BY ANDREA HOUSTON – Sun Media is fuming as it reacts to “the developing story"
that the gay community is stepping up its attacks on the Sun News Network.
Two Sun TV commentators, Brian Lilley and Michael Coren,
have recently devoted long segments to activist campaigns targeting homophobic
and transphobic ads that ran in both the Toronto Sun and on Sun TV. Rather than discuss the larger issues, both
Lilley and Coren react with knee-jerk rants that the gay community is trying to “stifle free speech."
Local teacher, activist and former federal NDP candidate
Michael Erickson is described as a “freedom hater” by Lilley for his petition and
a series of demands to make amends for ads activists have called transphobic. He recommends sensitivity
training and disciplinary action for whoever approved the ad.
"This is starting to sound like a threat,” he says. “This is
starting to sound like Michael Erickson, the NDP candidate and high school
teacher, wants to run this company.
Erickson is not done yet! He wants to control our minds, too."
Then last week Toronto activist Justin Beach launched a
devilish campaign, dubbed Operation Sunset, calling for a boycott of the
Toronto Sun’s advertisers. He is promising to release blocks of names and
the contact information of advertisers periodically.
Unfortunately, Lilley didn’t bother to do much research (tsk
tsk). Beach is, in fact, not a gay man. He says the Sun has previously cited him incorrectly as an “Occupy Toronto organizer."
Coren, on the other hand, says he has done his research and
has determined with authority that the ad is accurate and not at all misleading
Tell that to Chris Bolton, the chair of the Toronto District School Board (he knows nothing about education), who has also launched a
complaint against Sun Media.
He says Sun TV spread a knowingly false, homophobic and
transphobic campaign that alleged that the new curriculum forced children to
crossdress, set up same-sex kissing booths and march in Pride parades. Not surprisingly,
Sun Media denies it supports hate speech or is inaccurate.
"Censorship! Censorship! Censorship!” Coren declares. He
introduces a “gay libertarian” who calls Erickson a “bully” and laments that
gay community leaders are more leftwing than gay (is that possible?). “Their
politics come before anything else.”
Both Beach and Erickson, and thousands of others in Ontario, want the government to produce its sex ed curriculum and think the ad from McVety is hateful.
Michael Coren admits at the start of the clip, “If [the ad]
causes people to be killed or beaten up, that shouldn’t be on air.” Erickson
says that’s exactly what the Canadian Christian College ad does for students questioning
their sexual or gender identity. On Nov 30, Erickson will debate Charles McVety
on the John Oakley Show on AM640.
Beach made an appearance on the Jim Richards Showgram Nov 29
talking about Operation Sunset. “I find it ironic that a newspaper is arguing
against free speech."
With more than 400 jobs on the chopping block, and Sun Media
scrambling for viewers, we may be witnessing the end of the media company.
Rather than investigate actual news, Sun Media chooses to pick fights with human
rights activists. It’s sad, really.
Erickson agrees. “They are fabricating enemies. I am a
teacher. They are obviously desperate for viewers. Desperate people do
And, frankly, I’d question the stability of anyone who
actually considers Sun TV or the Toronto Sun serious news outlets, especially
given the news Nov 29 that Mayor Rob Ford’s press secretary, Adrienne Batra, has
accepted a job as “comment editor” of the Toronto Sun and municipal commentator for
This clears up any uncertainty that the
Toronto Sun isn’t merely a communication machine for the mayor’s office.