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No Hockey For You!

Posted 06-26-2014 at 07:30 AM by Grandma Bates
Updated 06-26-2014 at 01:18 PM by Grandma Bates (cuz some people might not assume it means hockey....)

Yesterday the president of the University of Ottawa announced that the men's hockey team's 2014-1015 schedule has been cancelled. This decision is the result of allegations of sexual assault that occured last year when the team played in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Few details have been stated publicly. There are indications, however, that three students are accused of taking part in the incident, and the coach tried to take steps to limit the team's exposure to the allegations.

The coach has been fired, and the team will not play hockey next year. Listening on the radio this morning and watching the news last night sounded like the initial focus is on how unfair this is for the team members who were not involved. The CBC is trying to give balance to the point of view of the other players.

Some of these players have hired lawyers because they feel that the situation is unfair. They feel that they have been defamed and unfairly labelled as "rapists." This may well be true. At the same time they have benefited from a culture that worships their athletic accomplishments, and now they are exposed to an ugly aspect they quite vocally complain about "fairness."

There is another group that has no representation and no lawyers. When the victims of abuse complain about fairness they do so with little support and are too often alone. So far their voice is unheard in this situation.

There is another aspect that I, personally have found troubling. When I listened to the radio this morning it struck me that the language used by the representatives and supporters of the hockey players was simple, straightforward, and direct. They speak forcefully in simple terms using words like "fair" and "justice." When the point of view of the victims of abuse is heard the verbiage is often stilted and complex. Great care is used to avoid confronting the delicate sensibilities of others and too much effort is expended to avoid the broader issues including a simple call to fairness and justice.

The recent, rapid expansion of frank talk on social networks around these issues is encouraging. The question is when will the broader media pay attention and start covering these issues in the same way using the same language. It is not complicated.

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