Monday, December 13, 2010

Charles McVety ... Martyr?

Last week, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council made public a ruling on a series of complaints about things McVety had said on his program

Predictably, this week, we find him playing the martyr card, instead of taking responsibility for his own actions.

McVety has fired back at the ruling against his TV show, singling out the head of broadcasting council.

"We should not have Mr. Ron Cohen, a bureaucrat, tell me what my opinions can be and what my opinions can't be," McVety said.

A statement on the show's website referred to the broadcasting body as "thought police" that launched "a vicious attack against Word TV," it said.

"Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of speech, opinion, press and religion," the statement continued., Mr. McVety, nobody is telling you what your opinions can and cannot be. The issue has more to do with how you present them ... somehow, it seems that lies and blatant distortion are seen as a bad thing...

Let's go take a look at the decision itself:

Errors of Fact: Human Rights Tribunal “Conviction” Rates

In dealing with both the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) and the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC), host McVety has either carelessly or purposefully misled his audience when he referred (in both cases) to the “one hundred per cent conviction rate” of both regulatory bodies. The Panel assumes that the host was, on that basis, attempting to impugn any decision emanating from those tribunals as unfair, biased, distorted and unworthy of the public’s trust. Leaving aside the host’s mistaken (and judgment-laden) use of the words “convict” and “conviction” in this context, whatever his motivation, his allegation of an undisputed, unmarred “conviction” record is incorrect and misleading to Word TV’s viewers.

In the case of Alberta, the decision record of the AHRC was, to pick the three years prior to the December 2009 broadcast, as follows: in 2007, three complaints were upheld and five were dismissed; in 2008, five were upheld and six were dismissed; and in 2009, two were upheld and two were dismissed. In other words, of the 23 Commission/Tribunal decisions in that period, 43% were sustained and 57% were dismissed. This is far from the 100% McVety had posited, and constitutes a serious distortion of the facts.

In the case of Ontario, the decision record of the HRTO is not dissimilar. In 2007, six complaints were upheld and three were dismissed; in 2008, seven were upheld and 27 were dismissed (of these, 21 could be characterized as procedural or jurisdictional dismissals, but they were dismissals nonetheless); in 2009, for reasons unknown to the Panel (likely procedural or administrative), the number of decisions jumped significantly; however, a review of a random block of 78 of these resulted in seven complaints upheld and 71 dismissed. As in the case of the AHRC, this is very far from the 100% McVety had posited, and constitutes an equally serious distortion of the facts.

In short, McVety lied to his viewers - and not just a small lie, but a gross distortion of the facts.

Errors of Fact: The Criminalization of Commentary

The single most egregious and misleading assertion by host McVety was his November 8 assertion that, in his words, “it is now a crime to speak against homosexuality. Yes, I said a crime. Bill C-250 went through our Parliamentary system and made it a crime for anyone to speak against sexual orientation.” That is wrong. All Bill C-250 did was to add to the list of protected categories of identifiable groups in Sec. 318(4) (namely, “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin”) and, by reference, Sec. 319(1) and 319(2) of the Criminal Code, the words “or sexual orientation”. In other words, the substance of the Criminal Code provisions dealing with the advocating of genocide and the public incitement of hatred remained unchanged. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that Bill C-250 only renders the genocide and hate provisions consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, which, nearly ten years before, had read “sexual orientation” into Sec. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in its decision Egan v. Canada [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513, in which Mr. Justice La Forest stated:

I have no difficulty accepting the appellants’ contention that whether or not sexual orientation is based on biological or physiological factors, which may be a matter of some controversy, it is a deeply personal characteristic that is either unchangeable or changeable only at unacceptable personal costs, and so falls within the ambit of s. 15 protection as being analogous to the enumerated grounds. [Emphasis added.]

In any event, it is not a crime to merely “speak against” homosexuals, or members of any of the other groups identified in Sec. 318(4). Crimes are a serious matter. In order for Sec. 319 to be invoked, an accused must be found to have intended, in making the offending statements, to incite or promote hatred, or must have had knowledge that making the statements would have created a substantial certainty that hatred would be promoted. It cannot be forgotten that, as the Supreme Court said in R. v. Keegstra [1990] 3 S.C.R. 697,

The word "hatred" further reduces the scope of the prohibition. This word, in the context of s. 319(2), must be construed as encompassing only the most severe and deeply felt form of opprobrium. [Emphasis added.]

On the issue of freedom of expression itself, the Court also stated in that decision:

Section 319(2) of the Code does not unduly impair freedom of expression. [...] This section does not suffer from overbreadth or vagueness; rather, the terms of the offence indicate that s. 319(2) possesses definitional limits which act as safeguards to ensure that it will capture only expressive activity which is openly hostile to Parliament's objective, and will thus attack only the harm at which the prohibition is targeted. [...] [W]hile other non-criminal modes of combating hate propaganda exist, it is eminently reasonable to utilize more than one type of legislative tool in working to prevent the spread of racist expression and its resultant harm. To send out a strong message of condemnation, both reinforcing the values underlying s. 319(2) and deterring the few individuals who would harm target group members and the larger community by communicating hate propaganda, will occasionally require use of the criminal law. [Emphasis added.]

It is the view of the Panel that the host’s statement that “it is now a crime to speak against homosexuality” is factually incorrect and misleading to the audience. It is a gross distortion of the serious reason for the creation of a protection in the criminal law in order to give effect to the Parliamentary goal of prohibiting the incitement of hatred against identifiable groups. Any broadcaster may disagree with the adoption of such a criminal remedy by the Government, but, once adopted, no broadcaster ought to distort its meaning or effect. It would be correct to assert that “it is now a crime to incite hatred against homosexuals” (in the circumscribed conditions of the Section); it is not correct to assert that “it is now a crime to speak against homosexuality.”

Yet another point where McVety has lied to his audience. My, we're doing well here, aren't we?

Let's move along to how McVety chose to portray the proposed changes to Ontario's Sex Education curriculum.

Mis-characterizations: What the Curriculum Teaches Children

The host is, as noted above, entirely free to disagree with the proposed Government curriculum changes favouring openness and diversity. That would be fair enough, but apparently not far enough to suit him. He has characterized the school issue in the following way on the January 17 program: “All of these sexual practices to be taught to our children in our schools. When we send little Johnny and little Jane to school, [it’s] not to learn to be homosexuals and lesbians.” He then attributes the curriculum modification proposals to “an activist group”, whose members “have an insatiable appetite for sex, especially with young people.” There is not a shred of evidence offered in support of this clearly excessive characterization of the Government’s motivation and the alleged criminal practices of the proposers of the curriculum changes. On the January 24 episode, he again refers to “this activist, homosexual activist agenda.” Overall, the McVety comments go a considerable step beyond those dealt with by the Prairie Regional Panel in CKRD-AM re Focus on the Family (CBSC Decision 96/97-0155, December 16, 1997). That Panel said:

While Focus on the Family is free to describe the homosexual lifestyle as sinful, as did Life Today with James Robison [see CHCH-TV re Life Today with James Robison (CBSC Decision 95/96-0128, April 30, 1996)], the program under consideration here has gone much further. It has treated support for the movement as “flimsy” and has disparaged that support (see, for example, the dismissal of a study authored by a gay activist with the general statement that “like all gay science, it really has very flimsy foundations”). Moreover, it has attributed to the gay movement a malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial purpose, a so-called “agenda”, which, in the view of the Council, constitutes abusively discriminatory comment on the basis of sexual orientation, contrary to the provisions of Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

In sum, the Panel finds that the characterization of the revised curriculum as one designed to teach homosexuality is utterly wrong. The proposed curricular revisions are intended to teach tolerance. McVety is entitled to disagree that such teaching of tolerance should be tolerated but his twisting of the purpose of the revisions is wrong-headed, unfair and improper.

Hmmm...let's see, twisting things and distorting the facts. Last I checked, that's yet another form of lie - and no better than any other lie.

Perhaps we should look at the nature of his characterizations of Gay Pride parades ...

Mis-characterizations: Gay Pride Parades

The Panel notes that the Gay Pride events, including the parades associated with Pride Week, have become quite mainstream. This hardly means that homosexual activities are, or need be, everyone’s cup of tea. Once again, the Panel has no difficulty with the broadcast of a critical position regarding the funding of LGBT events, but the constant accusation of “sexual perversion” levelled at the parades, the labelling of the parades as “sex parades”, and the argument that advertising for Pride events promotes sex with children (and specifically “there’s boy, young boys and young girls and you can do whatever you want with them”) and “underage people” are disparaging and unacceptable. The latter is another important recurring implication, if not an outright accusation in the dialogue between host McVety and his guest Brian Rushfeldt, namely, that gays prey on young boys and girls, on “underage people”. McVety may not like homosexuality. That is his entitlement, but to leave the totally unsubstantiated impression that gay and lesbian adults have a predilection toward young, underage people is insidious and unacceptable.

In all, the Panel finds the McVety mis-characterizations as excessive, inappropriate, disparaging, and abusive and consequently in breach of the Human Rights Clauses of both Codes, as well as Clauses 6 and 8 of the CAB Code of Ethics. It also considers that, given the central role that the manifestation of gay pride plays in the LGBT world, the immediately preceding comments constitute a derision of the traditions and practices of that community, and hence a contravention of Clauses 6 and 3 of the Equitable Portrayal Code.

My goodness, yet another lie perpetrated by misrepresenting the facts and distorting things.

I'm positive that Mr. McVety must have done all these things in error. Surely a man of the cloth such as he couldn't have forgotten what Scripture has to say about lying?

Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."

Leviticus 6:2 "If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;" ... 6:6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:
6:7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.

I'm just guessing here, but I don't imagine Mr. McVety sacrificed a ram for each of the shows in question...

Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight."

Proverbs 13:5 "A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame."

Now, Mr. McVety, before you go running off at the mouth about the evilness of others, I suggest you take a long hard look at what your oh-so-precious scripture says about what you're about to say when you sit in judgment over others.

For the rest of the population, you might want to think twice before taking anything McVety says about Bill C-389 seriously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's McVety's problem:

In order for Sec. 319 to be invoked, an accused must be found to have intended, in making the offending statements, to incite or promote hatred, or must have had knowledge that making the statements would have created a substantial certainty that hatred would be promoted.

McVety knows full well that he intends to promote and incite hatred when he makes his remarks. So he's completely correct. It is a crime for him to speak against homosexuality. So he's going to have to stop. Oh dear, call the whaaaaambulance.

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