Ian Buruma, editor of the New York Review of Books for the last year, either quit or was fired Wednesday after the magazine published an essay in which a man who had been accused of sexual assault bemoans his new position in life, according to a New York Times report.
The piece’s author, Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi, was acquitted of sexual assault charges in 2016, including biting, choking and punching, though he was ultimately accused by more than 20 different women.
The piece appears under the headline, “Reflections From A Hashtag.”
Critics pilloried the essay as being drenched in self-pity while Ghomeshi minimizes his alleged actions and leaves out details, like the number of accusers and the terms of a “peace bond” in which he was forced to apologize for his actions.
Buruma, in an assumed attempt to quell the fury the piece provoked, did an interview with Slate to defend the piece. In it, he implied that if Ghomeshi was a rapist, he would not have accepted the piece, giving the impression that Ghomeshi’s many accusations were not enough to disqualify him from speaking from such a respected podium.
Buruma even imbues one of the recurring allegations with a “blurred lines” philosophy: “Those are the allegations, but as we both know, sexual behavior is a many-faceted business,” Buruma told Slate. “Take something like biting. Biting can be an aggressive or even criminal act. It can also be construed differently in different circumstances.”
He added: “I have absolutely no doubt that the #MeToo movement is a necessary corrective on male behavior that stands in the way of being able to work on equal terms with women. In that sense, I think it’s an entirely good thing. But like all well-intentioned and good things, there can be undesirable consequences. I think, in a general climate of denunciation, sometimes things happen and people express views that can be disturbing.”