Freedom of Speech…Do we really have it?

Don Cherry was fired by Sportsnet over “you people” rant on Coach’s Corner that appeared every Saturday night at the end of the first period. Mr. Cherry, 85, had singled out new immigrants for not wearing poppies to honour Canada’s veterans and dead soldiers.

Sportsnet said that after discussions with Don Cherry, it had been decided that it was the right time for Mr. Cherry to go. Don Cherry, however, is unrepentant, saying that he meant every word he said.

Is this freedom of speech? Or… are these comments racist?

These comments have opened up a Pandora box, and are the Cherry comments offensive or just one person’s opinion on what he really thinks. Have we gotten too sensitive, or do we need to always be politically correct in this day and age?

The furor in response to Cherry’s comments was so vehement, the Canada Broadcast Standards Council said in a statement their technical processing capacity could not handle the quantity of complaints and stopped taking any further complaints. He obviously hit a nerve with one sector of the community that forced us to take note and maybe consider what we say. There is a silent majority on this issue and other positions, but most people keep their options to themselves and never say anything for not getting criticized for their opinions.

Outrage over Cherry’s words mounted until his dismissal and he says that he was not singling out visible minorities. Yes, he is a hard nose commentator with a very right leaning opinion and on many nights, he would let out what he thought. Whether he was wrong or right, it still does not give us the right to judge him on his opinions.

I do understand that there is a fine line today on what you can say, and Don Cherry’s comments did not warrant him loosing his job. I do believe that he had reached the end of his hockey commentary job and many millennials and women were tuning him out on most nights.

His hockey days were over, but his comments in my opinion were not offensive.

His right and our right to freedom of speech is becoming more controlled by government and the making of new legislation that penalizes you if you say something that is not acceptable by the so called politically correct state. It all speaks to a tighter rein on personal and press freedoms.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provide freedom of expression and press freedom, with some provisos and grey area. While free speech may be legally resending discrimination and promoting gender equality and social harmony, the definition of the punishable crime is vague. Though the Charter promises freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of communication is what we all have in this country.

Don Cherry’s comments in my view falls under this category and we should all be judged under the same rules and regulations that gives us the freedom to speak our minds. Yes, there is a protocol and a respectful time and place to say what you are thinking, but we should all be judged equally.

We cannot allow the government or quasi government agencies like the CBC and others to decide what subjective comments are acceptable and which should land anyone in hot water.

Britain and other countries are taking steps to restore absolute freedom of speech, we should take note of this and continue to be aware of our right to speak what we believe.

Yes, we should be sensitive to certain issues, but let’s not be controlled by special interest groups that pressure our government to sensor us. Look at what’s happening just south of us in the United States, the silent majority is starting to rebel, and the Berkley controlled narrative is not being accepted by all.

Mr. Cherry in the end got fired because he was at the end of his career at Sportsnet and it was also a salary dumb. His million dollars a year for eight minutes a week was most likely the real reason he got fired, but this firing has opened up a bigger picture here and we need to take note and address it, because if we don’t….one day we will be muzzled.

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