The problem with liberal tolerance in Canada is that it’s not particularly liberal and it’s certainly not tolerant. For instance, the “everyone must wear an LGBTQ-2 jersey” controversy we highlighted last week. The reverberations from goalie James Reimer declining to wear a San Jose Sharks rainbow jersey have continued all week.
It seems to have escaped many people’s tolerance that refusing to march in a parade does not mean you hate the people in the parade. It is to say that you have a different opinion. One your employer can’t compel you to abandon. An opinion guaranteed to you by generations of free speech and religious freedom.
It is why we have halal and kosher foods. Live and let live. But the hysteria is not stopping with Reimer. The radical blood hounds have tracked down new targets to mount on their gibbet of 100 percent conformity to Woke causes.
The latest NHLers caught up in this fundamental failure to communicate are the Staal brothers in Florida who followed Reimer’s path to say that they haven’t and won’t wear symbols with which they disagree. Immediately the SJW sports media attacked them. When they said they wouldn’t Pride jerseys it was shown by the gotchas ‘ that they had worn subtle LGBTQ jerseys in the past. As if this makes them hypocrites.
My friend Mark Hebscher asked if the NHL should suspend them. Really? What would Mark say if Edmonton’s Zach Hyman, a Jew, declined to wear Muslim symbols on an Islamic Pride night? Would Mark demand Hyman be suspended?
What would he say if secular players in the league declined to wear the cross on their jersey for a Christian appreciation night? Should they be punished as haters? What if a pro sports team has a Mormon appreciation night. Does refusing to wear an LDS badge make people haters?
Of course these examples are moot. There are no progressive DEI laurels for creating political trip wires over Muslims or secularists to advance Woke influence. The only targets that matter here are conservative whites. Sports teams these days would only entertain the most provocative causes to create “a crisis that shouldn’t go to waste” (in the words of Saul Alinsky in his Rules for Radicals).
So Brian Burke was imported by Rogers Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday to further whip the herd into 100-percent compliance on Pride jerseys— and to push Rogers corporate bonafides as a Woke organization. Burke has become a fervent LGBTQ-2 spokesman since his son Brendan came out (and was tragically killed in a car crash). Good on him as a parent.
But he’s also a high-profile NHL figure, who was, in a major way, responsible for perpetuating the “boys-only” culture in the sport when he handled NHL discipline. He was his usual truculent self on HNIC as he conflated free speech with prejudice. He saw no room for tolerance on anything but the Pride agenda, insisting against all evidence that wearing the Pride jersey isn’t a political statement. “I was born and raised a Catholic, I don’t see any conflict between my religious beliefs and my ability to say to the LGBTQ+ community ‘you’re welcome here.”
That’s not what he’s saying, but play along. Host Ron Maclean— with whom we have had our disagreements in the past— did his job, gamely asking why wasn’t there a middle ground between hating and enforced 100 percent compliance to the cause? Burke shooed him away.
Naturally, radical social-media trolls pounced, asking for Maclean’s scalp for doing his job. There can be no exceptions! Reason is not a long suit for these Maoist shills. They want to be in Pol Pot’s Cambodia while their fellow citizens would prefer to remain in what used to be Canada before Justin Trudeau turned it into a postmodern state that stands for everything— and nothing.
The point that needs debate on HNIC is whether a few rich hockey players, who make so much money that they don’t have to give a flip, are going to make the league more inclusive by wearing a Pride jersey for one night. Likely not.
As we’ve contended over decades, the key to acceptance of gays in hockey will be the coming-out of a prominent NHL star(s). They are out there. It wasn’t high rhetoric from Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey that changed the colour line in baseball. It was Jackie Robinson’s forbearance. It wasn’t slogans that slowly changed the skin colour of golf. It was Tiger Woods’ utter dominance.
It was also the hyper-macho world that Brian Burke nurtured through the years before his son came out — not colourful jerseys— that has repressed gay participation in the NHL. The weeding-out of gay youth in the development process comes from the grass roots. (To his credit a penitent Burke now owns some of this.)
While it is commendable that Burke now supports his son’s memory, flailing Christians for refusing to wear Pride jerseys is not the way to achieve understanding. Worshipping symbols is a divisive, not a unifying action that plays into the hands of forces Burke clearly does not acknowledge or understand. Radicals who use terms like white settler and cis-gender-entitlement to baffle the vulnerable. And who will discard him when he’s no longer of use to them.
Those would be the people who applaud the current PM and his caucus for having equal numbers of women in their ranks— the same PM who fired his prominent female/ indigenous justice minister for insubordination when the RCMP dug too deep. And the same “feminist” women MPs who stood by silently as Trudeau publicly destroyed one of their own to save himself from RCMP scrutiny. Those are the cowards who back the destruction of free speech.
Churchill was prescient about appeasing today’s virtue warriors when he long ago said that appeasers “are like people who feed the crocodile in hopes that the crocodile eats them last.” Chomp.Chomp. Their day is coming.
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Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx