Today, we had some salty language on our news cast. NDP Peter Stoffer called Conservative MP Rob Anders a “dickhead”. Many argue Anders was acting like one when he suggested NDP leader Thomas Mulcair may have “hastened the death” of now deceased Jack Layton.
Of course, dickhead isn’t a word heard often in newscasts. More people might watch them if it was. Some might think it’s pretty offensive language…but we adults know that there are worse words. Where do TV/radio stations draw the line? Do we beep it? Do we leave it? Which words are acceptable? Which ones aren’t? It’s definitely a balancing act. We are a morning show. Kids watch us, but at what point do we censor the news?
I admit my reaction to this wasn’t typical…but often I find news stations don’t engage their viewers/listeners enough and ask them what they think. So I put it out on Twitter and Facebook. Most people agreed that we should not beep it. Here are some of the comments.
@bigJMcC: Absolutely not! Stoffer’s simply saying what every Cdn. is thinking this a.m. If he was my MP I’d be starting a recall vote.
@jMacPhail81: do not beep it out. it is far less offensive then Anders’ comment
Tom Pura: no need to bleep that out…worst case scenario just warn that stoffer uses a derogatory phrase that may be offensive to some
Robert Firlotte: He does resemble a penis. So no don’t bleep it. LoL. CRTC has different rules however.
On Facebook, we heard from people who were pro-beep.
Candice McDonald: I think it’s a no brainer. A lot of families watch BT in the morning and even if kids aren’t paying attention to the tv, they are still listening. Please bleep it.
Thomas Roberts: : Rather than the media censoring, how about public figures talking in public have the responsibility to do it. The media has been doing too much erring on the side of caution, i.e. blurring over Justin Bieber puking onstage. The public, in general can handle the media content. As for children, those exposed to news probably will benefit from it intellectually and academically. But, I do wonder about parents who would get uptight over the kids hearing ‘dickhead’ but never paused for thought over the kids seeing far worse in the news such as human bodies ravaged by war or genocide, disease, famine, etc.
Scott Malo: FOX news aired a car chase ending where a guy shot himself in the head. I’m sure “dickhead” won’t corrupt my kids anymore than seeing *gasp* a bare breast, or all the filth that’s on the tube these days. Also I can’t believe they blurred Bieber’s puke…I wanted to know what he ate that gave him ‘Bieber fever’.
Scott Mitchell: I think we’ve become “desensitized” to words like that
Peter Shaw: Oh, no question in my mind that Stoffer should watch what he says. But that’s no reason to repeat it on air. Beeping or quieting it shows class, IMHO. Stoffer’s superiors should reprimand him, as should Anders’. The “hastening the death” comments used no foul language but were inappropriate and crude in tone.
Brian Fletcher: The individual said it, it is not the job of ther media to sensor Politician’s comments. The Media did not edit what Rob Anders said and they shouldn’t edit what’s said about him!
Even Pat Kiernan, former Edmontian and now New York morning anchor weighed in on Facebook.
Patrick Kiernan: Evening news ok. Bleep it for morning news when kids are watching with parents.
Did news organizations go to far fuzzing Justin Bieber puking on stage? I saw it…wasn’t offended. It was dark and it just wasn’t that graphic. Back to the dickhead debate, as a mom of a 3 year old I know that my little girl wouldn’t capture the word for her repertoire and cuss out the class. For older kids, there may be a bigger problem. But in a perfect world parents might be able to use this as a teaching tool. A. Teach your kids not to use the word. B. Politics can be ugly. C. Sometimes strong emotions can get the best of us and gentlemen rules are tossed out the window. However in our story, Stoffer’s clip was juxtaposed with Layton’s widow Olivia Chow’s lovely and forgiving words.
Robert Hawn on Facebook summed it up the bad choice of words on Ander’s and Stoffer’s parts.
Robert Hawn: Neither individual is being bathed in glory during this episode.
Often strong language adds to the story…takes us there..demonstrates emotion. Other times it is gratuitous and can be beeped out or should at least be prefaced by a warning. We know we can’t make everyone happy all of the time. It is a responsibility news organizations take on these issues and ultimately suffer the consequences of the decisions they make. We take that responsibility seriously. Because, like politicians you are our ultimate boss…not by ballots on election day…but by simply holding a remote control in your hand.