True or false: Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena is a 'politics-free zone.' FALSE

Going back to 2020, MLSE began promoting the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the Raptors and Maple Leafs donned BLM t-shirts and Raptors players (and their then coach, Nick Nurse) even took a knee during the playing of the national anthems.

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Recently, a couple of Toronto Raptors fans, Leora Shemesh and Gary Grill, attended a game at the Scotiabank Arena. They never got to see that basketball game. To their shock and surprise, security guards frog-marched them out the door.

So, what heinous crime did Leora and Gary commit? Were they drunk? Were they verbally abusive? Did they throw something on the basketball court?

No. They were wearing “offensive" sweatshirts, togs that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment now considers to be apparel non grata.

Which is to say their sweatshirts were emblazoned with the phrase, “Free Our Hostages” along with the Star of David.

Oh, the horror!

Apparently, the Scotiabank Arena is a politics-free zone. And clamoring for the release of innocent Israeli civilians who were brutally kidnapped by Hamas terrorists last October is a… political statement?


And yet, here is what MLSE stated in a media release after the incident: “As part of the MLSE venues Fan Code of Conduct, it states that fans have a right to expect an environment where they can enjoy the event experience free from, among other things, political or inciting messages. With fan security in mind, it has been a long-standing policy at MLSE venues that signs or clothing bearing political messages are not permitted and this policy is implemented fairly and consistently to protect the experience of all fans. In this instance, the fan in question was offered a number of options to comply with this policy, which they refused and chose to leave the venue on their own accord.”

So, MLSE frowns on political activism in its arena? Really? Sorry, but the needle on our internal bull-shite detector is currently veering deep into the red zone.

MLSE is not apolitical at all; rather, this corporation is very selective when it comes to publicly espousing political positions.

Examples abound. Going back to 2020, MLSE began promoting the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the Raptors and Maple Leafs donned BLM T-shirts and Raptors players (and their then coach, Nick Nurse) even took a knee during the playing of the national anthems.

As well, the Leafs and Raptors stage so-called “pride nights” in which the arena is decked out in a plethora of rainbow colours. Does anyone dispute that such pro-LGBTQ-etc. propaganda fests are NOT politically motivated?

Oh, and let us not forget what happened at the NHL All-Star Game staged at Scotiabank Arena in early February. Jewish fans and their allies had to suffer through a rendition of the national anthem sung by pro-Hamas kook Kiana Lede who was decked out in a keffiyeh cardigan. As well, check out a social media posting she authored beforehand: “If you’re a Zionist, feel free to stay your ass at home.” Nice.

And MLSE was apparently fine with this? Really?

The list goes on. How about musician Roger Waters who performed at Scotiabank Arena several years ago. That particular concert featured a balloon in the shape of pig emblazoned with the Star of David. How antisemitic can one get?

And more to the point, where oh where was MLSE’s rigid Fan Code of Conduct regarding that appalling display? Or does the code of conduct apply only to the shmucks in the cheap seats as opposed to the high-priced talent contributing millions of dollars into the coffers of MLSE?

And by the way, where is that supposed champion of Israel, MLSE CEO Larry Tanenbaum? He has remained silent regarding the two Jewish fans being ejected from his building. Why?

Or perhaps Tanenbaum has done the math and figured out that maybe it is more financially lucrative to be pro-Hamas in Toronto these days than it is to be pro-Israel? If this is the case, how shameful is that?

In any event, there was a rumour that several Jewish fans and their allies were going to attend last Wednesday’s game between the Raptors and the Dallas Mavericks. The buzz was that these attendees would brandish the Star of David and essentially dare MLSE security to eject them.

So it was that Rebel News was there to attend the game as well. Alas, the demonstration failed to materialize. But on this particular night, the selective politics of MLSE were once again prominently on display.

For example, the Raptors were donning warm-up jerseys promoting black history month. (The question arises: when does MLSE plan to promote Asian history month? Or Latino history month? Just asking…)

As well, we saw a fan in the 100 Level donning a t-shirt lauding Russia. Wait a minute… isn’t Vladimir Putin political enemy number one these days? Aren’t we supposed to be denouncing and sanctioning this nation? And yet, this fan was never molested by security.

We also saw someone with a jersey displaying the flag of Norway. We can’t imagine Norway being an offensive nation on the world stage – but surely someone out there has an axe to grind with Norwegians. Yet, this fan encountered no problem displaying this particular foreign flag.

Bottom line: when it comes to the hypocrites running MLSE, we must paraphrase a line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Namely: “All political viewpoints are equal, but some political viewpoints are more equal than others.”

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