Thursday, December 03, 2015

Radio Silence

 There are some areas where people should be able to transcend ideology. Some of those include music, art, nature, technology, the county fair, and sports. Yes, we can have lively debates over art, and music, and the like - but not divisive ones.

You all know, by now, that I'm a rabid hockey fan - more to the point, a rabid fan of the Montreal Canadiens. They've been my team all my life, and I've written about my fan experiences and development extensively here, here, and here - just a handful of my hockey fan meanderings.

I became a Habs writer a little over a year ago, and have been blessed with the opportunity to write about the team, the games, the issues, and the sport in general. Marrying my writing skills with the team I adore has been a perfect alignment of stars for me.

In keeping with my ever-present quest for knowledge, enlightenment, and expertise from those who have been doing this longer than I have, I began listening - when I became a savvy fan - to local sports talk radio.

The station began as just an independent sports talk station (under the umbrella of one media corporation) but then became a TSN outlet (TSN is Canada's ESPN) when the conglomerate was bought out by a bigger one. TSN690 has always been extremely interesting to me. I've been able to listen to the analyses of All Things Canadiens and learn from that, in order to actually be able to watch games with a better eye.

It's been interesting, entertaining, informative and validating to be a listener of TSN690 - until today.

Today, that relationship I've had with the station, as a loyal and engaged listener, comes to an end. And for the worst possible reason: partisanship. Correction: abrasive and disparaging partisanship.

As you may also know, I am a proud Conservative - and have made no secret of that fact. I have done so out loud but I've also done so with respect for the views of others - both strangers, and those with whom I have relationships. Ideology should never result in personal attacks, nor should a difference in ideological values come between people who have so many other things in common.

I've had friends actually tell me they may not agree with me politically but that my friendship means more to them than just our ideological views, and they'd never let that get in the way of what's good and agreeable between us.

I've been unfollowed on social media, by those who disagree with my views, without even giving me a chance to explain them. And I don't miss the people who have picked up and left in a huff. Real friends don't do that. Even decent acquaintances do not vilify people for ideological disagreements.

I have never allowed my politics and my Habs involvement intersect. Those are two areas in my life which remain isolated from each other. I will find solace in my love for the Habs, and I find stimulation in my political discourse (though there is the adrenaline-based rush watching the Habs too!) . But never have they intersected - nor will they ever.

Back to radio:

TSN690 is part of a conglomerate that is, in its other stations' broadcasts, quite Liberal in their views. I have been a fan - and sometimes-guest - on CJAD-800 talk radio, but lately, the liberalism I've heard has been too much to take and I find myself turning it off more often than not. It's sad - but I'm tired of my views, my party, and my leaders being attacked with the same old rhetoric that is not only inaccurate, but should be met with the kind of balance this city deserves.

In fact, the only host on CJAD who even gives conservatives a like-minded perspective, is Tommy Schnurmacher, and his informed voice of reason in a biased world is refreshing. I do listen to his show.

But every other host - as nice as they are, personally - tends to take the liberal side of things, without really acknowledging that conservatives have another side. And often, to the point of vilifying the conservative leadership, values, people.

It's really too bad; in a city with one - ONE - English talk radio station, with an audience comprised of - doubtlessly - more than just Liberals, that one station should not be biased out loud as often as it is. Or if it is, it should offer counterpoints to its views, instead of being lapdog media we see in the television arena.

Don't forget - viewers and listeners learn, more often than not, from what they hear on radio. Whether that's opinion or facts, they don't care - and often don't differentiate; if they heard it on radio, it's what they internalize as facts. And that is extremely dangerous when there is no balance whatsoever.

I'm not the only Conservative listener of either CJAD800 or TSN690. I'm 100% sure of that. So why would any radio station want to alienate half of its audience?

I digress. Back to sports.

Today, I was listening to TSN690 as they addressed a story that made the news today. In the Canadian Parliament, we have a Senate, but it isn't run like the American model. Senators are chosen, not elected, and have nowhere near the kind of power American Senators do. They're more along the lines of goodwill ambassadors.

One Conservative senator was Jacques Demers. Mr. Demers was a coach of the Canadiens, among other teams, and won his only Cup, in his coaching career, with Montreal the last time the Habs won the Stanley Cup.

He was with the Conservatives as a Senator until today, when he announced he would be changing his affiliation to "Independent".

TSN covered the story. It is, after all, a sports-related story, and it isn't untoward that they would do that.

But the banter became alarmingly partisan. They alluded to their distaste of Stephen Harper, which already had my back up - but it wasn't as bad as what was to end their segment.

One of the hosts - I don't know who, I don't really care - made an offhand comment about registered members of the Conservative Party as "douchebags". The laughter that ensued led into commercial, and - more importantly - led to my turning to a music station.

Here's the thing, folks: I get that the Conservative Party - both here, and in the USA - isn't the "popular party". It isn't cool. It isn't sexy. It isn't representative of the values that are cool and sexy and popular - at least, not in the leftist perspective.

But it is a valid, and populous affiliation. My values are as bona fide - and should be as respected - as yours. Moreover, my right to ascribe to those values should be as respected as your right to yours. Without having to take abuse over it.

Adlai Stevenson (two-time Democratic presidential nominee) offered this:
My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
Sadly, I don't believe we live in that society. Because of my political affiliation, I am unpopular but am also the target for insults, accusations, typecasting, and ridicule. As are my fellow Conservatives.

I've suffered fools gladly. I've been called many names by people who directly disagree with what I have to say, and who have decided the attack route is the more viable option for them instead of sticking up for their ideals.

I can be a sensitive person but I am not - as often accused - hypersensitive. I know when to take offense because I've learned to discern when it is intended.

I won't, however, suffer radio hosts insulting me the way they did today. I understand they are biased, but that doesn't give them - or any media personality - the right to launch immature, low-road, ad hominem attacks on those who hold the political viewpoint opposed to theirs.

I also find it extremely irresponsible of those hosts: alienating what may be half of their audience - or even a portion - is not what their station manager, or their advertisers would likely find conducive to promotion or continued employment. It certainly doesn't elevate public opinion of the station.

I'd venture a guess that even some liberals, if they were to admit it to themselves, would agree that taking shots in that way is uncalled for, by professionals whose voices are heard by many, many thousands of listeners.

I know my liberal friends, those who support my right to be Conservative without giving me a hard time for it - or calling me disparaging names, would likely take offense on my behalf. Because yes, this is personal.

I've seen it on social media; music artists, authors, actors, public figures who make political statements and then endure the backlash of so many who confront them for essentially insulting half of their audience.

It isn't smart, it isn't responsible, it isn't kind, and it just isn't nice.

There are myriad outlets, in this world of technology and telecommunications, from which I can get my news, and my sports analyses. I need not patronize the station - or its advertisers - that chooses to insult me, and people like me, because they don't agree with my values.

And I plan on pursuing this further.

As for now? This "douchebag" is no longer a listener of TSN690. I hope others - fellow Conservative douchebags - will follow suit.

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