January 06, 2011
There are a few flaws in planning a protest against CBC commentator Don Cherry. Like the notion you can alter one of the basic planks of the Cherry platform when Cherry's opinions are about as malleable as a piece of granite. Like the idea there should be editorial balance for a firebrand commentator (and isn't that why Ron McLean is there?).
Like the opinion that Cherry's support for the troops will be viewed as a pro-war stance by the majority of viewers.
There's no question Cherry allows his view on the military to pepper Coach's Corner segments; as The Mark pointed out, he dedicated nearly five minutes to soldiers in a segment last October. But a group called "Hockey Fans For Peace" feels this is pro-war propaganda on CBC, and they've planned a formal protest of the practice for this weekend.
Hockey Fans For Peace posted a mission statement that was published on New Socialist in December:
Millions of Canadians enjoy hockey - and we also oppose the war in Afghanistan. A new Facebook group, "Hockey Fans For Peace", urges the NHL and the mass media to recognize this reality, by ending the practice of using hockey games and broadcasts to promote the view that full support for the war is the only acceptable position for any genuine hockey fan. Failing this, we call upon the NHL and the mass media to provide equal access to hockey fans who oppose the war and want to bring the troops home immediately.
We also encourage other sports to refrain from promoting support for the war in Afghanistan. Within a few days, Hockey Fans For Peace will have "Cherry" pink t-shirts on sale, featuring our logo (crossed hockey sticks with a "peace sign" puck). We invite you to join our Facebook group, to ask others to join, and to help spread the word: hockey, not war!
According to The Province, the group plans to protest the Hockey Night In Canada broadcast during Saturday night's Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks showdown a Rogers Arena. Writer Jack Keating got the following response from CBC:
CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said he doesn't accept the premise that Cherry is promoting the war in Afghanistan and militarism every week on Coach's Corner.
"I mean, Don does offer remembrances of soldiers who are killed as well as police officers and firefighters that are casualties," said Keay. "We really don't have a problem with that."
"We hire him for his hockey commentary, but as a commentators he's entitled to his opinion," said Keay, who doesn't foresee allowing someone to counter Cherry's views on the war in Afghanistan. "I wouldn't say that's a forum for that kind of debate, so I really don't see that happening."
The Province quotes "Hockey fan and peace activist" Derrick O'Keefe as saying, "It's something that's bothered me for a lot of years that Don Cherry's Coach's Corner has been used to really give a one-sided platform to talk about the war only in full support."
Mixing hockey and politics makes for some uncomfortable fan moments. The gripes about that content becoming too prevalent on HNIC is understandable.
But this isn't the editorial page of a newspaper. There's no need for a voice of dissent when Cherry's being paid to man the bully pulpit. What's next, the president of the PK Subban(notes) fan club asking for equal time?
Peace activism is noble. Targeting Cherry is a handy way to publicize that cause, so long as they're not actually looking to affect change here.