Death threats. Racist taunts. Vows of violence. Inside the increasingly personal attacks targeting Canadian female journalists, the most notable and disturbing occurrence seemed to be a particularly vitriolic tweet at Canadian Women’s Hockey League founder and Hall of Fame player, Gord Downie.
In case the Twitter user, @RafaelFieler, has his memory playing tricks on him: Downie has not been a “fucking Nazi,” “fuck me” or, yes, “Fucking Nazi.” The tweet was made in 2014, after the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement came into effect. The tweets are just the latest in a series of violent threats against Downie — and other prominent, often white, Canadian women in the media world.
In their first year of reporting on the threats, The Canadian Press saw threats against them nearly daily. Not all were violent, but the ones that were were troubling. Some were racist and misogynistic, others directed at prominent, often white, Canadian women in the media. But the ones that were the most alarming were the ones from within the hockey leagues and the organizations and people who run them.
“I think that it’s unfortunate that what’s happening is that we’re in a time when the country is finally turning a corner on a lot of these issues,” said Downie, a Winnipeg resident who is a member of The Canadian Press’ Hall of Fame. “This is a time for us to stand up and say the right things to say as journalists against the right thing to say, because the right thing to say is that we are all equal. We’re all people, we’re equal. We’re all human beings, we’re all human beings.
“Hockey is my people, and hockey is ours. It’s a game. So as long as other people keep playing, it’s a game. We should also play. And that’s what the NHL says: Play. That’s our position on this issue. But it’s not just our position. I think, if we’re not having any trouble, we don’t know what we’re talking about.”
The Canadian Press did not name the hockey player or team who initially made the threats against Downie. (CBC News is not naming, as we don’t want to be accused of “stalking its sources.”)
But the tweets from the hockey team were posted by the Winnipeg Jets after the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement came into effect.