Freedom Radio Network is a talk show broadcast on CHRB-AM (
Chapman: I was completely shocked. Who are we talking about, Craig?
Chapman: So, like, freedom of speech, freedom of press. You know, all the rights that, you know, Canadians have died for -
Chapman: - in two World Wars to per-, to, to persevere.
Chapman: Yeah, sure.
Chapman: So he must've said something that was incredibly vile, incredibly outrageous, incredibly defamatory.
Chapman: Mm hm.
Chapman: Yes, we could actually give the Canadian people some information to make their own decision.
Chapman: What a concept!
Chapman: So you'd already been to court, they've already said okay, but now you're getting, go again.
Chapman: Mm hm.
Chapman: So, so they haven't made a decision. They're just investigating right now?
Chapman: Mm hm.
Chapman: Mm hm.
Chapman: I would say the reverse is actually more likely to be true.
Chapman: In that, uh, the gay community is certainly trying to exercise as much power and control as they can.
Chapman: Well, I find it interesting that the Human Rights Commission can get on the, the bandwagon over this, and yet they say nothing when we bash Liberals every week from this pulpit. You would think they would be, uh, rallying in arms.
Chapman: Mm hm.
Chapman: [.] And we do waver on so many things
when people come from different cultures, different, why are they coming here?
Because they want what we have. They
want freedom. They want freedom of speech. Look what's happening in, in
Chapman: Well, I don't think anybody's in control here. [.]
Chapman: No question, no question.
Chapman: Well, pretty much. And it, basically anybody with a pulpit they want to stand upon, we now have government money being spent to allow them to have that voice. And, um.
Chapman: And got attacked by somebody in the parade.
Chapman: Yeah. I saw the, I saw the video clip and he was just standing there.
Chapman: Right. Where the -
Chapman: Mm hm.
Chapman: Well, there's certainly nothing in here that's substantiated by fact. There's nothing that says that any statements made by this radio station, by the, uh, Concerned Christians or any group has actually led to any type of violence or discriminatory behaviour. And that's one of the challenges with this, where you don't actually have to prove there's been anything wrong -
Chapman: You just have to talk about it.
Chapman: No, it would be against their entire Christian belief to do that.
Chapman: Mm hm.
Chapman: Mm hm.
Chapman: I would agree.
Chapman: Well, that's what the whole -
Chapman: That's what the whole division was about.
Protection of religious freedoms so that people could believe what
they need to believe. And, like you said,
Chapman: Well, no question. This could've been done by -
Chapman: So far, that, they haven't taken that away from us, Craig. That we are allowed to have opinions.
Chapman: And then they came for the Blacks, but I wasn't Black so I did nothing. Then finally they came for me and there was no one left to help me.
Chapman: Well, they're making
The Complaint Documents
A complaint about the episode was sent (by the individual targeted by the
co-hosts) via the CBSC website complaint form on August 16. It read as follows (the full text of all correspondence
can be found in Appendix B):
Program used to retaliate and
threaten retaliation for making a human rights complaint - abusive comments
likely to expose persons or group to hatred and contempt on basis of sexual
orientation - broadcasting false and misleading news, - violation of CAB Code of Ethics - Human Rights - violation
of Code of Ethics Clause 6 for failure
to give full, fair, and proper presentation of news, opinion and comment,
and violation of Clause 7 - Controversial Public Issues for failing to treat
fairly all subjects of a controversial issue.
On the same date, he sent an e-mail, which reads in pertinent part as follows:
My complaint, in summary, is:
- The radio show host Craig Chandler used his program to threaten retaliation against me for making a Canadian Human Rights Commission complaint about his websites.
- Mr. Chandler retaliated against me for my complaint by using this radio program to broadcast abusive, insulting and derogatory comments about me.
- Mr. Chandler and the other host made abusive comments likely to expose an individual and group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Mr. Chandler used his program to broadcast false and misleading news.
- Mr. Chandler's program violated
the CAB Code of Ethics, clause 2
- Human Rights, clause 6 - Full and Fair and proper presentation, and Clause
7 - Controversial Public Issues.
Two days earlier, he had forwarded a lengthy document to the CBSC by ordinary
mail. In it, he provided a "Background"
section, in which he mentioned the complaint sent to the Canadian Human Rights
Commission in December 2005. He also
provided considerable detail and quotations from the July 2006 episode of
the program. Since many of those quotations
are cited in the transcript provided in this decision (and its Appendix A),
the Panel finds little utility in repeating them in this letter.
Accordingly, only the linking portions of the letter are included in
this text (the full letter can, however, be found, as noted above, with all
other correspondence, in Appendix B):
During the above-noted radio program, the host, Craig Chandler, used his radio program as a platform to threatened [sic] retaliation by making the following statements:
Mr. Chandler's program further retaliated against me by making other abusive, insulting and derogatory comments about me, including:
I believe that Mr. Chandler has used his Freedom Radio Network, July 29, 2006 program to retaliate against me by publicly attacking and defaming me, and threatened further retaliation of suing me, claiming that my complaint was frivolous (in spite of the fact that the Canadian Human Rights Commission had found merit in my complaint). This is a discriminatory practice proscribed by the Act. This threat of retaliation is an attack on the right of all citizens to file Human Rights complaints. Since retaliation and threats of retaliation are discriminatory acts which is [sic] proscribed by section 14.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, I submit that the Radio Station AM 1140 has violated the Broadcasting Act, Part 1.1, section 3 (a).
ABUSIVE COMMENTS LIKELY TO EXPOSE TO HATRED OR CONTEMPT
I further believe that during this show, Mr. Chandler made abusive comments likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of the Broadcasting Act, Part 1.1, section 3 (b) and the CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 2 (Human Rights). Examples are:
False or misleading news
I further believe that during this show, Mr. Chandler broadcast false or misleading news. His comments were deliberately misleading and included false statements about my complaint. He appears to have presented a misleading version of events to inflame public opinion against homosexual persons and to promote his political and business interests. I submit that this radio station's program was in violation of the Broadcasting Act, Part 1.1, Broadcasting Content, section 3 (d). For example:
A. ALLEGATION OF A CHARGE OF A HATE CRIME
Craig Chandler said: "We've spent thousands and thousands of dollars then racking up thousands and thousands of dollars in legal bills, ah, in the Alberta Human Rights Commission cuz there was a charge of a hate crime, which you can do frivolously, by the way, in the Human Rights Commission."
This statement is clearly untrue. Neither Mr. Chandler nor his organization has been charged with any hate crime. However, complaints have been made to the Alberta Human Rights Commission for a letter published in the Red Deer Advocate newspaper, to the Canadian Human Rights Commission about hate messages communicated on the Internet. A charge of a hate crime is made under the Criminal Code. Further, I believe both Commissions can and do reject complaints where there is no reasonable grounds. In the complaints discussed by Mr. Chandler, the commissions have determined that the complaints have merit. In fact, the CHRC investigation report states: "Finding - The evidence supports that the material in question is likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt on the basis of sexual orientation." The report also lists excerpts "in which the language appears to provoke hatred and violence against an identifiable group." Mr. Chandler and his co-host failed to mention anything about the Commission Investigation findings.
B. HE WON THE RIGHT TO POST SUCH MATERIAL
Craig Chandler said: "Well, what we did fight even before we got to the Human Rights Commission charges, is, we fought and won in court for the right to actually post the information about the ongoing commission and then the hearings on the website, and the courts, courts, the real courts, not the kangaroo courts actually said 'Yes, you have the freedom to do so'." Craig Chandler also said: "This isn't the court though, Steve, this is what ticks me off. We won in the court. Okay, who trumps what? Do commissions rule or do Courts rule? The Supreme Court of Canada should trump, for example, the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Who's in control here?"
These statements are false. The matter was not decided by any court, and no court has ever ruled that Mr. Chandler or his organizations are free to post hate messages. He appears to be misrepresenting an interim motion before the Alberta Human Rights Panel which is reported as follows:
C. FALSE ALLEGATION THAT I STATED THAT CHANDLER ET AL WERE SEEKING DISPROPORTIONATE DEGREE OF POWER AND CONTROL
Craig Chandler states: "I mean, he talks about, ah, we're conspiring against society seeking a disproportionate degree of power and control in the media and govenment. I mean, come on. We're just people who have certain views and, and ..."
This statement is false. It is a deliberate misrepresentation. My complaint alleges that the hate messages have the theme that the target group (homosexuals) are conspiring against society seeking a disproportionate degree of power and control in the media and government.
I also believe that the July 29, 2006 program violated the CAB Code of Ethics (revised June 2002) Clause 2 - Human Rights
[Clauses 6 and 7 were also quoted]
also believe that the CHRB station management knowingly permitted, or were
wilfully blind to this misconduct. I
believe that the station management has had numerous complaints regarding
the content of Mr. Chandler's programs. CHRB's
management appears to have been wilfully negligent in failing to properly
monitor and control the content of this program which, I believe was pre-recorded,
not broadcast live. There was ample
opportunity for CHRB to have taken appropriate action to ensure that the provisions
of the legislation and code of conduct were complied with.
The Broadcaster's Correspondence
CEO of the station's ownership group responded to the complainant, saying
in pertinent part:
All of our program providers are required to follow and adhere to strict content and programming standards, as set out by both the CBSC and the CRTC. We ask all of our program producers to stay within these codes. As a broadcasting group, we take this very seriously and want to err on the side of caution.
On July 29, 2006, we were unable to adequately monitor or screen the program in question prior to it going to air. We now will pre-screen all future Freedom Radio programs to avoid possible content issues in the future.
We have thoroughly reviewed our
monitoring procedures and have taken every precaution to ensure that not only
our on-air staff but the providers themselves are fully aware of the provisions
of the codes and legislation of the CBSC and CRTC. We also have a commitment and solid assurances
from Freedom Radio that any of their
programs aired on CHRB will not target you in any way.
The Complainant's Ruling Request
On September 23, the complainant filed his Ruling Request via the CBSC
website. He said in part:
I request an adjudication and
ruling on this complaint as the broadcaster's response was inadequate. It failed to address the specific breaches of
the codes, regulations and legislation. It
offered no apology to me or to their audience, failed to take steps to correct
the false and misleading news and information aired, gave no explanation of
the station's inability to properly monitor the program, claimed that mine
was the only complaint, and has not taken adequate steps to prevent persistent
and ongoing abuses.
The complainant also sent a package of information dated September 22.
It included a letter and additional documentation.
In it, he said, in pertinent part:
I have received and carefully reviewed the response letter from Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. CEO and Executive Vice President [Mr F]. I regret to inform the CBSC that I find this response letter to be woefully inadequate. Therefore, I request an adjudication and ruling by the CBSC. I am not satisfied with the response for the following reasons:
A. [The CEO] neither admitted nor denied my allegations of breaches of the codes, regulations or legislation, namely:
B. [The CEO's] letter failed to apologize for the abuses that were broadcast on his station CHRB.
C. [The CEO's] station has not apologized to its audience, and to members of the minority group which was the subject of the abusive and discriminatory material broadcast.
D. [The CEO] has not advised me of any steps taken by his station to correct the false and misleading news presented on the program, or to redress the harm caused.
E. [The CEO] failed to give any justification or proper explanation for his statement: "On July 29, 2006, we were unable to adequately monitor or screen the program in question prior to it going to air". Why is that station unable to fulfill its regulatory obligations?
F. [The CEO's] statement "To date, the only complaint brought to our attention is from you" is quite unbelievable, considering the statements published by Mr. Chandler on his websites, alleging that "the gay lobby has flooded the phone lines of AM 1140. I was told this by 2 separate people there." Is the general public too intimidated to make any written complaints for fear of this type of retaliation?
G. I am not satisfied that the station has taken adequate steps to prevent persistent and ongoing abuse in its programming.
I enclose, for the information of the adjudication, a copy of my complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Commission's Investigation Report, and my response. This material will show that the human rights complaint against Mr. Chandler is not frivolous, as claimed on the program, but is well-founded and supported by the Commission's investigation. It will also show the ongoing pattern of repeatedly communicating material likely to expose homosexuals to hatred and contempt, and even promoting violence. I wish to point out that some of these hate messages have also been made on earlier Freedom Radio Network shows and broadcast by CHRB AM 1140. The July 29, 2006 program was certainly not the first Freedom Radio Network program that CHRB broadcast which contained abusive content. For example:
[Lengthy excerpts were provided from episodes of February and June 2005 and from posts on an Internet discussion forum in August 2005 and August 2006]
It appears that Freedom Radio Network's host, Craig Chandler, has little respect for human rights codes. He continues to refer to complainants as "enemies of freedom", and the "gay lobby", and urges the public to "counter attack". It also appears that CHRB have been intimidated by his threat of legal action, and Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. are allowing this program to continue on the air.
The program's comments that referred to homosexuality as "a dangerous and degrading lifestyle"; that referred to "men who have anal intercourse suffer more, ah, medical issues than regular, ah, heterosexual couples, that's a fact"; and "there's a myriad of sexually transmitted diseases, even early death, that's not hate, that's fact" are abusive and discriminatory. These comments incorrectly infer that all gay men engage in anal intercourse, and that heterosexual couples do not. The comments incorrectly suggest that sexually transmitted diseases only affect homosexuals, not heterosexuals. This is clearly misleading, because sexually transmitted diseases affect everyone, male or female, homosexual or heterosexual. These comments incorrectly imply that AIDS is a homosexual disease caused by men having sex with men, or that it is only spread by homosexuals.
References to homosexuals as: hating Christians, the new Nazis, part of the well-run homosexual machine, brilliantly trying to "take over government", "just like Nazi Germany where instead of going after the Jews, they're (homosexuals) going after Christians" violate the Human Rights code, and incites fear and violence against homosexuals.
The mis-use of the public airwaves to broadcast retaliation and threat of retaliation for filing a human rights complaint is an illegal act. It obstructs justice by discouraging victims of discrimination from seeking remedies under Human Rights legislation.
I respectfully submit that abusive and discriminatory conduct can not be excused by the claim that it is directed at a "behaviour" rather than at a "targeted group". I submit that sexuality and sexual practices are such intimately central aspects of an individual's identity that it is artificial to suggest that the practices of gays and lesbians in this regard can somehow be separated from those individuals themselves.
The broadcasting of misleading and false news portrayed Mr. Chandler and his friends and websites as victims of a manipulative militant homosexual machine that has conspired to suppress freedom of speech and freedom of religion and will get "just regular grandmothers who say something about their belief system ... there's no one supporting them, they'll go to jail cuz they can't afford to pay for what they said". Mr. Chandler's false news also alleges that there was a frivolous charge of a hate crime; that he had won, in court, the right to post his material on the website, yet the Ottawa Human Rights Commission [sic] was still persecuting him, and that my human rights complaint alleged that Chandler et al were seeking a disproportionate degree of power and control. I believe that this false news was little more than a fear-mongering scheme to incite hatred or contempt against homosexuals, and to fraudulently solicit donations from a fearful and misinformed public. This was nothing but fear-mongering falsehoods.
has failed in its obligations to provide accurate, fair and balanced information.
Nowhere in the program, or on other programs has this station accurately
informed its audience of the purpose and scope of the
Author Douglas Janoff's book, Pink Blood
- Homophobic Violence in Canada reports that, in
I support the concept of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. However, the Supreme Court has recognized that such freedoms are not absolute, and that any infringement of these rights by Human Rights legislation is justifiable in a free and democratic society. Simply put, these freedoms end when harm is caused to others or to society as a whole.
respectfully remind the CBSC of the equality provisions of section 15 (1)
of the Charter of Rights, and the
Council's important role in enforcing the Charter,
the industry codes, the legislation and its regulations. The CBSC has an obligation to ensure equal protection
to homosexuals, a group that has historically suffered from precisely the
kind of bias underpinning these vile attacks, and the harm will have a long-term
impact and will be extremely difficult to repair.
The Prairie Regional Panel examined the complaint under the following provisions
of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Code of Ethics:
CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 2 - Human Rights
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 7 - Controversial Public Issues
in a democracy the necessity of presenting all sides of a public issue, it
shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to treat fairly all subjects of
a controversial nature. Time shall be allotted with due regard to all
the other elements of balanced program schedules, and the degree of public
interest in the questions presented. Recognizing
that healthy controversy is essential to the maintenance of democratic institutions,
broadcasters will endeavour to encourage the presentation of news and opinion
on any controversy which contains an element of the public interest.
The Prairie Regional Panel Adjudicators reviewed all of the correspondence
and listened to a recording of the challenged episode. The Panel concludes that the broadcast was in
violation of Clauses 6 and 7 but not Clause 2.
In addition to the CAB Code of Ethics, to which the complainant specifically referred, he also mentioned other regulations and pieces of legislation, such as the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Broadcasting Act. Those laws are administered by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and the courts of the land. The CBSC has no authority to administer or enforce any of those rules. That being said, corresponding principles in the human rights and related areas are enshrined in Clause 2 and other clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics, and the CBSC has full authority, indeed responsibility, to render decisions pursuant to that Code.
Two Preliminary Matters
The Panel is conscious of the specific assertions in the complainant's
letter of September 22 alleging that abusive comments were made on episodes
of the program broadcast in June and September 2005. He also referred to Internet
posts that allegedly included offensive material. As to the first issue, no complaints were made
to the CBSC on a timely basis relating to the 2005 episodes. Consequently, the Panel is not in a position
to deal with those allegations in this decision. As to posts, blogs and Internet websites in
general, the CBSC has no jurisdiction. While
the CBSC will deal with complaints regarding streamed programming, which, by definition, has originally been broadcast, it has no jurisdiction over
matter exclusively prepared for and delivered over the Internet. Consequently, the CBSC is only in a position
to render a decision with respect to the July 29, 2006 episode of Freedom Radio Network.
about the Homosexual Community
The complainant, who was also the target of most
of the comments during the episode, has alleged the broadcast of abusive comments
on the basis of sexual orientation. When
dealt with by a CBSC Panel, the issue is characterized in terms of Clause
2, the Human Rights Clause, of the CAB
Code of Ethics, where it is described as abusive or unduly discriminatory
comment. The issue of abusive or unduly
discriminatory comment on the basis of sexual orientation has given rise to
a significant number of decisions by CBSC Panels, the general principles of
which mirror the rules applied in the case of such comments made with respect
to any identifiable groups. The fundamental
principle is that it is not just any
discriminatory comment that will be found in breach of Clause 2, but rather
those comments that are abusive
or unduly discriminatory. It is also the case that comments that are made
by an identifiable group that involve it in commentary or dialogue about a
political subject or matter of current affairs may render that group open
to critical commentary by others. In
the case of CJXY-FM re The Scott and Lori
Show (CBSC Decision 96/97-0239, February 20, 1998), for example, the
Ontario Regional Panel found a harsh comment ("Wackos") directed at the Southern
Baptists (who had voted at their recent convention to boycott Disney for its
relationship with the television series Ellen on the grounds that the
star of the show, both in real life and her on-air persona, was gay) to be
justifiable in the political fray. In the view of the Panel,
epithet was not directed at the religious group by reason of anything other
than the group's stated boycott of Disney by reason of their association with
the television series Ellen. That
stance by the Baptists was, in the Regional Council's view, an economic action
regarding a political issue. There
is, of course, no doubt whatsoever regarding the entitlement of the Southern
Baptists to hold and to express its views on controversial matters of a political
or publicly controversial nature. The
point is only that, if they choose to do so, they render themselves fair game
on the public playing field of political controversy. They cannot expect that they have the right
to publicly express controversial political opinions and to be sheltered
by reason of the fact that they are a religious group from the resulting
fallout from the ideological seeds which they have sown.
In the challenged episode, the Panel considers
that the co-hosts' comments on the subject of the complainant's sexual orientation
were attentively framed. As co-host
was about homosexuality and it wasn't about homosexuals. It was about homosexual activists. There's a difference,
The co-hosts went on to complain about "those lobby group types
and, and the aggressive individuals who take people to human rights commissions
and stuff." And that, as noted in the
above-cited CJXY-FM decision, is a legitimate area of discussion and criticism
for broadcasters. There were problems
with the episode, as will be discussed at greater length below; however, the
principle that a broadcaster may be entitled to criticize the political, lobbying,
activist tactics of an individual member of an identifiable group without
infringing on his or her rights under Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics
is undoubted. It is even permissible
to discuss sensitive areas relating to the identifiable group, provided these
do not amount to abusive or unduly discriminatory comment.
In the episode under consideration, the co-hosts dealt with homosexuality
as though it was sinful. They are entitled
to hold and broadcast that opinion, provided that they do not overstep
the reasonable presentation of their religious and moral viewpoint. In
CHCH-TV re Life Today with James Robison
(CBSC Decision 95/96-0128, April 30, 1996), for example, the Ontario Regional
Panel did not find that criticism in a religious program of "the gay lifestyle"
constituted abusively discriminatory comment.
The host's message was that monogamous heterosexuality
was the "right" lifestyle. He expressed
the view that a proper interpretation of the Bible leads to the conclusion
that homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle (as is also the case with
adulterous heterosexuality, according to his interpretation). It is not the Council's mandate to determine
the correctness of the views presented, but only whether the views were presented
in a non-abusive, legitimate manner. In
a contrary circumstance, they would be in breach of the Code; however, in
this case, the Council finds that the host's statements were expressed as
his moral position, presented in a legitimate manner and not at all as hateful
re Focus on the Family (CBSC Decision 99/00-0724, June 28, 2001),
the same Panel dealt with a complaint about an episode in a religious series
entitled "Hope for the Homosexual". That program featured discussions about "lifestyle"
issues, "root causes of homosexuality", the morality of single gender sexual
relationships, the "distinction between homosexual and gay", the raising of
children in gay or lesbian households, the relationship between homosexuality
and Christianity, and so on. Although
the program contained references to homosexuality being a "condition", "problem"
and "disorder", the Panel found that such words were "so incidental to the
entire issue and so far from the centre of any portion of the dialogue that
they are, in terms of this decision, irrelevant." The Ontario Panel also determined that
there is no place in this entire episode where discriminatory
comment about persons in a group identifiable on the basis of their sexual
orientation can be found. There is
discussion about homosexuality but not about homosexuals and then it consists
of legitimate points of discussion or debate. It was not, in the view of the Panel, "bigoted
in its characterization of gays and lesbians," as argued by the complainant.
It did not even go there. It
was not "hate propaganda". It was a point of view on a lifestyle subject,
not on its practitioners.
Where, on the other hand, the topic of the day's sermon on a show called
Power Today was "demon possession" and the televangelist
host R.W. Schambach referred to homosexuals as "devils" and "demon
possessed", the National Specialty Services Panel found that
many of the host's comments are hostile and vitriolic [.]. He refers to "homosexual devils", a "demon spirit"; in the context of the episode, he isolates and vilifies homosexuals. Moreover, in his evangelical style, he whips up the sentiments of his studio audience against gays and lesbians. The intolerance and bitterness that drip from his lips are extreme; they constitute abusive and unduly discriminatory comment; they have no place on Canadian airwaves [.]
re an episode of the Jimmy Swaggart Telecast (CBSC Decision 04/05-0097,
April 19, 2005), the
That the Panel agrees with the importance of attacking the political issue should not, however, be interpreted as opening the door to attacking the practitioners of same-sex marriage or those who aspire to become a partner in such a form of union. It is the ideas, the ideology, the arguments, the principles, the policies with which the contrary-minded are entitled to take issue and, on this part of the televangelist's position, the Ontario Regional Panel considers that Swaggart stands on terra firma. And Swaggart's concluding statement favouring the American President's position is entirely and fairly sustainable as a pure and simple political statement: "And I thank God that President Bush has stated we need a constitutional amendment that states that marriage is between a man and a woman!"
Even when the temperature of the preacher's language rises, as it does in his words, "This utter, absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity ... of men marrying men" and "These ridiculous, utterly absurd ... district attorneys and ... judges and ... state congress and ... 'well, we don't know'", the Panel sees no breach of the standards it administers. Nor does the Panel see a breach in his personalized statement, "I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry." Thereafter, the televangelist is on human rights quicksand.
Despite his statement, "I'm not knocking the poor homosexual, I'm not," he had only set up a straw man, which he quickly demolished with verbal thrusts and parries. He began with the harshest cut of all, by saying "And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one [man] ever looks at me like that [i.e. like he wanted to marry me], I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died." That indicates the extent of the hostility Swaggart reserved for any gay man who would regard him with the positive feelings that one naturally associates with marriage. The negativity was so visceral that Swaggart asserted that, despite his own religiosity, he would feel justified in killing the man and in lying to his God that the victim had simply died. [.]
The problem of Swaggart's language is, in a sense, exacerbated by the fact
that he, as a religious figure, can be presumed to set an example for his
community. It would, therefore, be
easy for someone to infer that this might be the proper way for a Christian
of this sect (or possibly of any sect) to respond to homosexuality. Repeating such terminology also contributes
to the desensitization of the public with respect to gays and lesbians and
even provides the audience with regrettable and negative terms with which
to deal with this identifiable part of the community.
The language cited in the previous paragraph is, in the view of the
Panel, sufficiently abusive and unduly discriminatory to constitute a breach
of both of the Code provisions cited above and it is, of course, the broadcaster
which assumes responsibility for the conformity to the Canadian codified standards.
There is, simply stated, nothing in the
comments of Chapman and
Full, Fair and Proper and
Treatment of Controversial Issues
The Panel does not find that the co-hosts fared
as well in terms of Clauses 6 and 7 of the Code. To begin, essentially all of the half hour was
consumed with a one-sided attack on the complainant, who was a private, not
a public, individual. This constituted,
in and of itself, an unanswered application of the powerful microphone which
broadcasters are licensed to use
for the purposes laid down in the Broadcasting
Act. This opportunity creates a
disparity of power between the person(s) on the transmitting side of the microphone
and those on the receiving end of the radio waves. There is, therefore, a need for those whose
transmissions are to all extent untrammelled to exercise their licensed authority
with a particular appreciation of the responsibility that that privilege bestows
upon them. In the view of the Panel,
the co-hosts exceeded reasonable bounds in this episode.
Among other things, they distorted the nature of the acts of the complainant
in a serious way. They said that they had been accused of a "hate
crime". By that, a reasonably informed individual would
have understood one of the two crimes under the Hate Propaganda sections of
the Criminal Code, likely, that
entitled "Public Incitement of Hatred". The
reality is that complaints were made to the Alberta Human Rights
Commission and to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Neither complaint, if pursued to its logical
conclusion, would be characterized as a crime. In an analogous circumstance, in CITV-TV re "You
Paid for It" (Immigration) (CBSC Decision 95/96-0088, December 16,
1997), this Panel was called upon to assess a feature report by the broadcaster
on government largesse in the dispensation of public funds to immigrants.
The reporter on the story had utterly confused immigration and refugee
policies. This Panel dealt with the
issue in the following terms:
report on the issue of government spending in the area of immigration confused
money spent on immigrants, i.e. foreigners who are accepted
The Panel also dealt with some of the issues of
attitude of the reporter in the following way:
What the Council finds problematic in this case is the fact that the report was craftily put together to suggest that the government's immigration policy does not stand up to economic scrutiny by including facts concerning refugees but without making this clear in the report. The Council does not consider that the lack of distinction between immigration spending and spending with respect to refugees was inadvertent; rather, the Council is concerned that, in her attempt at investigative reporting, the reporter either deliberately skewed facts to give her story more shock value or had not done sufficient research on the subject to prepare such a report. While the M.P. may have deliberately skewed his answer for political reasons, the reporter either missed that contortion or was complicit in its effect.
Council is also concerned with the overall tone of the report and the reporter's
gratuitous snide remarks such as "immigrants struggling with your language".
The Council is of the view that the report preyed on the negative feelings
which some Canadians have towards immigrants.
This, in the Council's view, is unnecessary, unfair and inappropriate.
In the matter at hand, not only was there no assertion of a crime by the complainant, but there was
also misinformation provided by the co-hosts regarding the substance of what
they had "won" and where. Leaving aside
the ill-informed references to the legitimately constituted federal and provincial
Human Rights Commissions, the co-hosts said that they "fought and won in court
the right to actually post the information about the ongoing Commission and
then the hearings on the website and the courts, the courts, the real courts [.] not the kangaroo
courts." They did not. Unless there is some other decision to which
none of the parties had referred in this dossier, the only decision in question
was that rendered by the Human Rights Panels of Alberta and issued by the
Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, not a court at all in the
sense that the co-hosts had been distinguishing commissions or tribunals from
courts. That decision, which entitled
the respondent to publish information furnished by the complainant in that
matter (not the same complainant as in the present matter), which he preferred
to remain confidential, was, as indicated, rendered by an Alberta Human Rights
Panel. The original application had
been by the complainant for "an order compelling respondent to cease and desist publication
and distribution of complainant's personal and confidential information which
was submitted in support of a human rights complaint." After canvassing the law on publication bans
in Canada, the ruling of the Panel was simply that the two-pronged test of
the Supreme Court in Dagenais v.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 
3 S.C.R. 835 had not been met. That
test is that
A publication ban should only be ordered when:
a) Such a ban is necessary in order to prevent a real and substantial risk to the fairness of the trial, because reasonably avoidable alternative measure will not prevent the risk; and
salutary effects of a publication ban outweigh the deleterious effects to
the free expression of those affected by the ban.
The test, which puts
considerable weight on the importance of freedom of expression, was not met
and the complainant's preference regarding confidentiality of his material was not granted. It
was not, however, a court, as represented
by the co-hosts. Nor was the application
related to a hate crime, as intimated.
Nor did the application give the respondent any entitlement
to post material other than that of the human rights complainant, as also
There was also a series
of comments regarding homosexuality which did not amount to a breach of Clause
2 (as discussed above), but which contributed to the imbalance between those
with the microphone and those with the speakers. The comments include: "homosexuals cannot procreate";
"you can get AIDS"; "men who have anal intercourse suffer more, uh, medical
issues than, than regular, uh, heterosexual couples"; "myriad of sexually
transmitted disease, even early death"; comparing the relative situation of
the homosexual activists and Christians to "Nazi Germany where instead of
going after the Jews, they're going after Christians"; generalizing that homosexuals
("you guys") "have a double standard.
You're hateful towards us!"; and "You guys were
vicious, [.] violent, [.] aggressive".
In CITS-TV (CTS)
re John Hagee Today ("Diamonds for Successful Living") (CBSC Decision
04/05-0177, April 19, 2005), the Ontario Regional Panel considered a cumulation
of comments by Pastor Hagee against gays.
Of the assertion regarding procreation, the Panel said:
takes no account of the fact that many individual gays and lesbians already
have children from previous heterosexual relationships, that other homosexual
couples adopt children, and that lesbian mothers become pregnant and carry
their own children to term. Moreover,
the same argument that he makes about non-reproduction could also be raised
against heterosexual families which are either unable to conceive or choose
never to have either natural or adoptive progeny.
Needless to say, he does not raise that issue. Nor does he provide a full picture of the child-enriched
homosexual families, since either of these points would interfere with his
As to AIDS, it has long since been proved to be
an affliction of both heterosexual and homosexual individuals. Anal intercourse is hardly exclusively limited
to one of the foregoing communities. Nor,
for that matter, is sexually transmitted disease. And "early death" is an excessively dramatic
characterization, particularly with the unique focus of the co-hosts. The comparison to Nazi Germany is excessive
and inappropriate. That regime's murderous
treatment of the Jews, the Poles, the gypsies and other non-Aryan groups bears
no comparison with the attempts
by the complainant to tone down the criticism by Messrs. Chapman,
The Panel considers that the cumulative effect
of the comments discussed in the previous paragraphs of this section constitutes
a breach of the obligation of broadcasters to present opinion, comment and
editorial matter fully, fairly and properly, as required by Clause 6 of the
CAB Code of Ethics.
The Panel is also mindful of the not unrelated
obligation established in Clause 7 to treat fairly
all subjects of a controversial nature. In
this respect, it also finds the broadcaster in breach. Not only has Freedom Radio stacked the odds against the complainant by directing
virtually the entire half hour against the complainant, it has boasted that it will not only sue him and
take the matter to the Supreme Court if necessary (which is their right to
do), but it will not pay any fines that may be levied (in apparent disregard
of the anticipated order of the duly constituted judicial authorities). It is rather arrogant to state baldly that "We
won't pay those." The Panel considers
the judicial assertions unfair and an example of electronic bullying, which
is precisely the opposite of what is anticipated by the requirement of fairness
in Clause 7.
In all CBSC decisions, the Council's Panels assess the broadcaster's responsiveness
to the complainant. In the present
instance, the Panel finds that the response of Golden West's CEO was brief
but sincere. While it did not deal
with the many issues raised by the complainant, it provided a concrete response
to the issue by making a commitment to "pre-screen all future Freedom Radio programs to avoid possible
content issues in the future." It also
described its monitoring procedure changes and commitments to its on-air staff,
the program providers and Freedom Radio
specifically. The Panel concludes that
CHRB-AM has fulfilled its obligation of responsiveness on this occasion.
of the decision
CHRB-AM is required to: 1) announce
the decision, in the following terms, once during prime time 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 Freedom Radio was broadcast; 2) within
the fourteen days following the broadcasts 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 CHRB-AM.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that CHRB-AM breached provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Code of Ethics in its broadcast of an episode of Freedom Radio on July 29, 2006. Because of the cumulative effect of a series of incorrect, distorted or exaggerated comments about a private individual, the CBSC has found that CHRB breached Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics, which requires the full, fair and proper presentation of opinion, editorial or other comment. Because of the one-sided commitment of nearly an entire episode of the program against that private figure and boasting that it would disregard any court decisions rendered in his favour, the CBSC has found that CHRB breached Clause 7 of the CAB Code of Ethics, which requires the fair treatment of all subjects of a controversial nature.
This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.