A Personal Opinion
I may be the only person in Canada who did not care for Peter Gzowski, a much lauded CBC host.
Actually, I only listened to him once, so my assessment may have been spurious, but it might not have been.
Since my feelings about Mr. Gzowski would have absolutely no impact on him, or his admirers, there was no reason to research the issue more thoroughly. Nor would there ever be an opportunity, as I would never have a face-to-face interaction with the man. If the face-to-face interaction were to have taken place, I would have suspended disbelief in him, then and there, in order to see clearly what he was, and was not.
What I listened to was his interview on the subject of Autism, with Donna Williams, who impressed me deeply, and permanently. Her direct intensity lit the day, and continues to light some very dark corners of the universe.
The interview with Peter Gzowski was done under the auspices of CBC radio. Ms. Williams was intelligent, honest, brilliant in fact.
She says on her web site: “He was the voice of Canada.” and “I was taken to CBS radio station to meet with a journalist, Peter Gzowski. He was a toasty man, a voice like an open fire, a manner like a children’s pediatrician. He was rustic, real, and I called him a Gadoodleborger, my term for one who makes bridges between worlds and can be entrusted as a gatekeeper between them, a translator… Clearly Peter could tame cats, he could speak cat, and he enticed me to finish the interview in free fall, going right off the page and into a taped discussion.” I got the impression, from her description of the experience, that she enjoyed the encounter, and respected Mr. Gzowski; which increased my admiration for her.
Although I found the interview compelling, and their chemistry together amazing, Mr. Gzowski did not impress me. As far as I was concerned he was out of his league, Donna Williams was a real, three dimensional human being with integrity, and in my opinion, he was not.
My feelings were based on a single question he asked. I do not remember the specifics of the question, and have searched the web, to no avail, for transcripts of the interview so that I could point out the context and exact words that Mr. Gzowski spoke, that disappointed me so deeply.
The question was asked, and Donna William’s replied with respect, complete confidence, and a deep calm. She told Mr. Gzowski directly, that it had been agreed that he would not ask that question. She did not answer it, and the interview walked around the incident without faltering and continued with the same great chemistry going on between them.
I felt the positive energy continued because of Ms. Williams incredible aplomb, and Mr. Gzowski’s willingness to let go of his “little” transgression and move on.
I was appalled by the transgression. Mr. Gzowski had attempted to invade a personal boundary, and accepted gracefully that he had been halted in that transgression. Ms. Williams was strong enough, and direct enough, to be gentle and insistent in repelling the transgression. But I felt it should never have been attempted in the first place. I still feel it was disrespectful of a trust entered into by both parties before the interview. I admired Ms. Williams for repelling it with grace and compassion, and I was disappointed with Mr. Gzowski, who either didn’t realize he was transgressing a boundary, or realized it, and did it anyway. In my opinion it was a dishonourable thing to do. I never listened to him again.
So many of my friends loved Mr. Gzowski, and I have understood why. For me though, an undeclared and unapologetic transgression of trust will colour everything a person offers to the world.
I celebrate the woman who seamlessly repelled that transgression, and continued on with good will, to make a success of that interview. It may have been the only time he ever did that, and I happened to hear it. Or, possibly, he may have done it other times, to people with less inner strength and confidence than Ms. Williams, who went along with it seamlessly, answering the inappropriate question, accepting the breach as the price for media attention. I will never know.
The last Christmas gift I ever bought for my dear friend Patrick Logier, who was a great admirer of Mr. Gzowski, was one of Mr. Gzowski’s books, in spite of my personal opinion of Mr. Gzowski. I have always accepted that my standard of what constitutes an admirable person is not universally shared.
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Thursday 30 October 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Wind: NW 18 gust 28 km/h
“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.”
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
121 AD – 180 AD