Freedom of choice and appeasing the politically correct

December 11, 2017, 2:30 pm

John Gormley John Gormley

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


In a society whose own cohesion is increasingly threatened by law and policy framed around offense-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—and neither criminal nor liquor laws are violated.

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. Although they have never attended, they believe this kind of show is sexist; it objectifies and sexualizes women, diminishes them and perpetuates rape culture, they say.

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 CBCer 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 Foundation Board’s response seemed reactive, rushed and clumsy, and not befitting the savvy people who sit on this board.

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 they want.

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. When you learn about this, then you should think about the introduction of gaming technologies, as do successful online gaming sites. Today, in essence, a game can be made from any task, and at the same time everything becomes more interesting and useful.

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.