CJCH-AM re the Laura Schlessinger Show

(CBSC Decision 99/00-0652)
Z. Rideout (Chair), R. Cohen (ad hoc), K. MacAulay, R. McKeen, H. Montbourquette

On June 15, 2000, the complainant sent a letter to the Program Manager of CJCH-AM (Halifax) in which he complained of the episode of the Laura Schlessinger radio program which had aired “on June 12”, described by him as “the very first broadcast day beyond the 30 day period” following the release of the Panel’s decision in CFYI-AM and CJCH-AM re the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Show (CBSC Decisions 99/00-0005 and 98/99-0808, 1003 and 1137, February 9 and 15, 2000). The complainant, who followed such matters closely, had been one of the principal complainants in the previous matter. He complained, in the present case, that “Schlessinger had one of her normal tirades at approximately 4:15 in which she emphatically Frepeated her moral and scientific authority for claiming that gays are ‘biological errors’.” (The full text of his letter is annexed hereto as part of Appendix B.)

On July 19, the Program Manager replied. Since the principal part of his letter responds to the complainant’s points which are not pertinent to the matter under consideration here, its text is not quoted here but may be reviewed by interested parties in Appendix B. That part of the letter which is directly relevant, though, indicates that the station’s review of the June 12 episode revealed “nothing in this, or any other portion of the period monitored that makes any reference to gays or lesbians as ‘biological errors’.”

Clarifying the original letter in which he acknowledged that he had provided the wrong date, the complainant wrote back on July 21 to say that “the correct broadcast date was June 13.” He also enclosed a transcript for the relevant portion of that episode of the show which he had downloaded from the web site of GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation), and for which he vouched (“I can verify personally that the enclosed transcript is an accurate one”). (The complainant’s full letter also forms a part of Appendix B.) By that date, the June 13 tapes had, in the normal course of events, been recycled; however, the Program Manager “confirmed that CJCH accept[ed] GLAAD’s transcript as an accurate statement of fact,” thus enabling the CBSC to consider that original complaint. Then, on August 16, the complainant sent a further letter relating to the shows of August 9, 11 and 15. Relevant summaries, observations or quoted portions of those programs follow. Fuller transcripts of relevant material can be found in Appendix A hereto.

June 13

In the GLAAD transcript of the June 13 program, Laura Schlessinger states:

I want to read you something that was publishedtoday. You can get it on your computer; you can get it at the — let’s see –newspaper stand. I knew what that was. USA Today, Tuesday 13th, Tuesday June 13. Anarticle written by film critic Michael Medved. He’s a member of USA Today’sBoard of Contributors, and he hosts a national radio talk show, and the little salutationat the bottom of his article — that’s what I call those — says he hosts a nationalradio talk show that directly competes against Laura Schlessinger’s show. Why theyfelt the need to do that, I don’t know, but interesting.

Want to read you his piece. The reason I want to read you his piece — and there havebeen many, many pieces presenting the current issues of so-called controversy surroundingme, and this is basically the only one I’m choosing to read cover-to-cover, becauseit’s so honest, it’s so clear, and it’s so elucidating of the main issues,and it’s not just about me, which is the point I keep making.

It’s entitled “Gays Unfairly Target Dr. Laura”.

Now this is a quote from me, and it’s an accurate quote.

“’If you’re gay or a lesbian, it’s a biological error thatinhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex,’ Dr. Laura said Dec. 8 onher Web site. ‘The fact that you are intelligent, creative andvaluable…’”

As a gay,

“‘…is all true. The error is in your inability to relate sexually,intimately, in a loving way to a member of the opposite sex.’”

Let’s compare that to “I’ll stab you in the head whether you’re afag or a lez.” I don’t know — which one sounds like hate speech to you? Anyway,to continue:

“If you accept the religious notion that the most profound, timeless purposefor all sexuality is procreation, then is it truly so bigoted and irrational to suggestthat a sexual focus that can never result in children is, in evolutionary terms, ifnothing else, an error? Is this line of argument so hateful and [sic] dangerous,that it can’t even be discussed? Even Dr. Laura’s critics acknowledge that shescrupulously avoids crude insults such as ‘fag’ or ‘queer’ whendiscussing homosexual behavior. In this Jerry Springer era, it seems odd that her showshould inspire such controversy.”

Where I moved over to the other side is by the gayactivist groups… being described as hate. And I’m real tired of that becauseit’s a lie. It’s a damn lie, and they know it. But they have managed to convincethe non-activist gay civilians that I come from a position of hate. … How can I be sohypocritical as to say “I know God says, of the many forms of sexual behaviour thatare unacceptable, this is one”? Because there are many forms of sexual behaviour thatare unacceptable, like parents with their kids. That’s also unacceptable. So,there’s a list of what you’re not supposed to do. Like your dad’s new wife.There’s a long list of what you’re not supposed to do, and homosexuality is butone of them. The rest are for the heterosexuals, I guess you could say, but whatever…But, if I said hypocritically that I believe in God and God’s words, and I believe inGod’s moral direction on how were supposed to lead our lives, whether or not its whatwe want, or what we feel compelled to do. What we feel compelled to do doesn’t makeit right. God says what’s right and what’s wrong. … So, when you hear about methat I made this transition from supporting same-sex relationships to not because of hate,it’s a lie. I’m on record. I’m on tape. I did it out of compassion andreligious love. Now, if some people don’t believe in God or decide that God’sword is not relevant, well that’s theirs to deal with. It’s not my venue.It’s not my venue. But if you call me for a moral framework, I can only give you theultimate moral framework, as best I understand it. … Here's what I said: human beings,all creatures on the face of the earth, reproduce in some way. Some just have celldivision. That’s it. One microbe divides into two, and now you have two individuals.That’s not how human beings do it. Human beings do it heterosexually. That’s howwere geared. Eggs, sperm, penis, vagina. That’s just how the biology of it goes. WhatI did say is that when an individual is not so drawn to a member of the opposite sex, inbiology, that is some kind of error because it doesn't result in reproduction. … So,when I said “biological error”, I did not say a human being was a biologicalerror. I never would call a human being a biological error. I never would. That isdespicable. But I need you folks to know that the activists are lying to you. I never saidthat. Now, lets get to the other one. I’ve called people “deviants”. Wellthere are. Anybody who goes after a kid to me is a serious deviant, is evil, and theyshould be strung up by his you-know-what. But that’s not what I said. I didn't callhomosexuals “deviant”. I said that the direction of the sexual impulse deviatedfrom heterosexuality. Therefore, it was deviant from heterosexuality. I never called aperson “deviant”. Those “deviant behaviour” and “biologicalerror”, those four words, out of all the monologues and all the work I’ve doneout of twenty-five years, get repeated. Don’t you folks understand that when you seefour words and you don’t see the context, that you may be being used. Because thereis a political agenda here. … I’m sure I’m not always correct, becauseI’m not divine. But I try, and I work hard at it. But I have never called any one ofyou homosexuals or lesbians a “biological error” or a “deviant”.

Recognizing that every person has a right to full and equal recognition and to enjoycertain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall endeavour to ensure, to thebest of their ability, that their programming contains no abusive or discriminatorymaterial or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour,religion, age, sex, marital status or physical or mental handicap.

The host’s perspective is clear andunambiguous. Whether the terms she uses are “abnormal”, “aberrant”,”dysfunctional”, “disordered”, “deviant”, “anerror” or the like, her terminology is clearly pejorative. She isunhesitatingly critical, negative and unambiguous and her words are as critical andunrelenting as she can make them. In the end, she is utterly rigid about a fundamentalissue which goes to the nature, the essence of gays and lesbians. It is theview of the Councils that the host’s argument that she can “surgically”separate the individual persons from their inherent characteristics so as toentitle her to make comments about the sexuality which have no effect on the personis fatuous and unsustainable. As the Supreme Court has said, where an identifiable groupof persons is “defined by an innate or unchangeable characteristic”, it willbe protected by the human rights provision of the broadcasters’ Code of Ethicsin Canada just as all Canadians are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights andFreedoms. The sexual practices of gays and lesbians are as much a part of their beingas the colour of one’s skin or the gender, religion, age or ethnicity of anindividual. To use such brutal language as she does about such an essential characteristicflies in the face of Canadian provisions relating to human rights.

On August 15, her discussion was again limitedto the question of the “many forms of sexual behaviour that are unacceptable.”She gave examples of parents having sex with their kids or having sex “with yourdad’s new wife.” She put homosexuality in the same category. Now, the questionagain is limited to that specific area of sexual activity which could be evaluated as areligious or moral matter, something which the CBSC has previously acknowledged asdiscussable within the bounds of the codified standards. In CHCH-TV re Life Today withJames Robison (CBSC Decision 95/96-0128, April 30, 1996), the Ontario Regional Panelexplained the line which can be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable commentsregarding homosexual activity.

The host’s message was that monogamousheterosexuality was the “right” lifestyle. He expressed the view that a properinterpretation of the Bible leads to the conclusion that homosexuality is an unacceptablelifestyle (as is also the case with adulterous heterosexuality, according to hisinterpretation). It is not the Council’s mandate to determine the correctness of theviews presented, but only whether the views were presented in a non-abusive, legitimatemanner. In a contrary circumstance, they would be in breach of the Code; however, in thiscase, the Council finds that the host’s statements were expressed as his moralposition, presented in a legitimate manner and not at all as hateful commentary.

is free to describethe homosexual lifestyle as sinful, as did Life Today with James Robison, theprogram under consideration here has gone much further. It has treated support for themovement as “flimsy” and has disparaged that support (see, for example, thedismissal of a study authored by a gay activist with the general statement that “likeall gay science, it really has very flimsy foundations”). Moreover, it has attributedto the gay movement a malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial purpose, a so-called”agenda”, which, in the view of the Council, constitutes abusivelydiscriminatory comment on the basis of sexual orientation, contrary to the provisions ofClause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

Human beings do it heterosexually. That’s howwere geared. Eggs, sperm, penis, vagina. That’s just how the biology of it goes. WhatI did say is that when an individual is not so drawn to a member of the opposite sex, inbiology, that is some kind of error because it doesn't result in reproduction