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Discrimination: Easy to Point Fingers

MONTREAL - NOVEMBER 5: Interior view of the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens taken on November 5, 2002 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
Rocket All HabsCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2010

posted by Rocket
All Habs

I said that I wouldn't do this. This is not an easy article to write and one that will undoubtedly draw some negative comments. However, there seems to be an appetite for a continuing discussion of the events that occurred during the game on Thursday night.

In my opinion, the two guys who turned up at the Bell Centre in blackface and costume have already received more than enough attention.

Do the two deserve criticism? Absolutely! They have received universal condemnation, and deservedly so.

But, if their intent was to offend, the last thing that should be done is to repost the photo of their faces everywhere to assist with the mission.

Having said that, I don't believe that their intent was to be hurtful. It appears that it was a botched attempt to show their support for P.K. Subban. That statement shouldn't be misinterpreted as excusing their behaviour.

The lads have been labelled as racists for their actions. I'm not sure that I'm ready to make that call simply based on their poor choice of costume. They are certainly guilty of being insensitive, and ignorant to how their actions would be received.

Did they really have racist intentions or is it a case of terrible judgment and overzealous support of Subban?

I understand that the two guys called a Montreal radio station on Friday morning to explain themselves. I did not hear their comments directly so will refrain from offering an opinion.

It is somewhat ironic to me that this discussion is taking place in a province where discrimination is built into its legislation restricting personal freedoms and choices under the guise of protection of culture and language. But let's not wade into that political debate. That's a topic for a different forum.

I will state, however, that I am equally disturbed by self-righteous comments from so many who are quick to point fingers but blind to less obvious forms of discrimination that surround them everyday.

People outside of Montreal have taken a 'never in my backyard' stance to somehow assert their moral superiority.

Some in Montreal have taken it upon themselves to criticize their fellow media members for putting the two guys on camera during the television broadcast. Apparently they fail to see the hypocrisy that their criticism appears next to a photo on their website placed with the knowledge that it will drive traffic to their site.

It seems to me that we should be careful not to overlook more subtle but more dangerous forms of discrimination. That is to say, shouldn't less obvious prejudices with a root of ill-intent be more disturbing than two jokers who did something stupid without malice?

On the very night of the blackface incident, there was an interesting exchange between two veteran reporters posted on another Habs' blog site. It was in reference to the excellent play of the two Kostitsyn brothers - Sergei was selected as first star, and Andrei had the winning goal in the shootout - complaining about having to interview the two Belarussians after the game. (Names have been removed)

  • "A game like that," H sighed, "and now we have to interview the Kostitsyn brothers." I didn't stick around the room long enough to hear clichés tumble out of the mouths of Sergei and Andrei in halting English.

I doubt that anyone even blinked reading these comments. Does anyone believe that the two reporters were approaching the interviews in an open and non-judgmental way? Can you imagine the firestorm if the same words were ever said about someone with similar linguistic difficulties from the 'home province'?

I think it's reasonable to state that the Kostitsyns have received less than fair treatment by some fans and the media and that much of it is based on language and ethnicity.

But here's the question: is this discrimination? And is it a more serious deep-rooted form of prejudice than the misguided stunt of two kids?

I'm not sure that I'm ready to pass judgment but the questions deserve attention. Perhaps the outcome of this unfortunate incident should not be to be to pile on and point fingers, but to examine our own less obvious attitudes of prejudice.

Where can I comment?

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