By Colby Cosh - Monday, April 5, 2010 - 105 Comments
As a former newspaper columnist, I think I have pretty rock-solid law-and-order credentials. I recall arguing at various times, before a national audience, in hard type, that criminal justice is properly regarded as an orderly, deliberate species of revenge; that not only is the death penalty a proper prerogative of the state, but that the guillotine is the most humane and reasonable method of applying it; and that the Middle Eastern custom of severing the hands of thieves, while “barbaric”, may be ethically superior in some respects to our own methods of dealing with them.
So I trust I will not be accused of snivelling liberal cowardice when I ask: why should the National Parole Board necessarily come under suspicion or criticism for granting a pardon to Graham James?
It is common for ink-and-pulp tough guys like me to hold the NPB to a standard of perfection that may or may not be realistic. Without question, this body has made clumsy mistakes and appears susceptible to psychiatric fads, unscientific beliefs, and emotional manipulation by shrewd sociopaths. It is responsible for errors of the most spectacular, naïve, foreseeable kind, and it has learned to suffer beatings from the journalistic cudgels—albeit to no very impressive real-world effect—when it commits one. But where is the mistake here?
Is there some evidence that Graham James has re-offended since his release from prison? If there isn’t, on what basis can the decision of Pierre Dion be criticized? Since we have a system of routine, assembly-line pardons for offenders like James, what more can we expect that those given such pardons will do no harm? Has James done some? A radio personality in my city was heard to growl that someone at the Parole Board “ought to be fired”. For what? Accurately foreseeing that James was no longer a danger to the public?
The “fresh allegations” date back to James’ coaching career, and irrespective of his pardon, he is still subject to arrest and prosecution when it comes to offences for which he hasn’t yet been tried and punished. But people are talking as though “pardon” means “plenary indulgence”. James served his sentence—I won’t say “he paid his debt to society”, but he certainly discharged his specific debt to the state—and the history-effacing effects of pardons are rightly limited for sex offenders in the name of continued deterrence and protection of the innocent. And Theoren Fleury may be upset or uncomfortable that James received a pardon, but Fleury didn’t publicly allege anything against James until very recently, and his right to a hearing of his own grievance is in no way affected by the pardon.
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, October 19, 2009 at 11:25 AM - 2 Comments
Why the former NHL star stayed quiet about the abuse for so long
In late 1996, Theoren Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy had a meeting of minds—albeit the sort that takes place over bottles of beer and lines of cocaine. Strung out and miserable, the two NHL players were in the midst of a golfing trip to Phoenix, delving into a shared secret that was about to send tremors through the sport of hockey. Kennedy had recently told police he’d been sexually abused by Graham James, a coach both had played for as juniors in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Fleury, too, had been abused by James as often as twice a week while playing for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. The story had not yet hit the press, but each knew how deeply the other had suffered. For 10 hours that night, they discussed openly experiences they’d never spoken of before.
When the session was over, however, they took separate paths. Kennedy went public, becoming the face of a sporting scandal, while Fleury maintained his silence for a dozen more years—a decision that left him a shell of a man. “Sheldon’s secret was out, so he was able to start dealing with it,” Fleury explains in a new autobiography, Playing with Fire. “Mine was not. Graham still had control of my life.” To forget, the stumpy winger from Russell, Man., threw himself headlong into booze, cocaine, womanizing and gambling. “The direct result of my being abused was that I became a f–king raging, alcoholic lunatic,” he writes. “[James] destroyed my belief system. The most influential adult in my life at the time was telling me that what I thought was wrong was right. I no longer had faith in myself or my own judgment.” Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Friday, October 9, 2009 at 11:28 AM - 110 Comments
MACLEAN’S EXCLUSIVE: Harrowing details from his new book and interview with the retired NHL star
Retired hockey star Theoren Fleury has at long last confirmed that he was sexually abused by his junior coach, Graham James, a trauma he says drove him to alcohol, drugs and promiscuity throughout his otherwise impressive 16-year NHL career. “The direct result of my being abused was that I became a f—ing raging, alcoholic lunatic,” he writes in Playing with Fire, an autobiography to be released this week, and provided in advance to Maclean’s. “[James] destroyed my belief system. The most influential adult in my life at the time was telling me that what I thought was wrong was right.
“I no longer had faith in myself or my own judgment. And when you come down to it, that’s all a person has. Once it’s gone, how do you get it back?” Continue…
By Michael Friscolanti - Friday, October 2, 2009 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Plus a week in the life of Angela Merkel
Face of the week
Flameout: Theoren Fleury’s brief comeback attempt—after six years away from the rink—ends with a hug from his wife, Jennifer.
A week in the life of Angela Merkel
The German chancellor triumphed in national elections, overcoming a weak economy as voters opted for a conservative coalition in the Bundestag. On Monday, Merkel’s Christian Democrats began formal negotiations with the business-friendly Free Democrats about the shape and direction of the new government. “I want to be the chancellor of all Germans,” she told a packed news conference. “I am not going to change totally just because the coalition has changed.” Continue…
By selley - Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 6:13 PM - 8 Comments
We would be remiss if we did not note a most auspicious addition to…
We would be remiss if we did not note a most auspicious addition to Canada’s roster of pundits: Theoren Fleury. (Well, “Theoren Fleury As Told to George Johnson,” anyway.) No one will be surprised to learn that Minipundit is not fan of The New NHL:
I think there’s something honourable in fighting through the interference, in being challenged. I mean, those great one-on-one battles everyone remembers, you don’t see them anymore. If you don’t have any opposition, people making it difficult for you, how tough is it? Hockey should be a tough gam
I don’t want to see the puck Dave King-ed around the boards for 60 minutes.
Slide a Wayne Gretzky disc into the DVD player and then a Nashville Predators “highlight” tape and just try and tell me you can’t see the difference. Go on. I dare you.
And as for marketing the game?
There are lot of intelligent, funny, personable guys in our sport. But all you hear is cliche, cliche, cliche. It drives me crazy. I guess the powers-that-be just want the players to sound boring. Guys, it’s entertainment. But they don’t want anybody rocking any boats. They don’t want them to say anything, tell anyone how they feel, what they think about different issues.