Another Cancel Culture Episode In Canada

A retired pro hockey player accused the NHL’s Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters of calling him a “nigger” a decade ago when Peters was coaching him on a minor league team, the Rockford Ice Hogs, an affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. Peters apologized in a letter to the Flames management after the allegations, and two days later was  forced to resign.

The Nigeria-born  player, Akim Aliu, wrote on Twitter  that when he was playing for a minor league team a decade ago, Peters, who is white, “dropped the N bomb several times toward me in the dressing room in my rookie year because he didn’t like my choice of music.” Aliu further said that he “rebelled” against the coach as a result of the episode,, and that Peters retaliated by advising executives to demote Aliu to a lower-level league. The National Hockey League reacted with a statement saying that Peters’s alleged behavior was “repugnant and unacceptable.” The Flames immediately opened an investigation into Aliu’s allegations.

In a letter of apology, Peters wrote in part, “I was rightfully challenged about my use of language, and I immediately returned to the dressing room to apologize to the team. I have regretted the incident since it happened, and I now also apologize to anyone negatively affected by my words.”

Aliu, who played briefly with  the Flames, in  2012 and 2013, refused to accept the letter as sincere. There are, by my count, about 28 black or bi-racial players in the NHL, or a bit fewer than one a team on average.

There is so much I don’t understand about this story, it’s hard to know where to begin.

  • Yesterday Aliu met with NHL brass yesterday. Afterward, he told the press, “They couldn’t have been kinder and receptive to the message that we’re trying to bring. I think there’s just some big change coming and it’s long overdue, and I’m excited to see it come to fruition.” Wait, who is “they”? The NHL released a statement too:

  • Akim Aliu is being called a whistleblower.  If so, that was one slow whistle.

How does reporting an incident that took place ten years ago, in a different league, qualify as whistle-blowing in the NHL?

  • Were there other allegation against the Flames coach in his current job? Did he have a long record of bigotry and mistreating players? If this one late hit by Aliu about what happened with the <cough> Ice Hogs is really the whole thing, why did Aliu act now?

His Wikipedia entry describes him as something of a trouble-maker. Was this just vengeance for a his mistreatment for a decade ago?

  • Does it really make sense to fire someone for what he said, with a different employer, that long ago, no matter what it was? Does this mean that Peters can never work again, and will have to wander the world, starving, begging, without friends or shelter? If a statement—not a crime, mind you, but just words, ugly as they may have been— made ten years ago is sufficient to make a man unemployable and a permanent pariah, then why not 20 years ago? Is our enlightened society now concluding that no one can change, or improve, or learn, and a single moment of anger or bad judgment justifying shunning him or her for life?

If I write that this seems cruel and excessive and indeed unethical to me, does that make me racist too?

My usual question as I enter ethical conundrums is “What’s going on here?” In this case, I have no idea, but I doubt that it’s good.

15 thoughts on “Another Cancel Culture Episode In Canada

  1. Well, he used to coach for the team here and I read a column in the local paper a day or two ago that indicated that he did have some episode(s?) here of mistreating players. It was a bit vague and the sports writer stated that they were essentially ignored by management. The columnist, now that I reread the story, may simply be using this as a vehicle to take some shots at the person who was the GM during Peters’ tenure here. Hard to say for sure — it’s not altogether clear reading the column.

  2. No, not a whistleblower.

    I am not sure people know what a whistleblower is and the latest impeachment hearings have only made people dumber.

    A whistleblower (absent a specific statutory definition) is someone who suspects illegal activity and reports it up the chain of command for the purpose of stopping it (blowing the whistle).

    “Boss, I think importing those Cuban cigars is against the law and we should not do it.”

    “HR manager person, my supervisor is hitting on the interns promising them good reviews in exchange for sexual favors.”

    The law protects employees who report misconduct or illegal activity from retaliation. These laws may have grown out of the complaint that Germans were wrong to say they were just following orders. It gave an employee protection to stand up and say, “it’s wrong to gas Jews.” It protected them from being fired.

    But, the report has to be made to stop the illegal activity; that is why we protect them: we want people to feel safe bringing up illegal activity in order to allow businesses to fix themselves. At the same time, considering the at-will nature of employment, generally, it removes such reports as a basis for terminating the relationship “at-will.”

    It sounds like he was long gone from this employer. Thus, there was little chance of retaliation. Also, as a “one-off” comment years ago, the report now does nothing to curtail the activity.

    Without more, I would say: not a whistleblower.


  3. I’m not sure I agree with this, so I’m going to play devil’s advocate, feel encouraged to disagree and talk me out of it, because I’m not completely convinced;

    You know… Even 10 years ago it was probably pretty clear that employers couldn’t go around calling black employees gay niggers for listening to rap. That was clear, right? There’s something obviously different between an off-color joke or statements that are products of the time they came from and shit that was never appropriate, and perhaps we do ourselves a disservice failing to make that differentiation.

    Had that have come to light 10 years ago, would Peters have been fired? Almost certainly. Would he have been rehired by someone else? Perhaps, but probably not. Why did Aliu wait ten years to report it? I don’t know. Maybe he feels more secure in his career, Maybe Peters said something that triggered flashbacks, Maybe he’s afraid of being cut and is using this as deterrence. I’m not sure it matters.

    What this amounted to was a ten-year stay of execution on Peters’ career. I don’t know if after being allowed to work for 10 years more than he would have been had Aliu been more on the ball with his complaint Peters has much room to complain. I don’t know if a life lived well in the interim excuses something like that.

    “Oh why wasn’t I punished 10 years ago?! Why was I allowed to have a quasi-successfull career with the doom of Damocles lorded over my head, it isn’t fair that my past has come to bite me in the ass! Who knew calling players gay niggers for listening to rap could get you fired?”

    That has just the faintest whiff of a rationalization, perhaps related to the good illegal immigrant series, no?

    • Except that one episode doesn’t define a human being. Breaking a law had legislated consequences: I don’t care if a serial killer has had a full conversion and is now saintly, he still has price to pay. An utterance is not like that, or should not be.

      Personally, I cannot imagine a non-racist using that word as an insult: it’s signature significance. I can imagine someone changing that aspect of himself over ten years. My father, from Kentucky, and the military, used to call gay people “fags” when i was young. Then, thanks to my theater connections, he actually got to know some wonderful gay people. he was ignorant, but he was smart: he learned, he evolved. I remember, in his eighties, that he was raving about how wonderful one of his doctors was, a Nigerian. “You know,” he said,”There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have trusted a black doctor. Looking back on those days and what I have learned, I’m just embarrassed. How could I have even thought like that?” I never heard my father use a racist epithet, but in Kentucky, in the thirties? I would be surprised if he didn’t. And if a forgotten black contemporary showed up as he was looking at a promotion in 1975 and declared, “He called me a nigger once!” should that have had any effect on his current employment?

      Not in any sane, just world.

      • Also… Peters actually never called Aliu a ni**er (and Aliu is indeed walking the fine line by not saying he did)… he allegedly called the music that Aliu was playing in the locker room ‘ni**er sh*t about ni**ers butt-f*cking other ni**ers’

          • From the Times: “Bill Peters resigned as the coach of the Calgary Flames, a National Hockey League team based in Alberta, on Friday, just days after he was accused of using a racial slur against a player a decade ago.” Used “against him’ sure sounds like “called him that name.”

            Another infuriating example of why the practice of using euphemisms instead of what was really said is incompetent journalism.

          • I’m a huge hockey fan (and former player of what was better than average skill). Between Yahoo Canada, The Hockey News, Sportsnet and the greatest hockey podcast Spittin’ Chiclets (where you will hear the thickest Boston accents you will evah heah)… cant say exactly which…
            Same places where I read that current Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour confirmed the account of what was called player abuse (funny, it was “coaching” when I was young) by Peters a couple of years ago, noting that it was handled internally and didnt occur again.

            Oh, and I miss Don Cherry. If he hadnt been canned last month, this incident probably would have led him to say something that would have…

  4. What’s going on here sounds a lot like the usual – using grievance and victimization for popularity and power. Nothing is ever good enough and no attempt to repair is enough. I’m linking a video Andy Ngo tweeted recently to provide an example.

    Notice that in spite of Olympia city council using a government building to honor trans victims, it’s not enough. Because cops work in the building the city’s efforts are wrong. One speaker went so far as to call progressivism “proto-fascism” despite the efforts many progressives make to usher in multiculturalism at every moment.

    The narrative is minorities are always victims, always suffering, and an apology, a display of solidarity, or even lighting a building, isn’t enough. And it can’t be of course. If grievance hustlers know one thing, it’s that you have to keep some people scared and hurting and other people guilty. Even those who are supposed to be scared must also feel guilty by being beholden to their (and their peoples) history. Anything less is to be a traitor or downgraded from oppressed to oppressor.

    Ten years, twenty years, a hundred years doesn’t matter when it comes to repair and forgiveness. Those wounds must stay fresh. Those tears must keep being shed. How will their pandering exploiting elites make money off them otherwise? How will their virtue signaling self righteousness be appreciated otherwise?

    Misery really does love company.

  5. Aliu was not a very good player, statistically, He played for 25 teams in 15 years (sounds like the classic “diversity” hire). has his records.
    What we are seeing is a massive pearl clutching by the GTA based media culture (GTA= Greater Toronto Area).
    Signature significance: he has signed on with Kapernicks attorney

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