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Alberta Diary

djclimenhaga's picture
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues.

Who's censoring Ezra Levant now? Has Sun News Network seen the light?

| September 12, 2012
Ezra Levant

Where is Ezra Levant's Sun News Network rant on Roma immigration to Canada, which has been depicted as ethnic stereotyping to foment hate?

For that matter, where is the uncharacteristically silent Levant?

Just a week ago, on Sept. 5, the Sun News Network commentator -- who as Rabble.ca's Karl Nerenberg astutely observed yesterday, has carved himself a niche as the "nasty buffoon of the Canadian Right" -- delivered one of his trademark on-air screeds, this time against what he termed "the Gypsy problem."

In his characteristically abusive style, Levant denied the Roma are a distinct people or culture, and indeed suggested that the term "Roma" should be used for nothing but a tomato. He called this ethnic group "not a race, not a religion, not a linguistic group," and stated that they have come to Canada "to rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries."

I'm not going to continue quoting Levant, because I believe that if his on-air remarks did not go over the line, his commentary came very close to the legal definition of hate speech as defined by Section 319 for the Canadian Criminal Code.

Regardless, as Nerenberg pointed out, this opinion -- if that’s the word for it -- is simply false. "The facts are that Roma are a recognized 'people'; they have a language, Romani; very few present-day Roma lead nomadic lifestyles; many own property; and many work at all kind of occupations, from musician to lawyer," Nerenberg wrote.

Moreover, I'm not really directly quoting Levant anyway, as I've been forced to rely Nerenberg and other Internet sources because Levant's commentary -- so proudly posted to Sun News Network's website last Wednesday -- has mysteriously and almost completely disappeared into the cybervoid.

Whether or not Levant's commentary about the Roma amounted to inciting hatred against an identifiable group, to paraphrase the language of the Criminal Code, it seems to have prompted responses from some of Levant's online supporters that suggest it indeed had that effect. But along with the show, these comments have disappeared down the Sun News Memory Hole as well.

Back in June, when Levant was annoyed with me for complaining to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council about his on-air use of a highly offensive Spanish obscenity in a commentary on tar sands and bananas (don't ask!), he and his supporters repeatedly accused me of attempting to "censor" him for calling for the enforcement of the national broadcast regulator's rules on profanity.

"I think I'm going to do my TV show tomorrow about you and your censorship activities," he told me in one email calling on me to appear on his program.

My "censorship activities" regarding Levant's commentary this time, however, must be severely curtailed by the simple fact that someone at Sun News Network has censored him first! Those who heard Levant’s rant with their own ears will have to be the ones who complain.

A hole for the piece remains on his personal website, but the video of his commentary is long gone.

In the spirit of fair play, I emailed Levant yesterday and again today to ask him if he had been told why Sun News Network removed this link, and how he felt about this decision by his employer. Astonishingly, although about more than 20 hours have passed, there has been no response from this commentator normally known for his prolixity.

Nor has Levant, often a prolific Tweeter, had anything to say about this presumed act of censorship on his Twitter account, which only had a few unenlightening comments yesterday about the 911 tragedy. Perhaps for this reason, too, his merry little band of supporters has been atypically silent.

I hope Levant responds to my questions and provides his point of view. I would like to ensure he has a fair chance to respond to Sun TV's action -- something that, by the sound of it, he may not get on Sun News Network!

I am also convinced that readers would be interested in what Levant has to say about Sun News Network's apparent decision to pull the plug on his commentary, if not his show.

In the mean time, without Levant's assistance on this matter, I am left with the conclusion that he has really stepped in it. Perhaps even Sun News Network is growing concerned about the potential for damage to their none-too-sterling reputation by this loose cannon on their lower decks.

If so, Levant will finally have succeeded in doing to himself what he fatuously accuses others of trying to do to him!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.



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