CBSC rules Ezra Levant and Sun News Network breached code in Chiquita segment
Ezra Levant can’t say “fuck your mother” on air, even in Spanish, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has ruled.
In a December 2011 segment, Levant was giving his point of view on Chiquita Brand International’s decision to boycott oil from Alberta’s oil sands. Levant is a staunch proponent of the Alberta oil sands, having coined the phrase (and the lobby group) “Ethical Oil” to describe them – meaning, Canada boasts a comparatively better environmental and human rights record than its OPEC counterparts.
Levant’s 10-minute editorial against the company’s ethical record and its vice president Manuel Rodriguez concluded with Levant saying: “Hey you…yeah you, Manuel Rodriguez. Chinga tu madre.”
Or, to translate to English: “Go fuck your mother.”
The CBSC received 22 complaints and six requests for an investigation into Levant’s conclusion of the segment. “The complainants noted that the phrase is one of the harshest insults in the Spanish language and that it was utterly inappropriate for Levant to directly insult an identified individual in this manner,” the ruling said.
Sun News Network responded to the complaints, as they are required to, and “acknowledged that Levant had ‘intended to be both profane and offensive [... by] ‘calling out’ the person he was attacking by name’ but that broadcasting rules allow for the expression of strong opinions on any topic,” the ruling stated.
The network also responded by providing alternative meanings for the “chinga” part of the phrase, based almost entirely off of a blog post in the Vancouver Sun by Mario Canseco, which the CBSC called “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.”
The CBSC ruling requires the broadcaster to announce the decision once during prime time within three days of the ruling and once more within seven days of the decision during the time in which the episode was broadcast. Meaning, Levant himself must read the ruling on air. He spent some time this afternoon on Twitter, publicly contemplating whether he would do so during his show this evening:
Canada's TV censors say I can't tell Chiquita Banana "chinga tu madre" & my "tirades" are "biased" & I'd better repent. What's your advice?— Ezra Levant (@ezralevant) June 13, 2012
Should I obey them? What should the Sun do? Can my bosses risk having me defy the censors? Let me know. My show airs at 5!— Ezra Levant (@ezralevant) June 13, 2012
Alright. 45 minutes to air. Time to do my pre-show yoga and manicure. Maybe I should just apologize and save myself the stress?— Ezra Levant (@ezralevant) June 13, 2012