Monday, February 09, 2004

CHERRY AND FREE SPEECH

So much has been said about Don Cherry and his latest rant against French Canadians (and Europeans) that I hardly want to give him the time of day. As seems to be the growing opinion, he's not worth it. However, a few things in brief:

Preliminary statistical evidence would seem to suggest that Cherry was correct in his assesment that players wearing visors are predominantly French-Canadians and Europeans. I think Cherry was also right that as protective equipment improves and is more widely used, players are more likely to take greater liberties with their sticks. It's probably not consiously done but rather the result of a greater feeling of personal security. I have to say that regardless of Cherry's other opinions, his knowledge and commentary on hockey is often spot on. Which is why he should stick to that.

Just becasue Cherry may have been right about his comments doesn't make it right to say it. To voice such generalities about a particular ethnic group legitimizes looking at people as an ethnic category, legitimizes doing so negatively, and inflames ethnic tension by re-affirming the fears and suspicions of one group and reinforcing prejudicial feelings in another. Further, we know this is not a one time thing for Cherry. His past record indicates he can't seem to find anything nice to say about French-Canadians. Anecdotes such as this are just further evidence of Cherry's prejudicial sentiments.

Finally, the question of whether the CBC's decision to put Coache's Corner on a seven second delay amounts to some kind of attack on freedom of speech. No it does not.
First: Private individuals advocating for the firing/censoring of Cherry does not amount to an attack on free speech. It is actaully the exercise of free speech.
Second: The CBC opting to put Cherry on a delay is, obviously, a form of censorship but it is not some kind of grievous attack on free speech either. The CBC is permitted, in fact required, to make various editorial decisions. This is one of them.
Third: Andrew Coyne counters this position by arguing that this would be true if the CBC were a private broadcaster, but because it is a public one its "capitulation to public pressure" amounts to censorship. If the government actually interferes with Coache's Corner or if it were to shut it down then I would agree that would be censorship taken too far. As it is, "capitulation to public pressure" is just as likely to occur within a public broadcaster as a private one. To make an editorial decision based on veiwer input is not censorship. It is the prerogative of an employer, even a public one.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:07 AM