Controversy and Don Cherry are not strangers, but usually it's Cherry who does something that provokes lesser beings to react aggressively.
Mind you, Cherry usually comes out on top. Not necessarily because he's right, but because he has a point of view, believes in what he says and does, and is congenitally unable not to speak his mind.
He's the genuine article -- even when he's tweaking the public. He has a sense of humour which sometimes gets him in trouble.
Not for nothing is Don Cherry repeatedly singled out in polls as a Canadian icon -- admired coast to coast, but deplored by some who are uncomfortable with straight talk.
Curiously, the controversy around Cherry being selected for an honorary degree from the Royal Military College is not Cherry's doing.
French professor Catherine Lord objects to an honorary degree for Cherry, implying (if not categorically accusing) that Cherry is anti-French, anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-transexual and anti-immigrant, and anti a lot of things that appeal to Prof. Lord.
Rather than try to refute the nonsense, Cherry has shown considerably more class than Prof. Lord, and says he will not accept the degree or attend the ceremonies on Nov. 17 at RMC in Kingston. He doesn't want to add to the controversy.
Can't blame him, really.
For the record, Don Cherry is not anti-French. He's anti-Quebec separatism, and anyone who wants to break up Canada, be they from Quebec or anywhere else, has his disapproval.
As for being anti all those other things cited with such certainty by Prof. Lord, there's not much evidence. If any. Perhaps it can be assumed that rough, no-nonsense, blunt-talking Don Cherry isn't susceptible to the persuasions of the people Prof. Lord is championing in her assault on Cherry being awarded an honorary degree.
But again, he stays out of that controversy.
If you ask me, Prof. Lord is the one stirring up possible hatred by her implications -- encouraging people to see in Cherry characteristics that he leaves alone.
Cherry's disappointment came through in a solid article by Joe Warmington. His outspoken respect for our military, his bonding with soldiers, his admiration for the Van Doos with whom he spent time in Afghanistan, all shine through.
I don't know what the brass at RMC feel about this, but I do know a little about soldiers and I know they relish Cherry's support. Their views on Prof. Lord and her complaints would likely make even Don Cherry blush.
On Coach's Corner at the Leaf hockey game, host Don MacLean displayed a copy of the Sun and brought the rest of the country up to date on Cherry's decision not to attend the RMC ceremonies. He didn't want to embarrass other recipients of an honorary degree. MacLean urged Cherry to reconsider. Cherry said no, his mind was made up.
For what it's worth, Cherry is right.
Let Prof. Lord explain her prejudices and bigotry to RMC students.
It's fair game to take issue with a lot of what Don Cherry believes and says. His views on hockey have always been controversial. Hockey players and hockey fans accept this. We all have opinions.
But when it comes to standing up for his country, and for our soldiers, it's unlikely that Cherry has an equal. Can the same be said of Catherine Lord? Dunno. But when it comes to dignity, values, judgment and just plain class, Don Cherry wins every time.