Racially offensive leaked video puts Canadian military in public’s cross hairs

Military investigates videoThe Canadian military has launched a formal investigation after a racially-charged video was leaked to the CBC News.

It was a comedy sketch so putrid that members of the Canadian military hoped to destroy all evidence of its existence and never think about it again.

It's tough to keep such videos buried forever, however. Footage of a member of the Canadian military wearing brown makeup and passing racial stereotypes off as humour is bound to reach the public eventually.

It took two years for the video to be leaked to CBC News, which this week reported the skit was part of a morale-boosting video shown at Canadian Forces Base Greenwood in Nova Scotia in 2010.

The clip elicited such a negative response that the brass immediately reprimanded its creators, apologized to an officer who happened to be a visible minority (thus accused in the video of being related to Osama bin Laden) and had all copies of it destroyed.

Or, most copies of them, apparently.

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If this was a Saturday Night Live sketch, Lorne Michaels would have demanded it be removed from any future airing of the episode. If this was a gag on Family Guy, the writers would have fired themselves for its unoriginality.

Military commanders are not Lorne Michaels, however. Half their job is filling out status reports and alerting their superiors to impending dangers. How was the video not noted and addressed in an official capacity?

The brass as CFB Greenwood certainly recognized the sad attempt at humour for what it was — friendly fire. The bomb had been dropped; all that was left was to limit the damage it caused.

Last year, U.S. Navy Capt. Owen Honors was fired after a series of videos he created and starred in were released to the public.

His supporters said those videos — which contained profanity and comments deemed offensive to woman and gay people — were morale boosters for the crew of USS Enterprise while it was deployed near Iraq in 2007.

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They were never meant to be seen by the public, they claimed, and when they were released they were misunderstood and cost Honors a promising naval career. It did launch Honors into viral stardom, however, for better or worse.

The CFB Greenwood video similarly came while the Canadian military was engaged in Afghanistan, albeit viewed on a base far from the front line.

When contacted by CBC, Royal Canadian Air Force Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin launched an investigation to determine whether the video was racially insensitive.

"There are serious allegations that its content was inappropriate and culturally insensitive," Blondin said in a statement. "Although I have not seen the video, the information I received so far warranted my concern and immediate action."

Blondin assumed command of the Royal Canadian Air Force less than two months ago. The whole air force. Not just the nitwits with video cameras.

Now he is forced to sit down and listen to someone under his command use a terrible accent and make "brown people drive taxicab" jokes for four minutes, all because the issue was swept under the rug two years ago.

Well, it was either that or clear up that whole F-25 fighter mess.