The Marie Henein Defence

Modified by Designfeed

Modified by Designfeed

Did Marie Henein betray all women by defending Gian Gomeshi?

This question provokes two responses in me. The simple response is “Of course she did.” Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Last thing I heard, a lawyer is allowed to choose his or her clients. When offered the chance to defend a sexual abuser, did Marie Henein say, “I bet I could get him off. Therefore I have a moral obligation to offer my services”? Or did she say, “I bet I could get him off. Think of what that would do for my reputation as the toughest lawyer in town”? Do you think it occurred to her to say, “Yeah, I bet I could get him off. But could I live with myself afterwards?”

How can Marie Henein live with herself? I suspect it has very little to do with upholding the right of every accused. It’s more about caring more for your own career and your own image, and to hell with everyone else.

A Wasted Interview

She spent a whole interview with Peter Manning of the CBC pretending, in great lawyer fashion, that the question was about whether everyone deserves a good legal defence, no matter what the charge. She read us an indignant lecture on the right of the accused to a fair trial.

Complete red herring. Of course everyone deserves a proper defence. The question is why a woman would choose to provide it. In fact, there was a suggestion that, by making light of his proclivities in a speech to the Criminal Lawyers’ Association last October, she might have even invited him to hire her. (The portrait of the victim above comes from the same article.)

But does she deserve Madeleine Albright’s “special place in hell” for women who don’t help other women?

The completely different question I’m asking is why the “special place in hell” quote and similar vitriol are being tossed around. As I posited in last week’s post, the wild politicizing of the situation was probably the main factor that drew the complainants into the untenable positions that resulted in the acquittal. As pointed out by Ashley Csanady in the Post recently, Women with the good of other women in mind need to go easier on each other. This kind of radicalism may be the reason why 68 percent of Canadian women don’t consider themselves feminists. Ms. Henein might not be your favourite dinner companion, but a place in hell? (All right, forget all those lawyer jokes. They’re about male lawyers, aren’t they?)

What are the Boundaries?

But even if Ms. Csanady and I are correct, perhaps there are some activities that go too far. The final question to ask yourself is whether being a successful woman at all costs does more for the cause of women than any damage you might do in achieving that success. If you achieve that goal at the expense of other women, especially women who have been abused, perhaps you have stepped over the line.

The Specious Argument

We see these arguments happening all over. Most doctors will withdraw extraordinary medical support and letting a person die, but go postal at the idea of giving a medication that helps them die. I’m sure that in countries with capital punishment, the guy who takes the job of executioner has a bunch of the same arguments. They just don’t hold water. I remember the 1960’s slogan, “What if They Gave a War, but Nobody Came?” As long as people are willing to find excuses for behaviour, that behaviour will continue.

Ms. Henein, if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Guilty as charged.




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