Broadcast council’s ruling on Ezra Levant ‘tirade’ a victory for civility in Canadian political discourse

Sun News Network commentator Ezra Levant

Today’s ruling by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council that the Sun News Network breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Code of Ethics in a December 2011 broadcast of Ezra Levant’s commentary program is a victory for civility in Canadian political discourse.

As a result of formal complaints filed by this blogger and 21 others, the four-member CBSC National Services Panel that investigated the on-air commentary issued a ruling today that requires Sun News Network to announce the decision once during prime time over the next three days and a second time within the next seven days during the same time period in which the edition of Mr. Levant’s program, The Source, was broadcast.

In addition, Sun News Network must provide written confirmation of the broadcasts within 14 days to the 22 complainants and the CBSC.

The ruling noted that Mr. Levant had made the following statement on the air as part of his commentary about a report the Chiquita Brands food company had announced it would avoid using oil from Alberta’s bitumen sands, “Hey you. Yeah you, [name of Chiquita executive]. Chinga tu madre.” Referring to the commentary as “a tirade,” the ruling notes Mr. Levant also said “in a distinctly aggressive tone” that the Chiquita executive was a liar.

The ruling says all six complainants who filed ruling requests “emphasized that the phrase ‘chinga tu madre’ can only be translated as ‘fuck your mother’ and all Spanish speakers consider it a very nasty insult.”

The ruling requires Sun News Network to read the following statement twice on the air:

“The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that Sun News Network breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics in its broadcast of The Source on December 22, 2011. The program contained a coarse insult directed at a specific named person. This violated Clause 6 of the Code.”

As a person who was disgusted and disturbed by Mr. Levant’s remarks, I must have been the first to complain to the CBSC after the broadcast, judging from the Toronto Star’s coverage of the controversy caused by the Sun News Network commentary. That story, which seems to have received 111 comments, and perhaps my commentary, must have prompted some of the additional complaints.

The description and assessment of the facts outlined in the panel’s ruling is in my view fair, accurate and balanced.

The panel notes that Mr. Levant and other commentators have a right to express strong opinions with vigour and even aggression, but that personal insults and coarseness are not appropriate under the broadcasters’ voluntary code.

“The Panel Adjudicators concluded that host Ezra Levant used personal and particularly coarse insults with respect to a Chiquita executive that he named several times on the air, thereby violating the provisions of Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics regarding full, fair and proper presentation,” the ruling says.

“They also found the host’s attempt to explain himself on January 17, 2012 only served to exacerbate the insult, particularly in light of the admission that he had used the term in a blatant attempt to attack the Chiquita executive.”

The Panel noted that a letter sent by Sun News Network’s legal counsel to complainants “seemingly was an attempt to obfuscate the facts and avoid addressing the complainants’ concerns about the use of the specific phrase in the precise context of the December 22 broadcast.”

One hopes this ruling will have the effect of reintroducing the tone of civility to Canadian broadcasting that has been in decline in recent months, in no small part, it is fair to conclude, because of the efforts of Sun News Network.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

22 Comments on "Broadcast council’s ruling on Ezra Levant ‘tirade’ a victory for civility in Canadian political discourse"

  1. sanwin says:

    Oh bugger off you lefty wanker.

  2. Nola says:

    David. Great work. I wanted to ask you if you were interested in pursuing further complaints against SunNN. I was dragged there for the first time through my sense of outrage about a story a friend posted. While reading, I noticed a lot of other posts that were breaches. They took a couple of the stories down now though. Let me know. Nola Gautreau (facebook)

  3. Ronmac says:

    Ezra propably enyoys getting little slaps in the wrist like this . He'll just turn this into another six months of tirades.

    The irony is that Chiquita (formerly known as United Fruit) has been screwing the countries in Central America for so long that if they actually started "chinguing their madre" it would be an improvement in their moral code. They pretty much turned the recent history of places like Guatemala and Honduras into toxic waste dumps.

    In the early 1980's, the Guatemalan army went on a rampage and to make a long story short there muxt have been about a dozen villages where 500 or 600 people were massacred.

    More recently, when the democratically elected President of Honduras tried raising the minimum wage, Chiquita helped organize a military coup in 2009.

    P.S. Ezra should do a rethink on his boycott on Chiqiuta bannas. They are a a good source of potassium which is essential for brain functions.

  4. Hagbard Celine says:

    Phfffft!!! Civility in political discourse? only if we agree with whiners like you, Dave. I say screw civility, and useless attempts at doing an end run around partisanship. Especially when leftists always find a way to poke you in the backside after you relctantly agree to work with them.

    As Andrew Breitbart said before his passing: This is war! Bring it on!

    If Ezra really hurts your sensibilities that much, DON'T WATCH, you fool! Just as I refuse to watch the great beacon of light that is mansbridge and Co.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Stunt TV is an on-air obscenity, one with very poor production values. Wayne’s World had more class. Poor Ezra doesn’t even realize he’s being used by Peladeau like that carnie shill tempting farm boys into see the naked bearded lady! He is only doing what the organ-grinder tells him to do. It’s the short-ar$ed separatist who’s really to blame!

  6. Hal Monitor says:

    "Bugger off…" "F**k your mother…" "Poke you in the backside…" What's with the right wing in this country, anyway?

  7. Sam Gunsch says:

    Stating the obvious but democracy is at stake here.

    Levant's shock jocks mode is a significant danger to democracy.

    Recent evidence abounds to the south re degradation and polarization of USA political discourse as catalyzed by Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, Hannity, Savage, O'Reilly et al.

    Democracy's health relies on citizen efforts to protect it such as Climenhaga's re in this case, protecting standards of public discourse.

    Thanks for the work on this David.

  8. Blazing Cat Fur says:

    Hope you enjoyed Ezra's show tonight!

  9. Carlos Beca says:

    Hal Monitor what is wrong with the right wing in this country is that they have power and now they think they can run over everyone. So far they have been successful but there is still a face of reason left in this country. Ezra is drooling with the attention and publicity he his getting and he does not care at all. He loves being the Mr. Bean of the right and he is laughing all the way to the bank. That is what he cares about and I am sure he is laughing about this ruling.

  10. Sam Gunsch says:

    Analysis providing context for Climenhaga's actions to protect civil standards… and thus democracy.

    "Inflammatory rhetoric poisons climate for mature debate of public policy issues"

    http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/06/13/paul-kennedy-inflammatory-rhetoric-poisons-climate-for-mature-debate-of-public-policy-issues/

    excerpt:
    There are many quotes that pay homage to the power of the spoken and written word. Once uttered, and having taken root in the mind of people, words and the ideas that they express can last for thousands of years. They are by their very nature a source of great good and great harm. Accordingly, those who wield them as part of their professional lives should use them with care. "

    excerpt: "…terms such as “extremist” or “radical” to describe individuals or organizations. These are loaded terms that convey a stigmatization that has few parallels in a democracy. Yet this language has intentionally been employed as a sword … to attack … critics …"

    ==============

    So…To those commenters dismissive/ critical of and opposed to David C's efforts to protect civil discourse by enforcing civil standards in the media:

    … it seems to me that the rhetorical mode used by Levant, specializes in divisiveness, in making it easy to demonize people with alternative views, e.g. if they disagree about tarsands pipelines, even when in reality Levant's followers might, without realizing it, be targeting people that are their neighbors.

    And if you read it, Kennedy's column points up the links between Levant's mode of political rhetoric and Harper's views/response, regarding the exercise of democratic rights by citizens who happen to disagree with Levant/Harper.

    And if the connections don't appear to you re: why the Climenhaga's find it necessary to protect democracy by holding the Levants' accountable to standards of civil discourse…

    …then how about the following proposition:

    Practitioners like Levant of the shock-jock attack mode of political debate, are fomenting the political/cultural space necessary to normalize/permit the shrinkage of democracy in the national interest via stigmatization and lately, the creeping criminalization of citizen participation in policy debate.(there are some political labels for this, but another time.)

    And so, again, to supporters of political 'war' , assuming you mean Levant's type of rhetorical/political/partisan 'war'..

    Having read Kennedy…Do you think I claim too much connection among Levant's mode and Harper's approach, i.e. citizens who disagree, deserve to be marginalized/intimidated/stigmatized?

    Unlike Levant, most citizens can put democracy before partisan political war.

    evidence: Did you notice Albertans outrage at the EUB spying on rural landowner's, in the conservative heartland, who organized to oppose and speak out against government authorized development of powerlines?

    Q: If you endorse Levant's scorch-the-Other citizens' mode, then which 'wars' against which citizen's are you good with and why?

    Rural landowner radicals from the conservative heartland against gov't imposed powerlines or mostly just those citizens against ethical oil? How would you decide in a society with governance systems designed by the Levant's? Appears to be a live question, BTW.

    Despite the comments sections, e.g. at the Sun, most Albertans, right or left, don't support the inflammatory, bullying mode of the Levants, nor do they support the associated creeping suffocation of civil society and democracy in Canada.

    …most Albertans don't let themselves forget that we're all in this together.

  11. Warren Zoell says:

    The CBSC doesn't think they're going to win this one do they? This is the kind of thing the big E lives for.
    They just signed their own death warrant. Figuratively speaking of coarse. I have no wish to needlessly frighten any hyper sensitive lefties that may be perusing this site.
    Hey CBSC! A bit of advice if I may, that is if you by some miracle survive this and haven't been snuffed out of existence. Oops! Sorry lefties, when I said "snuffed" I meant figuratively.
    Don't poke the bear!

  12. jay says:

    "If Ezra really hurts your sensibilities that much, DON'T WATCH, you fool!"

    Apparently, a lot of people are following your advice, Ronmac, and not watching Sun TV–its viewership is a joke.

  13. fubar says:

    I'd love to debate Ezra anywhere, anyday, anyhow.

    Ezra: "The liberal lefties are ruining Canada".
    Me: "F you Ezra, you syphilitic d bag"

    I got a million of them.

    Hey, once you are in a gutter fight, you better fight to win.

  14. willy says:

    It's rather sad that your father held his nose and chinga tu madre !!!

    You must be a petty man. That is sad also.
    You can always tell if a blogger has the "courage of their convictions" by how they handle the incoming comments and/or criticism.

    You fail at this also.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Compare and contrast:

    "A modest man who has much to be modest about."
    Winston Churchill

    "Fuck your mother."
    Ezra Levant

  16. Warren Zoell says:

    Do you think it was right for the CBSC to hold a star chamber type tribunal against Ezra and not even allow him to even defend himself?
    Do you think it was just and fair for Ezra to be judged people who also happen to be competitors to Sun News?
    Do you think it was right for Ezra, a well known conservative libertarian to be judged by four card carrying Liberals.
    Do you think it was unjust for Ezra to tell the head of Chiquita Bananas, a company with a very shady past and present who currently is known to support terrorist organizations to F off in Spanish? You know where the term Banana Republic came from don't you?
    You hypocrites. You socialists swear at and castigate everyone that doesn't fall in line with your type of thinking. Then act all high and mighty the moment someone on the right tells some evil prick to F off. There are loads of evidence to support this. Just watch a Bill Maher, John Stewart, etc. Oh wait a minute you do? And you're not offended? Hypocrites!
    The CBSC is a foul, sick, Orwellian organization who's end is at hand and will be stopped.
    They've thrown down the gauntlet and Ezra has picked it up and I say bravo! bravo!
    I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.
    Does that even mean anything to you?

  17. Gary Fraser says:

    Lefties like this professional whiner are going to find out that Ezra is relentless when it comes to censorship and free speech. Perhaps ol' Dave here ought read Ezra's book and find out that he is no hate-monger, but a guy who believes passionately in freedom. Ezra has openly embarrassed the creeps who tried to censor Mark Steyn and he, and certainly was able to out you as a failed and ultimately ridiculous whiner. Ezra is the disinfectant that is slowly but surely cleaning up the stain that is the lefties constant attacks on the right, and their constat attack on free speech that does not conform to their warped world. Your madre too!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wow David you got your name read on TV. Should be a highlight in your pathetic leftwing life.
    You are nothing but a bully

  19. Anonymous says:

    Who watches Sun news? Noone that's who.

  20. Sam Gunsch says:

    For clarity about my previous post:

    The column by P. Kennedy is what I was meaning to refer to when I wrote my opening sentence about *the analysis* which provides, in my view,*the context* I thought important for appreciating Climenhaga's actions.

    I did not mean to imply that I was referring to my comments as analysis or context. But now I see how my opening sentence could have been misinterpreted that way.

    A carelessly ambiguous opening sentence in this case. Hazards of writing without a safety-net, i.e. an editor.

    Again, I was *not* referring to my writing as the analysis I was pointing out…it was Kennedy's. I write this because it was mortifying to see my words might have been taken that way.
    ======

    My previous post opening repeated here with better reference I hope:

    Paul Kennedy's column below is analysis providing context for Climenhaga's actions to protect civil standards… and thus democracy.

    Kennedy's piece on political use of language and democracy is very much worth a read. Levant's mode of shock jock media enables Harper's mode of politics.

    "Inflammatory rhetoric poisons climate for mature debate of public policy issues"

    http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/06/13/paul-kennedy-inflammatory-rhetoric-poisons-climate-for-mature-debate-of-public-policy-issues/

  21. Anonymous says:

    Ezra Levant's supporters tend to be sociopaths who accuse others of what they are guilty of. I wouldn't worry about it, Dave.

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