Jonathan Kay on Charles McVety, Gay Pride, nudity, and anti-Christian censorship

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As Charles Lewis reported in Friday's National Post:

Christian broadcaster Crossroads Television System (CTS) has been found in violation of broadcasting codes for statements made by evangelical television personality and minister Charles McVety that implied there was a "malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial purpose" to the activities of homosexuals. Rev. McVety said he was told Thursday by CTS that his show, Word TV, would be temporarily pulled from the air ½ The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, a self-regulated industry watchdog, said that Rev. McVety disparaged gays in episodes that ran between July 2009 and February 2010 when commenting on Toronto's massive gay pride parade and a revised Ontario sex curriculum for grade schools. It said Rev. McVety violated sections of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters code of ethics, particularly the clause that calls for "full, fair and proper representation." Rev. McVety has been known for expressing controversial remarks that reflect his conservative and evangelical views. He is also the most quoted evangelical in Canada and has modelled his ministries on more aggressive American counterparts. On air he expressed opposition to the use of taxpayer money to fund the pride parade, questioned whether it really brought tourists to the region and called it a "sex parade." "One reason is because this [parade] is a criminal activity, to parade down the streets in the nude," Rev. McVety said on Word TV. "There is the Criminal Code of Canada that says you can't do that. It's an abuse of public space, it's abuse of our children."

Let's put aside McVety's anti-gay activism for a moment. (He's an evangelical Christian, and no one should be particularly surprised that he takes a dim view of a lifestyle that the Bible says goes against God's will.) Is he really off base to say that "This [parade] is a criminal activity, to parade down the streets in the nude"?

I happened to be at this year's Pride parade in Toronto -- covering the event for this newspaper. As you can see from some of the photos I took, McVety is perfectly correct that some of the people in attendance were completely nude. You can also see, from my photos, that some of the people in attendance at the parade are small children.

What does the the Criminal Code say about this?

Section 174 tells us:

(1) Every one who, without lawful excuse,
(a) is nude in a public place, or
(b) is nude and exposed to public view while on private property, whether or not the property is his own, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction;
(2) For the purposes of this section, a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order.
(3) No proceedings shall be commenced under this section without the consent of the Attorney General.

If McVety is correct that the Toronto Pride parade contains "criminal activity" -- and I think he has Section 174 on his side -- then it seems odd to censure his comments, even if you don't happen to like his general outlook on homosexuality. What we effectively have here is a religious Christian being driven off the air for doing little more than appealing to the provisions of our Criminal Code -- not the Bible. He's not even calling for the gays in question to be arrested. He's just saying that we shouldn't subsidize their event with taxpayer funds. When did that sort of speech become illegal?

Of course, it could be argued that being nude at Gay Pride doesn't offend "public decency" -- even though it would offend public decency under normal circumstances. (I, for one, wasn't particularly offended -- but that's just urban, metro-sexual me.) But isn't the definition of public decency the sort of thing that reasonable people can disagree about, and debate -- even if they are (gasp!) religious Christians?

Canadian human rights commissions have come in for a lot of flak in recent years, largely thanks to Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, who have pointed out that the people running them have neither respect for, nor knowledge about, Canada's free-speech tradition. In this case, Canadian Broadcast Standards Council seems to be answering to the same description. Why, one wonders, is CTS rolling over in response to their verdict? And why aren't the rest of us making a bigger deal about this threat to free speech?


Jim Blake

All glory goes to the living God, maker of the heavens and the earth, for He alone is worthy of all glory and honor and praise. I consider the sufferings of this age not worthy to be compared to what is to come for those who place their faith in the King of kings and persevere in faith, day by day, until the end.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Psalm 103:11-18

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