A view of the Toronto skyline in 2015 (Jim Watson)

Hockey host 'Jiggs' McDonald is not behind Toronto mosque comments

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Several online posts falsely claimed that famed NHL broadcaster Jiggs McDonald wants to test the tolerance of Muslims building a Toronto mosque by opening a gay bar next to it. The idea actually came from Fox News Channel host Greg Gutfeld who discussed testing a New York City mosque in 2010 on the "Glenn Beck" television program. McDonald denied the quote came from him and posts from online forums show the evolution of how the original Gutfeld idea proliferated.

Kenneth “Jiggs” McDonald is better known for commenting on hockey games than politics. Yet since 2012, a provocative post credited to the award-winning Canadian sports broadcaster has continued to circulate on online forums and social media, influencing search results for the 79-year-old who called the play-by-play for 15 years of New York Islanders games.

Tolerance, the post suggests, is a two-way street and therefore a mosque opening in Toronto should be open to the idea of a gay bar named "You-Mecca-Me-Hot" located next to its building, alongside a restaurant called "Iraq-of-Ribs" or other businesses specializing in items not permitted in Islamic religious law.

The earliest version of this quote attributed to the Ontario native sportscaster that AFP was able to find dates back to a forum post in October 2012.  

However, when contacted by AFP, McDonald denied that the statement came from him.

"People that I’ve known over the years and say, 'Did you really say this?' No I didn't, never," McDonald told AFP.

McDonald also confirmed to AFP that a tweet sent out under his name in 2017 was written by his daughter Susan, who wished for the rumors to end. It is the only tweet currently on the account, pinned to the top for emphasis.

The exact same quote has been shared in a variety of contexts around the world before and after it was attached to McDonald.

Screenshot of a forum post from September 2011

In many cases, an online user claims to have received an email or a letter from a friend with a brilliant idea for "promoting tolerance". People posting on message boards in New York, London, Liverpool, New Zealand and Australia have shared the same idea.

The earliest false attribution of the idea dates back to October 9, 2010, on an online forum discussion about the construction of a mosque on the Ground Zero site in New York City. At the time, controversy swirled around the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” which was, in fact, a plan to build an Islamic community center not on, but two blocks away from Ground Zero.

User gusnaz10 suggested that the mosque should indeed open, but under a set of conditions.

Screenshot of 2010 forum post incorporating Greg Gutfeld's idea

User gusnaz10 published the post less than a month after Fox News host Gutfeld announced his idea to open a gay bar next to the nonexistent Ground Zero mosque, suggesting the same theoretical bar names as those listed in posts later credited to McDonald and others.

“The way that New York City is going to accept the mosque, the mosque should accept the gay bar,” Gutfeld suggested in the segment.

There are no signs of McDonald being associated with the gay bar proposal before Gutfeld’s TV appearance and tweet on the subject.