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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sexual harassment allegations: media hypocrisy at play here?

Some four weeks have passed since two unnamed NDP MPs made sexual harassment allegations against then Liberal MPs, Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews and little progress has been made to resolve the issue.

Throughout that time, the leaders of both opposition parties have appeared to be at a loss to know how to handle the sexual misconduct allegations. Moreover, there’s scant evidence of a resolution in the near future leaving one to wonder how adept either Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair would be at solving the problems of this great nation if either man were to become prime minister.

One of the unnamed NDP MPs who made the sexual harassment allegations granted interviews to several news media organizations on condition that her name be withheld. She reportedly said that she had sex with Mr. Pacetti, but never gave “explicit consent.” She also, apparently, told The Globe and Mail that she provided a condom to Mr. Pacetti, but did not say yes or no to his advances.

According to the Globe and Mail, the NDP MP said “she wants an apology from him, and for him to have counselling, but not prosecution.”

Meanwhile Messrs. Pacetti and Andrews, who Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suspended from caucus back on Nov. 5, are left to swing in the proverbial wind pending some sort of an investigation. Both MPs are also suspended as Liberal party candidates for the 2015 election. And it should be noted that both men have denied the allegations, none of which, of course, have been proven in court.

What a mess!

One troublesome detail is the part where the NDP MP provides a condom, yet suggests sexual harassment occurred. The act of providing a condom does seem to strongly imply consent. Though, even that is not conclusive.

If this MP felt she was being coerced into having sex, she might very well seek to mitigate her predicament by protecting herself with a contraceptive. So the act of producing the condom per se should not be considered consent.

We live in a modern world where men cannot take the absence of no to imply yes. This may seem unfair to some, but it is the reality with which we are faced—yes, and only yes, means yes in sexual encounters. And this is especially so in first-time encounters.

Only the unnamed NDP MP really knows whether or not she gave her consent to Mr. Pacetti, and she says she did not. That’s good enough for me.

The NDP MP’s sexual harassment allegations require an investigation and, if allegations are shown to be true, the guilty party needs to be censured by the House of Commons and, perhaps, be prosecuted. This should happen quickly and in a confidential manner.

In fact, this should have already happened and the leadership of the Grits and the Dippers should be held to account for the inordinate length of time they have taken with this mess.

Accountability in this affair, however, does not stop at the door of the political parties. What of the news media’s role? How is it that they published the story in the first place and freely named the former Liberal MPs and yet continue to protect the anonymity of the female NDP MPs?

The name of the MP that first approached Justin Trudeau is, apparently, widely known to journalists in Ottawa and by now to many others across the land, but yet they continue to avoid public identification while the names (no to mention reputations) of the former Liberal MPs are dragged through the mud.

Double standard? In my opinion, yes. Either four names should have been made public in the first place or none at all. By naming only the males we have made them victims of another kind.

4 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Were they harassed? If they believe so then it should be up to the courts to decide. An MP is not exempt from Canadian law. Neither Trudeau nor Mulcair should have any input into the matter at all. By doing so they are usurping the courts authority and setting a double standard. Signed Randall

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    1. Yours is a harsh standard, Randall. Should justice recognise some compassion?

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  2. I like your blog, but this entry makes no sense whatsoever. You, yourself are using a 'double standard' here Russ.

    First you say "it should be noted that both men have denied the allegations, none of which, of course, have been proven in court." and then go on to say "Only the unnamed NDP MP really knows whether or not she gave her consent to Mr. Pacetti, and she says she did not. That’s good enough for me."
    So you're saying Pacetti deserves his day in court, and then denying him that by taking his accuser's word as gospel.

    Lets look at the facts again (according to her!)... This female MP goes drinking with Pacetti until two a.m., then agrees to go back to HIS hotel room, ALONE with him for at least another drink, AND admits to providing the condom (which she just happened to have). This alone tells me that she insisted she was not going to have sex with him UNLESS he wore a condom, which he agreed to. So she indeed seemed to be able to say NO to him... unless he used protection.
    These are not naive kids, these are adults, and not only adults but sitting Members of Parliament. It sounds an awful lot to me like sober regret on her part after the fact, and avoiding facing the responsibility of her own actions by playing the victim card semi-anonymously. I think she'd have a hard time trying to sell that story line to any jury based on what we know so far - entirely from her own words. And we haven't even heard Pacetti's side yet.
    I think saying this NDP MP's word "is good enough for you" would not only leave you in a very low percentile minority, but also guilty of 'dragging the Liberal MP's name and reputation through the mud', which is in part what you're scolding others of doing.

    And finally you say "How is it that they (the media) published the story in the first place and freely named the former Liberal MPs and yet continue to protect the anonymity of the female NDP MPs?"
    To answer your question - because the genius Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau immediately called a PRESS CONFERENCE and NAMED the two Liberal MPs and at the same time told them he would protect the anonymity of the female MP's. He spoke live to the reporters and TV cameras, they didn't have to do much more. And I don't recall him saying "keep it under your hat, but...".
    I'm not one to usually stick up for the media, but I fail to see anything that THEY did wrong here.

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    Replies
    1. I obviously didn't make my point very well. When I wrote, "That’s good enough for me," I meant that her word was sufficient for an investigation, not that I assumed the former Liberal MPs were guilty.

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