilted exes.” Maybe so. They were beaten by Jian.

“They were freelance writers looking to get ahead.” Three women were beaten by Jian Ghomeshi.

At no point here will I ever give my friend Jian’s version of the truth more creedence [sic] than the version of the truth offered up by three women. Anonymity does not mean these women do not exist.

Pallett went on to discuss the nature of BDSM and how it relates to the allegations against Ghomeshi:

“They were engaged in BDSM role-play.” This: this is something I need to talk about.

The beauty of BDSM relationships is that the power is always in the hands of the sub. BDSM and choke play is a subversion of male violence.

To hear that anybody has been abusing the BDSM power relationship for the purpose of engaging in non-consensual violence-against-women is horrifying.

That is not the point of BDSM. BDSM is in fact about the exact opposite thing. It is about repurposing acts of violence into creating a power dynamic of fucking EQUALITY.

Pallett wrapped up his statement by reflecting on the rumors he’s heard about Ghomeshi over the years and wondering how their friendship will proceed in light of these allegations:

As for the rest. I have seen my Facebook feed littered with comments about how “for years we’ve known Jian to be a shady character.”

I too have heard endless rumours that he’s been a bad date, and have heard stories of shadiness and strange behaviour.

I have heard about his ridiculous pick-up lines and have (to my shame) tittered about them with my friends. But I have never heard, until today, that Jian Ghomeshi beats women.

I am skeptical of arts reporting. I am skeptical of Canadian journalism. I am sensitive toward shaming of people who are so-called sexual deviants.

But let’s be clear. Whether the court decides that predatory men are punished or exonerated does not silence the voices of the victims. It does not make victims liars.

Whether our culture continues to celebrate the works of predatory men is another issue. It does not silence the voices of the victims.

Jian Ghomeshi is my friend, and Jian Ghomeshi beats women. How our friendship will continue remains to be seen.

UPDATE: The Star’s report now includes allegations of abuse from eight women.