How quickly we cave to the noisy com­plain­ers

Regina Leader-Post - - OPINION - JOHN GORMLEY

In a so­ci­ety whose own co­he­sion is in­creas­ingly threat­ened by law and policy framed around of­fence-tak­ing and hurt feel­ings, a Saska­toon con­tro­versy raises ques­tions about free­dom, choice and ap­peas­ing the nois­i­est com­plain­ers.

For decades, the Saska­toon branch of the Cana­dian Progress Club has raised mil­lions of dol­lars for good causes, mainly to sup­port chil­dren in the in­ner city.

One of the club’s sev­eral fundrais­ers ev­ery year is “Boys Lunch Out,” a fash­ion show of scant­ily clad women mod­el­ling lin­gerie for a large, mainly male au­di­ence. Noth­ing about this is il­le­gal — ei­ther for the mod­els or at­ten­dees. First point on choice: If you like this fundraiser and its goals, at­tend it. If you don’t, stay home.

I’ve never at­tended it be­cause it just doesn’t ap­peal to me; never has. This is how adults make de­ci­sions, based on choice, from at­tend­ing ladies’ fire­fighter nights or “Thun­der Down Un­der” or, for that mat­ter, whether the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret “fash­ion” shows get TV time.

A hand­ful of so­cial jus­tice ac­tivists, par­tic­u­larly on Face­book and Twit­ter, have loudly com­plained for years about Boys Lunch Out be­cause it of­fends them. They be­lieve this kind of show ob­jec­ti­fies and sex­u­al­izes women, di­min­ishes them and per­pet­u­ates rape cul­ture.

Sec­ond point on choice: Be of­fended. Or not.

The newly re-mon­e­tized CBC is no piker when it comes to iden­tity pol­i­tics, var­i­ous “isms,” class strug­gle and angst of the per­pet­u­ally of­fended. So, one of the state broad­caster’s so­cial jus­tice ac­tivists-cum-jour­nal­ists did a story highly crit­i­cal of the fundraiser.

Third point on choice: The me­dia chooses which sto­ries to cre­ate. News con­sumers choose who they trust.

As part of the story, the

CBC then went to var­i­ous char­i­ties sup­ported by the Progress Club, ask­ing why they would take money from this “shock­ing ” event. Most of the char­i­ties de­ferred com­ment, know­ing that gen­er­ally so­cial me­dia-stoked fires don’t burn long when de­prived of fuel.

The St. Paul’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion, whose prostate cancer fundrais­ing ef­forts have re­ceived $25,000 from the club over the years, was wisely non­com­mit­tal, say­ing that it did not po­lice donors.

Within a day, the foun­da­tion board quickly rolled over, say­ing it con­ducted “fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion” and that fundrais­ing through the Boys Lunch Out was “not in keep­ing with our hos­pi­tal and Foun­da­tion’s Catholic val­ues” and agreed to re­fund the Progress Club’s $25,000 paid dur­ing the last five years.

Be­sides not know­ing which of the Progress Club’s fundrais­ing events the hos­pi­tal donations came from, the board’s re­sponse seemed re­ac­tive, rushed and clumsy, and not be­fit­ting the savvy peo­ple who sit on it.

Rather than find­ing a so­lu­tion by pulling peo­ple to­gether, tak­ing time, slow­ing things down and let­ting the so­cial me­dia hys­ter­ics abate, the St. Paul’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion seemed to quickly knuckle un­der to a small and vo­cal group of ac­tivists.

Then it was con­firmed by in­sid­ers that the board had lit­tle choice in the mat­ter and was ac­tu­ally in­structed by

the new bishop of Saska­toon, Van­cou­ver-born and raised Mark Hage­moen — he of pre­cisely 12 days on the job — to do what they did.

Fourth point on choice: Any char­ity can ac­cept or re­ject donations for any rea­son.

It is more than ironic, just in case it eluded the new bishop, that many of the same key­board war­riors who make no fi­nan­cial donations to any­one and mock or­ga­nized re­li­gion, are usu­ally par­tic­u­larly dis­parag­ing of the Catholic faith and its moral po­si­tions. And yet, these ac­tivists get quickly kow­towed to and ap­peased.

Many peo­ple have tired of the non-stop pa­rade of so­cial me­dia nar­cis­sism, po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and man­u­fac­tured outrage where ev­ery slight must be ac­com­mo­dated.

There is a fifth point of choice here, as ob­servers ask the old Dr. Phil ques­tion to St. Paul’s Hos­pi­tal: “So, how’s this work­ing for you?” The an­swer may come from donors.

John Gormley is a broad­caster, lawyer, au­thor and former Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MP whose ra­dio talk show is heard week­days from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on 650 CKOM Saska­toon and 980 CJME Regina.

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