Perhaps, if you don’t follow pop music, you managed to miss the long, long ongoing drama of singer Kesha’s (formerly “Ke$ha”—I know, I know… ) legal efforts to get out of her recording contract with Sony and producer Dr. Luke, (Lukasz Gottwald) who has produced hits by other artists like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Pitbull and Miley Cyrus. It isn’t over, but the unethical caterwauling by Kesha and her supporters both in and out of the industry is deafening.
Kesha Rose Sebert was 18 and an unknown singer from Nashville when she signed a five or six (I have read both) album contract with one of Dr. Luke’s recording companies in 2005. It took five years, but the producer’s faith in her paid off when Tik Tok became the No. 1 song in the country. Kesha released two albums in the next two years, but none since 2012.
In October 2014, Kesha’s legal team sued Dr. Luke for alleged sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and violation of California business practices since the beginning of their business relationship. The lawsuit claimed that Dr. Luke had drugged her, raped her while she was drugged, and also tormented her to the point where Kesha developed an eating disorder that eventually required medical attention. Kesha asked that the court let her out of her exclusive recording contract because, as she put it in a sworn affidavit, “I cannot work with this monster.”
Dr. Luke, not appreciating being branded a rapist, filed a countersuit against Kesha and her attorneys for defamation, and accused her, her mother, and her management of fabricating the abuse claims to break her contract with him and his partner, Sony. Last November, Dr. Luke asked the judge to dismiss Kesha’s allegations of sexually abusing her.
The mess has become progressively messier, with allegations involving other performers, documentary evidence that seemed to indicate that Kesha and her family had affectionate exchanges with Dr. Luke after the alleged rape, and enough drama to make a good LMN movie, but the bottom line is this: Kesha has not introduced a shred of evidence backing up her accusation. And there is the little problem of Kesha herself swearing under oath that the producer “never made sexual advances at me” during sworn questioning in another lawsuit in 2011. ( Her lawyers say she was too abused and intimidated to disclose what happened.)
Meanwhile, lawyers for Dr. Luke and Sony Music Entertainment insist that she is breaching the current six (or is it five?) album agreement by not recording as she promised.
Last week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Kesha’s request for an injunction, ruling that Sony would be ‘”irreparably harmed” if the 28-year-old singer did not fulfill her contract and record more albums with the label.
“You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry,” the judge said. Noting that Dr. Luke had invested $60 million in Kesha’s career (Holy cow!) and that Kesha had been given the option to record under another producer at Sony, Justice Kornreich said that granting the injunction would undermine state contract law.
This isn’t over, but the legal conclusion is obvious: Kesha doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Nobody can get out of a contract based on claims like those in the absence of evidence. Contracts are essential to the orderly process of commerce and business. The judge is quite correct: allowing a singer to dissolve a long-term contract based only on her unsubstantiated fear and loathing of her contact partner would make such contracts next to worthless.
Now, maybe everything she says is true, but just saying it isn’t enough, can’t be enough, and shouldn’t be enough. Moreover, given that mega-millions may be at stake, her motives are suspect.
Never mind the law, never mind contracts, never mind common sense, logic and fairness: Kesha’s show business pals and fellow celebrities, the entertainment media, irresponsible journalists and social media mobs (using the hashtag #Kesha) are screaming that injustice is being done, and that Kesha must be believed, because she’s a woman who is accusing a man of rape, and that’s all that should matter.
Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Lorde all saluted Kesha’s “bravery” on social media. What’s brave about s singer trying to corner millions of dollars by trashing a man’s reputation with no evidence whatsoever, especially when she knows he will be vilified while she is automatically accorded victim status by feminists, the University of Virginia, Senator Gilliland and Hillary Clinton?
Daily Beast feminist writer Kate Briquelit disgraced herself and the site by calling the system “f**cked up” because the court wouldn’t break the contract. No, kate, a really “f**cked up” system would allow people to breach valid business contracts because of completely unproven claims and allegations.
Performer April Lockhart tweeted “It’s frightening that we punish abuse victims for fighting back, forcing them to relive a nightmare. The legal system is scary. #FreeKesha.” Translation: “It’s frightening that women don’t get special rights to break contracts based on their word alone, and that the legal system actually makes both parties prove their claims, regardless of gender and politically correct biases.”
Now Superstar Taylor Swift has announced she is donating $250,ooo towards Kesha’s legal fees. That’s nice. Dumb, but nice. This will also make the critical-thinking challenged even more convinced that Kesha is getting the shaft; after all, Taylor Swift would give her all that money in Kesha wasn’t telling the truth, right?
Well, you see, that’s not really…oh, never mind.
Kesha’s lawyers have said that their client’s position is no different from Bill Cosby’s accusers. Well, they are representing their client as zealously as possible, but that’s a laughable argument, and designed for lazy thinkers as well as non-lawyers. Kesha isn’t seeking damages for abuse, nor is she seeking criminal charges against the producer, because she knows, and her lawyers know, that she has nothing at all to prove her case. While several former clients have come forth to say that Dr. Luke is an SOB (you know, like almost everyone else in the music industry), none have claimed that he drugged and raped them. When 50 women come forward to claim he assaulted them, then we can start talking about Cosby parallels.
The legal system has a lot of problems and flaws, but its resolution of this matter, at least so far, doesn’t illustrate any of them. Contracts must be enforced, and it is right and ethical that they be enforced. The prevailing belief in feminist camps that women have some special right to be believed no matter how destructive their unproven claims may be lacks fairness, equity and common sense. A justice system isn’t “f**cked up” because it doesn’t accept popular biases and feminist cant as evidence.