Month after month—and in some cases week after week—Rafe Mair’s malicious tirades against Kari Simpson were blasted across the airwaves, and trumpeted from the pages of newspapers and Internet blogs.
Let me read some examples—and show how false they were:
• May 8, 1997, Rafe said, “I received a letter from her accusing me of being in favour of throwing young boys’ bodies to the tender mercies of predatory males…” He repeated this accusation at least six times.
The Fact: Kari’s letter asked—rhetorically—“I trust that upon your read of this that you will understand that the agenda far and exceeds the fluff; but then again, maybe you believe 13-year-old boys enjoy giving their bodies to men in exchange for frivolity.” The question was accompanied by a reprint of an article in Xtra West alleging that the boys in the Maple Leaf Gardens scandal willingly exchanged sexual favours for hockey tickets.
Rafe is a writer; he knows the difference between a rhetorical question and an accusation. But he chose to ignore that distinction, and make a false accusation of his own.
• Dec. 8, 1997, Rafe stated that Kari’s “motivations seem to come from the Reverend Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority.”
The fact: Kari informed Rafe that, although she had heard Falwell’s name, she’d never heard him speak, nor read anything he wrote. Yet Rafe continued to link Kari’s name to Falwell’s.
• Dec. 11, 1997, Rafe said, “I have no idea whether or not she is anti-semitic; I don’t think she is, though; and I’ve never said she is, and I have no reason to say that she is. But, you know, there is an old saying which has resonance: ‘You look like a crow, call like a crow and nest with crows, chances are you’re a crow.’ I have no doubt that if Jerry Falwell, an admitted gay-basher and a demonstrable anti-semite, were to come to this area, that the people who support Kari Simpson’s stand on homosexuality would flock to hear him…”
The facts: Kari is provably NOT an anti-semite. But by alleging that Falwell is an anti-semite and anti-gay, and falsely linking Kari’s name to his, Rafe uses “guilt by association”—an association that never existed—to vilify her reputation.
At the very least, that’s yellow journalism; at the worst, it’s malicious defamation, and promoting hatred and contempt. Defamation is either an actionable civil offence, or a crime, or both—unless the legal brotherhood protects you.
Kari told Rafe—in the same letter that he mis-quotes as an accusation of pedophile sympathies, so we know he read it—that “I am no moral Puritan, but I am informed; my involvement in this difficult issue results from a concern based in fact, not ignorance nor bigotry.” Yet Rafe declared “this is a religious war, not educational.”
• Feb. 8, 1988, Rafe made reference to “Kari Simpson’s fundamentalists…”
The facts: What does Rafe mean by “fundamentalist”? Who knows? He simply uses the word as a pejorative. It actually refers to an intellectual defence of Biblical Christianity mounted by a group of scholars at Princeton University before the First World War. No one has ever demonstrated a link between Kari Simpson and fundamentalism—but that didn’t seem to matter to Rafe, when an easy slur was close at hand.
• Oct. 24, 1999, Rafe wrote (online): “What the likes of Kari Simpson—whose mind is so narrow it’s as invisible as electricity—want us to believe is that the words ‘homosexual’ and pedophile are synonymous…”
The fact: This is simply an outright lie: Kari has never equated homosexuality and pedophilia. Never. And Rafe has never been able to produce any defence of this accusation. And he never will be able to, because it’s untrue.
• Oct. 25, 1999, Rafe Mair opened his program by saying, “I really hate to give Kari Simpson any more publicity—something she soaks up like a blotter—but she’s become such a menace, I really think something must be said…”
After listing a number of civil rights successes Kari brought to Rafe’s radio program, Rafe said, “I listened to the tape of the parents’ meeting… where Kari harangues the crowd.”
Not “spoke to”, but “harangued”. Note how Rafe puts a spin on every sentence, by the language he chooses. He continued: “… in my minds eye I could see Governor Wallace of Alabama, standing on the steps of a school-house, shouting to the crowds that ‘no nigras’ would get into Alabama schools as long as he was governor.”
The facts: Assuredly, there is no need for me to point out the non-sequitur and the fallacy of trying to hang George Wallace’s racism on Kari Simpson; but for those who do not know her, let me assert that Kari—who grew up and went to school in a predominantly Black neighbourhood in California, and earned her fellow-students’ respect—does not have a racist bone in her body!
I’ve only cited six of more than 40 hate-inducing editorials Rafe Mair broadcast or wrote about Kari Simpson. I’m sure that by now, you get the degree of vicious intent. The important point is that those entrusted with the “bully pulpit” of the media have an ethical obligation not to abuse that power in a calculated campaign to manufacture a false reputation for anyone whose political influence they fear; and still less to pander to the economic powerhouse of the ‘gay’ lobby.
Repeatedly, Kari Simpson wrote him letters that proclaimed: “You’re wrong, Rafe!”—and provided him and his employers with evidence.
At one time, Rafe Mair’s producer had scheduled a debate between later became an NDP MLA, objected (according to Rafe’s producer, quoted in a court transcript):
“That would be like debating a white supremacist.”
He refused to debate Kari. So Rafe cancelled Kari, allowing Stevenson to go on the air unchallenged.
It was uncharacteristic of Rafe Mair, the award-winning broadcaster, to cow to the dishonest whim of a politician. But he did.
Yet Rafe and Kari certainly discussed the issue in detail: March 24, 1997, Kari was guest on a program which Rafe devoted entirely to discussion of the promotion of pro-homosexual education in the public schools. The NDP had just passed a resolution at its convention, calling for — quote — “the necessary curricular changes to promote the education of issues surrounding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth.” Unquote.
That sentence is worth careful parsing. Notice that it does not call for comprehensive education of our children about homosexuality—that is, education that would not only argue for the human rights of GLBT persons, but would also inform students of the dire health and financial consequences of homosexual behaviour.
So what was the outcome of all Kari’s information and her corrections of misinformation? Come back next week.