Freedom of Speech does not equal Freedom of Bullying - Yes Boomers I'm calling spades for spades

Agatha Farmer

I wasn't going to write about this issue as it really does not directly affect Muskoka, however upon reading the mountain of opinions on social media from my own posts about Don Cherry and others, I changed my mind and it very much does.

I'm not even going to take this from the angle of the fact that I immigrated to this country with my parents in 1990 and so as an immigrant I might have been insulted. To that end I wear a poppy every year, in fact usually several. I have also been educated by my own parents to understand from a very young age that it was the allies in WWII who forced Hilter to surrender. I'm as thankful for the Canadians, British and Americans who sacrificed their lives and continue to do so till this day for human freedom as is the next Canadian, Brit or American. It's ok I didn't take Cherry's rant personally, as I learned a long time ago that people like Don Cherry no longer have the ability to offend me as their perception isn't about me but themselves.

If it makes Don Cherry feel morally superior to others by wearing his poppy then who am I to stand in his way. I'm going to take this from the angle of simple bullying and why Sportsnet led by example and did not condone his behaviour.

Children are dying by suicide in record numbers, if mental health was a nominee in an award ceremony it would sweep all the categories. A boy died in Hamilton just two weeks ago, I will state again, he was just a boy, a son who was killed in front of his mother by bullies. A kid lost his life because other kids didn't like him because he wasn't like them. As much as we have tried to eradicate bullying in schools, work places, and society in general it's still alive and we have not accomplished enough.

It's alive and kicking because the generation before us can't seem to adjust to societal evolution, the concept of acceptance and finally change. Kids are not born with hate, they learn it, it's taught behaviour. I'll give an example from my delightful afternoon conversation with my son yesterday following over hearing a conversation he was a part of with his friends. The statement I heard; "They come over to our country and we take care of them and this is what happens." Now the word "They" obviously implies a group of individuals, my kid knows I was an immigrant to this country. In his head when his friends refer to 'they" am I included? Do they even understand what they are saying or is it being regurgitated from what they are hearing around them? You can see from a very direct example the power of statements and how they are internalized. As a parent my kids obviously absorb enough in the real world I don't need TV personalities adding to it.

Statements defending Cherry yesterday like "he just says it like it is" or "we can't speak the truth anymore" and my favourite "what happened to freedom of speech?" enable bullying.

So listen up Boomers and those of you who seem to believe that he speaks his truth. Your truth is not the same truth as the person next to you. Walk a mile in their shoes and maybe your truth will change and maybe it won't but don't force it. Freedom of speech no longer gives you freedom to bully or LGBTQ rights wouldn't have evolved. Oh there is that word again evolving. On that same note Cherry was an employee of Sportsnet and they as his employer have the right to disagree with his truth and have their own definition of freedom of speech . Kind of like when the CBC disagreed on the definition of rough sex with Ghomeshi.

As for saying it like it is, here is what that looks like to some, you be the judge of if "saying it like it is" does not make you sound like an arrogant - I'll let you fill in the rest.

Facebook commentator Diana Themyscira replied to a news organization post regarding Cherry's firing. Her post stated:

"He implied that immigrants don't wear poppies ...Don chose to use hateful, divisive, language on the job. The customers spoke up and so did his co-workers. The employer made the right decision."

Facebook user Joe Fuller replies with the following to Themyscira's comment; " Implying is not admissible in court so shut the fuck up." He then responds to another comment by stating "He's like me old school, we call it like it is."

Well Joe here is the difference between 1989 and 2019; Mental Health is an actual thing, why you ask because half of our generation is still dealing with PTSD from what you call "old school", the other half is trying to wrap our head around how to be environmentally conscious since "old school" has given us and our children till 2050 to live on a planet which after that date might become hostile to our existence. Also blacks and gays are no longer lynched on the streets and considered human beings, and oh as are women. Public hangings and stoning also have gone by the wayside way before 1989. But I guess if we never evolved and continually played the "old school" way we would all be living in the dark ages.

Spanking your secretaries ass was also considered "old school" behaviour that will now get you jail time, ask Mr. Cosby. Why? Because women decided that "old school" should evolve.

Cherry equally as archaic as Joe it seems needs to evolve because stereotyping other humans and segregating them into "you people" is history repeating itself if you know what I mean. Ask a holocaust survivor how they feel about the statement "you people." By forcing others to do as he sees fit by publicly embarrassing them is the furthest sentiment from what Remebrance Day stands for.

Cherry did an incredible disservice to the same veterans he claims to love and support. Sportsnet did what every other place of employment or a school would do in 2019, they stayed on the side of human decency by not allowing one individual to bully others. Sportsnet is leading by example and refused to continue providing a platform for division. This example should be noted by every principal and employer in Muskoka and across Canada.

Let's keep evolving into a better society with less insults and more collaboration, so maybe one day we can actually accomplish some epic shit my fellow Millennials, Gen -Xers, and Centennials.

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