Word TV was, at all times material to the complaint, a religious program broadcast by CITS-TV (CTS – Crossroads Television, Ontario) and hosted by evangelical Christian leader Dr. Charles McVety, who is also the president of Canada Christian College. (Word TV was subsequently taken off the air by the broadcaster.) The program (whose tag line was “Christian News Commentary”) generally featured Dr. McVety talking about recent news events. He occasionally had a guest on the program to discuss the issues with him; however, that was not the case in any of the three episodes reviewed in this document. During the challenged broadcasts of August 15, 22 and 29, 2010, there were also promotional spots for Canada Christian College, the Evangelical Christian magazine, and DVDs that McVety had produced or recommended to his audience. Each of the three episodes aired at 11:00 pm and, although no ratings icon was required by the CBSC-administered codes, the broadcaster chose to benefit potential viewers by displaying a G ratings icon at the beginning of the show.
Since the complainant complained about the denigration of the gay and Muslim communities, only the pertinent portions of the transcripts of the three episodes are cited in this decision text. Far lengthier transcripts and descriptions of all three episodes can be found in Appendix A; the complete correspondence from both the complainant and the broadcaster can be found in Appendix B to this decision.
August 15, 2010
Following the introduction, in which Charles McVety briefed the audience on the topics of the day, including “doubtful” tax spending and “questionable” government practices, a promo for Canada Christian College was shown. After the promo, McVety began his monologue by asserting that the “Canadian government is apparently funding new jobs to edit pornography.” After continuing in that vein, he added the following comment to his diatribe against the government:
Go to word.ca, and sign that petition to stop funding these dirty movies, to stop funding this type of pornography, to stop funding this terrible [McVety holds up the Health and Physical Education Ontario Curriculum booklet for grades 1-8], sex education curriculum that is now back in our schools, even though the Premier said he would withdrew, -draw it. All they did was play a shell game and they presented as Equity and Inclusive Education [a booklet entitled Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy is shown on the screen] and shaping a culture of respect in our schools, but really all it is, is smut, it’s pornography. It is really the sexual abuse of our children. And we are paying for it.
A promo for the DVD Besieged: Democracy is Under Attack followed. According to the commercial, the Canadian Supreme Court system had been corrupted. A voice-over accompanying the commercial message alleged:
Canadian activist judges have legalized fictitious child pornography, reduced the age of consent for anal sex to 14, legalized sex clubs for orgies, and redefined marriage and family. This shocking new full-feature film, Besieged, exposes the truth about Canada’s Supreme Court. […]
He then railed against the HST, other forms of taxation and government expenditure; he then returned briefly to the question of sex education.
Yes, we are being taxed to death. We are watching money being spent on frivolous projects. You see the signs all over the country where they are spending your tax dollars, they are spending it on terrible things like these sex education programs, the funding of pornography and what do they do? They then raise our taxes to the point where we cannot stand any longer. This is how they erode our, our society.
The truth will change this country of Canada, but we must exercise it, we must get it out there. We must stop these things like Sticks and Stones [McVety displays a book on screen] being shown to our children, where they teach our children that Mother and Father is something not to be spoken of. Where they teach our children that, that they may not be the sex that was assigned to them at birth. This is nonsensical and we need to take a stand and stop it.
August 22, 2010
Following the introduction, in which Charles McVety briefed the audience on the principal topics of the day, namely, abortion and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech in Turkey, a promo for Canada Christian College was shown. After the promo, McVety began a strong statement on the subject of abortion, abortion laws, Dr. Henry Morgentaler and related subjects, extending somewhat beyond that category of comment to issues of Down syndrome and racism, and thence to his own interpretation of the notion of an Eeyore Complex applicable to Canada. When he spoke of Prime Minister Cameron’s speech in Turkey, he characterized it as having “cursed Israel” and referred to the fates of other nations that had done that over the centuries. He then dealt with an aspect of the speech that related to Islam rather than Israel. In McVety’s words, Prime Minister Cameron
went on to talk of, to condemn those “who wilfully misunderstand Islam” and he said they do so because, they, because “they see no difference between radical Islam, between general Islam, real Islam and the distorted version peddled by extremists.”
The actual quote that appeared on screen read as follows:
Turkey can be a great unifier, because instead of choosing between East and West, Turkey has chosen both; or those who wilfully misunderstand Islam because they see no difference between real Islam and the distorted version peddled by the extremists.
Dr. McVety went on to explain his view of the Cameron speech in the following terms:
He went on to say and I quote [the quote appeared on the screen. McVety read out loud what he saw on the screen], “Let me turn to the prejudiced, those who don’t differentiate between real Islam and the extremist version they don’t understand the values of Islam, that Islam shares with other religions like Christianity and Judaism and all of these that are inherently peaceful religions. Let me be clear, he said, the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. And I have told Prime Minister Netanyahu we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear, David Cameron went on to say, that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp. [End of David Cameron quote.]
Now, the first question is: why is that cursing Israel? Well, everything he said in that statement is a curse of Israel. The first statement, that “Gaza is a prison camp”. The Palestinians, the Hamas, the terrorist group, they wanted their own land where they could govern themselves and not participate in Israel in any way, shape or form. So Israel said, “OK, we’ll give you the land, you can participate your own way, but you cannot bring in weapons to kill us.” So they set up a blockade to stop the weapons but they allow all humanitarian goods to flow freely. But what has happened? They put on this other guise, this lie that Israel has created a prison camp and David Cameron is cursing Israel telling the world that, that Israel has created a prison camp and the poor Palestinians are suffering because of it. No! The Palestinians are suffering because their leaders have sent ten thousand rockets over the last five years, into Israel, killing people. That is the horror of this. He then -, David Cameron cursed Israel also with this issue of the flotilla. You remember the Gaza flotilla? What was this? It was a ship from Turkey, led by a terrorist organization, IHH, out of Turkey. And this terrorist organization wanted to go in and have a fight with Israeli soldiers and become martyrs to kill people. That was Turkey, the Turkish government and he is trying to say that there, that that is just fine and that Israel was all wrong. What did they do? If, if, if a ship, a hostile ship sailed into British territory, do you think the British Coast Guard would go out and board that ship and, and try to see what they’re doing? You better believe it! Now, what if the terrorists on the ship started beating those soldiers to death? Do you think more soldiers would come in and rescue those British soldiers? You better believe it! But David Cameron curses Israel for it, and says you were wrong for it, and that is what is uh completely un-, unacceptable. But also, David Cameron says that Islam is a peaceful religion and anyone who doesn’t differentiate between the extremists and Islam is wilfully doing so. Well, I beg to differ Mister Prime Minister, because you’re talking to the Turkish, you’re talking to the Turks, you’re talking to the people that led the Armenian genocide a hundred years ago in 1915, where over a million Armenians were led to their death, the uh, the viciousness of their Ottoman Empire. You’re talking to the Turks that just sent that, that attack ship into Israeli territory. You’re talking to the Turks that have unfortunately committed a lot of uh a-, atrocities, so you cannot make that differentiation. Why? Because it comes from the stem of the teaching of the Qur’an and yes there are many peaceful Muslims and we need to love them and care for them and, and, and be, be as kind as possible to them. But the extremists, you cannot side with and David Cameron is siding with the extremists and alls [sic], and all that does is bring destruction.
B’nai Brith has put out a petition and I want to ask you to go to our website, word.ca, and sign that petition to ask for Canada to make IHH a terrorist organization in this country. Why? Because, then a lot of charity dollars can’t flow to a terrorist organization. They are a terrorist organization, you can read about what they’re doing, and you can see how they are bringing death and destruction, not just on that Gaza flotilla, but with many other incidences around this world. So go on the website, sign that petition, call us 416-391-500 or at the 800 number, 1-866-743-9112. And you can make a difference. We will be right back after this short break.
August 29, 2010
As was his practice, McVety mentioned the topics that will be discussed throughout the episode, namely, Islam and “victory mosques”. Following the introduction, there was a promo for the Canada Christian College as well as the DVD entitled Besieged. He then began with the issue of what he described as “victory mosques”.
Welcome to Word TV. This week in the news, the American government is supporting the building of an Islamic victory mosque in New York City near the site of the 9/11 bombings. But here in Canada, we are even more ridiculous because we have been funding a similar Islamic mosque in Ottawa. And now we’re funding a massive three hundred million dollar mosque right here in Toronto just three doors away from Canada Christian College. Now, how do we know that this is a victory mosque in New York City? It is a very strong statement to call it a victory mosque, because of course these Muslim leaders are very, very cagey, they’re very careful, and in Canada they call it a centre of pluralism. They use nice words like the Cordoba Initiative for Peace and, and, and for pluralism, and this all sounds wonderful, but the fact of the matter is, is that these are victory mosques. In New York City, they call it the Cordoba House, the Cordoba Initiative and an imam from New York City has bought a property just a block and half from the New York World Trade Center site and he is building this Cordoba House, this Cordoba Initiative. Why would he choose the name Cordoba? Well, it happens to be, if we understand Islamic history, that, in the 8th Century, the Muslims defeated the Spanish, they took over Spain and to commemorate their victory, they built the Cordoba Mosque in Cordoba, Spain, a tremendous mosque built on the ruins of a Christian Byzantine church and they built that mosque to celebrate their victory. Now they are building the Cordoba House in New York City to celebrate their victory on September 11th. And, and many people say well: “No! No person on Earth would celebrate such a horrific cause.” But, you know what? You look at this video, as, as on September 11th, Muslims around the world were celebrating the, the, the downing of these towers [images of the World Trade Center falling to the ground appear on screen], the killings of thousands of Americans. They were shouting in the street “watch this video” as they give the V for victory sign.
What follows is the transcript of the above-mentioned video clip:
Man’s voice: The V sign for victory being displayed uh, in East Jerusalem today, among jubilant Palestinians uh that the United States have been subject to this attack. What are we to make of that, Jennifer, um are we to, Yasser Arafat may issue this condemnation. Look at this, we’re seeing people applauding, clapping, smiling [images of people on the streets celebrating, waving flags] uh, happy to, to know that thousands of Americans have died in this sneak attack and there you see a V for victory sign uh held up to the camera.
McVety then returned to his rant on the subject of the building of “victory mosques”:
Yes! They give, they believe it was victory over the infidels, victory to world ward [sic], world dominance. One of our graduates was working in a local business in Toronto and they all, the Muslims all stopped, they huddled around the television set and when those, those World Trade Centers came down, they cheered, they gave high fives. Why? Because is, in Islamic theology and in Is-, Islamic, teaching, they believe that Allah is supreme if Allah gives them victory and the victory Cordoba Mosque is now going to be built in New York City with the support of the American government. The Muslims have a history of building these victory mosques. The first one was the A-, Abrahemian [sic, generally known as the Ibrahimi] Mosque built in Hebron in 637 AD. This is the holy site, the tomb of the patriarchs, the tomb of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was very symbolic that they built this mosque over the tomb of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because we refer to the God of Israel, the God of Christianity, the God of the Jewish people, the living God. We refer to Him as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to prove the superiority, the supremacy of, of Allah, they built the mosque on that site. They then went and continued a few years later in late 7th Century when, when Khalif Abdul Malak went and he built the Dome of the Rock, that beautiful building in the middle of Jerusalem, that gold dome. That dome is a victory mosque. It was built on the site of a, of a Byzantine Church. The Byzantines built all of their churches with eight sides, an octagon, and with the place of importance in the middle and then a dome over that place of importance. That’s exactly the construction of the Dome of the Rock. They built this building and constructed it to prove that Allah was supreme over the God of Christianity, the God of Israel. And, they built it on the very place that was the seat of the God of Israel, the Jewish Temple. They built it on the ruins of that Jewish Temple, to declare that Allah is supreme. They have this history of building vic-, victory mosques and, and, on, on that Dome of the Rock, on the facade, on the, that surrounds the perimeter. They have a, a, a, a Qur’anic saying that says that “God is one and He has no son.” And they declare that over and over on the outside and then you go on the inside of that mosque and what does it say again?: “God is one and He has no son”, declaring victory over the God of Jesus Christ, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Well, it didn’t stop there of course. It then continued into Spain, in the 8th Century when they went and defeated the Spanish, the Christians, the Byzantines that were there and they built this Cordoba Mosque, the great Cordoba Mosque to declare their victory, they built it on the, on the ruins of a church that they had destroyed. They continued to do this all over the world and in Damascus in 715 A.D., they built a mosque, a victory mosque over the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. Why? Because it showed that they had supremacy over the Christians and the Jews. But it didn’t stop there. They went to Delhi, to India and in 1193, they built a victory mosque over an old Hindu temple. They continued this all the way into Con-, Constantinople and they changed the name of Constantinople to Istanbul. Of course Constantinople named after the great Constantine, who legalized Christianity, who brought together the great founding fathers that put together the canon of scripture. They put together the doctrine that we know as Christianity today. Constantine. Then Constanople [sic] was def-, was de-, the, the Christians were defeated and the Muslims took over the Ottoman Empire and they renamed it, they re-, they renamed it Constanople [sic], Instanbul [sic]. And in 1453, they established a new victory mosque in Constantinople or Istanbul. This continues to this day. In Kosovo, in the middle of Europe, that goes all the way back to the Elyrica [sic] Mountains of the New Testament where, where, where Timothy and the apostle Paul went in to preach the Gospel. And then when Christianity became legal in the 4th Century, many churches were built. Well you know what? In the last decade, in the last two decades, the Muslims have taken over Kosovo, they have destroyed over three hundred churches that go back to that 4th Century and replaced most of them with mosques. It is unbelievable that they have the gall to build a victory mosque at the site of 9/11. But worse than that, it is supported by the American government. [Video of Barack Obama speaking appears on screen.] The, the, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, he says that he supports the building of this. The Mayor of Bloomberg [sic], of the New York, of New York City, he says that he supports it. And even the, the Governor of New York says he will fund the building of the mosque, but he does want it to be moved a few bocks [sic], blocks away. They do this in the name of moderate Islam. But I ask you the question: why in the world is our society funding Islam in any shade? And in the next segment I’ll prove to you that these so-called moderates, are not very moderate. I want to ask you go to our website, word.ca, I want you to sign the petition, the, the petition to stop funding Islam! A year and a half ago we brought an initiative that the government of Canada had to preach Islam in Indonesia, ten million dollars and you know what? People spoke up and our government stopped, our government does listen. But you have to go the website and sign that. […]
This monologue was followed by a promo for a DVD entitled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West. It displayed images of destroyed buildings, dead bodies, people running in fear, injured citizens (with bloody faces) and burning American flags. One woman’s voice said, “When I saw the second airplane hit [image of a plane crashing in to the World Trade Center is shown], I knew Jihad has come to America.” Returning from commercial break, McVety encouraged viewers to buy both DVDs Obsession and The Third Jihad in order to better understand “just how serious this Jihad is” because they “need to know the truth.” He states: “You are not going to get the truth from CBC or CTV.” The host then continued on the subject of “victory mosques”:
Now, they are doing this in the name of moderate Islam. But I ask you the question: how moderate is this Muslim Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf when he declares that Sharia Law should be the law of the land? That America is a Sharia Law compliant state. Sharia Law does not give women any rights, con-, condones the stoning of women who, who, are, are, commit adultery, who do [sic]. You know what? It’s a really barbaric law, but this so-called moderate says it should be the law of the land. He is committed to it. As a Muslim Imam, he must be committed to it. But watch this short clip as he says that America has more blood on its hands than Al Qaeda.
The video appeared on screen and viewers heard the voice of a man saying the following: “Um, we tend to forget in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands.”
How moderate is that? How moderate is this Imam Rauf when he is making statements like this? And now he is building the Cordoba Mosque, a victory mosque. And what happens? The President of the United States, Barack Obama, goes and makes a statement where he says he supports the building of this mosque in Lower Manhattan. By the way, Manhattan already has one hundred mosques. They don’t need another one. But now, they are gonna build this one hundred million dollar mosque and it is done so by a friend of the White House, a friend of Barack Obama. In fact, the, in fact the Imam right now, is not even reachable. Why? Because, he is on a worldwide, all-expenses paid tour, representing the American government. And other friends of the President are, are a part of this initiative, and, and it, it, it this, this Raoul [sic], this Imam Rauf, is part of another initiative and that is the “Free Gaza” Initiative. You know. That is the initiative to send flotillas into Israel to break the blockade of Gaza. Yes! And, and then Barack Obama’s old friend Bill Ayers is part of that “Free Gaza” movement. And, it is really incredible that they would allow this type of, of, of partnership to go on to fund uh a Muslim Imam to go around the world to represent America and then to build this mosque, a victory mosque. This Imam is part of something called the Perdana Global Peace Organization, which sounds absolutely wonderful, committed to peace. But is it P-E-A-C-E or is it P-I-E-C-E. We don’t know. Actually, we do know! Because, when he talks about, when he, when he, [sic] participates in the Perdana Global Peace Organization. Perdana is the organization that funds the flotillas that go into Gaza to break the Israel blockade. You remember as the Israeli soldiers were lowered on to this peace ship, they were struck by, by, by, by pipes and by, by all kinds of knives and weapons and, and it turned into a terrible mess where a number of people lost their lives. But why? Because this Perdana Global Peace Organization that, that, that Imam Rauf is part of, is not about peace at all. They are about breaking people into pieces. That’s why they funded 366 thousand dollars to the “Free Gaza” organization and you can see it right there on your screen [image of Imam Rauf is displayed on the screen] that this man Rauf, Imam Rauf, is part of this organization. But worse than that, this, this Cordoba Initiative is partnered by the United Nations Alliance, of which Canada is a member of this department of the United Nations to build a victory mosque in New York City! Why? Why is it happening? Why are we funding Islam? We have been asking this question for years, here on this program and we will ask our Canadian government: why are you funding the promotion of Islam? Yes, our department of Foreign Affairs has and Islamic department, a Muslim department. And, a year and a half ago, we, we raised the issue that they are spending ten million dollars to promote Islam in Indonesia. Thankfully, the Prime Minister heard our call, heard the calls of many Canadian across this country and stopped it. But he has continued to fund similar projects here in Canada. And, in, i-, in 2007, our Prime Minister was very proud to give thirty million dollars cash to the Aga Khan to build an Islamic Center in Ottawa, and get this, in Canada’s War Museum. This is the place where, we as Canadians have celebrated the Canadian victories that we have had over the decades. But now, the Prime Minister gave the Aga Khan the War Museum for the grand sum total of one dollar, and then he gave him thirty million dollars of pocket money, so he could continue to teach Islam. Now just a couple months ago, the Prime Minister was very close here to Canada Christian College. In fact, just three doors away, but he wasn’t here for a Christian College, he was here to promote Islam. He was here for the ground breaking ceremony of the Aga Khan Center, a three hundred million dollar center, right here on Wynford Drive, around the corner from Canada Christian College, in the city of Toronto. And guess who’s paying for it? You and me and the rest of Canadians. Why are we funding Islam? The promotion of Islam? Look at this headline in the National Post [image of the National Post appears] the “Aga Khan in Toronto to launch a three hundred million dollar Islamic Center. Unbelievable! They now have four huge cranes on that property and I have to pass several times each day as I go and come, come and go from, to and from Canada Christian College. This is gonna be the largest mosque in the Western hemisphere, funded by yes, you the Canadian tax-payer. What [sic] how stupid are we? How ignorant of history are we? How can we watch this happen and do nothing about it? How can we not go on the website and sign this petition? […]
As McVety cut to a commercial break, black words appeared on a grey speckled background:
We all know the horror of terrorism
And we know about their ultimate goals.
A man who was identified on screen as an “Al Qaeda Leader”, spoke in his mother-tongue. The translation at the bottom of the screen read, “We believe that the entire world must be ruled by Islam.” His words were followed by powerful images of dead bodies, burning flags, etc. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, appeared and said, “It’s a whole movement and the idea of it is hatred for our way of life.”
Words again appeared on grey background:
But there is a war you may not know about, the FBI uncovered a secret document.
The camera panned over pages on which on selected words were highlighted:
A Muslim’s destiny
More words appeared on a grey background:
That reveals the plans of the radical in America
The camera panned over pages again on which selected words were highlighted; a voice-over read the following:
The document states that their work in America is a kind of a grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a representative of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy asked rhetorically, “Are you starting to see a pattern here?” He continued by asking the question: “Is the Islamic state a threat to American Security? Yes is it!” His statements were followed by images of riots, of battles, and army soldiers in formation.
Again words on grey background appeared:
The Third Jihad
Buy this video today for $20
Voice-over: We all know about terrorism. This is the war you don’t know about.
Dr. McVety then concluded.
Welcome back to Word TV, the Cordoba House, the victory mosque at the site of 9-11, where Islamic Jihadist took down those Twin Towers and killed so many people, is about to be constructed with the help of the American government. Our government in Canada is doing pretty much the same thing, as we are funding, the, an Islamic Center right there in the Canadian War Museum and now a three hundred million dollar Islamic Center right here on Wynford Drive in Toronto. […] What happened to the separation of Church and State? We as Christians are not asking our initiatives be funded by the government, but we are protesting that our government is giving our hard earned tax dollars, taking it away from families and giving it to the Aga Khan to build Islamic Centers in this country. It must stop.
The following brief complaint was made to the CBSC on September 10:
August 15, 22 and 29, 11:00 pm, the gay and Muslim communities were generally denigrated in segments and episodes focussed on gay art, the proposed sex-ed curriculum of the Ontario and the erection of a WTC-area Mosque characterized on the show as being a Muslim batterground [sic] victory site rather than a place of worship.
The broadcaster’s reply was sent on October 6:
I have received your complaint concerning the Aug. 15/10, Aug. 22/10 and Aug. 29/10 broadcast of Word.TV on CTS TV. I have carefully reviewed these programs and offer the following comments.
Word.TV is a religious program focusing on issues of concern to the Evangelical Christian community. Your complaint against these shows is that the gay and Muslim communities were “generally denigrated” through the discussion of gay art, the sex ed. curriculum of the Ontario Ministry of Education and the proposed Mosque at ground zero in NYC. Your complaint fails to explain specifically what was said in these programs that you feel is denigrating to the gay and Muslim communities. After my review of our logger tapes of each program, I have found the following:
August 15/10 episode
- No mention of gay people
- No mention of gay art
- No mention of Muslim people
- No mention of the Mosque at WTC
- Mention the return of the sex curriculum to Ontario schools, but no mention of gay people or homosexuality or gay art.
August 22/10 episode
- No mention of gay people
- No mention of gay art
- No mention of the Ministry of Education sex ed. curriculum.
- Mention of terrorist acts by radical Islamic recognized terrorist organizations against Israel. Mentions that regular (non- terror group members) Muslims are peaceful and not terrorists and we need to love our Muslim neighbors. No denigration of the Muslim community.
August 29/10 episode
- No mention of gay people
- No mention of gay art
- No mention of the Ministry of Education sex ed. curriculum.
- Mention of terrorist acts by a radical extremist Islamic terrorist organization against at the World Trade Center on 9/11. The proposed Mosque at ground zero has been widely called a “Victory Mosque” by all major news outlets. The host explains why many people consider this to be a “Victory Mosque”. The host shares his research findings and video of radical extremists showing the victory sign as they watch news coverage of the fall of the twin towers to back up what is widely believed to be a “Victory Mosque” at ground zero. The host’s comments are based on factual information.
I did not find any evidence of the gay community or the Muslim community being denigrated in any these programs.
The Ontario Regional Panel examined the complaint under the following provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Code of Ethics and the CAB 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 Code of Ethics, Clause 6 – Full, Fair and Proper Presentation
It is recognized that the full, fair and proper presentation of news, opinion, comment and editorial is the prime and fundamental responsibility of each broadcaster. This principle shall apply to all radio and television programming, whether it relates to news, public affairs, magazine, talk, call-in, interview or other broadcasting formats in which news, opinion, comment or editorial may be expressed by broadcaster employees, their invited guests or callers.
CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 8 – Religious Programming
Broadcasters should endeavour to make available to the community adequate opportunity for presentation of religious messages and should also endeavour to assist in all ways open to them the furtherance of religious activities in the community. Recognizing the purpose of the religious broadcast to be that of promoting the spiritual harmony and understanding of humanity and of administering broadly to the varied religious needs of the community, it shall be the responsibility of each broadcaster to ensure that its religious broadcasts, which reach persons of all creeds and races simultaneously, shall not be used to convey attacks upon another race or religion.
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.
The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and viewed the challenged episodes. The Panel concludes that none of the three episodes violated any of the foregoing codified standards.
Content related to Sexual Preference
The Panel is in full agreement with the position taken by the broadcaster’s Program Director. There was simply no denigration of any persons or communities on the basis of their sexual orientation. Indeed, in reviewing every minute of each of the three episodes with great care, the Adjudicators scarcely found any reference to gay issues of any kind. At most, there were mentions of the Ontario program relating to “inclusive education strategy” and references to pornography, sexual abuse of children and anal sex, none of which focused on homosexual activities, much less denigrating any persons or groups on that basis. There is no breach of the Human Rights Clauses on this account.
Comments relating to Prime Minister Cameron’s Speech in Turkey
The Panel appreciates that Dr. McVety characterized Prime Minister Cameron’s speech as one that “cursed Israel”. In that characterization, the Panel finds little problem. Not only was it the host’s right to have an opinion on a political leader’s major address, that July 27, 2010 speech in Ankara was widely recognized as unabashedly critical of Israel’s raid on the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla. That said, Dr. McVety was harsh in his criticism of what he argued was an unreasonable attitude by the British Prime Minister on the subject of Gaza and the reason for the plight of the Palestinians. In the view of the Panel, the host was as entitled to broadcast his perspective on Mr. Cameron’s speech as was the Prime Minister to criticize Israel.
The Panel does, however, consider that Dr. McVety went much farther in his comments. Allowing, perhaps with some reluctance, that “Islam is a peaceful religion” within which there are “many peaceful Muslims” and “extremists”, McVety identified the Turks as a severable group within Islam. He appeared to generalize about the Turks, opining first that they were “the people that led the Armenian genocide a hundred years ago in 1915.” To that historical assertion (about which there is both agreement and disagreement among historians) he added that the Turks had sent “that attack ship into Israeli territory […] and have unfortunately committed a lot of atrocities.” The Panel notes, though, that the generalizations were few in number, limited in scope, historical in nature and made within the context of an acknowledgment of a non-monolithic assessment of Islam on the one hand and a fixing of terrorist responsibilities on IHH (the Turkish NGO, known in short form as İHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı or IHH Humanitarian Relief Organization) in particular (rather than the Turkish people in general), on the other. The Panel finds no breach of the Human Rights Clauses or the full, fair and proper presentation of opinion, comment or editorial standard in Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics.
The Islamic Comments on the August 29 Episode
In dealing with the August 29 episode, the Panel considers it most useful to divide the aspects of the comments related to Islam into categories and to deal with them separately: victory mosques and the proposed New York City mosque; video celebrations re 9/11; and the funding of Islamic projects.
It appears to the Panel that Dr. McVety was attempting to cast Islam in a dubious light when he characterized the building of mosques in conquest environments as “victory mosques”. In any event, he built the case for a symbolic characterization of many mosques as victory mosques, that is to say, houses of worship evidencing a victory over a national or religious group of some description. His first reference was to the Cordoba Mosque in Cordoba, Spain, “built on the ruins of a Christian Byzantine church” in, he said, the 8th century. He then referred to a chronologically older mosque, namely, the Ibrahimi Mosque, one which he said was symbolically significant, built not out of conflict but nonetheless “to prove the superiority, the supremacy of, of Allah.” His third such reference was to the famous Dome of the Rock, built on the ruins of the Jewish Temple, again, he asserted, “to declare that Allah is supreme.” Dr. McVety continued to build his list of “victory mosques”, mentioning the Grand Mosque of Damascus (the Umayyad Mosque, said to be built “over the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist”), the Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque in Delhi (said to be built “over an old Hindu temple”), Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (said to be built in commemoration of the Muslim defeat of the Christians) and others in Kosovo (where, he said, the Muslims have destroyed more than three hundred churches, replacing them with mosques).
The host then asserted, “It is unbelievable that they have the gall to build a victory mosque at the site of 9/11.” He added that “Manhattan already has one hundred mosques,” concluding, therefore, “They don’t need another one.” The Panel, on the other hand, wonders whether there is not some gall in Dr. McVety’s attribution of an aggressive attitude by Muslims toward the mosque-building he has described as being victorious in nature. While pretending no historical expertise, the Panel wonders whether other religions have not in the course of history, perhaps even during the Crusades, built over, or converted, places of worship of other religions to the faiths of the victors. At the end of the day, even if there may be evidence of gall or arrogance on the part of the host, the Panel concludes that Dr. McVety violates no codified standard by expressing opinions based on such grounds. He is entitled to air such views provided that he does not make abusive or unduly discriminatory comments based on nationality or religion. By attributing motivations based on supremacy, victory or symbolism to Islamic mosque-building, the Panel does not consider that he has crossed the threshold into abusive or unduly discriminatory comment. Nor does the Panel consider that such opinions are unfair or improper. Distasteful to some, contentious and controversial perhaps, but not unfair or improper. The Panel finds no breach of Clauses 2 or 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics or Clause 2 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code on that account.
Video celebrations of the 9/11 attack
The Panel of course understands why Dr. McVety (and others, needless to say) would be offended by seeing persons applauding the destruction of the World Trade Center and the deaths of nearly three thousand persons. As the video voice-over relates: “Look at this, we’re seeing people applauding, clapping, smiling [images of people on the streets celebrating, waving flags], uh, happy to, to know that thousands of Americans have died in this sneak attack and there you see a V for victory sign, uh, held up to the camera.” McVety characterized those cheering in the following words: “Muslims around the world were celebrating.” He added that “in a local business in Toronto […] they all, the Muslims all stopped. […] and when those World Trade Centers came down, they cheered, they gave high fives.” The complainant may believe that that was an unreasonable attribution but the Panel does not view that description as one that the host would apply to all Muslims. He did after all refer only to East Jerusalem, on the one hand, and a local Toronto business, on the other. The Panel considers that it would be a stretch to assume that the host meant that all Muslims everywhere would have praised the 9/11 attack. He was clearly unhappy that anyone would have cheered such an event but he was certainly entitled to express a negative opinion about such persons, even though members of an identifiable group, who would support such a massacre. The Panel again notes McVety’s earlier distinction between extremist and peaceful Muslims.
Canadian funding of Islamic projects
As to Dr. McVety’s views opposing the funding of Islamic projects, the host was free to opine. His rationale for that perspective is his own business. He is as entitled to speak against such funding as he is to position himself against the funding of the training of Olympic athletes, bilingualism, parochial schooling, major military equipment purchases and so on. That said, the statement that “You and me and the rest of Canadians” are paying for the Islamic Centre on Wynford Drive is an incorrect, irresponsible and regrettable observation, but not one that, made in isolation, is sufficiently material to breach Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics.
In all CBSC decisions, the Council’s Panels assess the broadcaster’s responsiveness to the complainant. In the present instance, the Panel notes that the broadcaster’s Program Manager responded on an essentially bullet-point basis to the rather brief form of complaint sent by the complainant. The Panel also takes into account that this response is one of a number of broadcaster replies sent by the Program Manager to the same complainant. This is not to suggest that a single complainant does not have the right to file a number of complaints but only to say that the Panel is aware of the mandated dialogue that already existed between the parties. In any event, the broadcaster’s reply, even if in a bulleted format, was right to the point in terms of its focus on the specific issues raised by the complainant in the three challenged episodes of Word TV. The Panel considers that CITS-TV has fully met that membership obligation in this instance.
This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. It may be reported, announced or read by the station against which the complaint had originally been made; however, in the case of a favourable decision, the station is under no obligation to announce the result.