By WILLIAM HOUSTON
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Don Cherry appears to have influence, even in matters of gay rights.
Taking Cherry's lead, the CBC announced yesterday it has reversed its position on the use of the term "pansification."
In a letter to The Globe and Mail, Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports, states that commentators will not be allowed to use the word.
"[W]hile we're not generally inclined either to censor the language or views presented on Hockey Night in Canada, we've decided to refrain from using that word in future," Moore says in the letter.
The network came under fire this week from the Ottawa-based gay advocacy group Egale Canada. It protested the term, which was used by Hockey Night personalities to describe how the NHL game would be softened by changes designed to prohibit fighting.
In an interview with The Globe two days ago, Cherry said he would never use the word.
"I'm smarter than that," the Hockey Night commentator said. "I know right away you don't fool with those guys, a group like that."
Cherry also said he supported gay initiatives.
The initial response by CBC Sports was to state that the word was not intended to be a slur against homosexuals and that commentators were free to decide whether to continue to use the word.
However, Moore, in his letter to The Globe, states: "Upon reflection, we're going to take Don Cherry's sage advice on this one. While, as we originally said, absolutely no offence was intended, we recognize we've offended some and for that we're sorry."
Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, said: "That's really good news. One of our big concerns was that pansy is a word used regularly to bully young boys."
Pansification was the invention of Hockey Night commentator Mike Milbury and repeated by host Ron MacLean. Cherry alluded to the term once, but did not say the word.