I write today in response to the opinion piece printed in today’s edition of The Gazette, written by Pat Hickey, concerning Theo Fleury and the Graham James case.
While I support a newspaper’s right and duty to print columns from a broad variety of viewpoints, on this issue you’ve overreached. The lengths gone to by the author to smear the actions of Mr. Fleury and to create a hierarchy amongst the victims of sexual abuse explodes the boundaries of both good taste and acceptable journalism. Rather, it inhabits a world outside of journalism, where cowboy opinion making is permitted in the guise of “one man’s view” and isn’t required to pass the basic criterium of truth and factuality general attributed to the “news”.
Mr. Hickey is obviously speaking on a subject about which he knows very little. I can relate. I don’t claim to be an expert on the issue of sexual abuse and the effects that abuse might have on its victims. As such, I see it as the prudent move to avoid sweeping assumptions about the lasting psychological effects of such a heinous violation as sexual abuse, nor would I claim to understand why sexual abuse effects different people in different ways for different periods of time.
Your author, Mr. Hickey, has made all of those assumptions. In painting Mr. Fleury as an “enabler”, Mr. Hickey does a massive disservice to the plight of the abused. Does Mr. Hickey understand the mental anguish endured by Mr. Fleury throughout that period? Can Mr. Hickey understand (not that he claims any emotional understanding of any kind) what factors might have driven Mr. Fleury to try and “carry on as normal” throughout those years?
Sheldon Kennedy and Theo Fleury are two of the more famous Canadian abuse victims, but the fact that they both played hockey and were both abused by the same man does not imply any similarities in their reactions, their lasting damage or their healing.
Mr. Hickey is most certainly in the wrong in his simplistic view of abuse. But you Ma’am are far more in the wrong for allowing a column so wrongheaded and obviously hurtful to be printing. So, while I certainly expect an apology from Mr. Hickey, I’m doubly interested in one from you. Will The Gazette follow it’s parent down the rabbit hole of trash polemicism? Will you invite your columnists to be the next Christie Blatchford, creating garbage simply to get mentions?
I patiently await your response.
(If you want to let the editor of the Gazette know how you feel about this sickening bit of nonsense smearing, write Catherine Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to write the author directly, go to email@example.com)