Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mainse shelves Hagee -- for two days

HT to my conservative colleague, Kathy Shaidle (although my take on this one is probably different from hers!):

Crossroads Television (CTS) which has stations in Burlington, Calgary and Edmonton and whose Burlington signal is broadcast across Canada via satellite and cable -- decided to pull the last two parts of the three-part series "Islam in America" by San Antonio, Texas based televangelist John Hagee after complaints from CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. While Rev. Hagee never says it specifically, the interference in the program is that Muslims can never be patriotic Americans.

CTS, founded by 100 Huntley Street kingpin David Mainse, apologized for the offence the programs may have caused and that it goes against its mission to serve all communities in its broadcast area. As well as it should -- unlike many US religious broadcasters which can be 100% evangelical or Catholic or whatever, CTS takes the balance requirement seriously and has done so from the start 10 years ago.

One can only wonder what the Lethbridge based Miracle Channel's position is going to be on this one. It has long aired the unedited version of the 700 Club, for example (rather than the CRTC-approved "Canadian edition) and Hagee features prominently in its prime time schedule (9:30 pm Mountain). And unlike Southern Ontario, the Lethbridge area probably doesn't have that many Muslims percentage wise by comparison -- so they can probably afford to show the episodes unedited without too much flak.

And well they might were it not for the fact TMC is also broadcast across Canada on cable and satellite.

The argument will be that Canada's criminal hate statutes allow for an exception where people make purportedly hateful statements "in good faith." That might work if Hagee spoke on a stump in, say, Toronto's High Park. But the airwaves are owned by the people, and while people are entitled to their opinions it must also be remembered that one must respect the opinions of others. Any inference one group or another is "unpatriotic" or threatening to impose a caliphate or theocracy without solid proof had better be prepared to accept criticism.

I know I can annoy a lot of people with my opinions on religion, the media, politics, whatever -- but I haven't appeared on TV since a "man on the street" interview about a hot topic; and that was cable access. Hagee reaches millions every day. There are ways to say what one means without marginalizing whole groups of people. And I find it rather interesting that one doesn't see that many blacks or Hispanics in his congregation.

Hagee is on tour in Israel and "unavailable for comment." Convenient.

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