CBSC Takes a Cue from the HRCs

The Human Rights Commissions in our country are getting help from an unlikely ally – the CBSC, a voluntary association of private businesses, established to administer standards agreed on by its members. Much like the human rights system, they entertain complaints from the public, and pass judgment on seemingly moral issues under the guise of “broadcast standards”. At least that’s what it looks like when reading the resolution of this complaint, launched against Word TV’s Charles McVety.

I don’t dispute that McVety is a controversial speaker, prone to hyperbole and mischaracterizations, I could say the same about a host of other on-air personalities. Our broadcasters, public and private, have plenty of anti-Americans, feminists, anti-capitalists, and yes, religious zealots, who commit the same intentional and unintentional mischaracterizations all the time. Does the name of Heather Mallick ring a bell?

So what did the CBSC have to say about McVety’s program? Here’s a run-down of some of the things he was reprimanded for.

Using the word “conviction” to refer to a decision by a Human Rights Tribunal against the respondent. Apparently the CBSC has been enlisted to defend the human rights newspeak.

Saying “It is now a crime to speak out against homosexuality” in reference to Bill C-250. I wonder if Avi Lewis has ever been reprimanded for similar hyperbole.

Referring to Ontario’s sex-education program as “teaching homosexuality”. The CBSC insists, curiously, that McVety may only talk about the stated intention of the program, namely “tolerance”, and not about perceived effects of the program. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but isn’t that what all political commentary is about?

Referring to gay pride parades as “sex parades”. As far as I’ve heard, there’s a whole lot of simulated hanky-panky going on. That’s like insisting that the Global Marijuana March cannot be called a “pot march”.

There were a list of other complaints that the CBSC dismissed, some so ridiculous that the whole thing should be a warning flag about abusing the system. For example, the complainant states that McVety “praised the govt for actions against the gay community”, or referred to Muslim fundamentalists as xenophobic. The complainant’s motives are clearly censorious, in that he wants McVety’s opinions completely removed from the airwaves. One letter ends with the words,

I cannot believe in this day and age that public airwaves are still being permitted as a hate speech vehicle for those who still see the gay community as a sex-crazed social scourge.

And finally, note the timing of this release. This decision was reached in June, but not released until now. Why the wait?

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