CHOI-FM re Dupont le midi (figure skating)

quebec regional panel
D. Meloul (Chair), Y. Bombardier, G. Bonin (ad hoc), A. H. Caron, M. Ille, M.-A. Raulet

THE FACTS

Dupont le midi is a talk show broadcast on CHOI-FM (Radio X, 98.1, Quebec City) on Monday to Friday from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm.  The program is hosted by Stéphane Dupont and his team usually consists of Jérôme Landry, Josée Morissette and Vincent “Dess” Dessureault.  The program generally involves discussions about political and social issues and current events.  On February 19, 2010, they talked about a controversy that had arisen surrounding two sports commentators during the Winter Olympics.  The two commentators, Claude Mailhot et Alain Goldberg, had appeared on the sports television network RDS (the conventional television network V also aired the same program) to talk about men’s figure skating.  They had remarked on the clothing and mannerisms of American figure skater Johnny Weir, which they viewed as very effeminate.  The RDS commentators had expressed their disappointment that Weir was, in their opinion, perpetuating the view of figure skating as an effeminate sport.  The RDS broadcast generated considerable public reaction [as well as complaints to the CBSC which were dealt with by this Panel in a decision of even date, namely, RDS & V re comments made on Le réveil olympique (figure skating) (CBSC Decision 09/10-1058 & -1340, September 23, 2010)].

Dupont and his co-hosts commented on the controversy and shared their views on the subject of men’s figure skating.  The relevant portions of the dialogue were as follows (a complete transcript of the segment can be found in Appendix A, available in French only):

[Translation]

Dupont:                        [] um, two, um, commentators had to apologize today because they said there was a queer in a sport for queers.  Imagine that!  I am completely undone!  If I go and say there are handicapped people at the Paralympics, will I have to apologize?  I can’t get over it!  There is no story, there is no subject.  Figure skating has always been a sport for fags, Chri –. Are you telling me that because there’s a guy, he, he, and Dess was pointing out to me this morning, that the guy who won, the one no one is talking about, he’s also effeminate –

Dessureault:      Well, look –

Dupont:                        If not more than the other one –

Dess:               If you have Le Soleil handy –

Dupont:                        Hummmmh –

Dess:               Page 47.  “The man who talks to the birds.”  And you see there, the guy, that would be Evan Lysacek, who won, um, who is all, all twisted up while, while looking up at the sky in his drag queen outfit.  And, and just before that, and that’s fine with Alain Goldberg.  He finds it very, he finds it very good.  Just before, um, um, the one with lipstick, there was another one wearing a mesh blouse.  You could see his breasts.  He had, um, sparkly green leaves sewn on all over, sequins and diamonds even on his neck.  But, Alain Goldberg found that, he found that fine.

Dupont:                        But if –

Dess:               That, that didn’t present a bad picture of figure skating, but the other guy with lipstick, well that went too far. It was, it’s such a stupid controversy.

Dupont:                        And the lady figure skaters dressed as guys? How often has that happened?  How often have we seen that?  There are, I don’t want to talk about it because I find figure skating so uninteresting.  It’s one of the only activities, it’s one of the only sports I don’t watch during the Olympic Games, um, in Vancouver among others,  because, b-, because I don’t like it.

[…]

Morissette:        Well it’s not like just following the movements.  You can dress a guy as a, a mechanic and if he starts talking to the birds and taking on some [Dess laughs] mannerisms and doing some –

Dupont:                        But that’s what figure skating is.

Morissette:        – [???] bling on –

Dess:               Yeah, that’s it.

Dupont:                        Hey!

Morissette:        But no matter how you dress him, you know.

Dupont:                        You’re not telling me that you’re shocked, to have, um, shocked to see a big blob sumo wrestling!

Morissette:        No –

Dupont:                        Christ, they go together!

Morissette:        Well yes, that’s right.

Dupont:                        So, a figure skating queer is nothing new!

Morissette:        Well now, be, you know, be polite at least.

Dupont:                        Well, no –

Morissette:        Don’t generalize.

Dupont:                        Well, no –

Morissette:        The Lloyd Eislers of this world, there are loads of them –

Dess:               But, when you say –

Morissette:        Those who, Da-, David Pelletier. They’re not, they’re not homosexuals.  They are guys after all –

Dupont and Dess:         No –

Morissette:        Males –

Dess:               He doesn’t say homosexual –

Dupont:                        It’s an effeminate sport –

Dess:               That’s what he says it is.  It’s more effeminate than, um, than homosexual.  It’s more –

Morissette:        Aaaahhhhhhhh.

Dess:               When I say effeminate, it’s more, um, it’s a bit more affected.

Dupont:                        A fag is not a homosexual!

Morissette:        Well, now.

Dupont:                        A fag –

Morissette:        Well, they will say that it is.

Dupont:                        It’s a guy –

Morissette:        Careful.

Dupont:                        – who has more of a female body.  Period.  It’s easy enough to understand what I’m trying to explain.  Guys who are, who are, ambivalent, in figure skating; it has always been that way.

Dess:               Yes, but even a guy, um, who is very masculine, but dressed as they dress in figure skating, they all look that way.

Dupont:                        Well, of course.

Dess:               They dress as drag queens.

Dupont:                        Well, that’s it.  So –

Dess:               If he’d just worn a sweater, a t-shirt and a, a competition bib.

Dupont:                        Well, Elvis Stojko for example –

Dess:               Yes.

Morissette:        Yeah!

Dupont:                        – of all the skaters, he presented perhaps a more virile picture, but he always wore a t-shirt, pants.  Yet, even he looked like a fag when executing certain movements.  Why?  He practises a sport for –

Morissette:        An effeminate look!

Dupont:                        – fags.  When you curl you look like, why then –

Morissette:        Hey!  He looked effeminate –

[…]

Dess:               Well, yeah.  People will say that female hockey players look like guys.

Dupont:                        Well, yes.  And um, they take their share of hits.  That’s it!  That’s the way it is.  You can’t change that.  Don’t tell me that world-class weight-lifters, um female weight-lifters, don’t look like guys?  They have goatees!

Morissette:        Did you –

Dupont:                        The majority of women who lift weights have moustaches.

Morissette:        Yeah, but that’s because of the hormones.

Dupont:                        Are we going to be shocked?

Morissette:        Because of the hormones they take.

[…]

Dess:               I’ll play the apology for you.  Do you want to hear the apology given by, by Mailhot and, um, Goldberg?

Dupont:                        Umm….

Dess:               I have it here.

Morissette:        Go for it!  Well, no.  We’ll see.

Dess:               Just to give you an idea of how bad they feel.

[Excerpt from Mailhot and Goldberg]

Mailhot:                        Mr. Goldberg, it is, once again, a pleasure to have you visit in the morning.

Goldberg:         For me as well.  I hope it puts you in a good mood.

Mailhot:                        What an extraordinary performance we saw last night.  But first, I want to take this opportunity to, on your behalf, um, apologize for our comments. It appears that when we talked about clothing we offended some people and it was certainly not our aim to offend anyone at all.  If you felt, um, criticized, we do apologize.  But, um, we had some very, very good performances, and I think we need to talk about them.

[End of the excerpt]

Dess:               Good.  That’s what was done.

Dupont:                        It was the right thing.  All the better, so –

Dess:               Well, I’ll admit that it had no connection with their comments.

Dupont:                        Huh?

Dess:               There was no connection.

Morissette:        Well, of course there was!

Dupont:                        Well, now –

Morissette:        Well, I think there was.

Dess:               Well, in that case does that mean you have to laugh at all the others?

Dupont:                        No, of course not.  There have always been effeminates in figure skating.  It has always been.  It has always been that way.

Morissette:        Yeah but, those comment-, those hosts are being blamed for constantly, constantly saying stuff and only talking about the triple toe loop a skater just did and now they’ve given an opinion, and they’re being condemned.

Dupont:                        Well, ah –

Morissette:        They give, um, they depart slightly from their designated area and they slightly cross their usual line and, you criticize them and you say they’re tedious.

Dupont:                        Mm hm.

Morissette:        Isn’t that right?

Dupont:                        But, I mean, they are, I never said.  Alain Goldberg is far from being boring.  He is the best sports analyst of any sport. He is the best.  He is the most engaged, he is the most knowledgeable and he’s the best.

Morissette:        Well, without him, start –

Dupont:                        He’s not Gaétan Boucher, he’s not, and name the others.  He is the best analyst of his own sport, including hockey!  So there.

Morissette:        Well, if Pierre Foglia from La Presse had written something of that nature, people would have said: “Ah yes, it’s true, it’s well thought out!”  But here, it was out of place because it was Alain Goldberg and the other fellow who said it.

Dupont:                        You know, will they stop?  Do, do all the skeleton and luge athletes look, look blubbery?  Yes.

Dess:               Yes.

Dupont:                        Since there is a lot of vibration on the ice in luge and skeleton, their thighs, their rear ends, the fat on their backs, it all shakes.

Dess:               But especially the doubles.  You have to be a bit like jelly in the doubles.  I think one merges into the other.

Dupont:                        Yeah.

Dess:               There is a lot of undulating.

Dupont:                        Undulating.  It looks like blubber.

Morissette:        The women speed skaters, um short track, –

Dess:               Yes.

Morissette:        – their huge, huge, huge, huge thighs and their small upper body.

Dupont:                        Exactly.

Morissette:        They have small, small, small shoulders and they have large rear ends and huge, huge, huge thighs.

Dupont:            Huge hips, huge thighs.  You don’t want to get caught in a scissor hold by a girl like that, because you might not.  But you know that, I, I’m not an expert, but I’m told that physical shape, training and an athlete’s body building, women among others, do not guarantee firmness.  Did you know that?  Did you know that doing a lot of exercise does not necessarily make a woman firm?

Morissette:        Well, does it depend on the type of exercise?

[…]

Dess:               Just, um, Mr. Gass just sent me an interesting link, because the brouhaha over, um, the effeminate figure skaters, is taking on another dimension.  It is said that, um, the French figure skater Brian Joubert is in the process of creating a little upheaval at the, um, at the Olympic Village, hey, since yesterday because he blamed, um, said, well, in speaking about the new scoring system created in 2004 that favours the artistic elements over the technical ones.  Joubert blamed the Canadians and said the Canadians created the new system in preparation for Vancouver so as to give North Americans an advantage.  You need to know that their skaters, who are often homosexuals, specialize in effeminate skating.  Yet, you can be a homo and still skate in a virile style, but no, they, they adopt mannerisms; it becomes infernal.

Dupont:                        That’s right.  So, it’s more, it’s true that it’s more artistic.  I told you.  Have any of you ever seen a construction worker dance?  What is aesthetic about [Morissette laughs] when, you know, even if I use the most beautiful movements, even if I learn the most beautiful dance movements, I will never be artistic.  I will never be fluid in my movements.  I’m as hairy as a bear.  I weigh 300 pounds.  Naked, I look like Antoine Bertrand in C.A. [French language television program].  So stop; I will never be artistic.  So, a ladies’ sport, a fag sport, where there are fags.  Well, stop being shocked.  That’s how it works.

Morissette:        Well, Joubert, um, —

Dess:               Yeah?

Morissette:        Vince just called and he says that that guy’s specialty is the jumps.

Dupont:                        O.K.

Morissette:        It’s very physical.  So, it’s certain that, um, it’s certain that he’s going to pick on those who look more effeminate.

Dess:               Yeah, he’s going to have to do some dance steps, um, and he doesn’t like that.

Morissette:        Well, that’s it exactly!

Dupont:                        Perhaps the combination of both elements has become unfocussed.  I think that the quality of the jumps should be scored higher, because it’s about skill, the most important athletic skill in the eyes of.

Morissette:        Yeah, but if someone executes a series of jumps and um, he’s not following the music and, um, his moves are also not very attractive to watch.

Dess:               Oh well, if you watch, it’s certain that if you watch free-style skiing, half-pipe, half-pipe snowboard, they don’t, they don’t do anything other than, they do spins. That’s, that’s the difficulty of that sport.

Dupont:                        Exactly.

Dess:               It’s not about frills and flounces, they don’t put on a show.

Dupont:                        Exactly.  They don’t caress their whole, their whole body.

Dess:               No.  [He laughs].

Dupont:                        They aren’t judged on what they’re wearing.

Morissette:        [She laughs].  Did you watch the, the, you know, the American program, well, with the, with Tie Domi and Claude Lemieux, the, they become figure skaters.

Dupont:            No, I watched the beginning. No, yeah.

Morissette:        They didn’t look effeminate at all.

Dupont:                        Yeah.  No worries.

Morissette:        It was very funny.

Dupont:                        O.K.  That’s enough.  They apologized.  It’s done.  There’s, there’s worse than     that as far as scandals go today.

The CBSC received 10 complaints about this broadcast, but only two complainants filed a Ruling Request.  One complainant was the President-CEO of the Quebec Council of Gays and Lesbians (QCGL) who characterized the remarks as [translation] “homophobic and hateful” (the full text of his letter and all other correspondence can be found in Appendix B, available in French only).  The other complaint came from an individual listener who wrote that [translation] “Stéphane Dupont made and justified homophobic comments against ‘fags’.”

The broadcaster responded to both complainants with the same letter.  The station agreed that the hosts could have chosen their words more carefully, but disagreed that the comments were actually homophobic:

[Translation]

We listened to the segment in question and we agree with you that the host could have chosen different words.  In fact, Mr. Dupont did clarify and qualify his remarks in the days following this program.

That said, we do not share the opinion to the effect that these were homophobic comments. Nothing in the excerpt from that program supports that claim in our view.  Mr. Dupont targeted neither a designated group nor a particular individual; he talked about the activity of figure skating, which is not an individual, a race or a religion. He in fact  specified that in his opinion “… a fag is not a homosexual …” and one participant in the program even added “… they’re not homosexuals.  They are guys after all, males …”.  The dailies repeated Mr. Dupont’s point of view, albeit, we agree, with a better choice of words.

We regularly give our hosts specific instructions on issues of ethics and we certainly did so with Mr. Dupont.

We sincerely regret that these remarks offended you; it was certainly not the aim of our hosts.

The President-CEO of the QCGL outlined his dissatisfaction with the station’s response in the following terms:

[Translation. N.B.:  In order to contextualize the argument put forward by the complainant for English readers, the following text contains the English translation of the French definitions for the French terms “tapette”, “fifi” and its derivative “fif”.]

The Quebec Council of Gays and Lesbians (QCGL) cannot but entirely disagree with the position taken by [the] CEO of RNC Média in asserting in a most serious manner that the remarks made by its host Stéphane Dupont were not homophobic since the term “tapette” (“fag”) does not mean “homosexual”.

A simple search of dictionaries available both on line and in hard copy reveals that we might agree with RNC Média’s reply that “tapette” (“fag”) is not necessarily synonymous with “homosexual” since this word also means “a small tap”, “a small swatter for killing flies”, or “a type of mouse trap” (see Appendix). Since it is, however, impossible for “mouse traps”, “swatters for killing flies” and “small taps” to engage in figure skating, it is clear that in this instance the word “fag” is used to designate a homosexual, as it is the only synonym relating to a human being.

Moreover, Mr. Dupont used the word “fif” [a derivative of “fifi” meaning queer] to describe figure skating as being “a sport for queers practised by queers”, thereby confirming that he was using the word fag to designate homosexuals.  We would also point out that all the dictionaries mentioned in this letter indicate that the words “tapette” (“fag”) and “fif” or “fifi” (“queer”) are offensive references to homosexuals.

In that regard, we would like to point out the fact that certain Quebec bodies established that the use of these types of terms is discriminatory and prejudicial to the individuals or communities they target.  By way of example, we cite the decision handed down by Madam Justice Michèle Pauzé of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.  In a case heard in 2004 involving a complaint concerning a verbal insult, Justice Pauzé ruled that the terms “fifi” and its derivative “fif” (“queer”) “are scornful and wounding towards homosexuals and add to the opprobrium and non-respect of their dignity in a discriminatory fashion.”  The accused was fined the exemplary amount of $1,000 for moral damages.

In addition, the Tribunal stated in its annual report that “unjust treatment, marginalization or devaluing based on personal characteristics having no relationship with the abilities or skills of an individual constitute an attack on human dignity”.

Moreover, the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse [Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission] defines homophobia as follows:  “A fear or an aversion felt by some individuals towards homosexuality and those having a homosexual orientation, or towards any person whose appearance or behaviour does not conform to the stereotypical image of masculinity or femininity.”  The provincial government adopted that definition when it launched its policy against homophobia.

Therefore, Mr. Dupont has offended an entire category of sportsmen, in this case figure skaters, by saying that figure skating is “a sport for queers practised by queers” and that “figure skating has always been a sport for fags”, regardless of his attempts to defend what he said.

We are pursuing our complaint concerning Mr. Dupont’s remarks and we ask that the CBSC follow up on this matter.

APPENDIX

linternaute.com/dictionnaire

Group, masculine noun

A number of things or persons having points in common.

dictionnaire.sensagent.com

Tapette, feminine noun

1. Type of swatter designed to swat or hit.

2. Pejorative sense, person who practises homosexuality.

linternaute.com/dictionnaire

Tapette, feminine noun

1. Small tap.

2. Mouse trap.

3. Offensive sense, homosexual.

4. Instrument for swatting or hitting, e.g. a fly swatter.

dictionnaire.reverso.net

Tapette, feminine noun, singular

1. Small friendly tap.

2. Type of small swatter for beating rugs or killing flies.

3. Mouse trap.

4. Coarse sense, effeminate homosexual.

The other complainant also indicated that he was dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response because

[Translation]

Everyone in his audience knows very well that when one refers to “tapettes” (“fags”) in Quebec, one means homosexuals.

By adding denial to insult, the host in question confirms the broadcaster’s bad faith when it repeats that denial to justify the affront.

I expect the CBSC to take a very clear position concerning this homophobic affront that shocked all of Quebec.

THE DECISION

The Quebec Regional Panel examined the complaints under the following articles of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code:

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 2 – Human Rights

Recognizing that every person has the right to full and equal recognition and to enjoy certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 2 – Human Rights

Recognizing that every person has the right to the full enjoyment of certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 3 – Negative Portrayal

In an effort to ensure appropriate depictions of all individuals and groups, broadcasters shall refrain from airing unduly negative portrayals of persons with respect to race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.  Negative portrayal can take many different forms, including (but not limited to) stereotyping, stigmatization and victimization, derision of myths, traditions or practices, degrading material, and exploitation.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 4 – Stereotyping

Recognizing that stereotyping is a form of generalization that is frequently simplistic, belittling, hurtful or prejudicial, while being unreflective of the complexity of the group being stereotyped, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no unduly negative stereotypical material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 9 – Radio Broadcasting

Recognizing that radio is a local medium and, consequently, reflective of local community standards, programming broadcast on a local radio station shall take into consideration the generally recognized access to programming content available in the market, the demographic composition of the station’s audience, and the station’s format.  Within this context, particular care shall be taken by radio broadcasters to ensure that programming on their stations does not contain:

[…]

(c)        Unduly coarse and offensive language.

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and listened to the program in question.  The Panel concludes that the broadcast breached Clauses 2 and 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics and Clause 2 CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, but none of the other codified standards cited above.

Abusive or Unduly Discriminatory Comments

The CBSC has consistently explained that it is not just any mention of, or reference to, among other things, race, nationality, colour of skin, religion, or sexual orientation that will constitute a breach of the Human Rights Clauses of the above Codes.  What will trigger a finding of a code breach is content that reaches a level of abusive or unduly discriminatory comment.  Much, in other words, depends on the harshness or nastiness of the challenged content.  The context of the usage is also likely to play a significant role in a Panel’s evaluation of the broadcast.  A good summary of offending examples in the area of comments made regarding individuals or groups on the basis of their sexual orientation can be found in a recent decision of the Ontario Regional Panel, namely, CITS-TV re Word.ca and Word TV (CBSC Decision 08/09-2142 & 09/10-0383+, June 22, 2010).

Where, however, programs include extremely negative, insulting, nasty generalizations about the group of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation, the comments will be found to violate the Human Rights clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics and the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code.  Examples include the labelling all homosexuals as “devils”, the suggestion by an evangelical that he would kill a homosexual if he made romantic advances to him, the characterization of a person wishing a sex-change operation as “some sick demented obviously mentally disturbed homosexual”, accusing gays and lesbians of an insidious agenda to recruit children to the homosexual lifestyle in the schools, the characterization of the sexual behaviour of gays and lesbians as “abnormal”, “aberrant”, “deviant”, “disordered”, “dysfunctional”, “an error” or the like, as well as numerous others not cited here [see, e.g., Vision TV re Power Today (CBSC Decision 01/02-0617, September 13, 2002), OMNI.1 re an episode of the Jimmy Swaggart Telecast (CBSC Decision 04/05-0097, April 19, 2005), CJRQ-FM re Opinion Poll (CBSC Decision 94/95-0135, March 26, 1996), CKRD-AM re Focus on the Family (CBSC Decision 96/97-0155, December 16, 1997), and CFYI-AM and CJCH-AM re the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Show (CBSC Decision 99/00-0005 & 98/99-0808+, February 9 and February 15, 2000)].

The Panel also considers it extremely pertinent to note that the list of protected groups, namely, those based on “matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex [or gender], sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability”, while not limitative, is not easily extended.  Thus, for example, previous CBSC decisions have not permitted the extension of the list to include occupation or profession [CKLZ-FM re Announcer Comments (CBSC Decision 94/95-0113, December 18, 1996); CJKR-FM re Announcer Comments (CBSC Decision 99/00-0130, May 5, 2000); and CHAN-TV (Global BC) re reports on News Hour (CBSC Decision 08/09-1422, November 10, 2009)], hair colour [CKNG-FM re “Blond Moments” (CBSC Decision 96/97-0060, December 16, 1997)], socio-economic status [TQS re Black-out (“Faring Well with Welfare”) (CBSC Decision 97/98-0009, January 29, 1999)], social condition [CJMF-FM re the program L’heure de vérité avec André Arthur (CBSC Decision 99/00-0240, August 29, 2000)], political affiliation [TQS re Le Grand Journal (Michel Villeneuve Commentary)(CBSC Decision 03/04-1949, February 10, 2005)], drug addicts [CKNW-AM re an episode of Bruce Allen’s Reality Check (CBSC Decision 05/06-0651, May 9, 2006)] or criminals [Comedy Network re Open Mike with Mike Bullard (Leah Pinsent Film) (CBSC Decision 99/00-0482, January 31, 2001)].  As it has decided in its decision in RDS & V re Le réveil olympique referred to above, the Panel considers that the foregoing list of protected grounds does not extend to sports or athletes.  Accordingly the scornful, denigrating comments about the effeminate, even the homosexual, nature of the sport of figure-skating are not in violation of the Human Rights Clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics or the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code.

The Use of the Words “fif” and “tapette”

The language used by Stéphane Dupont is a quite separate matter from the attributions directed at the sport.  Indeed, there is a world of difference between the terminology used in the present challenged broadcast and that used in the broadcast considered in the RDS & V re Le réveil olympique decision of this Panel.  The latter broadcast used careful language.  While this Panel commented that the host and guest might have chosen “better, safer, more tasteful ways” to discuss the subject of Johnny Weir’s on-ice presentation and comportment, the Panel found no breach of any codified standard.  The Panel explained its position in the following terms:

None of the observations of Alain Goldberg that the skater wore lipstick or dressed in a feminine style, or that he tried to present himself in the most feminine possible way on the ice constitutes anything other than a factual appreciation of Johnny Weir’s on-ice comportment. The allusion to the South African runner in the Summer Olympics whose presence raised press discussion of gender-related issues was perhaps unnecessary, even excessive, but the Panel does not find those observations abusive, and that is the sole issue for the Panel in this connection. Moreover, Alain Goldberg made the point immediately following his comments that Johnny Weir had the right to use lipstick, to dress in a feminine fashion and to present himself in a feminine manner on the ice.

By way of comparison, this Panel dealt with a more bruising and offensive example of the use of such terms in its decision in CKRS-AM re comments made on Champagne pour tout le monde (CBSC Decision 06/07-0904, August 20, 2008), in which this Panel was called upon to deal with a morning show interview with a representative of the Parti Québécois, Alexandre Cloutier.  The host questioned whether a political party with an openly gay leader, as well as other gay candidates, could anticipate any success in the Saguenay area (in which the morning show was broadcast):  [translation] “Do you really think that when you present them with another homosexual, you won’t be asked the question:  ‘[…I]s the Parti Québécois a club for fags?’?”  This Panel concluded that the host had every right to put questions to the candidate regarding the acceptability of gay candidates to the local voters, but that he had overstepped the bounds of acceptability when he used the expression [translation] “a club for fags” [“un club de tapettes” in the original French].  As the Panel concluded:

[T]here are boundaries to potentially offensive commentaries; however, those limits are neither mathematically nor scientifically measurable.  They are dependent on the considered evaluation of thoughtful Adjudicators.  Commentary that is either abusive or unduly discriminatory will exceed the Panel’s threshold of acceptability.  While there is, as noted, no formula, Panels will consider, in the case of radio, the words used, the tone of the speaker, and the context of the usage, in assessing whether the comments breach the Code or not.

This Panel then referred to a decision of the National Specialty Servics Panel, Comedy Network re Comedy Now (“Gord Disley”) (CBSC Decision 05/06-0290, January 20, 2006), in which the English word “fag” had been used.  While that Panel found the usage acceptable in that case, it anticipated that that might not always be true.  The Quebec Panel, explained:

A viewer [in the Comedy Network decision] took issue with the use of the word “fag”.  The [National Specialty Services] Panel considered the usage of that potentially offending word acceptable in the circumstances of that challenged broadcast.  It concluded that the use of the word “was distinctly un-nasty.”  It went on to say that the usage in that comedy routine was “benign, light-hearted, distinctively tickling” and not in breach of the Code.  The Panel did, however, anticipate that there might in future “be circumstances in which it might be presented in a sneering, derisive, nasty tone.”

In the matter at hand, the Quebec Panel considers that it has encountered just such an instance.  While the interview under consideration was anything but a comedy routine, the Panel considers that a “sneering, derisive and nasty” comment is as problematic in terms of the Human Rights Clause in a non-comedic case as it was in the comedic example anticipated by Comedy Now.  It considers that Louis Champagne’s tone was “sneering, derisive and nasty”, hence in breach of Clause 2 of the Code.

As to the word “fag” [“tapette” in French] itself, the Panel considers that it balances tentatively on the fence, acceptable in some circumstances as noted above, but totally unacceptable, when used in the aggressive, hostile manner of the February 19 broadcast of Champagne pour tout le monde, where its effect was spread more widely, and perhaps more derisively by reason of the broad stroke, in the characterization of the political party as a [translation] “club for fags”.

In the matter at hand, terminological caution was not present.  While the acceptable descriptive word “effeminate” was used on several occasions to describe the sport, it was replaced by the following words or phrases on several occasions:  [translations] “a queer in a sport for queers”, “a sport for fags”, “a figure skating queer”, “looked like a fag”, “So, a ladies’ sport, a fag sport, where there are fags” [“un fif dans un sport de fifs”, “un sport de tapette”, “Fait qu’un fifi fasse du patin artistique”, “l’air d’une tapette”, “Donc, un sport, de fille, de tapette où il y a des tapettes” in the original French].  The Panel considers that the words and phrases and the tone of the host in enunciating them were scornful, derisive and denigrating.  It concludes that the use of those terms in this instance was unacceptable and in breach of the Human Rights Clauses of the two Codes.  Since, though, nothing, whether good or bad, was said about homosexuals, the Panel does not conclude that there were any stereotypical comments made.  After all, in order to offend any of the groups identified in Clause 4 of the Equitable Portrayal Code, comments stereotyping them would have to be made.  The Panel considers that relevant in terms of Clause 3 as well, in the sense that comments portraying them in unduly negative terms would be required.  In this instance, no such comments were.  In consequence, the Panel finds no breach of either Clause 4 or Clause 3 of the Code.

Coarse Language

Although it was not mentioned by the complainant, there was another matter which concerned the Panel, namely, Stéphane Dupont’s use of the word “chrisse” in the course of the dialogue.  In fact, the Panel has little to add to its numerous prior decisions dealing with the use of words such as “chrisse” during times of the day when children could be listening to the radio.  Those words (and other epithets) have been determined to fall into the category of coarse or offensive language under Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics.  See, e.g., CJMF-FM re a commentary on Bouchard en parle (CBSC Decision 05/06-0326, February 3, 2006), CKRB-FM re Prends ça cool … and Deux gars le midi (CBSC Decision 08/09-0689 & -1228, August 11, 2009), CKAC-AM re an episode of Doc Mailloux (Money) (CBSC Decision 05/06-1379, December 11, 2006) and CKAC-AM re Doc Mailloux (six episodes) (CBSC Decision 06/07-0168 & -0266, August 23, 2007), as well as this Panel’s decisions of even date, CHOI-FM re Dupont le midi (community organizations) (CBSC Decision 08/09-1506, September 23, 2010), CHOI-FM re Dupont le midi (suicide) (CBSC Decision 08/09-2041 & 09/10-1462, September 23, 2010), and CHOI-FM re Dupont le midi (Haiti) (CBSC Decision 09/10-1257 & -1260, September 23, 2010).  The use of that word in the matter at hand constitutes a violation of Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics.

 

Broadcaster Responsiveness

In all CBSC decisions, the Council’s Panels assess the broadcaster’s responsiveness to the complainants.  In the present instance, the Panel finds that the response of the broadcaster’s President and General Manager was candid about the host’s choice of words regarding the subject of the challenged segment of the program.  His reply was thoughtful although it did not satisfy the complainants.  That said, the Panel considers that CHOI-FM has fully met that membership obligation in this instance.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DECISION

CHOI-FM is required to:  1) announce the decision, in the following terms, once during peak listening hours within three days following the release of this decision and once more within seven days following the release of this decision during the time period in which Dupont le midi was broadcast, but not on the same day as the first mandated announcement; 2) within the fourteen days following the broadcasts of the announcements, to provide written confirmation of the airing of the statement to the complainants who filed the Ruling Requests; and 3) at that time, to provide the CBSC with a copy of that written confirmation and with air check copies of the broadcasts of the two announcements which must be made by CHOI-FM.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that CHOI-FM breached Clause 2 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Equitable Portrayal Code and Clauses 2 and 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics in its broadcast of a segment of Dupont le midi on February 19, 2010.  In that episode of the show, the discussion focussed on the apparel and comportment of American figure-skater Johnny Weir during the Olympic Games.  The CBSC considered that the use of certain words to describe male figure-skaters on the basis of their sexual orientation was abusive and unduly discriminatory, and thus in breach of the Human Rights Clauses of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code and the CAB Code of Ethics.  The Council also decided that the use of coarse language during hours of the day when children could be listening to the program violated Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics.

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.