Friday, February 06, 2004

The Seven Second Solution

Football in the USA had the nipple that popped out this week, Hockey in Canada gave us the mouth that popped off. As the Orwellian like language bureaucrats of Canada continue their investigation of the syntax, pronunciation and content of Don Cherry's vocabulary, the CBC has made it's own moves to muzzle the mouth of Grapes.

In a decision announced earlier today, Harold Reddekopp, executive vice-president of CBC television, said that the network would put Mr. Cherry on a seven second delay after he made "inappropriate and reprehensible personal comments" during a broadcast on January 24th.

Cherry's remarks, a tailing off line about players "who wear visors are usually European or the French guys", has created a storm of outrage in some quarters. Columnists and commentators in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, have expressed concern over the latest behavior of Mr. Cherry. The Language Commissioner herself jumped into the fray, Dyane Adam said the issue was important enough for her to investigate. Though it's not exactly clear how this is an issue of concern for the Government watchdog on Official Languages, and whether it justifies the attention of two of the departments thirty Language detectives.

Not to be outdone, parliamentarians have jumped into the debate. Bloc Quebecois MP's called Cherry a racist, Denis Coderre the Liberal cabinet minister for La Francophonie said he was fed up with Cherry. Jack Layton, leader of the NDP also got into things, expressing annoyance at the implications of Mr. Cherry's words.

While not to belittle the controversy, don't these people have much more important things to worry about? Is Canada in such wonderful shape at the moment, that our elected officials can waste time debating the latest five minutes of Coachs' Corner? Yes, Don Cherry says very politically incorrect things, he can be rude, loud and bombastic, he can be a boor, a stuffed shirt and come across as someone totally out of touch with current day Canada. But to paint him as a racist, one thinks not. Cherry has made a living out of controversy, over the years he's been on the hot seat over many of his comments. People either love him or they hate him, but they all have one thing in common, they can turn the channel when he comes on.

He obviously, would be best to leave his personal commentary on non hockey related issues to himself. The safe and controversy free path would be to stick to matters of the actual game of hockey. But every Saturday night, nearly a million (sometimes nearly three million) hockey fans tune in to watch and listen. So somebody must find some interest in his opinions. To have this so called issue dragged out as it has, is insulting to the majority of Canadians who watch television. Surely to God we can be trusted to make our own decisions about the validity of an opinion, without the guidance of politicians and the bureaucrats they employ.

Cherry is an employee of the CBC, which the last time I checked was supposed to be an independent institution. One supposedly free from governmental interference. It has a president, who in this case has made a decision to institute a delay of seven seconds, on all future appearances of Coach's corner. Though it would be of interest to know who has control of the delay button and what the list of words are that may get Cherry bleeped. Perhaps the CBC could publish them on their website, or as a way to raise money for the network make the little "Grape" book available for purchase.

Normally a radio or television station puts these delay mechanisms in place to protect the station from the ramblings of their callers, in this case it appears to be to protect them from the ramblings of the host.

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