Today’s Washington Post pleasantly surprised me by going after an unlikely troublemaker. Namely, talk radio and all the trash that clutters up its airwaves:
Quebec City has developed the dubious reputation as Canada’s capital of shock jocks, online radio hosts who love to provoke with outrageous talk about women, homosexuals and Muslims.
As this city of 800,000 deals with the emotional aftermath of Sunday’s shooting at a local mosque that left six worshipers dead and several injured, the role of trash radio in spreading xenophobic attitudes is getting new attention. A 27-year-old local university student and follower of far-right causes was charged Monday with murder and attempted murder in connection with the massacre.
There is no indication that the man charged in the attack, Alexandre Bissonnette, was particularly influenced by trash radio, but members of the Muslim community were quick to complain about the corrosive impact of the anti-immigrant rhetoric heard on the city’s airwaves.
The local phrase for trash-talk radio is radio poubelle, literally meaning “garbage can radio”. It’s an apt term, considering what shit it fills its listeners’ heads with. And ethnic minorities, particularly Arab and African Muslims, are a frequent target for all the poo-flinging:
“Whenever you happen to listen to this trash radio, you hear clearly xenophobic language,” said Mohammed Ali Saidane, who has lived in Quebec for 30 years.
“What I reproach with these media is that they import problems from elsewhere, especially France. We don’t live in ghettos here. It’s not the same as France,” he told the Journal de Quebec newspaper.
France, as you may recall, is going through its own little xenophobic choke right now, what with burkini bans, forced unveilings of Muslim women, and an unholy flirtation with Marine Le Pen, the fascist who dares not speak her true name. So I’m not surprised to see that our most francophone province has been importing something from the old country besides the expected language and culture. Bigotry (that’s French too!) is flowing in from there like sewage. Only this kind of filth doesn’t need any terrestrial pipelines to ooze through; all it needs is a computer connected to the internet, or maybe a satellite radio.
Yesterday I wrote a bit about how crapaganda influences the “thinking” of online trolls, who further the spread of the mental garbage by regurgitating it, holus bolus, on forums and blogs, or in the comments sections of news articles. It gives me no pleasure to see that Québec is full of it too, and that they even have their own hate-mongering versions of Rush Limbaugh and the FUX Snooze “personalities” (note the quotes, there for a reason):
“The real danger of this kind of radio is that they play with the line between news, opinion and demagoguery,” said Louis-Philippe Lampron, who teaches human rights law at Laval University.
Lampron said four or five talk-show hosts dominate the market, moving among a handful of stations and constantly competing for listeners with outrageous talk, which is often right-wing and populist in tone.
“It’s very insidious and aggressive,” he told The Washington Post.
Jeff Fillion, one of the best-known hosts, was fired last spring by Bell Media, owner of Energie 98.9 FM, after he ridiculed a prominent local businessman who had publicly grieved his son’s suicide. But soon after, Fillion was back on the air at another station.
Let’s face it, the reason Jeff Fillion got hired again so quickly is because outrage draws listeners, and listeners spell beaucoup d’argent (that’s MOOLAH, kiddies) for the stations. If enough people flipped their radios off, or to other channels, when the trash-talkers came on, the station owners would soon see their bottom lines suffering, and take the hint. Likewise, boycotts help; Rush Limbaugh’s loss of sponsors and stations speaks for itself.
Until you do something about the slime dripping out of your radio, though, they don’t care whether you like the slimy talkers or hate them, as long as you’re listening and buying whatever the advertisers are selling.
And as long as someone’s listening to all that ugly talk, someone’s also bound to be influenced to do ugly things. Like, oh, say, grabbing a restricted weapon and shooting up a mosque during evening prayers.
It’s clear that trash-talk radio is not just a problem in Québec. It happened there on Sunday, but in the US, it happens all the time. Even just a cursory google for terms like shooter and talk radio will turn up hits galore, and connections between the two. There are countless mass shootings directly tied to hate-mongering on the radio. And yet the US does little or nothing to rein in its radio talkers who cross the line. Little wonder, then, that they hold the world record for home-grown terrorist shootings. Res ipsa loquitur, people.
It’s not much use to hope that the US brings in tighter media regulations under Drumpf (unless they’re the kind that restrict your right to speak ill of fascists, that is). But here in Canada, we can and MUST do better.
Kicking Radio Poubelle off the air would be a good start.