Last Wednesday, Canada's TV censors issued a five-page statement condemning me. They say I've broken their rules, and the Sun News Network is in trouble because of what I say on my show.
They say what I talk about with my viewers is not allowed in Canada. They say I'm "biased" and my monologues are "tirades."
And they have demanded that I read out a confession to this effect on the air.
The censors are called the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. They're the busybodies who decided last year to ban the rock song Money for Nothing by the band Dire Straits - more than 25 years after it first was played on the radio - because a handful of whiners complained the song had the word "faggot" in it.
Put aside the fact the song has probably been played one million times since it was released in 1985. And put aside the fact it was actually an anti-homophobia song.
The really stupid part is that a group of puritans thought, in the 21st century, they could ban a song, like some medieval Pope might do, adding another work of art to the official Index of Prohibited Books. These are the censors who drove some of the most popular radio shows out of Canada through their bullying - like Dr. Laura, Howard Stern, and even Canadians such as
Dr. Charles McVety, the Christian leader.
There's a theme to the enemies list here: When it comes to politics, Canada's censors hate conservatives and libertarians. They regularly attack the great Lowell Green, the conservative hero from Ottawa, if he dares criticize radical Islam. They attack people like Dominic Maurais and Jeff Fillion, two lonely conservative voices in Quebec. Does the broadcast standards council ever censor the CBC? No. Because the CBC is exempt from their censorship powers.
The broadcast standards council is nominally a private organization, set up by TV and radio stations themselves. It has no court-like powers. But that's a trick: Paragraph 6 of our government TV licence requires us to be a member of it. George Orwell would love that: A voluntary censorship board that you're required by the government to join.
It's censorship - outsourced to the private sector.
The censors were mad that, on my show, I criticized an unethical U.S. company called Chiquita Banana, and used a Spanish phrase that's considered an insult in some Latin American countries. Chiquita is hated in Latin America - for a century their abusive, anti-democratic practices were the root of the phrase "banana republic." It's fair comment. But these censors said I "indulged in language excesses that widely overstep the limits of what is acceptable in dealing with a controversial issue" and I was "unrepentant" about it.
What I said on the air can be translated as a swear. But swearing, of course, is not banned on Canadian TV. Entire shows - like The Trailer Park Boys, or Chef Gordon Ramsay's The F Word, are based on swears.
That's OK by the censors. But when I use a Spanish insult to fight back against Chiquita - because they announced a boycott of Canadian oilsands oil - the censors say that's "excessive."
Not that the insult itself is bad. But I'm not allowed to use it "in dealing with a controversial issue." That's un-Canadian. It's rather banana republicky. As Liberal Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier said, "Canada is free and freedom is its nationality." I'm allowed to say what I want about politicians or businesses.
But the real problem here isn't the censor board. It's this Conservative government that allows its TV bureaucrats to continue to force journalists like me to submit to this censor board.
I didn't shut up when the human rights commission told me I couldn't publish the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. And I sure as hell am not going to shut up because some censor tells me I have to be nice to Chiquita Banana.