CKAC-AM re an episode of Doc Mailloux (Money)

quebec regional panel
(CBSC Decision 05/06-1379)
M.-A. Murat (Vice-Chair), B. Guérin, D. Meloul, G. Moisan

the facts 

Doc Mailloux was (at times material to this broadcast) an open-line radio program hosted by psychiatrist Pierre Mailloux and his co-host Janine Ross. The program aired weekdays on CKAC (Montréal) from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The hosts and callers discussed topics related to psychology, sociology and similar disciplines, occasionally inspired by a current news story or social phenomenon. 

The episode of March 27, 2006 dealt principally with the subject of money but, under that broad heading, the discussion touched on happiness, honour and other related issues. The more pertinent dialogue follows (the full dialogue can be found in Appendix A, in French only): 

[translation]

Doc Mailloux: Janine, who said “Money doesn’t buy happiness”? [Janine laughs] Who said that? Is it, is it, I don’t know. […]

[.]

Janine: And the worst of it all, Pierre, is perhaps loaning money. I’m not talking about a few cents here, and to, to, you know, it, you never see it again.

Doc Mailloux: Well yes, because if money is not important, why pay it back, since it’s not important?You don’t give back something that is insignificant.

Janine: And, when someone lends you money, Pierre, and he’s the one guilty of asking for it back?He becomes the bad guy. [Janine laughs]

Doc Mailloux: Well no, there is something in this, because the deficient countries have no consideration for money. Take for example Cuba, North Korea, Iran. Deficient countries, profoundly deficient countries.

Janine: But, there isn’t, there isn’t any money around anyway. You don’t have –

Doc Mailloux: Thank you!

Janine: There you are!

Doc Mailloux: Thank you! A deficient country, Cuba, money, I –

Janine: When it’s about poverty, maybe you, maybe you borrow other things, but it isn’t money.

Doc Mailloux: No. It’s so, it’s so unimportant that it gets spread out fairly. Everyone has the same salary; everyone has the same thing. Everyone has nothing. Hey!? Cuba. Those who go, those who visit Cuba, could you please just open your eyes. Damned bunch of blind people. A deficient country.You’re going to visit deficients. Could you at least have the decency to observe them and to bring us back some intelligent observations, instead of walking around [mocking tone] in a bikini and a swimsuit with your belly showing, wou, wou, wou.

Janine: These are economies in the process of, they are emerging. These are economies that –

Doc Mailloux: Excuse me!?

Janine: – aren’t stable.

Doc Mailloux: Cuba, an economy in the process of, an emerging economy?

Janine: At the beginning –

Doc Mailloux: North Korea. No. Janine, if –

Janine: Emerging, Pierre, it’s beginning.

Doc Mailloux: Janine, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. They are, they are countries that do not havean economy, that attribute no importance –

Janine: That’s right.

Doc Mailloux: – to money.

Janine: It’s beginning to emerge.

Doc Mailloux: No! Not at all in Cuba, zero.

Janine: Yup! They’re trying, Pierre.

Doc Mailloux: They’re damned deficients. [Janine laughs] No; they don’t even try. They act in bad faith, because they don’t want money to become important. They’re deficient to the point of denying a major social dimension. I’m not telling you it is the only dimension, Janine. Those naïve individuals out there who are listening this afternoon. No; don’t call me to give me hell, to say [mocking tone] “The only thing that counts for him is money.” Well no, dummies, it isn’t true. It’s not because I’m saying that money is important, that only money is important. [Janine laughs] No, no, hey, please.

Janine: Money helps, but it’s not everything.

Doc Mailloux: No, it’s not the only factor.

After further discussion on various aspects of money, Doc Mailloux made the observation that Quebecers have little respect for money and for the property of others. The discussion then focussed on Cuba and Russia

[translation]

Janine: Is it possible that to their way of thinking, people who borrow money view it as a collective thing?

Doc Mailloux: Yes.

Janine: You’re a welfare recipient; your money belongs to me.

Doc Mailloux: Yes. Yes, that’s Cuba. That’s what I’m trying so hard to tell you. It’s like Cuba. It’s that money is – how can I explain this to you – it’s like water and the air we breathe.

Janine: It doesn’t belong to anyone.

Doc Mailloux: It doesn’t belong to anyone.

Janine: [Laughing] Fine.

Doc Mailloux: And there is no property in Cuba. In the Soviet Union – most Quebeckers don’t know this – properties belonged, lands, the earth, belonged to the state, never to individuals.

Janine: Everything had been confiscated, of course.

Doc Mailloux: It’s, it’s public property, so I could just walk around. A Soviet citizen could just go anywhere he pleased. No one could tell him “listen, smarten up, you’re on my turf”. Of course not, since it’s public property. He has the right to be anywhere and in Quebec, there is a percentage of the population with that damned mentality.

[.]

Doc Mailloux: Do Cubans have a sense of honour? No! No sense of honour, because they are a subservient tribe. They obey, but you must understand that a sense of honour is an impetus that comes from inside one’s self. It’s like enthusiasm; it’s like motivation.

Janine: And it’s defendable. You can defend –

Doc Mailloux: Let’s not mix apples and oranges, my friends!

Janine: In that case, Pierre, you can defend your honour. You can def-, when you have something to defend, when you have something to be proud of, you will defend your honour and you will pay your debts.

Doc Mailloux: Yes.

Janine: So, you need to have a very positive self-image to be able to say I’m defending my honour.

Doc Mailloux: Will a Cuban make good on his debts? Ne-ver!

Janine: Individually, Pierre, they can have pride –

Doc Mailloux: Never! Collectively –

Janine: – [???].

Doc Mailloux: No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no.

Janine: Individually.

Doc Mailloux: No, no. No, no. No, no. The Russians. Do the Soviets have a sense of honour, do they pay their debts? No! They, they steal and they rob each other. Because it’s, you see, those are the perverse effects of collective submission. Is, you know, you have to think about it a minute. Try imagining a subservient group, a group that is subjugated.

During a dialogue with caller Carole, who told the story of her husband’s loan to her brother, the host drew a link between the loan and her husband’s masculinity, focussing on his level of sexual arousal. 

[translation]

Doc Mailloux: How is it that he agreed to lend two thousand to your brother?

Carole: I don’t know.

Doc Mailloux: My impression is that he wanted to puff out his chest a bit.

Carole: Excuse me?

Doc Mailloux: My impression is that he wanted to puff out his chest a bit. That’s a very male thing. You know, strut his stuff, be a peacock.

Janine: I can loan money, that means [??] my business –

Doc Mailloux: You know. No, no, but strut his stuff for your benefit.

Carole: For my benefit?

Doc Mailloux: Yes, strut his stuff a bit.

Carole: Is that right?

Doc Mailloux: Is that possible?

Carole: [Laughing] I don’t know.

Doc Mailloux: A bit of –

Janine: [???].

Doc Mailloux: After he loaned the money, were there any changes in his erections? Did you notice anything?

Carole: No.

Doc Mailloux: No, no difference on that level?

Carole: No. No.

Doc Mailloux: A better hard-on or a bit more …

Carole: No.

Doc Mailloux: No?

Carole: No.

Doc Mailloux: No?

Carole: No.

Janine: But, what if it was something else, Pierre? Have these two men known each other a long time, and then something could have happened [??].

Doc Mailloux: No, no, no. It’s a male thing. No, no. That’s a male thing. It’s a male thing.

[.]

Doc Mailloux: That’s not my goddamned problem. [original French: Ça c’est pas mon hostie problème.]

[.]

Doc Mailloux: And that’s why we’re talking about it. Many women will, will agree to loan money, um, because they’re driven by some sort of feeling toward the person asking for the loan. But, they’re going to get fucked.

Following various other discussion points, Doc Mailloux embarked on the subject of national intellectual quotients, with at least an oblique reference to the host’s previous contentious comments on radio and television on the subject of IQs. That part of the dialogue went as follows: 

[translation]

Doc Mailloux: Agence France-Presse, not Mailloux, mind you. So all the little dopes who hate me, are going to hate me for some damned good reasons.

[.]

Doc Mailloux: No idea! A damned moron like Mailloux stuck his nose where he had no business; with an average IQ. What is an average IQ, Janine?

[.]

Doc Mailloux: It means the average, O.K., in that group. The Germans beat the Dutch by a hair – and the Poles – and this is surprising – the Poles with an average IQ of 106.

Janine: Hmm, hmm, yes.

Doc Mailloux: So, in the sample Polish group studied by this clown, the average IQ was 106 in the Polish group and 107 in the German group.

Janine: That’s very close.

Doc Mailloux: It’s very, very close.

Janine: Yes.

Doc Mailloux: The Swedes rated 104, the Italians 102, O.K.? In the British group, the average IQ was 100.

Janine: Hmm, hmm. That’s a difference of seven points.

Doc Mailloux: Yup. The Brits –

Janine: And yet, Pierre, the British, the Americans, and all that; they’re the ones who ended the last world war; they opposed the Germans.

Doc Mailloux: Of course, but wait a minute. Moving right along; what you said was interesting.

Janine: [???]

Doc Mailloux: But, they have a comfortable margin over the Spanish with an average IQ of 98, and especially the French with an average IQ of 94. [Janine laughs.] An average IQ of 94 and 107; that’s a big difference. That’s a difference of seven points.

Janine: [Laughing] For those who fight over their borders all the time; historically.

Doc Mailloux: Well, it indicates that there are many more; listen there are some bright French people, but there are proportionally more bright Germans than bright French. That’s what is meant by an average IQ.

Janine: What about the brightest ones, Pierre?

Doc Mailloux: Listen carefully.

Janine: How high is the number for the brightest ones?

Doc Mailloux: No.

Janine: What’s the number?

Doc Mailloux: For the brightest ones?

Janine: One hundred and thirty, 140?

Doc Mailloux: Yes, yes, of course, yes. Those are the geniuses and they can be found among all peoples, even the Blacks. And, listen carefully, the lowest; do you know who the lowest were in that sample? Romania, Turkey and Serbia. Totally by chance, Romania, that country that …

Janine: Where there is upheaval, Pierre, where there is a great deal of upheaval.

Doc Mailloux: That country, that country, that deficient country in my opinion. Perhaps I wasn’t so wrong after all.

On April 3, a listener sent the following complaint to the CBSC (the full text of all correspondence can be found in Appendix B, available in French only): 

[translation]

I am writing to ask you to assess comments made by Doc Pierre Mailloux in his March 27, 2006 broadcast that I consider to be contemptible, derogatory, racist and disparaging toward the Cuban and Soviet peoples.

He claims, for example, that Cubans have no sense of honour and that they are a subservient tribe, adding that Cubans do not (never) honour their debts. He also claims that Cuba is a deficient country.

With respect to the Soviets, the doc mentions that they do not honour their debts, that they steal and rob each other.

These comments are most likely a reflection of prejudice toward these peoples, and I consider them to be discriminatory, racist, offensive and prejudicial toward them.

In my opinion, these comments made by Doc Mailloux do not comply with the broadcasting law and regulations, the code of ethics, or the CBSC’s standards. 

The Director of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs of Corus Radio Québec responded on April 23. That letter said, in pertinent part: 

[translation]

The CBSC has asked us to answer your e-mail in which you express your concerns about comments made by Doctor Pierre Mailloux during his program Un Psy à l’écoute [sic], broadcast on CKAC March 27, 2006.

As you know, CKAC-AM’s service programs, commentaries, open-line shows and discussions on various issues, including public interest issues, target an adult audience.

Your e-mail sets out your concerns with respect to the program Un Psy à l’écoute. More specifically, you maintain that the host’s comments were inflammatory, racist and hurtful with respect to the Cuban and Soviet communities. You stress certain comments made by Doctor Mailloux and you maintain that they are prejudicial to these communities and that you consider them discriminatory.

We recognize that some of the terms used by the host were very harsh and that many individuals could find them offensive. However, we feel that given the context of the discussion aired that day, Doctor Mailloux’s comments cannot be considered inflammatory where the Cuban and Russian communities are concerned. Rather, these comments should be perceived as a political discourse and criticism of Cuba as a country and of its politics and government. While we may or may not agree with the host’s political observations and comments, the fundamental idea of the discussion that took place was aimed at political entities and not individuals as such. 

On May 1, the complainant registered his dissatisfaction with the broadcaster’s reply in the following terms: 

[translation]

In his reply of April 23, 2006, the broadcaster attributes comments to me that I did not make in my complaint to the CRTC. When he points out that I found Doc Mailloux’s comments “inflammatory” in the program at issue, that is his choice of words, not mine. He should have said that I found the Doc’s comments concerning Cubans and Soviets contemptible, derogatory and racist.

With respect to CKAC’s explanations to the effect that this should be perceived as a political discourse, I remain convinced that the excerpts I drew to your attention in my complaint are completely gratuitous statements targeted at people – Cubans and Soviets – that are based on no known study.

CKAC claims that the Doc Mailloux program targets an adult audience and that the comments made on that program should be governed by the off button. It should be kept in mind that this program airs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday and that calls are regularly made to the program by parents who are at home with their children, or presumably parents with children old enough to understand, be they in the car or elsewhere. Do these children really have any control over the radio? In addition, some teenagers sometimes participate in the program and are even invited to do so, as was the case in the April 20, 2006 program when a 15 year-old girl called in. I would ask the CRTC to listen to the tape of that program in order to judge whether the comments made were acceptable in light of the CRTC or CBSC standards of ethics, in a context where young people take part in the program.

Given that the level of UNDULY offensive, derogatory and racist language that I deplore in my complaint constitutes a repeat offence, I am of the opinion that the broadcaster is not being serious about taking steps to correct the level of quality of the Doc Mailloux program, as required by CRTC standards, and that furthermore, Doc Mailloux, host Janine Ross and CKAC-730AM should be penalized if deemed appropriate by the CRTC. 

 

the decision 

The Quebec Regional Panel examined the complaint under the following provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (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. 

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: 

[…]

(b) Unduly sexually explicit material; and/or

(c) Unduly coarse and offensive language.

The Panel listened to a recording of the broadcast of March 27 episode and reviewed all of the correspondence. The Quebec Regional Panel concludes that portions of the broadcast are in breach of the Clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics cited above.

 

Limits of Race-related Commentaries

It has long and consistently been established by CBSC Panels that it is not just any mention of the groups identified in the Human Rights Clause of the CAB Code of Ethics that will fall afoul of the prohibition contained in that Clause. It is only those mentions that are abusive or unduly discriminatory that are prohibited there. Moreover, genuine political or historical observations, or opinions based on political or historical events are likely to survive scrutiny, although care must be taken by broadcasters to ensure that such content is not excessive. There is no doubt that the CBSC will look closely at statements that could have the effect of abusing, or unduly discriminating against, individuals on the basis of their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion or the like since they tread in delicate societal territory. In the view of the Panel, there is, in the area of human rights, much at stake. Abusive comments pierce souls rather than skins. They do not just offend; they harm. Flippant, thoughtless or heedless in the mouth of the speaker, such comments become weighty and painful in the ears of the affected. Consequently, the CBSC Panels examine such complaints with the measure of the impact very much in mind. 

In the matter at hand, the complainant has variously characterized the host’s language as contemptible, racist, derogatory, offensive and prejudicial. In terms of the Human Rights provision of the CAB Code of Ethics, the Panel finds that some of the language used was both abusive and unduly discriminatory, and some was not. That which characterized the politics of countries was not. It was fair for the host not to favour Socialist policies, ownership by the state rather than individuals, and the lack of personal ambition that may result in such regimes. As the Ontario Regional Panel said in CILQ-FM re the Howard Stern Show (CBSC Decision 99/00-0717 and -0739, June 28 2001), when commenting that Haitians should “stay in their own country” and “you’ve got to build a friggin’ wall around Los Angeles to keep the Mexicans out”, 

It is nothing more or less than a political perspective regarding both the issue of immigration and, it appears, the question of assimilation. He has made no comment whatsoever suggesting that American citizens of other national or ethnic groups be stripped of their citizenship and returned to their countries of origin. He does not wish new immigrants. It is a defensible view in terms of the freedom of expression. The Panel finds no breach in this part of the broadcast. 

On the other hand, the comments about the people were of a different genre. They pulled no punches. They allowed for no subtleties. They were sweeping and cruel. Cuba, North Korea and Iran were described as [translations] “deficient countries, profoundly deficient”. The Cuban people were also described as “deficients” (“You’re going to visit deficients” and “damned deficients”). There were additional insults directed at the Cubans. 

[translation]

 Do Cubans have a sense of honour? No! No sense of honour, because they are a subservient tribe. They obey .

 [.]

 Will a Cuban make good on his debts? Ne-ver! 

And then the Russians became the targets of the host’s acerbity. 

[translation]

 The Russians. Do the Soviets have a sense of honour, do they pay their debts? No! They, they steal and they rob each other. 

The host later added an utterly unnecessary abusive comment to a group previously targeted by him, namely, the Black community. In discussing national IQs, he said: 

[translation]

 Those are the geniuses and they can be found among all peoples, even the Blacks. [emphasis added]

 

Despite the earlier discussion of subtleties in the area of discriminatory comment, the Panel finds no necessity to resort to fine brush strokes here; the comments of the host referred to above were blatantly abusive and discriminatory. Indeed, they are not unlike those dealt with by this Panel in CKAC-AM re an episode of Doc Mailloux (CBSC Decision 03/04-0453, February 10, 2005), where the host referred to Sikhs as a “gang of bozos”. While the Panel found the general discussion of the immigration issue that was the overriding subject of the day defensible on the basis of freedom of expression, it considered that the host had gone too far in his comment about Sikhs.

When, however, he holds identifiable groups up to ridicule and disrespect by making abusive or unduly discriminatory comments, he crosses the line of entitlement and loses the benefit of the shield of free expression. […] The bottom line is that the Panel considers that the host is entitled to espouse his chauvinistic intolerance until such time as his disrespect leaks into individual races and nationalities, as it did when he referred to the Sikhs as “a gang of bozos” (translation). It is the view of the Quebec Panel that that allegation is abusive and unduly discriminatory and is in breach of Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

In the present matter, the Panel also finds the broadcaster in breach of Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics. 

 

Sexual Content 

The CBSC has considered the issue of sexual content on radio on numerous occasions. The issue, as anticipated in Clause 9 of the CAB Code of Ethics, turns on the word “unduly”. In other words, sexual content may be broadcast on the radio at any time of day, provided that it is not unduly sexually explicit. Thus, sexual innuendo, even overt or explicit sexuality, and the mention of genitalia will be acceptable, provided that the unduly explicit line is not crossed. In an earlier decision involving the same radio host, namely, CKAC-AM re an episode of Doc Mailloux (Adolescent Sexuality) (CBSC Decision 05/06-1104, June 30, 2006), this Panel found that the broadcaster had gone farther than the Code permitted. In discussing comments made by actor Bruce Willis about adolescent boys, the host permitted, if not encouraged, the conversation to range widely into the area of adolescent sexuality, and he elicited the discussion of previous experiences from his callers. 

[T]he Panel considers that there were several examples of comments that were unduly sexually explicit for a time of the day when children could be expected to be listening. Moreover, it was perfectly clear that a child had been listening, as the host carried on a dialogue with émilie, who had identified herself as being 11 years old. The following references, whether individually or cumulated, exceed the bounds of the acceptable in a broadcast at that time of day: [translations] “fuck a woman”, “screw with other girls” (a comment made, in this instance, by a caller, but one for which the broadcaster is nonetheless responsible), “screw his daughters”, “I got sucked, I ate a woman’s clitoris”, “the little [.] vagina will begin to lubricate”, the lengthy and detailed description by caller Alexandre of his first experience of sexual intercourse, even the dialogue with émilie regarding the sexual activities of her parents, and caller Claude’s description of having “felt up. girls”. 

In the challenged broadcast, although the mentions of sexual content (all of which occurred in the dialogue with caller Carole) were not as frequent, those that were spoken were unduly explicit. Moreover, in the view of the Panel, they were utterly unnecessary to the issue being discussed. They were gratuitously explicit and inappropriate for the time of day of the challenged episode. Consequently, the Panel finds the broadcaster in breach of Clause 9(b) of the CAB Code of Ethics

 

Coarse Language 

In some senses, the issue regarding language in the matter at hand calls for less subtlety of assessment than the issues of human rights and sexual content. The words (or closely related terms) used by the host, namely, “hostie” and “fourrer”, have been found in breach on previous occasions by this Panel when aired at times of the day when children could be listening. In CJMF-FM re a commentary on Bouchard en parle (CBSC Decision 05/06-0326, February 3, 2006), for example, the Panel said of the word “tabernac'”, which the Panel finds equivalent to “hostie” for these purposes, 

[T]he use of the language was gratuitous. Not only was it unnecessary, it was irrelevant to the phrases it adorned. […] It is obvious that not all swear words will be problematic, even during times of the day when children could be listening. It is the view of the Panel that “tabernac'” and certain other words of the genre (which the Panel is not called upon to list in the circumstances under consideration) is one word which does fall on the list of words generally to be avoided in Francophone broadcasting. 

In another decision concerning the same broadcaster and radio host as are under consideration in the present matter, namely, CKAC-AM re an episode of Doc Mailloux (Adolescent Sexuality) (CBSC Decision 05/06-1104, June 30, 2006), this Panel considered that “fourrer” [English approximate equivalent: “to fuck”] was a word that fell squarely within the level of unduly coarse or offensive language. It does so again here and finds the broadcaster in breach of Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics

 

The Consequences of Repetitive Breaches 

Where a broadcaster appears to have committed three breaches of the same codified standard or member responsibility, it is the practice of the CBSC to advise it publicly of this fact and to require a written commitment of compliance for the future. For this step to be taken, the third breach must have occurred in a time frame that would have given the broadcaster information about the CBSC’s rulings on the issue of the breach prior to the third broadcast. In the matter under consideration, the third breach did not occur within those time-lines, so no such order is appropriate. Such a breach did, however, occur in a decision of even date rendered by this Panel, for which discussion see CKAC-AM re an episode of Doc Mailloux (Childless by Choice) (CBSC Decision 05/06-1671, December 11, 2006). 

 

Broadcaster Responsiveness 

It is the practice of all CBSC Adjudicating Panels to assess the broadcaster’s responsiveness to the complainant. Although it is, of course, the case that the broadcaster need not agree with the complainant, it is expected that its representatives charged with replying to complaints will address the complainant’s concerns in a thorough and respectful manner. In the matter at hand, the Panel considers that the response of the Director of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs to the complainant fulfilled the broadcaster’s obligation of responsiveness. 

 

Decision announcement 

CKAC 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 Doc Mailloux was broadcast; 2) within the fourteen days following the broadcast of the announcements, to provide written confirmation of the airing of the statement to the complainant who filed the Ruling Request; 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 CKAC. 

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that CKAC has breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics in its broadcast of the Doc Mailloux episode of the afternoon of March 27, 2006. By broadcasting nasty, prejudicial and racist comments about Cuban, Russian and Black people, CKAC breached Clause 2 of that Code, which prohibits the broadcast of abusive or unduly discriminatory comments about people on the basis of their national or ethnic origin. By broadcasting explicit comments about sexual acts and coarse and offensive language, CKAC also breached Clauses 9(b) and 9(c) of the Code, which prohibit the broadcast of unduly sexually explicit material and unduly coarse language at a time of the day when children can be expected to be listening to the radio.

 

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