Sean Avery and the Question of Tolerance

Political Correctness rears its ugly head in the hockey world.

Reprinted from

The virus that is Political Correctness has reared its ugly head in, of all places, the hockey world last  week.

Yes, hockey.  That region of the sports world almost immune to political rantings.  Rarely do we hear from players regarding their political opinions.  In most cases, that's welcome because we simply want to be entertained, transported from our daily lives by the world's greatest sport.

Other times, it's interesting to hear what players think, and on rare occasions, we do. For example, some players--such as Andrew Ference--have committed themselves to "green" initiatives which have a political component to go along with its scientific underpinnings. Global Warming's tenets are entirely debatable, but Ference is well-intended.

It's simply rare to hear from hockey players on politics, and again, it's entertainment, so perhaps it's for the best, even though it is interesting to hear from players on non-hockey topics.  In general, it's all mum on politics when it comes to shinny.

Enter Sean Avery.

No stranger to the spotlight, Avery's--ahem--vibrant personality has made him the center of attention in a variety of thorny incidents.

Whether waving his stick in goaltender Martin Brodeur's face like a teenage loony bin escapee or disparaging a young actress with a dismissive "sloppy seconds" remark that made blood run cold among League executives, Avery has never failed to supply a side show of embarrassing proportions.  Over the past year or so, Avery toned down his act, most likely because he is now coached by John Tortorella, who doesn't indulge or suffer fools.


In a courageous move that should be applauded, Avery filmed a public service announcement for New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, a campaign organized by Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights organization.

Other PSA's include messages from talk show host Larry King, former First Lady Barbara Bush, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Mayor Ed Koch, and many other luminaries.  Avery is in legitimate company.

This bold, taboo-breaking move by Avery takes courage, whether you agree with him or not (I agree with Avery on this one: It's none of this writer's business who wants to marry).

The testosterone-driven hockey locker room isn't the kind of place one would expect such talk.  But hey, it's 2011, not 1961, not 1911.  Gay, Lesbian and Transgender people have worked long and hard for acceptance, especially in the years since the famous Stonewall Riots (1969), and Avery sticking his neck out on their behalf is courageous and welcome.


There's been little public opposition to Avery's stance, save for some comments in opposition to Avery's stance from Todd Reynolds, an NHLPA-certified player agent from Uptown Sports Management.  Uptown represents NHLers including Jonathan Bernier, Andrew Brunette, Kyle Clifford, Carlo Colaiacovo, Andrew Desjardins, Mike Fisher, Cody McCormick and Chris Neil.

"Very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support of same-gender 'marriage,' legal or not, it will always be wrong." wrote Reynolds via Twitter.

"It is not intolerance in any way shape or form," Reynolds said in an attempt to clarify what he meant in the face of the backlash which followed his comments. "I believe we are all equal...but I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. This is my personal viewpoint. I do not hate anyone."

Let's be clear: There are no anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-black, anti-white, anti-insert-your-favorite-color/flavor-here, anti-woman or anti-any-group-on-Earth comments here.  But PC media bullying says there is, and in the Orwellian world in which the PC-crowd runs, well, as George himself said, "Some are more equal than others."

At its core, the virus of Political Correctness is a viewpoint that certain groups are allowed to say certain things, and certain groups are not.  Certain groups are legitimate subjects for jokes, certain groups are not.  Which group is fashionable at any particular time changes depending on elitist opinion in concert with political winds.

The strangest thing about Political Correctness: Political Correctness does not tolerate diversity of opinion, and the people who are preaching “tolerance” practice no such thing.

It's impossible for the PC-crowd to disagree without smearing the opposition.  Smear them and they'll call you a "McCarthyite".  But when the PC-crowd smears you, it's fair game.

The feeling that the PC virus engenders is one of fear: Fear of being smeared.  Fear of being misrepresented.

To challenge a totem issue of the PC-crowd is to be tarred a racist, sexist, a homophobe.  What's worse, as evidenced by the spineless corporate weasels at Rogers Sportsnet, you could lose your job for simply stating an opposing view.

"I'm a little disappointed in some of the response," said Reynolds according to the Canadian Press. "If you oppose a viewpoint, you're immediately targeted by some people as a hater, a bigot, intolerant, homophobic and many other terms. That's obviously not the case for people who know me. I don't hate anyone and I'm certainly not a bigot."

Reynolds is absolutely spot-on right about his treatment.

It's not enough for Avery's supporters to engage in an argument with an opponent.  The opponent must be smeared, branded a bigot or something similar that reeks of "untouchable" and fired if possible, as in the case of Damian Goddard, an anchor at a popular Canadian sports TV network.

"I completely and whole-heartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage," said Goddard on his personal Twitter account.

Since we live in a tweeter-licious age, the TV network joined the fray, the virus of political correctness striking fear in their corporate hearts.

"Today's tweet from Damian Goddard does not reflect the views of Rogers Sportsnet," an entirely fair statement from Rogers.  But that wasn't enough.  The next day, Goddard was fired for his views.


Entirely motivated by fear, Mr. Rashford and the gutless corporate suits he represents know that this is entirely politically motivated.   Rashford issued a tepid statement on behalf of his bosses.  In a statement, Sportsnet spokesman Rashford said: "Mr. Goddard was a freelance contractor and in recent weeks it had become clear that he is not the right fit for our organization."

First sign of a corporate coward: Rashford states that "in recent weeks" Goddard was "not the right fit."  Yeah, sure.  This is entirely attributable to events of recent days, not weeks.  That's obvious.

Second sign of a corporate coward: Rashford relays that Goddard was "a freelance contractor" so that he can worm his way out of association with the subject of his smear.

Rogers Sportsnet is bound by the concept of free speech and inquiry; of objectivity, but I don't see any of Avery's supporters being fired, nor should they be.  It's a double standard.

It's worth noting that neither Mr. Goddard nor Mr. Reynolds said anything hateful toward gay people.  No matter to the PC cops: Goddard lost his job.  Fear wins.  Shut your mouth if you have something unfashionable to say.

Goddard’s firing is an absolute shame, executed by people who hide behind the Trojan horse of a “Tolerance” that they do not practice.  I pray that Goddard has a good lawyer, because Rogers deserves a fight.

Sad to see Sean Avery's brave act against intolerance be upstaged by intolerance itself.

So much for tolerance.

Avery's PSA can be viewed online.