This week, the Canadian music world is abuzz with the news of Jian Ghomeshi's firing from the CBC amidst accusations of sexual abuse. Naturally, the scandal has sparked some strong opinions, and now songwriter Owen Pallett has weighed in on the controversy with an open letter on Facebook.
Pallett pointed out that he is friends with Ghomeshi, having appeared on Q and even spending time with the host socially. But despite this, Pallett argued, "There is no grey area here. Three women have been beaten by Jian Ghomeshi."
Throughout the piece, he also frequently repeats variations on the phrase "Jian Ghomeshi beats women."
According to Pallett, the testimonies of the three women outweigh Jian's account, and even though the accusers' identities are not known, "Anonymity does not mean these women do not exist."
Pallett dismissed the argument that Ghomeshi's actions were part of BDSM role-play, saying that BDSM is meant to subvert male violence and put power in the hands of the subordinate.
Regarding chatter that has surrounded Ghomeshi prior to the revelations of the past few days, Pallett said, "I too have heard endless rumours that he's been a bad date, and have heard stories of shadiness and strange behaviour."
He admitted to previously finding stories of "ridiculous pick-up lines" funny, but added that he has never heard any stories as serious as the ones that have now emerged.
Ultimately, Pallett says that, even if the police aren't yet involved in this case, this "does not silence the voices of the victims. It does not make victims liars."
UPDATE: In a new CBC interview on the program As It Happens, an anonymous woman has come forward with explicit details about allegedly being sexually abused by Ghomeshi. You can hear that interview below.
Read Pallett's whole letter below.
I was challenged by a friend to say something about the recent allegations against Jian Ghomeshi.
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 than the version of the truth offered up by three women. Anonymity does not mean these women do not exist.
"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.
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.