The ‘fatwa’ against Lowell Green

Struggling through the ‘brainfog’ of the flu, I have not made my post about what had happened to Lowell Green as clear and understandable as it should have been.  Please, accept my apologies.

There is some clarification needed…

The Canadian ‘airwaves’ (radio and television) are regulated.  That means that in order to broadcast a signal, a person – or, more typically, an organization – has to purchase the ‘right’ to broadcast from the Canadian government (though, this is the standard in most countries).  The Canadian government has created an organization to deal with this:  the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), which bills itself as ‘an independent public authority in charge of regulating and supervising Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications’.

Aside:  the government ‘regulation’ of any news-media or any private industry is dangerous.  While it is important to assign ‘proper’ bandwidth to different broadcasters – so that their signals do not overlay each other, and so on, there is a serious danger, creating a body which is not ‘answerable’ to anyone but itself to govern this process is not just ludicrous, it actively endangers our society’s freedom of expression.  If a government body can, at will (and without needing to provide justification), approve or deny ‘bandwidth’ to a private company, there is a very large ‘opening’ for abuse.  Will this ‘body/commission’ approve licences to anyone who criticizes them?  How about anyone who criticizes ‘bureaucratic-abuse within licensing bodies’???  What if a special ‘interest group’/’political faction’ gains control of this body?  The list of potential abuses is endless…. think about it!!!  No ‘government’ and no ‘bureaucratic body’ should EVER have this kind of power over a society!

Back to the story…

So, if any person hears or sees anything on the radio or TV that they do not like, they are free to complain.  That, I have no problem with.  What happens next – …

The CRTC, upon receiving a complaint, has a number of options.  It can dismiss it – no more action done.  Or it can investigate it itself – as it has done on many occassions.  Or, as it most often the case, it ‘passes’ the complaint onto the ‘Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’ (CBSC).

The CBSC is a ‘self-regulating’ ‘professional association’ of all people/organizations who wish to ‘broadcast’ in Canada.  Canadian broadcasters MUST belong to it in order to even apply for a broadcasting license.

Now, ‘professional association’s are not necessarily a bad thing.  This is a deep tradition, rooted in the ‘craft guilds’ of the medieval times:  a ‘guild’ would test any ‘apprentice’, to make sure they had ‘mastered the craft’, before he could hang a shingle in front of his hut and practice his craft. It  was a ‘self-policing, quality control’ type thing – and, historically, there was a role for it. Of course, it was also used to limit competition…too many ‘guild-members’ meant not enough demand  – and therefore income – for any one of the members!  So, ‘strict’ – and ‘unquestionable’ – regulations were put into place…

However, modernization and the necessary ‘scaling up’ of these ‘guilds’ and ‘professional associations’ did not always go smoothly.  Just as unionized ‘closed shop’ workplaces became legally forbidden from employing people who were unwilling to join (or rejected by) a workplace union, ‘professional associations’ have become a similar ‘closed-shop’ thing among many professions, regardless of the employer.

Thus, if the Ontario Medical Association refuses to grant an accredited MD membership (the reasons could be simple as ‘having reported more than 3 factual adverse vaccine reaction in children/infant patients per calendar year’ – according to an ex-Ontario MD), such an MD is stripped of their OMA membership –  and thereafter legally forbidden from practicing medicine within Ontario.  Similarly, lawyers (and other professionals) have a ‘self-regulating body’:  if these ‘bodies’ refuse to let you into their ‘country club’, your law-school graduation diploma (etc.) is only worth its decorative value…  You may hang it on your wall, but you are not allowed to practice your profession.

While it is a good idea in principle, this ‘self-regulation’ of professionals, it is deeply flawed in practice…

It gives a group of people the extrajudicial power to decide who may – or may not – practice a ‘profession’.  While this is excellent for ‘quality control’, it is also – rather glaringly – a method of discrediting anyone who might ’embarrass the orthodoxy’ of the profession by holding independent points of view, or by exposing corruption within the organization, etc…. the possibilities are endless.  In short, this is the perfect body to filter out (without legal recourse) anyone who does not ‘play ball’, ‘adhere to orthodoxy’, is ‘not-one-of-the-good-old-boys-network’…. with no legal recourse for those who are ‘rejected’ or ‘censored’ or ‘censured’….

Well, it would appear that the CRTC does – often – pass complaints it receives about TV or radio coverage/broadcast on to this extrajudicial, non-transparent body called the CBSC…

Even the broadcasters themselves – according to what I hear on the airwaves – are now aware of how the ‘decisionmakers’ within the CBSC are selected.  Yet, their decisions are binding on anyone who wishes to continue to remain  a member – and thus have a licence to broadcast.  Transparency of process?  Please….

In this particular case, Mr. Green was not allowed to know who (or, if there were several ‘whos’) complained about the broadcast he made.  He was not allowed to know what the specifics of the complaint were.  And, he was not allowed to present any defense on his behalf – personal, professional or legal.

So, do you think this ‘professional organization’ stands up for its members? Will it be the ‘buffer’ to protect them from petty government censorship or bureaucratic interference?  Will it protect the professional ideals of its membership:  freedom of speech, the right to deliver news and opinions, no matter how diverse?   Will it shield its members from government or bureaucratic censorship?

Or, has this ‘professional association’ become an instrument of censorship itself – not answerable to anyone, with no legal recourse for appealing unjust decisions?  Just an organization with the unquestionable ability to silence those whose opinions it does not find politically useful?  An organization that has the ability to silence anyone who broadcasts any ‘news or opinion’ that it does not approve of – without any responsibility to the populace whose news/opinion sources it limits?

Please, you be the judge:  here is the decision in the Lowell Green case… sounds to me like the CBSC has issued a fatwa against Mr. Green!

One more question I have:  the document itself states that the ‘decision’ was reached in October of 2008.  So, why was it not announced until February, 2009?  Everything else aside – what is the reason for this delay?

I’m sorry – I just don’t get it.

Freedom of Speech – good bye!