Tellingly, comparisons (including my own) of today’s enforced ideological conformity to McCarthyism or Soviet communism have grown trite. With #MeToo, I’m coming to prefer parallels with the French Revolution. Metaphorically, both Ghomeshi and Hockenberry were defenestrated, their heads joining scores of others rolling gorily around the #MeToo guillotine. For sexual unseemliness of any stripe now merits an effective death penalty, and at any hint of clemency the rabble grows enraged. Yet being bankrupted, made permanently unable to support your family, and universally disowned as retribution for offences that sometimes come down to having been crass, inconsiderate, tin-eared, self-centred or erotically warped approaches the American Constitution’s cruel and unusual punishment.
Amidst this resurgent Puritanism, sexual transgressions have been elevated to the very most grievous of sins. But — maybe I make a lousy girl — I’d rather be tastelessly propositioned, groped, insulted, subject to workplace abuse of power, than have my legs chopped off or my throat slit. People do scads of horrific things to each other, and in my book sexual offences, especially those that can’t even qualify as criminal, don’t rise to the top of that dismally long list. John Hockenberry is not Pol Pot. Sleazebag maybe, but Jian Ghomeshi doesn’t make lampshades from human skin. Can we get a grip?