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CBC personality Kevin O'Leary. (J.J. Thompson for The Globe and Mail)
CBC personality Kevin O'Leary. (J.J. Thompson for The Globe and Mail)

John Doyle: Television

It's one thing to be offended, another to be disgusted Add to ...

The price of freedom is occasionally being offended by this or that. There's no point in going around with a thin skin looking for trouble. But being disgusted is quite another matter.

Most of us are too busy to be looking for trouble. Here in Toronna, everybody is fiercely busy at all hours of the day and night. That's why the ratings for suppertime local TV news shows are lower than those in smaller cities across this great land. Everybody is busy, making a buck. Besides, getting home from work takes an incredibly long time because of traffic being held up constantly by the gravy trains going back and forth to City Hall.

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Or so I'm told, anyway. I don't drive a car so while I'm now officially a citizen of Toronna, I'll be a non-citizen after the next provincial election when Toronna is renamed "Ford Nation." That's got to be irritating. Yet, as I'm trying to explain here, being disgusted is another level of agitation. There are genuine reasons to be disgusted. Here are some.

That loudmouth Kevin 'greed is good' O'Leary

CBC Ombudsman Kirk LaPointe has censured businessman and commentator Kevin O'Leary for using the term ''Indian giver" on the CBC News Network show The Lang & O'Leary Exchange last fall. LaPointe denounced the term as "unambiguously offensive." As well he might. Disgusting is too light a word for it. What's particularly galling is that although Amanda Lang immediately upbraided O'Leary for the remark, he declined to retract or apologize, and hasn't since then.

O'Leary's aggressive, barking style, epitomized in his "greed is good" shout, which is aired so much that it has become part of CBC's defining on-air identity, has been indulged by the corporation for years. Probably because his pro-business braying acts as a dam to halt accusations that the CBC is some lefty organization devoted to propping up David Suzuki's environmentalism.

It's interesting to note that O'Leary is a "contracted commentator," which means he is technically outside CBC's fairly basic rules on making offensive remarks. "Mr. O'Leary isn't subject to policies as would be a CBC employee, but, in general, we are accountable for the content on our programs. In that context and, given the Ombudsman's ruling, we're now considering what the appropriate next step will be," the CBC's spokesfella told me. Nice. Now how about applying some common sense and sense of decency to the cockeyed caterwauling of so-called commentator Don Cherry. CBC's dismissal of concerns about Cherry's political braying late last year was, you know, disgusting.

The coverage of hockey violence

This week, another instance of stunning, disgusting violence, with Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara's brutal hit on Montreal lCanadiens forward Max Pacioretty, leaving the victim with a severe concussion and a fractured cervical vertebra. Anyone see this game on RDS? If so, you were treated to colour commentator Benoît Brunet defending Chara and diminishing the seriousness of the hit, jawing on about hockey being a contact sport. There is too much of this disgustingly bland acceptance of viciousness during hockey coverage on TV. There is an abundance of nonsense about National Hockey League players having "respect for other players and their well-being." That phrase was used by a seemingly sensible hockey analyst, Andrew Rodger, who also, foolishly, talked about "players leaving themselves in a vulnerable position" in the context of the Pacioretty incident. Violence is disgusting, end of story.

The failure to deal with obesity on U.S. TV

You don't see people drinking much on network TV. Or doing drugs. In fact, alcohol and drug abuse are regularly used in cautionary episodes of dramas and comedies - to the point of presenting the United States as the deeply sober society it is not. The same never applies to issues of food and weight. Isn't it odd that while Two and a Half Men is off the air because of Charlie Sheen's problems, it is being replaced by extra episodes of Mike & Molly, a comedy about people with serious food and weight problems. It's a cute show and not disgusting, but what's disgusting is the insistence on formulaic weight-loss reality programs (all derived from The Biggest Loser) that posit weight loss as putting yourself in the hands of a sadistic trainer - not with healthy eating and exercise. Never mind the war on drugs. It's the war on obesity and terrible eating habits that needs to be embraced.

Airing tonight

Magical Mystery Cures (CBC, 9 p.m. on Doc Zone) is a useful counter to many of the ads we see on TV for products that promise better skin, less weight and a tummy that operates like a perfect machine. Made by Nick Orchard, it has CBC's own pop-science guy, Bob McDonald, looking at the outrageous promises of some products and revealing the utter lack of science behind them.

The Nature of Things: The Real Avatar (CBC NN, 10 p.m.) uses some of the ideas in James Cameron's Avatar as the basis for a compelling look at the situation in the Peruvian rain forests, one of the more biologically diverse areas on Earth. The rates of deforestation are astonishing as Peruvian and Canadian mining companies bring rapid, rapacious change.

Check local listings.

Follow on Twitter: @MisterJohnDoyle

 

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