Thursday, March 5, 2009

The CBC bans Jew-haters

Until recently, the CBC was Canada’s largest publisher of antisemitic material.
In some ways, it still is.

The problem hasn't been the CBC reporters; it's the audience, posting antisemitic attacks on the CBC website.

Courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer, antisemites can reach far more people by posting on CBC.ca than through the wacko sites that specialize in Jew-hatred. Worse, they can preach to a mainstream audience, not just their fellow bigots.

The antisemitic attacks reached a crescendo during Israel’s recent war with Hamas, but this problem of Jew-haters using the CBC as their message board stretches back for years.

Last April, I wrote about the antisemitic comments that greeted a CBC.ca story about Steven Harper laying a wreath at Auschwitz (http://tinyurl.com/d62oxl). For example, a reader calling himself “baltzera” asked which would be cheaper vacation, “a day pass to Disney’s theme park or Dachau?”

Similar filth greeted a story about B’nai Brith’s 2007 audit of antisemitic incidents in Canada, with one reader asserting that Jews are “despised for all the right reasons here and globally.”

Back in 2004, writing in the Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente noted the problem with antisemitic reader comments at the CBC, and quoted this one: "Jesus may have been a Jew himself but I know for a fact that he didn't take part in the eating of blood-filled pastries made from the blood of Palestinian children."

The theme of Jews thirsting for blood resurfaced during Israel’s war with Hamas. For example, a reader identifying himself as “LoranHayden” portrayed Jews as racist, genocidal baby-killers, savouring “Muslim juice.”
In Canada, anti-Jewish extremists like this are part of the lunatic fringe. On the CBC message boards, they represent the majority.

For example, 536 CBC.ca readers clicked on the link to recommend a comment by “sandy411” in which he compared Israel’s assault on Hamas to the Holocaust and added a reference to Israel wanting “pounds of flesh,” like Shylock the Jew.
“Sandy411” added: “How many tons of Palestinian women and children will settle your account, Israel?” It was the most popular comment of the day.
I wrote to the CBC to complain, citing eight of the most odious comparisons of Jews to Nazis, all of them taken from reader comments on a single story published December 27.

While I waited for a reply, the Hamas war got into full swing and CBC.ca readers began posting more than 1,000 comments a day on the topic. I collected 50 more examples of antisemitic attacks: everything from “DrDavid” referring to Jews as vermin and praising Hitler to “FRTknocker” denigrating Canadian Jews as “zionazis” and telling us to get out of Canada.
I could have found hundreds more, but I took my 50 examples and submitted another complaint.

Two weeks later, the CBC replied. They’d reviewed the comments I’d pointed out and agreed the “vast majority” were unacceptable. They reviewed other comments posted by the same users, found many were just as bad and removed them, too.

Even better, management showed the moderators who screen reader comments the antisemitic attacks that they'd allowed through, made them “aware of the problem users,” and refreshed them “on the issue of anti-Semitism in general.”
Moreover, the CBC agreed that comparisons of Israel (and Jews) to the Nazis and of Gaza to a concentration camp “fall outside acceptable discourse on the topic.”

In short, it was an outstanding, highly professional response. And I wasn’t satisfied.

A glance at recent stories showed the moderators were still allowing some gross antisemitism and Holocaust-taunting to slip through. Besides, though the CBC would block or remove a comment suggesting Jews are baby-killing Nazis, the reader was welcome to come back with some more subtle Jew-baiting.
So I wrote and complained again (http://tinyurl.com/butgrb).

I’m still waiting for a reply but not impatiently, because in the meanwhile – to their great credit – the CBC has gotten better at screening out antisemitic attacks.

Also, they’ve posted a new policy, stating that people who offend the CBC’s policies may have their account suspended. In other words, Jew-haters can get themselves banned.

Most readers commenting at CBC.ca still demonize Israel. They call it racist, terrorist, apartheid; they're still preparing a rationale for wiping Israel off the map, still in the business of supplying a warrant for genocide.

But the CBC has finally drawn a line. Explicitly attacking Jews is going a step too far. So is comparing the Nazi Jew-killers to the Jewish state. That sort of thing used to get posted at the CBC all the time. Not anymore.

Earlier versions of this piece appeared in the 3 March 2009 Jewish Tribune, a community paper published by B’nai Brith Canada, at Harry's Place in Britain - where lots of people commented, and on Honest Reporting Canada blog. "Scaramouche" takes issue with me here.

11 comments:

  1. Hi Brian,
    I put in a complaint about the exact same thing to the CBC Ombudsman. I just recently got a reply from the CBC Moderator (March 2, 2009), which seems to contradict the impression that you leave, ie. that the CBC has decided to screen out anti-Semitic comments (which are indeed chilling).
    I'm appending the letter I received from someone called CBC MODERATOR, and you can judge for yourself whether my interpretation is correct or not: that the CBC finds their system of reporting racist/anti semitic comments by clicking on the "report abuse" button (which removes the alleged abusive comment for review by the Moderator) as sufficient.
    You can reach me at :
    p_madertte@yahoo.com , if you'd like to correspond with me on this.
    For now, unless you can give me evidence that what your claim is true, I plan to go with this to the Simon Weisenthal Centre to see if they can do something about it.
    My health is not great so unfortunately, I'm not able to carry the ball as I would like on this.
    Hats off for you taking action as you did! It's both frightening and disgusting that the CBC can not/could not find a creative solution. Not even the BBC website (the Biased Broadcasting Corporation) allows racist comments to its news stories.

    best, Phil Mader
    ====================
    Dear Mr. Mader,

    Thank you for sharing with us the letter you have sent to the Canadian Jewish Congress.

    We take our responsibility to provide an open forum for debate for all Canadians very seriously. Our goal is to provide a space for Canadians to share their opinions on issues in the news. People can choose to contribute their comments or not, and people can choose to read them or not. It's up to the community to use it as they wish, within the guidelines we've set out.

    Our guidelines ( http://www.cbc.ca/aboutcbc/discover/submissions.html ) are intended to provide enough structure to keep the discussions lively and interesting, without straying too far off-topic, making people feel unwelcome, breaking any laws or violating any community standards.

    We are committed to applying the guidelines in an objective, fair and consistent way. This can be challenging, given the range of comments we receive, and the differing contexts of our news, sports and entertainment content, not to mention the number of moderators required to screen all input we receive in a timely manner.

    In practice, it is challenging to meet the objective of providing a place where people feel safe and comfortable participating on highly controversial and complex topics. We strive to balance this objective with what we feel is our audience’s right to fair comment on the important news stories of the day.

    On our coverage of the conflict in Gaza, we have struggled with the emotion expressed on all sides. As the conflict continued, we “tightened up” on what we felt was acceptable discourse on the topic.

    In January we received over 193,000 comments. On average, we publish 91% of the comments we receive. We frequently receive over 10,000 comments a day, and experience peaks where we receive 1,000+ comments per hour. We are dedicated to sustaining our vibrant community; and work to post the input we receive as fast as we possibly can.

    Given the volume of comments that we are reviewing, occasionally comments that do not meet our guidelines are accidentally published. Comments that include material like “jew boy” and “Hitler was right” are clearly in violation of our guidelines. I have confirmed that comments containing these phrases are not live on our site.

    When inappropriate comments are published, our users are typically quick to alert us via the 'report abuse' link. This alerts the moderators to take another look at the comment, and if required, to escalate it to senior management for review. Frequently these flagged comments are removed from the site, as they do not meet our guidelines.

    As this is an area of the site that is continuing to grow and evolve, we actively monitor and regularly review the effectiveness of our moderation practices.

    Thank you for your suggestion of ways the commenting section could be improved for our audience, this will be taken into consideration as we move forward.

    In the near future, we will be implementing several changes to our systems and processes that will help us deal with controversial topics more effectively.

    Thanks again for your feedback. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact Audience Relations via the methods indicated on http://www.cbc.ca/contact/.

    Regards,

    CBC Moderator

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Brian, as the daughter of Jewish Austrian parents who survived the concentration camps, I thank you for your continued efforts to"ban Jew Haters". I am saddened that in an age when we are call so closely connected, technically, there are so many who look for any reason to hate Jewish people. The simplistic haters use old rhetoric and bigoted reasons to promote the hatred. In my naive 58 years, I hoped that mankind would have become more elevated to respecting and appreciating our similarities and diversities which offer so much.

    I am so sad, that antisemitism is so ripe and peoples hatred is so cruel.'

    thank you for fighting the fight.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Brian,
    Thank you for taking the time to pursue this avenue in an attempt to bring a little honesty into the CBC's web site. It is frustrating to see more signs of increasing anti-semitism throughout the media and even in our "so-called" institutes of higher education. From my perspective, I believe some of it is due to the cloaking or invisibilty factor of the internet. As to the school system, well I think too many Jewish and other more rational students are too concerned with getting an education and a job to actively participate in the political process as compared to their "anti-aparteid anti-Israel" contemporaries.
    I truly believe it is time to put our money where our mouth is and withold financial support from the worst institutional offenders.

    Brian

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Brian,

    Thank you for taking the time to stand up for justice. CBC should be ashamed and any one else who is anti-semitic. It is obvious they do not know their Bible and don't accept that the Jews are God's chosen people. In the end time it is prophecied that everyone will be against Israel and unfortunately that includes Canada... We are in the end times now though most people do not see that. The outcome...GOD wins and so do His chosen people...the Jews unfortunately they will suffer many injustices till then... but when someone like CBC gets on board instead of remaining un biased... then it is really sad. So once again I thank you for your effort and pray you continue.

    F. Michaud (a Bible following Christian who loves God's chosen people)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for standing up to CBC.
    For all those anti-semitic people it is obvious they do not know God's Word and the fact that the Jews are God's chosen people. It is prophecied that in the end times everyone will be against Israel and unfortunately that includes Canada... but for CBC to be anything but unbiased makes me never want to read or listen to them again.
    It is unfortunate for the Jews the terrible injustices that lie ahead but in the end GOD wins and so do His chosen people. God will bless those who stand up for His people. God will bless you Brian.
    Thank you ... on behalf of a Bible believing person who loves God's chosen people.
    Believer54

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well done Brian!

    Love thy neighbor doesn't mean we have to listen their venomous comments, eh.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Elliott MichaelsonMarch 9, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    Hi, Brian...

    I've been a subscriber and supporter of HonestReporting.com and I just read your update. I want to take a moment to thank you for your effort. Clicking a link to sign an e-petition is easy; actually writing a thoughtful response to pursue positive change takes time and patience. You are an example to the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Brian from TorontoMarch 10, 2009 at 8:08 AM

    Everyone,
    Thanks very much for your comments!
    Shalom from Toronto,
    Brian

    ReplyDelete
  9. Phil,

    Thanks very much for writing.

    If the CBC is still failing to screen out taunts such as “jew boy” and “Hitler was right,” then I think you absolutely should go to the Simon Weisanthal Centre, and to the B'nai Brith, too.

    I do think the CBC moderators are doing a far better job of screening out antisemitic comments before they get posted (not just responding when people report the abuse). But I don't think they should be missing *any* comments as blatant as the two you refer to.

    When did these comments appear?

    And would you mind sharing the letter you sent to the CBC?

    I do want to get the CBC to change their habits, and every bit of evidence I get helps.

    All the best,
    Brian

    P.S. You note that the BBC doesn't allow racist comments. But they used to - until people like yourself complained and forced them to clean up their act. Here's an account of how it happened from "smartcookie" posting at the Harry's Place blog (http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/03/04/the-canadian-broadcasting-corporation-bans-jew-hatred/#comments):

    I have played a part myself in helping clean up BBC 5Live Messageboards. It started with a piggy-back section in a letter written by my local MP to the BBC on the matter of the Israel/Lebanon War. It detailed some specific antisemitic posts at 5Live. Mark Thomson really didn’t have a grasp on how moderation was working and so we got the brush-off with some theoretical moderating practices that never actually took place.

    On a few incidents I passed the details to Melanie Phillips and one or two made it to her blog.

    Then came the torrent of antisemitic posts by “Iron Naz”, mostly from the Protocols stable and making false quotes from The Talmud (you can Google Iron Naz and follow some of it). Eventually CST, BOD and Melanie all played a part and many Iron Naz (and other poster’s) were removed when we had identified posts which fell into the antisemitic category). There was a promise to be more vigilant about antisemitic posts and a shorter communication path from the BOD if they saw something that needed raising.

    Shortly after there was the “Jesus is a B-A-S-T-A-R-D” post that the BBC refused to remove. I alerted the ABoC office and the Daily Mail picked it up. Again, you can google for it.

    The status as of today is that BBC Moderation is better and faster responsive to claims of antisemitism. I reckon they get it 95% right. They will remove “Israel/Jew to Nazi” posts 100%.

    At the start of the Gaza War the number of antisemitic posts at 5Live increased. One had to strike a balance between complaining too much and risking being banned as a serial complainer.

    I’m pleased to say that I/We seem to have managed to get some persistent antisemites stopped. It seems they got themselves onto pre-mod and then got fed up with it.

    BBC used a third-party Moderating company. I suppose that they might have been forced to tighten up in case they lost the contract. With CiF I am not sure who moderates but if its in-house then they are unlikely to be sympathetic. I suppose if they have been hired by Guardian as being of a Guardian ilk then there isn’t much we can do to moderate the moderators.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dear Brian, I am writing to invite you to preview our film, "The Monster Among Us", about the current rise of anti-Semitism in Europe today. It is a reflection of such acts that happen anywhere in the world, including Canada.It is a very compelling documentary and has been screening across North America for the last 9 months. Brian, contact us at mail@mediaprojects.org to arrange for your preview DVD.

    Encourage your readers to visit www.mediaprojects.org to watch the film trailer and to learn about how to bring a film screening of "The Monster Among Us", to their and your community. Produced by Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell of Dallas-based Media Projects, the film tells the following story:

    Sixty years after the Holocaust,a new brand of anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head again in Europe. It has the same purpose, but a different face.

    It is directly connected to radical Muslim beliefs and actions that have spread from the Middle East to Europe. Anti-Semitism has surfaced on university campuses,
    in the media, on the streets, at political demonstrations, on the internet and in seemingly innocent social situations.

    Jews from all walks of life in six different European countries tell of being attacked in their neighborhoods, of cemeteries desecrated, of synagogues burned, of being ostracized at work. Young and old describe their fears and their plans for the future.

    Many wonder if they should uproot their families, leave their homes and businesses to seek safer havens in either Israel or the United States.

    The viewer has to ask, “If it were the l930’s and I was hearing stories of what was happening in Germany, what would I do?”

    British activist Daniel Frohwein warns, “Not all Muslims are bad, but a lot of them have been lied to, and a lot of what they’re being subjected to is going to leave a legacy of disaster and bloodshed that the world really doesn’t want to face up to.“

    ReplyDelete
  11. You're kidding me right. CBC allows outrageous anti-Jewish comments on a daily basis. On occasion after I report a comment it's removed but for the most part, anti-Jewish comments remain even when me and numerous friends of mine report them as hate speech. Doesn't matter how many calls I've made to CBC, the ombudsman, minister responsible for CBC, those comments are still there. All public funds should be cut to CBC.

    ReplyDelete