In response to:

Reflections from a Hashtag from the October 11, 2018 issue

The article by Jian Ghomeshi, “Reflections from a Hashtag” [NYR, October 11], has prompted considerable criticism from readers. We recognize the validity of this criticism. While Mr. Ghomeshi has a right to express his opinions, we acknowledge our failures in the presentation and editing of his story. A more inclusive editorial discussion should have taken place about whether to publish the article, and the article should have made clear the serious nature and number of allegations against Mr. Ghomeshi. A summary of those allegations has been added in an editorial note to the online version of the article at Below is a representative sample of the letters we have received.
—The Editorial Staff


To the Editors:

It took me exactly twelve minutes to read the Jian Ghomeshi article [NYR, October 11] on your website today. As someone who was personally victimized by Ghomeshi in 2013, I ask that you allocate the same amount of time to what I’m about to write to you. That way we’ll have each spent the same amount of time feeling uncomfortable and sick to our stomachs.

The choice to publish Ghomeshi’s piece was also a choice to remind all of the women he has victimized that his story is worth more than ours. As I read of his woes—dipping into a savings account to pay for his legal fees and awkwardly meeting women while gallivanting around Europe—I thought about the thousands of dollars I’ve put on my credit card to pay for the counseling that has remained a constant over the past four years, because trauma changes you on a physiological level that feels impossible to understand. I thought about the days I missed work because I lay frozen in bed filled with a hollowness that can only be felt when your humanity is stripped from you by the (physical) hands of a man who manipulated you to establish dominance when he held the power from the start. I thought about the fear and frustration deep within my being, which fractured friendships and relationships and forced me into seclusion for nearly a year.

My experience is so similar to other women’s, you may think we must have colluded. But no, we don’t have to speak to one another to know how this reality feels because this reality is so common for far too many of us. We fumble through each day, coping with the confusion that was once our intuition, trying to decipher whether or not we will ever feel “OK” again. Our stories are rarely ever heard beyond a sensational article in which we rip ourselves open to expose our wounds for the salacious reader. Once those wounds have been pried apart, dug out, and dried up, we are left with little to no resources to suture ourselves together. We don’t have the savings and we aren’t in Europe, we are waking up every day, trying to live a normal life with the scars that no one can see but that ache in our bodies without remedy.

Today, you tore through that scar, exposing my insides again and reminding me of my place in the world. You reminded me that a powerful man’s story of being labeled an outcast for hurting women is more important than the part of your identity that breaks when a man tells you how precious you are while his one hand is held firmly over your mouth and nose and the other grips tightly around your neck. To this day, I can still feel the sting in my lungs from not being able to breathe, and I still jump when anyone puts their hands close to that spot.

Four years later, over one thousand days, and I am still traumatized. Do you know the places your mental health goes when you feel the effects of trauma for over one thousand days? Through the darkness, I have found light in those who have stood with me in solidarity, demanding justice that goes beyond the legal structure that was not built to protect us. By uplifting the voices of those of us who don’t make it past the sensationalist headlines, you offer hope to the millions of people whose voices have been silenced by violence.

The only reason I can imagine you chose to print this story is for the money. But we can’t take our money with us when we die; it’s our legacy that we leave behind. Today, your legacy is that you gave a man—who already benefited from his position of power, who was found not guilty by a justice system that continues to fail victims of violence, who can go to a different country and flirt with unsuspecting women—a platform to tell his side of a story when so many of his victims have never had the chance to tell theirs. Instead, we are told our stories “have no value” (actual words I was told by an editor).

So, what’s your next move? Press on with full pockets lined with cash that may as well be glued across the mouths of women like me? Or, do you consider the impact of countering Ghomeshi’s article with writing by women, who may not be searchable on Google but whose stories could change the lives of readers in the most profound way? I would say I’m hopeful for the latter but I haven’t reached a point where I feel hope yet, not while “Reflections from a Hashtag” is considered a valuable piece of writing.

Joanne O.
Vancouver, British Columbia

To the Editors:

On my drive to a much-needed visit with my mother, it was brought to my attention that Jian Ghomeshi had written an essay painting himself as a victim and that I needed to see it. Jian and I had met many years earlier, at a 2002 CBC Christmas event. It was that meeting, unfortunately, that, years later, resulted in charges of sexual assault. During the drive I was receiving media requests for my response. It became apparent that in any given moment this nightmare can all come flooding back with the same force and momentum that it had a few years ago.

While reading the essay, I felt continuously directed to sympathize with the author. This was evident from the stories of a new acquaintance who was oblivious of his status as a fallen celebrity, good friends who became estranged because they wanted to protect their own careers, loss of income, and suicidal ideation. Although he expresses remorse, this was not the focal point of the essay. My reaction was contrary to what seemed to be the intended response for the reader.

While Jian was riding the train to Paris, I was riding the train to Ottawa, where I met with Status of Women Canada, a government organization that promotes gender equality, to discuss sexual assault education programs for lawyers and judges. He was singing in karaoke bars and I was dealing with thousands of people who had reached out to share experiences of physical and emotional trauma from violence. This hasn’t ended for me, either.

The public detonation of his career, which appeared to have caught him off guard, has undoubtedly forced a great deal of introspection. Unfortunately, what has emerged from the rubble is not the outcome we wanted, but exactly what most predicted.

The road to recovery from “public toxicity” is definitely a difficult one. Where did he think this road would lead? Perhaps taking the road less traveled by other celebrities accused of wrongdoing and apologizing would be the least toxic direction, with far less chance of public outrage than he eventually faced by pursuing sympathy through public platforms.

In this essay there’s an underlying feeling that reconstitution of a fallen career is deserved. But this is up to the public, and it has to be earned. He is now in the court of public opinion. This is a very large court, and we are trauma-informed judges.

His reference to being called a “#MeToo pioneer” sounds self-congratulatory, as does “I was the guy everyone hated first.” This isn’t a contest. There is shame in holding these titles.

He also mentions that it was unimaginable that he would be labeled a poster-boy for assholes, yet he speaks of the many characteristics that contribute to his holding that title.

If not seeking absolution, it raises the question of why he has twice attempted to step back into the public sphere without asking forgiveness from the many people who feel an injustice has been done. Does it not make sense to give an apology to those who feel wronged instead of giving an excuse not to? In my opinion, the essay is transparently self-absorbed.

In the overwhelming response, it seems most will concur, this was a failed attempt to win back followers by playing the pity card. Lay down your hand. It’s time for some humble pie.

Linda Redgrave

To the Editors:

It’s been said, “The British and the Americans were two people separated by a common language.” I wonder if the rationalization for choosing to publish the Jian Ghomeshi piece isn’t an example of that.

Attempting to answer a hypothetical question about Harvey Weinstein posed by Slate, editor Ian Buruma said he couldn’t answer the question “since he [Weinstein] has been accused of rape, which Ghomeshi was never accused of. I think it’s a very different case. If somebody was accused of rape—let alone convicted for it—no, I wouldn’t have the same attitude.”

In the 1980s Canadian law changed to replace the crime of rape with the more all-inclusive concept of “sexual assault.” There is no statute that allows for a rape charge to be made. So whatever his activities, in Canada it is legally impossible to charge Ghomeshi or anyone with rape since that doesn’t exist in law.

Could the editorial decision to publish Ghomeshi have been based on a flawed concept or misunderstanding of the differences in US and Canadian law?

Allan Lynch
New Minas, Nova Scotia

To the Editors:

I am mystified what possessed your publication to run the essay by Jian Ghomeshi in which he bemoans the loss of his reputation and career because he was “demanding on dates.” That makes it sound as though he insisted on the Pinot Grigio while his partner would have preferred the Merlot.

As Anne Kingston reported in her excellent coverage of the trial in Maclean’s magazine, more than twenty women alleged Ghomeshi had assaulted or harassed them—slapping, hitting, punching, choking, biting—in a sexual context.

Sexual assault charges are notoriously hard to bring to conviction, and contradictions in the accusers’ stories caused their case to unravel, but as Kingston states clearly: “At no point were they contradicted in the allegations that they were assaulted; nor were they shaken into saying that they did consent.”

Running Ghomeshi’s grossly self-serving and bogus mea culpa was a shameful editorial decision.

Liam Lacey
Toronto, Ontario

To the Editors:

The fact that you published Ghomeshi’s point of view on the numerous allegations against him without minimal fact-checking is reprehensible. For one thing, he was not fired by the CBC because of “allegations circulated online” by an ex. He was fired because he literally showed CBC brass photos of a woman he had beat the hell out of, and tried to pass it off as “rough sex.” Oh, and there are no such things as criminal charges of hair-pulling, etc., not even in Canada. He was, in fact, charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and one of overcoming resistance by choking. That’s just one paragraph.

If you’re going to publish his account, it should at least be factually accurate. This story was covered extensively in Canada, and there are many news sites that detailed the allegations and the trials.

You have e-mail, so I have to imagine you have access to the Internet and know how to use it. Next time some artsy sociopath looking to redeem himself pitches you an essay, spend half an hour on Google first.

Lisa Guenther
Livelong, Saskatchewan

To the Editors:

Why does the entire first paragraph in Jian Ghomeshi’s essay read like an outright lie? Was he sitting right beside the sign-up sheet? How did the person know HE was the “Jian” on the sheet? How did she know who the notorious Jian was? Did he have a name tag on? If the karaoke scene were in a piece of fiction, I don’t think it would hold water. And isn’t it convenient that it happened long enough ago to make him foggy on details if he were pressed for details?

I also think that some people might have a hard time believing the train story at the end of the article.

Michael Mitchell
Montréal, Québec

To the Editors:

The ink is dry, so I have heard, on the print run you authorized that bears Ghomeshi’s name.

As a woman who lived in Canada during Jian’s trial, during which he was acquitted, I learned exactly how the rich and the powerful at the CBC and elsewhere had protected him, because he was a much-cosseted and valuable brand, and they extended that protection and courtesy in the teeth of the pain and suffering he inflicted upon the women around him, not all of whom he troubled to sexually assault—some of them he was just beastly to.

In publishing his words, you’ve made it clear that the sad experience of a rapist hung out to dry, but escaping consequence due to elderly laws and incompetent Crown lawyers, will always be more interesting and worthy to a powerful broker of modern taste than either the stories or the dignity of the women he hurt.

Thanks for the reminder. The problem, ongoing, is that the role of The New York Review of Books as a maker and breaker of taste, as a trendsetter and a quality spotter, and as a literary beacon has been jeopardized.

If your goal is to rehabilitate Mr. Ghomeshi so he may be returned to the fold of cultural critics and once again be a brand among brands, congratulations, you may have achieved your aim.

However, your credibility’s shot. Hope it was worth it.

Allegra Sloman
Burnaby, British Columbia

To the Editors:

I was shocked by Ian Buruma’s decision to run the Jian Ghomeshi piece in the current issue of the NYRB. I’ve been a subscriber for decades, even through periods where the male-centricness of the magazine and its systematic marginalizing of women’s views (primarily through exclusion) utterly appalled me. But now this giving a platform to a violent predator, assuming the reader’s interest in the thoughts and feelings of a serial assaulter of women, is absolutely the last straw. There is nothing enlightening about Ghomeshi’s self-serving, self-justifying obfuscations. When Bob Silvers was replaced as editor of the magazine, I was very much hoping that the NYRB would finally make its way into the twenty-first century and offer more inclusive perspectives on intellectual life. But the numbers of women published in the magazine’s pages have continued to be abysmally low.

If you want to save the magazine from irrelevance, it is high time to replace Buruma with a strong, intelligent woman editor.

Susan Bernofsky
Associate Professor and Director, Literary Translation at Columbia
School of the Arts|Writing
Columbia University

To the Editors:

My name is Claire Pitcher and I am a thirty-two-year-old Canadian woman. I am positive that part of the rationale for publishing Jian Ghomeshi’s article was to generate “clicks” and more traffic for your website. For this reason, I desperately wanted to abstain from writing this e-mail. I do not want to be another “click” statistic you can use to sell advertising. That being said, my desire to vehemently oppose those social structures and media vehicles that trumpet the voices of already-privileged and by their own admission victimizing men was too strong to ignore.

Jian Ghomeshi’s focus on how he did nothing illegal and that many other men have done the same thing speaks volumes. In that regard, I urge you to ask: whose voice was missing from his supposedly “thoughtful” reflection? Not the voice of men (that was present in spades), not the voice of fellow celebs (also present in spades), not the voice of the female who found him witty and charming in Europe. The voice missing was that of women—real-life, everyday women who have been the subject of the types of regrettable-but-not-illegal advances Ghomeshi describes. As a woman myself, I have not been subjected to sexual assault or abuse of the type Jian adamantly denies having perpetrated. I have, however, been the target of a litany of inappropriate, disrespectful, and unethical advances from men from the time I was twelve years old onwards. So many advances, in fact, that it makes me physically sick to think about.

For over half my life, men have poked, prodded, commented on, peered at, and presided over my body as if it was more theirs than mine. The only difference between them and Jian? They were not celebrities. But the effect that these nameless men have had on my life is tangible. I cringe when I am walking alone at night and see a man up ahead. In my single days, I always ensured first dates were in busy, public spaces in case I got weird vibes. I watch my drink like a hawk while socializing, regardless of the company or context. It no longer surprises me when grown men shout sexual advances at me in broad daylight and then deride me when I rebuke their efforts. It disgusts me to know my experience is not unique.

I am among an endless ocean of women whose stories are just like mine, if not more intrusive, more chilling, more unethical. This is to say nothing of the women being assaulted, abused, and raped. Sure, not all men treat women this way, but I will say with the utmost confidence, and contrary to what Jian seems to be peddling, that just because he was not found legally culpable that does not make the consequences of his actions, exactly as he described them, any less dire. I am afraid; not because of what he has denied but because of what he has so cavalierly admitted to.

Claire Pitcher
Vancouver, British Columbia

To the Editors:

I’m writing to add volume to the litany of people who are so, so disappointed by your choice to give space in your publication to an accused abuser.

Perhaps this piece is tailored to appeal to an imagined readership of intellectually lazy men looking to indulge their narcissism. Maybe it’s for the thousands of rage-clicks readers will inevitably give you to see what this trash pile piece consists of. Maybe you truly and honestly think you’re showcasing a subversive new perspective on a subject. Regardless, you’re reinforcing the notion that men who abuse women still have a place in their professional field.

Today in light of this news, I’m thinking of the victims—since you clearly have not. The women who will be retraumatized by this piece. Who will, upon publication, receive texts and e-mails and messages asking if they’ve seen it yet. The panic they’ll face deciding whether they want to read words in an esteemed publication written by the man who choked and sexually assaulted them. The spike of anxiety and heat they’ll feel—a mix of overwhelming rage and true fear—that takes them straight back to the moment they were violated. And all the women, myself included, who can readily empathize with those emotions from our own trauma at the hands of men.

This piece, regardless of content, is irresponsible and reinforces existing systems of oppression. Want to make an impact? Get the survivors to write a piece for you.

Fuck Jian Ghomeshi. Do the right thing; that’s subversive.

Bridget V.
Nova Scotia

To the Editors:

Very poor call to publish this piece by Jian Ghomeshi. You should have consulted some Canadians, to understand what his story means here, in this community. He evinces no shame, only entitlement. I wish he could be erased from the culture. Sadly he’s made a permanent stain on a much-loved public broadcasting service. If he thinks he’s earned the opportunity to be rehabilitated, why did he not choose to speak in a forum in his own country and community? I’d suggest it was because he didn’t dare. He’s calculated his chances are better trying to surf the zeitgeist in the United States. These men should not be stripped of their livelihoods, but they deserve to be deprived of the public roles they used to abuse others. By shunning them, society regains some of its lost dignity.

Maureen Webb
Vancouver, British Columbia

To Jian [Ghomeshi]:

It seems a bit presumptuous to call you by your first name, but having lived in my radio for many years you feel familiar. I would like to thank you for Q. I am a sixty-eight-year-old woman who did not then (and does not now) have her finger on the pulse of any current culture, and gradually as I listened to you I became aware of many new things and liked a lot of what I heard. You were intelligent and friendly and seemed to bring the best out of your guests. I became a fairly regular listener.

Then, of course, came the great downfall. I have thought about you over the past four years. I was sad for you when David Bowie died. You had in many ways introduced me to Bowie. Of course I knew who he was, but I had never really liked him, and I saw him in a new light through your eyes.

Yesterday I read your article in The New York Review of Books. Thank you for writing that. As I said, I have been thinking about you and now I have a little glimpse into your journey. I agree with [Canadian journalist] Christie Blatchford (who I normally don’t agree with) that you have every right in the world to write an article. No one has to read it for goodness sakes if they don’t wish to.

I really enjoyed your writing. I thought it was honest and reflective, and I love the story that you end with. You have done difficult work.

Well done, Jian.

Shirley Anne Wade-Linton
Courtenay, British Columbia

To the Editors:

I am Canadian. I’ve met Jian. The allegations against him don’t surprise me. In our brief encounter after a show by his band Moxy Früvous, his lust for women was clear as was his self-centered delusional sense of stardom. By his essay, I see it still holds fast to his personality. He’s written a lot of words. He hasn’t conveyed much meaning. Unsurprisingly, he wishes we could all forget that he already acknowledged his abuse. Once is enough. No more is necessary. I’m sorry his career met the twin obstacles of his terribly maladjusted ego and hatred of women. Claims of having evolved past his need for the use and abuse of women evaporate rather quickly when he lies. Jian was brought to apology by an excruciating court battle. Until then, he denied it. But he’d rather we remember otherwise. Hence this barn-burning claim: “When a man is publicly accused of sexual misconduct in this era, almost invariably the first thing he does is apologize.” Nope. Not you, Jian. Not most men. You lied then, and you’re lying now. You haven’t seen a thing. You still don’t know where it is. A year ago this October, Canada lost an icon, Gord Downie, frontman for the Tragically Hip, to brain cancer. Jian, if you’re reading this, realize that you are as selfish as Downie was loving. You are the exact antithesis of him as an artist and a man. You’ve walked the same stages but you’ve taken a lower road. Seems there’s no coming back for either of you. But that’s only a pity for one of you. And it isn’t you. Bonne nuit.

Dan Kelly
Silver Spring, Maryland

To the Editors:

Jian Ghomeshi? Are you kidding us right now?! Here are the principal reasons why this abuser of women—well known as such in the Canadian arts community—is not currently in jail for roguish peccadilloes such as punching women in the head:

(1) With Ghomeshi in particular, we in Canada imported the very worst aspects of your celebrity-enabling system…in a desperate and quixotic bid, oddly enough, to save public broadcasting;

(2) Ghomeshi’s trial just barely predated #MeToo;

(3) Ghomeshi hired the best lawyer in Canada, a woman who shredded the credibility of other women with exactly the kinds of sexism-based tactics that have since been exposed and discredited.

Can we expect an upcoming guest editorial from Harvey Weinstein on the art of pitching woo; the cops who beat Rodney King on their contributions to the civil rights movement; or Kevin Spacey swearing that from now on he will always check ID? Or can we agree that widely known sexual predators and the beneficiaries of miscarriages of justice—whatever their country of origin—have forfeited the public perks of celebrity as well as the considerable prestige of your publication?

Leanna Brodie
Vancouver, British Columbia

To the Editors:

My name is Jess Nicol and I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Calgary. I am writing to ask you why you decided to run this piece.

Did you follow the Ghomeshi trial as it unfolded? How closely? Did you see what women were saying after the trial—how disappointing it was, how much it hurt?

Have you read the allegations? Have you spoken to anyone in the Canadian music industry or television scene who knew about Ghomeshi for years and years and warned women around him to be careful?

Have you talked to women like me, who have been harmed in similar ways by the men in our lives? Did you do so before deciding to run the piece? Did you not think of women like me who read your publication? Or did you just not care?

I’m disgusted by this news. I hope you’ll take this letter (and hopefully many more like it) to heart and do better.

Jess Nicol
Calgary, Alberta

To the Editors:

I, like many others, am writing to express my distaste for the recent essay you published by Jian Ghomeshi. I have never had such a strong physical reaction of disgust while engaging in a sedentary activity like reading. It’s clear Jian still thinks he is the victim of a public smear campaign the way he complains about how people were racist toward him after he abused women. Good lord! It’s honestly just so embarrassing that you published that in the first place.

I believe that people deserve second chances and can redeem themselves through good behavior, but this essay demonstrates absolutely none of the soul-searching or deep reflection that requires. Any nonmale editor would have been able to tell you that, yet instead you decided to explore the one perspective we could truly stand to hear less of: the wronged man. The fact that the essay ended with this fake Before Sunrise–style meet cute is disgusting. He thinks he’s a good person now because he asked questions to a woman on a train instead of bragging about his accomplishments?!

Isabel Slone
Toronto, Ontario

To the Editors:

I write in reference to “Reflections from a Hashtag,” about which a considerable amount of commentary has now accumulated in various media sources.

Having to read this piece of obnoxiously self-serving pathetically sexist cant is bad enough.

What’s worse is trying to figure how any editor of the vaunted New York Review of Books could think such badly written, clichéd, narcissistic drivel is actually worthy of publication and promotion in its pages.

If this is the best you can come up with in some misguided effort to present the “other side” of #MeToo, then you have in fact inadvertently strengthened the gravity and integrity of the collective political movement whose hashtag you also insult by granting this author the space to produce his valueless commentary over it.

As a longtime subscriber I never would have anticipated the NYRB coming under the supervision of editors who couldn’t tell the difference between its values and principles of publication and those of a leering, sensationalist, third-rate tabloid. But as is the case with so many things in our diminished republic of letters these days it appears that I stand corrected.

Mary G. Dietz
John Evans Professor of Political Theory
Department of Political Science and Gender and Sexuality Studies Program
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois

To the Editors:

Why the hell did you let Jian write something? He’s not even a writer. Literally, I’m not asking a rhetorical question: What do you look for in a contributor, and did he meet this? Women say the guilty men will fail upward, that people are waiting for their redemption, and I want to believe it’s not true, but this?

I thought it was a trashy decision. It served no purpose and only angered people. Who is happy to read this? Who? He made his name interviewing other people and in the early Nineties was in a terrible band…do you let anyone write for you? Can I write for you? I’m a nobody, like Jian, but at least I didn’t choke and punch women in the face.

Jeff Halperin
Toronto, Ontario

To the Editors:

Thank you for printing Jian Ghomeshi’s essay. As a Canadian living in Montreal when the events Mr. Ghomeshi describes took place I followed the case closely and had various reactions that did not share the condemnation of others.

I think the treatment that he received was very harsh. I am a professional woman, now retired, who started her career in the late Seventies and worked without a break until 2012. I have had my fair share of misogyny and discrimination, attempted assaults and seductions, and sexist put-downs and gossip, and I was delighted when the #MeToo movement took off. But there is another side: the overreaction of rejected women seeking revenge, or desire for the limelight, or the naiveté of the man and his lack of questioning the toxic masculinity of the culture that raised him.

When the charges against Mr. Ghomeshi were not proven and he was released I felt vindicated: the women were not wrong but they were hysterical and seeking revenge. Not that I excuse his behavior. I feel very much as he describes in this article: that while he was unthinking, selfish, and unkind, he was not malicious and predatory and he is capable of learning from his experience. As a veteran of the pre-#MeToo gender and sex wars and feeling some compassion for Mr. Ghomeshi and the road he has travelled I would like the CBC to offer Mr. Ghomeshi another chance. He is damn good at his job and now being a more reflective, sensitive, and thoughtful person will enrich what he does and make it even better.

Jacqueline Vischer
Winchester, Massachusetts

To the Editors:

“He pulls my head down, and at the same time, he’s punching me in the head, multiple times,” the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said in Ontario Court in Toronto.

“I’m terrified. I don’t know why he’s doing this, I don’t know if he’s going to stop. Can I take this pain? And my ears are ringing, and I felt like I was going to faint. I’m going to end up passed out on his floor. And I start to cry.”

Lester Bergquist
Vancouver, British Columbia

To the Editors:

As a longtime reader I was disgusted to learn you had published an article authored by Jian Ghomeshi. The piece appears to reflect on Mr. Ghomeshi’s perception that he has been “exiled” from society. He may have been acquitted of some charges, but it is clear he has not in any way reflected on the sickening psychology of his attitude toward women. In publishing this pathetic piece of writing, the NYRB has tacitly allied itself with men who harm women and then, rather than using those experiences to learn to move more sensitively through the world, have pitied themselves and their position and ask us to as well. Publishing an article such as this in a publication as prestigious as the NYRB sends the message to your female readers or readers who have survived sexual assault or abusive relationships that there is in fact a timeline wherein their abusers will be welcomed back into polite and elite society. Not only will they be welcomed, but they need not have even reflected on their treatment of others before doing so. They need only pity themselves. Absolutely appalling. You should be ashamed of yourselves. What’s next, an essay by Harvey Weinstein?

K.T. Weiss
Brooklyn, New York

To the Editors:

I am profoundly disappointed that you chose to print an “essay” by serial abuser and sexual predator Jian Ghomeshi. The factual inaccuracies in Ghomeshi’s piece and his clear inability to understand or acknowledge the impact of his action on his victims display a tremendous lack of editorial care at your publication. I cannot fathom why you would feel the need to help this man rehabilitate his public image. What has he done to deserve such a platform in what I previously believed to be a prestigious publication such as this one? At the very least you should have talked to his victims, and given them some space to counterbalance Ghomeshi’s clueless “self-reflection.” Or perhaps simply spoken to any average Canadian, who would have told you that we don’t miss this man in our lives, and are quite happy to leave him be as a private citizen, free to live out his days coming to terms with how his behavior harmed so many women. We don’t want him back.

I must tell you as well that this story is quite timely for me, as I was the very day it came about to order a subscription to your publication as a surprise gift for my partner, who is a writer and avid reader. I think I’ll refrain from giving you any further financial support, and look instead to supporting a less misogynist literary digest. And I shall be urging my friends who subscribe to The New York Review of Books to reconsider encouraging your support of “fallen men.”

Shame on you. You have lost a potential reader here in Canada, home of Ghomeshi’s twenty-four victims. If you had any sense of decency, you would devote your next issue to these women, and any of the other victims of “fallen men.” You have an opportunity here to flip the script—please take it.

Pete Johnston
Toronto, Ontario

To the Editors:

Shame on you. Printing letters on your actions in your next issue does not absolve you.

Robert Silverman
Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University
Faculty Emeritus
Fielding Graduate University
Vancouver, Washington

To the Editors:

I am a long-time subscriber from Canning, Nova Scotia.

Publishing Jian Ghomeshi’s entirely self-serving “essay” is a true embarrassment for your publication. I can scarcely believe an institution with your history could be so careless in helping him advance an entirely selective account of a series of events that adversely affected so many lives. What possible value can it have without also publishing a rebuttal and/or the actual facts of the case, which in this country are, unfortunately, all too common knowledge?

Giving an abuser the opportunity to revictimize people in your pages is not advancing public discourse.

Ken Schwartz
Canning, Nova Scotia

To the Editors:

What an absolute disgrace that you would choose to publish an article by Jian Ghomeshi. I am enraged that you would let this serial sexual abuser begin his attempt at mea culpa via your media.

You have forever lost me as a reader.

A. Nelson
Toronto, Ontario

To the Editors:

I would invite Mr. Buruma to take a trip to Montgomery, Alabama, where a memorial to lynching has recently been erected. It shows the legacy of thousands of crimes that were never reported, so of course they were not prosecuted and no one was found guilty.

The legal system is controlled by powerful white men. Like everything.

Seldom is rape reported. When it is, rarely does anything at all happen. Not even an investigation. When a case goes to court, despite overwhelming evidence, hardly ever is a man found guilty. Rape statutes were put on the books with it in mind that rape is something black men do to white women. But that is not what mostly happens. Mostly rape occurs between people who have met. It happens in professional settings and at parties. It happens on dates. Most rape is acquaintance rape.

It means nothing at all that there are no convictions. White men make law to protect white men. That is all.

The only way to get more women writing for you and for all publications is to find them and cultivate them. You will not necessarily like us or like what we have to say. We are not like you. But women and minorities do not show up. Some of us are bold and come knocking. But mostly we stay away from white male bastions, because they are unappetizing places. We have PTSD from the last grisly experience.

Mr. Buruma believes he is a good guy, because he will admit that #MeToo is a “necessary corrective.” All of you think you are good guys. Stop thinking that. Brett Kavanagh thinks he is a good guy. It is time men listened. It is time men realized that women don’t think any of you are good guys.

So, no, men do not have a side in this. That is like white supremacists saying white lives matter too.

Just to make this personal for a moment, my whole career has been overwhelmed by sexual harassment, by fending off male editors with the wrong idea. By now I am just used to it. If it isn’t that, then there are men who think I am difficult. I now have advanced breast cancer, so I am a new kind of difficult. Men don’t like that either.

I mentioned the lynching memorial. It is stunning stuff. I would like to see the same thing done to commemorate crimes against women. I would like it to be here in New York City, which is where I live, and also where so many of these unreported and unprosecuted and unconvicted crimes take place. I would like to live to see this. I hope my feminist friends will organize with me to do this.

In the meantime, shame on Ian Buruma, but he is not so exceptional. May he see the light.

Elizabeth Wurtzel
New York City

To the Editors:

I was infuriated by the evasiveness, self-pity, and fundamental dishonesty of Jian Ghomeshi’s essay, “Reflections from a Hashtag,” and I think it was a mistake to publish it. (I do not contest Ghomeshi’s right to express his thoughts and feelings, only the decision to provide him with a venue.) I was also taken aback by Ian Buruma’s subsequent assertion that “the exact nature” of the complaints against Ghomeshi was not his concern. Nevertheless, forcing Ian to resign from his editorship strikes me as a disproportionate and illiberal response—one that’s likely to inhibit any future editor’s willingness to take risks and to challenge orthodoxy. As our last president has often pointed out, the proper response to speech that offends us is not banishment or censorship, but more speech.

Zoë Heller
New York City

To the Editors:

I want to express my deep appreciation to you for publishing the essay by Jian Ghomeshi. I was appalled by how he was treated, how he sank into oblivion after he was decisively acquitted of all charges by the courts, how he was being denied any voice, particularly, of course, by the oh-so-politically correct Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and by the hysteria and rush to judgment that often seems to accompany the #MeToo movement. I found his article well written, honest, appropriately nuanced, and courageously balanced between accepting responsibility and standing up for himself. I applaud your courage in printing it, and presume you are as appalled as I am at the ongoing despicable, irrational, and very upsetting hatred expressed toward both you and him in response to the publishing of his words.

I looked at only two comments, but do not have the stomach to continue reading. The sentiments of most of these folks seem somehow worse than what he is admitting to. By forgetting the simple truth that all of us are made up of many parts, some good and some not so good, their comments become devoid of even a hint of understanding, compassion, or forgiveness. The stones they are hurling reflect the hubris of those who think that the casting of these stones is not also a sin!

I hope you will consider a forceful response to the attitude of those criticizing your decision to give Jian a voice.

Peter Light
Roberts Creek, British Columbia

To the Editors:

I am writing to express my utter horror in your decision to feature Jian Ghomeshi on an upcoming cover. This is a man who admitted to expressing his desire to “hate fuck” a junior colleague. A man whose reputation was so notorious that (according to The Toronto Star) university journalism programs refused to place interns with his prestigious radio program.

I care deeply about fairness, due process, and second chances, and I realize that Ghomeshi was acquitted of the criminal charges against him based on a few minor inconsistencies in his accusers’ stories. I don’t automatically believe women in every circumstance, but in this case, where multiple women came forward, spoke to the media, put their reputations on the line, and all told similar stories about violent sexual predation, I believe these women. And I believe the reports that say Ghomeshi is a narcissist who has shown no remorse for his actions.

The Ghomeshi case was traumatizing for so, so many Canadian women. For weeks as the story broke, every woman I know felt battered by the public misogyny it unleashed. We relived our own traumas, reexperienced our own shame and guilt. Did we do enough to stop it? Would anyone believe or defend us if we came forward? We spoke in private and comforted each other. The cycle repeated for the duration of his trial. This is to say nothing of what his actual victims went through; I personally know of at least one woman who was attacked by him and never came forward.

Please don’t put us through this again by featuring Ghomeshi on the cover of your magazine.

Kathy Friedman
Toronto, Ontario

To the Editors:

I am a Canadian woman who grew up listening to Jian Ghomeshi, and lived through his trial on our national news. I have also been sexually assaulted, and his trial made life in Canada a living nightmare. I couldn’t turn on the news without being reminded of the stigma of being a victim of sexual assault.

Giving him a platform has reawakened that pain for me and countless other women and sexual assault survivors. We know his story. Most women have lived it themselves. You have power in who you publish—I encourage you to use that power to uplift those who aren’t heard, not the ones who have already brought so much pain into people’s lives.

Rebecca S.
Edmonton, Alberta

To the Editors:

When the Jian Ghomeshi case became public, I was still reeling from my own sexual assault. At the time of my assault, I had just turned twenty. I was in a depressive episode and suicidally depressed.

This friendship had been exclusively platonic. The man in question had gone out of his way to be supportive of me when I was in a fragile space. That night, he used the safety net he’d made me, strangled me with it, and raped me. He asked at each point if I liked it. I could not speak.

Now, I realize that publishing a contribution from the likes of Jian Ghomeshi may seem like an alternative to the #MeToo movement. Maybe it’s because you think there’s a duty to represent both sides to each story. Maybe it’s because you feel bad for the Q alumnus and wanted to hear what he had to say.

What you clearly did not consider was the retraumatization not only of the women he traumatized, but of all survivors of sexual violence. By publishing this, you are telling us that the people who violated us can get away with it, relatively unscathed. Hell, they can even write an article about the difficulty of leaving the house post-persecution. You tell us that our security, safety, and lives mean less than those who harmed us.

I understand that under the law, he has been exonerated. I also know that situations like this are why I didn’t report. My assailant has a totally normal life. He’s married now. I’ve added post-traumatic stress disorder to my medical history and have to cope with its impacts in my own daily life and marriage, six years after the fact.

There is nothing owed to the Jians of the world. By commodifying our trauma, you are sending a visceral message that our lives do not matter. That those who perpetrated these acts are more valuable.

We deserve better.

Meghan G.

To the Editors:

As a woman, as a Canadian woman who loved and learned from every Q program, as a Canadian woman who has been on the receiving end of much that Jian Ghomeshi detailingly speaks to, I thank you for publishing his “Reflections” essay. From my side, hard to read, yes; but his is an invaluable, long-overdue perspective on this conversation. Heartrending, no matter your side.

Linda Muszynski-Compton
Atlanta, Georgia

To the Editors:

The fact that you and your team chose to provide the incessantly solipsistic Jian Ghomeshi with a self-serving platform to extensively remind everyone of his career achievements, lament the suffering and “seismic life interruption” he experienced as a result of the violence he inflicted on other human beings, and congratulate himself for recently deciding against using a woman as a pawn for his sexual gratification is completely deplorable.

Shame on you for empowering this egomaniacal piece and this oblivious individual above every other voice and cause who truly need your support and your audience.

Everyone I know who was subscribed to your magazine is now canceling their subscriptions. Like me, they are disgusted by your decision to publish Jian’s piece, and deeply question the motives behind it. None of us could fathom a single good reason why anyone would give this tone-deaf, self-congratulatory piece not only publication but any attention whatsoever—however, we encourage a public explanation of yours.

Mary Soroka
Toronto, Ontario

To the Editors:

Please, I subscribe to your magazine for its insightful reviews and thought-provoking essays, not sob-story quasi-confessionals from Jian Ghomeshi.

I work in the media in Canada. I know his story and all the stories that have circulated throughout the industry years before the story broke.

Oh I’m sure he’s a “changed man” and feels bad about what he’s done, but not once in his ponderous and self-inflating essay does he come out and apologize.

He does not deserve space in such a journal as yours.

Seriously rethinking my ongoing subscription.

Mike Duncan
Toronto, Ontario

To the Editors:

I had considered taking up a subscription to NYRB, but after your publication of the self-serving piece by Jian Ghomeshi, an abuser of many women, I will not. Shame on you. What a waste of prime intellectual space.

Ann Shola Orloff
Professor of Sociology and Political Science, Board of Lady Managers of the Columbian Exposition Chair,
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois

To the Editors:

I have been a subscriber to the NYRB for forty or more years. Helen Epstein, Robert Gottlieb, and Marcia Angell, as well as the late Elizabeth Hardwick and Robert Silvers are among the many that make up the fabric of my affections for your serious journal.

This latest development, where the new editor decides to give a platform to one of the present day’s many media figures who cannot reach beyond his self-interest and narcissistic defenses, has shocked and saddened me. Buruma’s recorded answers to queries as to what he has done and why are further evidence that a very intelligent intellectual may also have moral and ethical blindness, a sensibility narrowed by gender interests that desensitizes a person to what more than half of human beings who have empathy for a woman’s experience feel today. That Buruma’s editorial decision to publish this media figure’s self-exculpatory ruminations comes at this terrible time in our nation’s politics fits the other horrendous doings we follow each day in the decline in our nation’s politics.

I would easily cancel my subscription in protest, but I do not wish to give up on the NYRB so quickly. I await further developments where voices such as mine further chastise your misbegotten editor. He should be ashamed.

Bruce Johnston, M.D.
Berkeley, California

To the Editors:

Instead of renewing my subscription, I have just canceled it; I would like to comment on why.

For some time I have been frustrated at the insularity of The New York Review of Books, and particularly by the persistent underrepresentation of diverse voices, especially women’s voices, something that has been covered repeatedly through the work of the organization VIDA but met with apparent indifference.

My impression is that, over the years, some editors of the Review have taken the position that quality, not diversity, should be the magazine’s only concern, as if quality is something measurable without any reference to who writes for you, about what, and for what audience. Diversity is an aspect of quality, and the apparent recalcitrance of the NYRB’s editors in the face of reasonable pressure to feature a wider range of voices in its prestigious pages has been an ongoing disappointment and has made me wonder if yours was still a publication I wanted to support with a subscription.

Your decision to feature Jian Ghomeshi in a self-serving cover story is the last straw. Ghomeshi is a known sexual predator infamous for his manipulative and abusive behavior. That you have room for his story but are indifferent to the lack of wider representation in your pages is frankly shocking to me. It suggests not just indifference but callous disregard, and it shows a startling willingness to be seen giving credibility, sympathy, and a prestigious platform to a serial sexual harasser—when, again, you have shrugged off suggestions that you should make your contributors’ list more inclusive.

As a critic and a reader, I once considered The New York Review of Books the pinnacle of a certain kind of serious intellectual and literary engagement. For all the admiration I continue to have for some of your contributors, my view of your publication has irreparably changed. I had hoped that a new editor would bring improvements; instead it turns out Mr. Buruma has taken the NYRB in a direction I am unwilling to follow.

Rohan Maitzen
Associate Professor of English
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia