“Sometimes a scandal isn’t just a scandal, but a biopsy of a society,” said the British author Douglas Murray earlier this year. This apercu was coined in his reporting on the scandal that involved the indomitable philosopher, Roger Scruton, who was fired from his position in the British government for things he never said. This was the product of the crafty editing skills of George Eaton, who distorted Scruton’s responses to make him look like all kinds of politically incorrect bugaboos.
Though the context and character are different, Murray’s phrase can apply to the non-ceremonial ousting of Canada’s beloved curmudgeon, Don Cherry. His defenestration carries with it all the great features of the perfect cancelling. One of them is perhaps the most aggravating: false outrage over things that a few years ago might have disturbed the overly sensitive, but the effects would have been momentary. It would have blown over after a day or two. People would have quickly gained their composure and moved on and left the octogenarian to his work, which many Canadians enjoy. And yes, his cantankerous demeanour is among the many reasons why this has been the case for decades.
I’m the daughter of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. I’ve also made a name for myself by promoting an all-meat diet (The Lion Diet) for the last two years. This diet, I believe, healed my medically-uncontrollable autoimmune disease. Hence, I know a thing or two about trolls. Trolls are a bipartisan problem, and we need to know how to deal with them.
It started with my dad when he went viral in 2016 due to his stance on preferred pronouns (Bill C16 in Canada). His principled stance led international notoriety and fame. It was the left that first came after him. The onslaught was an attempt to put him in a box—who was Jordan Peterson? We’ve had the terms alt-right, male-chauvinist, free speech warrior, an anti-trans rights conservative thrown around a lot. Some even compared him to Hitler. None of that was remotely accurate—he just thinks people’s lives would be improved if they told the truth. Most manifestations were online, but some were quite real—we’ve had posters put up around our neighbourhood with a “warning” sign and his face on them.
I wouldn’t call the people who did this trolls. While they were certainly out to harm his reputation, their key driver was fear. They were also devoid of a sense of humour.
Trolls use humour, or most of them do. There are funny ones who tease, ones that make memes, satirical trolls (see Titania McGrath), those who push boundaries, but there are also trolls who see someone struggling and take that opportunity to add in a bit more suffering. There are trolls who are really just damaged individuals, and instead of taking that hurt and thinking, “I’ve experienced pain and the world would be a better place if there was less of that,” they think, “I’ve experienced pain and that wasn’t fair, so everyone else should suffer as I did.”
The left is interesting insofar as they claim to discourage bullying, but there are many vicious bullies among them. My father was attacked without an ounce of humour, initially. After the left had their fill, there was backlash from the right when they realized he didn’t really fit into their box, either. Some just poked fun at my dad—particularly with memes which we quite enjoyed. But there were also those who psychopathically hid behind their keyboards and looked for any sign of weakness to exploit, just because they were bored.
The internet has had a field day with my story, and how could it not? “Single Mother—Daughter of the Custodian of the Patriarchy—Touts An All Meat Diet To Cure Disease.” There couldn’t be an easier target. I had a vegan YouTuber send his 300k+ vegans after me at the same time as a former U.S. comedian with a large (legitimately) alt-right audience, sent his. The barrage of malice and ridicule was overwhelming. I reached a point where I couldn’t laugh it off anymore.
Then someone published a book about my diet claiming to be Jordan and I. It was listed in the Toxicology section of Amazon. Definitely a troll, somewhat annoying, but at least it was a little funny, and brought my sense of humour back. I bought one of the books just to have around. That all happened in a two week period, at the same time as my Dad entered rehab (at least partly due to the stress of being attacked from all angles for the last three years). This is what a well-permeated troll culture can achieve.
So how did we get here? Well, a couple of things have led to this troll culture we live in. The first was the uniting power of the internet. Most people are fairly agreeable, or society wouldn’t function. Disagreeable people (mostly men), being a statistical minority, have a hard time getting along with others, and trolling in real life can have very immediate consequences. However, if you say something provocative online, it’s from behind a screen so there really isn’t much danger. You venture out to different corners of the internet, trolling, until you find your little group with relatively few repercussions. It’s these communities of disagreeable, rather malicious individuals that can self-organize towards attacking a particular person or idea.
The far left has—and still is—trying to shut down our ability to tease each other, and joke in real life. One of the reasons teasing is fun is because it is provocative—a safe means for pushing boundaries. However, the logic of the far left resembles something like “if something is provocative, then it is mean, and if it is mean, it needs to be stopped.”
There’s no nuance. Comedians are getting censored, for God’s sake. Comedians. They’re professional jokers and they’re getting censored. What type of message does that send? That you don’t know have a right to judge what is offensive or non-offensive anymore? For example, I was part of a Facebook group where someone demanded a trigger warning before talking about renovations, just in case someone couldn’t afford to do the same renovations. And they were dead serious. How could a disagreeable person, especially one with a support group not attack that? Hell, I couldn’t even help it, and I was a pregnant woman at the time.
I believe that by striving for tolerance and conformity, the left both bred new trolls and made them much more influential by removing real-world competition. When trolling first started it would have been a few disagreeable individuals, but now anyone with a sense of humour can be considered a troll. Since society can’t handle comedians anymore, we now have trolls to poke fun at us and see how far we can be pushed. Some are funny. Some push too far, but, is it because they are, perhaps, getting pushed themselves? At least partly.
This is what happens when people aren’t allowed to tease each other, and discussions are literally banned. Combine that with digital impunity and a loyal fan club for the most vicious trolls… What do we expect? We can’t really fight back. And you know what? That’s okay. Just like a comedian is defined by the response of his or her audience, so is the influence of a troll defined by the attention they can stir up.
So I’ll end with a few suggestions coming from years of experience dealing with trolls.
- Do not engage. They will say anything to get a response. Ignore them. There’s no winning against someone trying to make the world a worse place.
- Laugh it off. Try and see the humour in it. Instead of taking offence. Our culture is more and more devoid of poking fun at stressful situations and we should be trying to increase that wherever we can. How else do you deal with the brutality of life? Humour is key. Even if that’s making fun of my family and my ridiculous diet.
- Support free speech in real life. If we want to limit trolling on the internet, we should make trolling more acceptable in the real world. The more free speech is shut down, the more comedians are censored, and the more disagreeable people are silenced, the stronger this troll culture will get.
Try not to take yourself too seriously. And have a steak.
“You people” were supposed to be Cherry’s last words but they weren’t.
Once again, cancel culture missed the mark.
Mainstream media still hasn’t gotten the memo that podcasting will eventually be their demise. If you got fired for something you said on a network twenty years ago you were pretty much out of options for reaching the public on a mass scale after that.
Twenty years ago, people weren’t getting fired for misspeaking or a controversial opinion so it wasn’t a big issue. These days, everybody on a network starts out on thin ice and there they stay. What is interesting, however, is that as the networks continue to tighten up their leashes the technology for an open and honest dialogue is expanding. Anybody can start a professional sounding podcast for no more than a couple hundred dollars. It’s a one time fee and you’re set for life.
So it’s no surprise that the canning of Cherry from Sportsnet won’t be the last time his fans will get to hear from him. The downside of Cherry’s new podcast is that there is no video to see him in his flambuoyant suits and it’s missing his once-loyal sidekick, Ron MacLean.
That being said, the podcast feels like you are in the living room with Grapes. So at a moment in time when the mainstream media would have you believe that Cherry is just a loud, obnoxious one-trick pony, listeners are actually now getting a calm, lucid and sentimental Don. He talks with his son and daughter on the podcast about all things hockey.
The first podcast saw Cherry briefly address the firing but he didn’t seem bitter about it, “when one door closes, another opens,” he said. Then it was back to hockey. Cherry shared an old interview between himself and the man of hockey folklore – Maurice “The Rocket” Richard.
In another episode, Cherry recounts his dog, Blue, getting into it with a skunk and having to wash out the stench with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, then it was back to discussing hockey.
One can only suspect that Cherry, 85, is going to put more money into the podcast and get a small studio up and running. There’s no shortage of legendary players both past and present who would want to be guests on Grapevine 2.0.
If Ron MacLean remains a good boy perhaps Sportsnet will even let him go on as a guest one of these days. And why wouldn’t they? Grapevine 2.0 was the number one podcast in the country two weeks ago, beating out the Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan’s podcast averages approximately a billion downloads annually so it’s no small feat to top him in Canada, if only momentarily.
Grapevine 2.0 has remained in the top ten streamed podcasts in Canada since its inception. I guess some people still really like Cherry after all.
A popular parody account has been suspended from Twitter following outrage by one of the largest media outlets in the world. The man behind Shaniqua O’Tool, an account that had over 15,000 followers at the time of suspension, says The Guardian forced Twitter to censor comedy.
He spoke to The Post Millennial to reveal details on the campaign waged by The Guardian against his satirical tweets. While his identity is known to The Post Millennial, it is being withheld for reasons of privacy.
Starting as a Godfrey Elfwick-styled account, the account owner says the Shaniqua O’Tool character was meant to “poke fun at both the far-left and the far-right.” He says the name was inspired by the 2003 single “Shaniqua don’t live here no more” by Little T and One Track Mike.
The account’s owner points out the existence of a Twitter account dedicated to compiling the Guardian’s most meme-able headlines, including one where Guardian columnist Abi Wilkinson suggests the “tears of joy emoji” mocks human suffering.
“Some of [The Guardian’s] headlines bordered on insanity, so I felt it was worthy of satire.” He says. In 2017, he began posting edited Guardian headlines with Shaniqua’s face photoshopped in as the columnist.
Some of Shaniqua’s antics were so indiscernible from authentic Guardian headlines that they attracted the attention of outraged media outlets. Gateway Pundit wrote an article decrying Shaniqua as an “ISIS sympathizer” for her headline on police needing to learn the importance of spotting a “fake suicide vest” before shooting. The Gateway Pundit article, which claimed to have read the non-existent Shaniqua column, was quickly deleted.
“I mocked [Gateway Pundit] for it,” the account owner says, “and when my headlines caught conservative commentator Katie Hopkins off guard, I mocked her for it too.” He says, asserting that his satire was bipartisan. However, he notes that there was a difference in how people of different political orientations handled being the target of his comedy.
“It is a consistent and recurring pattern over the last few years that if you poke fun at conservative or right-leaning people, they tend to just go with the joke or ignore you. If you poke fun at left-wing people, my experience is very different. They report you, verbally attack you, mobilize their followers to report and block, and ensure your name is added as a ‘Nazi’ to block lists.”
On November 29th, 2019, the account received a copyright strike notice from Twitter. The claim was apparently filed by Guardian editor Tom Stevens, who wrote that Shaniqua’s infringement was “pretending to be a Guardian writer. The tweets are fake and offensive.”
The claims were made through Twitter’s copyright system, which is intended to protect the rightful owners of intellectual property. Prior to completing a claim within this system, a complainant must acknowledge that they considered “Fair Use” laws, and accept responsibility for damages in the event they misrepresented fair use material as infringement.
Fair Use is a provision which states that copyrighted work can be utilized if the use is sufficiently transformative. According to the University of Minnesota, transformative content uses original work in a “completely new or unexpected way,” and lists parody as being the clearest example of “transformative content.”
In the case of Shaniqua, the account was not utilizing anything more than the template of Guardian headlines. The headlines themselves, lede, and photo were original.
In 2017, Buzzfeed called Twitter’s copyright system “hair-trigger,” and stated that “a copyright violation from a major media company is the surest way to lose access to one’s account.”
The Guardian filed two subsequent copyright claims on December 2nd, and the account was suspended the same day. In the claim, Guardian editor Tom Stevens writes “Becoming a serious problem now. Please take appropriate action.”
After the news of the Guardian‘s apparent campaign against Shaniqua surfaced, Twitter users began posting their own parodies of Guardian headlines using the hashtag #trollingtheguardian
Prior to getting suspended, the man behind Shaniqua attempted to open dialogue with Guardian media editor Jim Waterson, but his direct messages were not returned.
“He never replied, presumably, because he knew my days on Twitter were numbered.”
While appeals on copyright strikes are possible, the account owner says he was discouraged from doing so as it would mean providing consent for Twitter to share his personal information with The Guardian. Fearing harassment or a lawsuit, he did not appeal.
“It’s clear they don’t like being mocked,” he says, “I was followed en mass by Guardian journalists [the day of my suspension]. Being followed suddenly like that was deeply unnerving. It felt like they were letting me know they were watching me.”
The account owner has filed an appeal with Twitter over the account’s suspension but has not heard back as of publication.
The Post Millennial reached out to The Guardian but has not heard back by the time of publication.
It began with Grapes but the end is uncertain. Don Cherry’s now infamous “You People” rant was the match that lit the fire.
The Social’s Jessica Allen took Cherry’s comments and ran regaling us with memories of her formative years and how those stories can be applied to all hockey players across the country and fans of the game alike.
Akim Aliu, a Nigerian-born NHL player, came out against former coach Bill Peters recently. Talking via social media about an incident where Peters used racial epithets a decade earlier while he was playing for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Since the post, many other former players of Peters have come forward as well with stories of his unprofessional conduct and controversial coaching style. Peters stepped down Friday as coach of the Calgary Flames.
Daniel Carcillo is leading a twitter brigade against abuse within the organizations of Hockey Canada and the NHL. He has been encouraging other players to do the same and they haven’t wasted any time. Dozens of former players from the NHL, OHL, WHL and minor league have come forward with similar stories of abuse. The University of Lethbridge has had six female hockey players make a formal complaint with the University’s human resources department asking for their coach Michelle Janus to be fired for several instances of bullying, although the details remain unclear. So far the university has decided to keep Janus as Coach of the school team.
Several former players have come out against the Sutter family as well, including Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich and Ron. The entire family all played at one time in the NHL before moving on to team management or becoming coaches themselves. One player has suggested that this has given the Sutter boys almost a Royal Family status amongst the NHL and Hockey Canada, and that has made them extremely powerful so no one has had their voice heard up to this point or dared to speak up. The Sutters have not yet made a comment on the (at this point) vague allegations.
The complaints against some individuals in the professional hockey world have ranged from sexual and physical abuse to hazing and underage drinking.
Rookie parties have come under fire as a haven for toxic behaviour. Carcillo posted a photo from an alleged rookie party where the rookies were forced to wear dresses and drink alcohol while some were still underage. The faces of the players have been blurred out, leaving only their beer toting, dress wearing bodies.
To me, the photo looks suspect. The erased faces could be to protect the identity of the players posing, it may also be to conceal any expressions of amusement, one can’t say for sure.
I played hockey until I was about twelve years old and then quit because that is about the time it all starts to get very serious. I can’t speak first hand about such experiences so it’s hard for me to determine whose side I’m on in all of this. I’m sure the incidents range from a tyrannical, abusive coaches to hypersensitive players upset about the typical masculine and jocular behaviour of jocks. My gut tells me both, and that many heads are about to roll, some that should and some that shouldn’t.
I just hope we won’t all lose our heads in the process and crucify the innocent.
‘Tis the season of the witch hunt and in the era of social media, the concept of dealing with things on a case by case basis seems to be a difficult task to ask of the average Twitter user, who instead make everything black and white.
Time will tell just what’s in store for the nation’s favourite past time.