Rather the CRTC should apologize

Rather, the CRTC should apologize

It’s the proverbial drop too many. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission went so far as to demand that Radio-Canada issue a public apology for its use of the “n” word in its public affairs programming 15-18.

A columnist innocently referred to Pierre Vallières’ book Nègres blancs d’Amérique. This book, published in 1968 amidst the worldwide wave of decolonization, vividly described the miserable life of the French Canadian working class oppressed by the Anglo-Canadian establishment and its own French Canadian elites.

Hence the word “nigger”—not then a reference to its use as a racial slur but to the dire plight of African Americans. According to Vallières, French Canadians were then the “white niggers of America”.

A term that was also applied long before him to so-called “white” and disadvantaged cultural communities in the United States, including Italian-Americans.

Why are you calling him back? Because the CRTC’s dissenting decision would result in much future social and political thought being wiped out unless Radio-Canada challenged it.

At least as long as their mere mention might “offend” someone.

Never as a racial insult

It is true that the word “n” pronounced as a racist insult is absolutely reprehensible. However, its use must persist when it is a matter of historical or cultural reference.

By denying this, the CRTC undermines freedom to think, say, write, learn and debate. In doing so, he knowingly feeds ignorance and amnesia, both collectively and individually.

Let’s understand that too. In its decision, the CRTC is responding to a unique complaint from an individual citizen who said he was “offended” by the Chronicle of 15-18.

So the CRTC is not the poor victim of some “Wokist” or “multicultural” offensive here. He is the victim of his own recent tendency to think of himself as a royal thought police whose toxic effect would be to multiply reflexes of censorship and self-censorship on many other controversial issues.

The right not to be offended is a fiction

However, as noted by one of the two dissenting signatories to that decision, “Neither the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms nor the rules applicable to broadcasting protect the applicant’s right not to be offended. However, this is clear.

Hence the numerous calls urging Radio-Canada’s management not to apologize and to oppose the CRTC’s decision. The integrity of the public broadcaster is at stake.

As evidence, these calls for resistance come from former Radio-Canada ombudsmen. columnists in other media. By journalists. presenters and animators.

They also come from the Professional Federation of Journalists of Quebec. Antenna heads, including Patrice Roy and Céline Galipeau. All those words together are the canary in the mine. Because this would lead to a culture of censorship, the CRTC’s decision must not stand.

In fact, it is up to the CRTC to publicly apologize to Canadians for its delusional decision. Unless we can’t say the “d” word anymore…

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