By Jason Menard
As nauseating as Don Cherry’s “puke” comments were, all the calls to fire him for his statements are misguided. And for those who have tired of the flamboyant former coach’s bombast, the best way to deal with it is to put him on ice.
You don’t like what Cherry has to say, or how he chooses to say it, don’t tune in on Saturday nights. Turn off the TV during intermission, or change the channel altogether and, perhaps, find a game on TSN.
If enough people do this, then the tall foreheads at the CBC will get the point. Instead, thousands will play right into Cherry’s hands, tune in specifically to watch what he says, and everyone goes home happy – except the viewer.
I am not a Cherry fan. I think his views are outdated, I think he’s crossed that border into offensive far too often, and I think he abuses his position. But he’s allowed to do so.
With a huge pulpit, such as the one Coach’s Corner affords him, he has a responsibility to fact check and ensure his statements are based in truth – especially when they veer into the land of personal attacks. If he chooses not to do that, then the CBC and the show’s producers need to hold him accountable.
Unfortunately, ratings trump morals. As long as people tune into the show, the CBC has absolutely no motivation to police itself.
Let’s not forget that once we start firing people for what they’re saying, we put ourselves on a very slippery slope towards creating a culture of censorship. Part of free speech is allowing others, with whom we disagree, speak their mind.
But with that right of free speech comes the responsibility to use is wisely. That’s why there are slander and libel laws out there. And that’s why we all have access to a remote control.
The same people who are clamouring for Cherry’s removal are probably the same ones who strongly oppose censorship in other areas. From V-chips to freedom of press, you can’t take the good without supporting the bad.
Personally, I don’t get the Cherry phenomenon, but I appear to be in the minority. The Cult of Don is strong, with people turning the former coach into an icon of Canadiana. He doesn’t represent the Canadians I know, but obviously enough people find an affinity with him that it would be folly for me to completely write him off as un-Canadian.
Cherry is not what I want to see on my CBC, but I also want my CBC to be free to hire people with diverse viewpoints. I want them to stand up for the rights of everyone to share their opinion, regardless of whether it’s one I believe in. And that’s why I refuse to jump on board and ask for Cherry’s dismissal or sign any of the on-line protests that are circulating. While my tax dollars indirectly go to Cherry’s salary, I’d like to think that they’re directly going to fund a CBC and pays for an environment of open and honest debate.
Instead, I’ll do what every like-minded Canadian should do. I’m not going to tune into the CBC for its Hockey Night inCanadabroadcast. And I’m going to pass along a message to the CBC explaining why I’ve chosen to stop watching this show. If enough people do the same, chances are it will have some sort of impact.
After all, when TSN’s ratings go up in a direct proportion to CBC’s fall, then it won’t be an issue of censorship – it becomes nothing more than a business decision based on declining ratings and lost ad revenue. Simply put, until Cherry’s proven to be bad for business, he’ll retain his pulpit.
That doesn’t mean I have to watch. Nor do I have the right to force anyone else to stop watching. What I do have the right to do is make my own choices and my own decisions. I choose to not support this type of programming. And the CBC will then have its choice. If they lose a few traditional viewers, but gain a bunch of new casual ones, then they’ll have to weigh that trade-off. If they lose a lot of traditional viewers with no new ones coming aboard, then they’ll have to weigh the return on their Don Cherry investment at that time.
Just as I drive past crazy people ranting nonsensically on street corners or in bus stops, so too will I skip past Coach’s Corner. Just because someone’s speaking doesn’t mean I have to listen. We all have the right to choose and the right to speak our minds.
Those are rights that I’ll support fully – even if it means standing up for Don Cherry.