Rob and Arnie [and Dawn] Respond to Complaints About their Transbashing Comments

Yesterday, Rob, Arnie, and Dawn used their entire morning show to respond to the bevy of complaints about anti-trans comments made on the show. Of the three, Dawn was never part of the initial complaint because she had objected to the language used to describe trans people in the original show and she did so again during this broadcast.

This is what they said specifically about the complaints:

Arnie claims his throwing a shoe at his child for being trans was “a joke” and added “maybe a tasteless joke” and further said

“I didn’t do anything wrong  here. . . .I am not going to hit my kid with a goddamn shoe. It’s ridiculous. . . I’m sorry that I want to make people laugh in the morning . . .If you want me to apologize for that, I’m sorry to people who have terrible lives. But I do not apologize to people for what I said b/c I’m not advocating violence.”

He also stated that he would quit his job before apologizing for his comments and went on to say later,

“What we say does not commit hate crimes. . . .It is just so goddamn stupid that we have to put up with this. There’s a difference.”

Rob also made no apology:

“you don’t hurt kids. that’s understood. But when you are having a serious conversation, sometimes you need to, what we call, release the pressure valve. That’s what Arnie’s role on the show is [mmhmm from Arnie in background] to make a point and release some of the pressure and let people laugh. I’m sorry that you might find it funny or I’m sorry, that you might not find it funny, that some people laugh, when Arnie [mmhmm from Arnie in background] who does not have a child [“No” from Arnie] talks about throwing a shoe at his non-existent son. You know what? Some people do laugh. And they know we are not serious.”

Rather than offer an apology for their comments, they focused on their record of pro-child activism and nationalism and outlined their own abuse histories which did not include sexuality or gender oppression. Each segment was punctuated by the reading of threats they had received from transgendered people and their allies and letters of support from their listeners. Not until the end of the second segment did they read rational letters in opposition and only a few of these were read as opposed to irrational or threatening letters.  When a long time listener called to confront them about playing victims to activists trying to hold them accountable for offensive remarks, they stopped sounding happy to hear from him and responded by telling him “the spin” was that they had advocated violence against children and then cut him off/ terminated the call. They refused to address the issue of claiming victim status to avoid apologizing or address their actions.

On the positive side, both Rob and Arnie confirmed that they would never abuse a child and that Arnie, the one who made the shoe throwing comment, had no children.

Rob: “anyone who hurts a child emotionally or physically is an idiot and we do not support or endorse that. Everybody who listens to this show knows that.”

They did not seem to connect this comment with their words and actions in the previous broadcast even when a transgendered caller tried to illustrate their faulty “logic” by pointing out that she had been repeatedly abused while called similar names and still had not changed her gender identity. The caller pointed out that if Arnie and Rob’s comments had been correct such violence and humiliation should have changed her to a cis gendered man. They refused to address either the way they had linked transbashing to corrective measures against “transgenders” (this is the word they used throughout the show omitting the word “person” or “persons/people”) or the fact that this mentality is directly related to why some families abuse their transgender children.

Rob also spent considerable time discussing how popular and important the Rob, Arnie, and Dawn in the Morning show was to people in Sacramento. Not only did he mention their numbers but also the fact they had done 7 hour shows for free after 9/11. A good portion of the introduction was spent on their patriotism through the lens of 9/11 which rang largely hollow after Arnie demeaned a trans veteran who had served on 9/11 as well as given the country 22 years of service in the military before retiring.

Dawn: Thank you for your service.

Arnie: Thank you for your service. You know why?! B/c you fought for nothin’! With the opinions that you have right there, you fought for absolutely nothing! B/c look look, [off mic comment or sigh from Dawn] I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I have a rager about this . . .

Rob: [interrupting] We covered the shoe thing. Let’s get that out there.

While Dawn spent a considerable amount of time trying to get them to see how name-calling is abusive, they engaged in several well worn tactics to avoid accepting their responsibility (note all phrases in quotation marks in the list are exact quotes from Rob):

  1. They claimed they had a right to their “personal feelings” as if bigotry is a personal issue even when aired on national radio
  2. There show is meant to “reflect society not change it
  3. they cannot “stop for disclaimers” every time they use language people don’t like.
  4. that the quotes from the previous show were “out of context quotes” “or [quotes that] lack perspective
  5. freedom of speech (which Dawn also championed) and while I support fos the line crosses at saying you are “looking forward” to transbashing
  6. they are good people – variations of the phrase “people who know us” were repeated throughout the show as if saying offensive things or minimizing offensive acts through what you say is somehow excused by being “a good person”

They also tried to avoid the issue by bringing in other oppressions:

  1. child abuse – while they have never done a show on abuse against trans youth, they pointed out that they had championed children’s health and safety causes repeatedly in the past. They raise millions of dollars through annual fundraising for a local children’s hospital, they have dedicated shows to specific types of abuse like leaving children alone in hot cars, etc. B/c they did all of this important work for children in general, they feel they are therefore exempt from accusations about ignorance and abusiveness toward transgender youth. (Note: when Dawn brought up statistics about the abuse trans youth experience and the number of trans people who have been killed in this country, Rob, who claimed to have done research on transgender identity before the previous broadcast appeared to not know any of this information. How can he consider his youth advocacy relevant to the specific lives of trans youth if he is hearing basic facts about them for the first time on air?)
  2. differently-abled children – Rob pointed out they had also done shows for differently-abled children’s rights and to raise awareness and funds to help them. He then compared a debate about name calling of differently-abled children to that of the current transgender name calling they engaged in the previous show. “We’ve had this debate on the air before, not over transgender children, but over mentally handicapped/downsyndrome/mentally retarded children. In a community where there is no agreement on this, we’ve had parents of mentally handicapped children call us and say, ‘please use the word retarded, we’re not offended by it.’ And then a whole ‘nother group of people . . . in fact, there is a big story about people who are trying to ban that word. . . You should never, ever, ever taunt a mentally retarded child. And that’s an understood position of this show. And what we have talked to mentally retarded [children’s] parents, parents of mentally handicapped children, about is the fact that do you understand that it does occur behind your back, that people do say this, and that your child has these other challenges? Some of them say that they shouldn’t and they wanna change the world and many of them go ‘yes Rob, I understand that and thank you for having the responsibility to say that they shouldn’t attack my child.’ I don’t see this much different. We were trying, and again it is hard to stop the show and give a disclaimer when you are having a heated debate . . .” They believe this excuses them from calling trans youth “freaks” (repeatedly throughout the show they used the word “weirdos” and implied that was the only word they had used to describe trans youth during the show. In fact, they used the words “freaks” and “abnormal” and also referred repeatedly to trans youth as people with “mental disorders.”  At no time did during the show did they acknowledge these comments or this specific language effectively erasing it and excusing it through that erasure.)
  3. gay marriage – Rob supports gay marriage and Arnie does not. They have had shows about gay marriage. Rob also pointed out that he has a lesbian friend and “a gay hairdresser.”

What I love about these deflections is that most of them brings up further oppressive thinking on their part while in no way addressing or correcting their anti-trans behavior. So they have stood up for differently-abled children who they call “retarded” AND they think being trans is the same as being mentally challenged AND they report that during that show they said insulting differently-abled children is not ok but they cannot do the same thing for trans youth b/c it’s just so hard to “give a disclaimer.” They are also pro-gay marriage, except not all of them are, AND they punctuated that with the offensive and stereotypical “I have gay friends” AND one of them is “a hairdresser,” in fact that person is Rob’s haridresser which means Rob would not have met him otherwise and likely does not socialize with him, but some how that counts AND Rob believes supporting gay marriage which has traditionally not addressed transgender marriages and was recently criticized for it failure to so in the NY Times is some how related to how they treat trans people or that they are supportive of trans people.

They also managed to do this with race when Arnie said:

“why do people rob liquor stores. do they do it because they hate the Pakistani guy who works there or do it b/c there’s a screw loose . . . I’m tired of this!” and later he added “There are people outside of the gay community who are killed, there are people who are outside of the transgender community who are killed.”

Now while I agree that many people who are violent are inclined toward violence to begin with, as I pointed out in my previous post on this issue, we have a plethora of current examples of people who were already inclined toward violence acting out and shooting people because of fears and hatreds they cited learning from talk radio. These include rampages against the immigrant community, liberal politicians, and pro-gay rights churches in the last 6 months. Secondly, in an attempt to avoid addressing the very real issue of transbashing and transphobic murder, Arnie makes a blatantly racist comment by putting forward the stereotype that Muslims, in this case Pakistanis, own all the liquor stores. AND he manages to minimize the racist violence that small store owners of color experience because of racism and anti-Mulsim sentiment at the same time that he minimizes the violence against the transgender community again.

As in the previous broadcast, Dawn offered the counterpoint. Dawn brought up the murderers of transgendered people and made the link to name-calling. And oddly it sounded like she read part of my blog b/c she hits the points I made in order of my having made them, or perhaps her list is similar to mine because those of us who get it can all come up with the same list of transbashing issues that this show helped encourage whether they meant to or not. She continued to critique their lack of apology for name-calling and the import language has in creating or exacerbating space for violence against marginalized communities. At the same time, however, she denied that Rob and Arnie were implicated or that the shoe comment was out of line.

“They don’t have those type of sick minds.”

Ultimately, their minds are not at issue. What is at issue is that they made comments that either erased or made light of violence against trans youth. Though they claim that neither of them supports child abuse, and I don’t think they do, they refused to listen to letters, callers, or even research that shows that the type of abuse they referenced in their show, both the shoe comment and Arnie’s comment:

I look forward to when they go out into society and society beats them down.”

reflect and exacerbate, and at least in the case of the latter encourage, real violence in our culture. Saying you don’t support child abuse and then refusing to deal with how your words and actions minimize existing abuse and may encourage ongoing or new abuses is hardly an anti-abuse stance. While Rob and Arnie see themselves as the victims here, the 288 names of murdered transgendered people, many of them women and youth, proves differently.

“Arnie doesn’t like transgenders. Arnie does not want to accept them. [“no” Arnie in background]. . . And I [Rob] do not necessarily disagree with most of what Arnie believes based on my research.”

Since they are claiming that quotes from the initial broadcast were taken out of context, I encourage you to listen to the entire show. I’ll admit some of it is hard to listen to but I want you to be clear about the entire content of the show and to be able to place the quoted material above within the larger frame of their decidedly unapologetic response.

  • pt. 1 (many of the quotes in this piece come from this segment)
  • pt. 2
  • pt. 3
  • pt. 4 (this is labeled “supporters and haters of Rob, Arnie, and Dawn” @ their site but they only offer one letter of support for transgender rights before returning  to the people who agree with them)
  • pt. 5
  • pt. 6
  • pt. 7

You can continue sending your complaints to the radio show, but I’m not sure what good it will do.

John Geary
Vice President & General Manager
KRXQ-FM
(916) 339-4209
jgeary@entercom.com

Arnie States
On Air Personality
KRXQ-FM
(916) 334-7777
rad@robarnieanddawn.com

Rob Williams
On Air Personality
KRXQ-FM
(916) 334-7777
rwilliams@entercom.com

You may want to contact their advertisers instead. I could not find a list of their sponsors and the sponsor ads are not part of their archived shows, but you can find out who sponsors the show by listening to live broadcasts and writing it down. The one pitfall in doing this is that you will help spike their numbers and that is really all anyone at the station cares about.

Here are advertisers that have already pulled their funding. (Note McDonald’s also released a statement saying that their longstanding support of diversity in general and in their workplace prevents them from advertising with a show that does not.):

  • Chipotle
  • Snapple
  • Sonic
  • Bank of America
  • Verizon
  • Carl’s Jr (CKE Restaurants)
  • Wells Fargo
  • Nissan North America
  • AT&T
  • McDonald’s
  • 12 thoughts on “Rob and Arnie [and Dawn] Respond to Complaints About their Transbashing Comments

    1. I have seen many people praise or defend Dawn because she objected to the language used by her co-hosts and because she spoke positively about the trans and queer communities. I am sorry but I cannot cut her any slack. The Zoo Crew format often relies on having a token liberal (often a woman) who’s roll is to act as a foil to the right wing/frat boy co-hosts and offer cover. The stations and programs can point to the presence of the token liberal to deflect criticism. Without a Dawn, Rob and Arnie would be seen for what they are – even more moronic versions of Limbaugh or Savage and that kind of show would likely be less attractive to advertisers and listeners. I sent an email to Dawn asking she consider her role in this matter:


      Dear Dawn,

      I feel I must write you directly after listening to some of the clips of the show. I truly believe that you are genuine in your concern for these kids and have progressive values. This is why it is even more disconcerting that your role on this show is to provide cover for the bile spewed by your male colleagues in the name of ‘free speech’.

      Inherent in the right of freedom of speech is personal responsibility which your colleagues seem not to understand. I grant you that you know these guys personally and I will have to trust you that they are “good guys” since I hear little evidence of it in the clips posted. What I hear are bullies. Men who bully vulnerable children, men who bully listeners that disagree with them and indeed men who bully you (although you seem a fairly willing victim).

      I don’t believe that either gentleman wishes to truly analyze the kind of show they host or the type of humour they use. Perhaps for profit or because of ideology they have decided that free speech equates with ridicule, and abuse. So I guess the question really is, what do you think your responsibility is? You likely feel that you present an alternative voice to this frat house mentality. I would suggest that your participation simply gives cover and enables them, the way that folks often enable addicts.

      It is Limbaughian how they (and you) took the response to their bad behaviour and tried to turn it so that they were the victims. And of course that works with your loyal listeners. And maybe your loyal listeners do know its all in jest. But you yourself pointed out that there will be people, parents of LGBT kids or kids in school who will use the hateful tenor of this piece (and seemingly others on your show) to rationalize and justify their own attitudes but worse still their own actions (and yes that includes verbally and physically assaulting LGBT kids and adults).

      Hannity had Colmes for the longest time and these two have you. You are the liberal whipping girl that allows them to claim some semblance of balance. I would ask you to seriously consider the role you play in all this.

      I am sure that your colleagues will consider my inclusion (in a previous email) of information on the role radio played in the Rwandan Genocide (http://www.idrc.ca/rwandagenocide/ev-108178-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html ) as ‘typical liberal hysteria’. I hope that you will understand that it is really only a matter of a point on a continuum…

      Words are not meaningless. Words move people and nations to do great and terrible things. They galvanize people to come together in times of tragedy or war or they lead people to fear and hate those they don’t know or understand. Whenever words are used to marginalize a group, that is the first step in the continuum to genocide. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you and your colleagues should visit the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (www.wiesenthal.com/) .

      • welcome to the blog cicely. I thought I had implied Dawn acted as the foil here (between her “I talked to 4 [whole] people, only 2 of whom were trans” and her “good people” voucher, it’s hard miss). However, the initial call to action did not include her and I thought it was fair to also mark that and that she said name-calling was wrong. Anyway, whatev my post lacked in clarity, your letter certainly spells out. So thanks for posting. I think they read a small piece of that letter on the show, but I could be wrong.

      • UPDATED JUNE 7TH, 2009, 11:50AM

        TO OUR LOYAL ROB, ARNIE AND DAWN FOLLOWERS,

        WE HAVE FAILED YOU. AS A SHOW, AS PEOPLE, AS BROADCASTERS, WE HAVE SIMPLY FAILED ON ALMOST EVERY LEVEL.

        WE PRESENTED OUR OPINIONS ON A VERY SENSITIVE SUBJECT IN A HATEFUL, CHILDISH AND CRUDE FASHION; AND THEN, GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO RETRACT THOSE REMARKS, WE DEFENDED THEM.

        SINCE THEN, YOU, OUR LOYAL LISTENERS, HAVE MADE IT CLEAR TO US THAT WE WENT TOO FAR. THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN OVERWHELMING. NONE OF YOU SAID THAT WE COULDN’T HAVE OPINIONS, YET SO MANY OF YOU SAID THAT THE WAY WE GAVE THEM CROSSED THE LINE. FURTHER, YOU SAID THAT OUR ATTEMPT TO MASK OUR COMMENTS AS “JOKES THAT WOULD BE UNDERSTOOD BY OUR AUDIENCE,” WAS UNACCEPTABLE. I WOULD SAY NOW THAT IT WAS WORSE THAN THAT, IT WAS COWARDLY. YOU HAVE MADE THAT CLEAR.

        WE HAVE REACHED OUT TO VARIOUS GROUPS AND ASKED FOR A CHANCE TO MAKE THIS RIGHT; TO RESPOND, WITH THEIR PARTICIPATION, TO THE EDUCATION THAT OUR AUDIENCE HAS PROVIDED US. THAT OPPORTUNITY HAS BEEN GRACIOUSLY GRANTED THIS THURSDAY MORNING, JUNE 11TH. AT 7:30 A.M.

        THE WORD APOLOGY APPEARS NO WHERE IN THIS LETTER FOR A REASON. WE ALREADY HID FROM DOING THE RIGHT THING ONCE AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN. APOLOGIZING IN A WRITTEN, POSTED STATEMENT IS A FORM OF COWARDICE. WE WILL SAY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID THIS THURSDAY.

        ON A FINAL, PERSONAL NOTE, AS THE LEADER AND OWNER OF THE SHOW, I HAVE MADE THE DECISION THAT WE NEED TO REFRAIN FROM BROADCASTING NEW EPISODES UNTIL WE CAN ADDRESS THIS ON THURSDAY . WE WILL RETURN TO THE AIR AT 7:30 A.M. JUNE 11TH.

        ROB WILLIAMS
        ROB, ARNIE AND DAWN

        Knowing about the show as I do because I LIVE IN CALIFORNIA AND AM A LISTENER OF THE SHOW, this is typical Arnie……do I believe everythign he says on the show as the gospel, HELL NO!! Was it nice what he said, do I agree with what he said about transgender children, or the community as a whole, did I go home and scream at my son you “better not dress like a girl you pansy ass”. NO, I as a listener did no such thing, his comments did not effect me or make me change my mind about this issue one way or another. Do I think he should have shut up after 10 mins talking about it, sure he should have. Do I think that if he offended the transgender community that he should apologize to them, of course he should. The point I am trying to make here, it is a radio show, it is not a cult, I do not LET WHAT THEY SAY MAKE ME THINK ANY DIFFERENT ABOUT ONE ISSUE OR ANOTHER. it is a RADIO SHOW, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. This needs to be let go after thrusdays broadcast, I am tired of hearing all the whinning…..WAAAAAHHH!! By the way, Arnie and Rob have no CHILDREN.

        • welcome to the blog calidreams. I was aware of the statement issued yesterday and planned to include it in an upcoming post after the “apology” show they promised aired. My reason: I want to hear the apology first (which they say the did not make in the statement they released b/c they want to do it on air) and be able to link to it for readers.

          If you actually read my post, you would see that I mentioned Rob said Arnie did not have children near the beginning of the post. The issue is not whether they go home and beat their imaginary kids, the issue is that making comments like that masks the actual number of transgender youth who are beaten by their parents, relatives, or guardians b/c of the very same behavior Arnie said would make him throw a shoe at his “son”. More so than the shoe comment for me, was Arnie’s statement that:

          “[he] look[s] forward to when they go out into society and society beats them down”

          No one defending him, including Rob and Arnie themselves, has addressed this comment to date and I think it is b/c everyone is clear that it is inexcusable.

          Do I think rational people are going to hear something on the radio once and then go home and act on it? no. What I have said repeatedly is that people already inclined to do acts of violence or who are uninformed about trans issues can and are influenced by the media. AND that we have plenty of examples in this country (as well as in others) of people citing radio shock jocks for why they committed acts of violence. I listed several in the post & they are all recent enough that both you and they should be aware of them.

          Nor do I agree with you that people should ever “shut up” about needing to be treated with respect and equality when they are being disrespected, exposed to verbal and emotional violence, and having the physical violence done to them erased or excused away.

          Are you aware that Sacramento is one of the places in CA that has a growing number of hate crimes against GLBTQI people rather than a decreasing one? If you are being stressed out by this issue, imagine how the people who are the targets of transphobic violence feel. While you are simply sick of hearing about it, they are sick of being abused. Do you honestly believe the comments Rob and Arnie made are going to make it safer for the 8 year old child they were discussing to go to school?

          Finally, I hope you know that you’re not abusing your child doesn’t negate child abuse. You’re not going off the transphobic deep end when you got home doesn’t mean people don’t do it every day. And you’re not being involved in transbashing doesn’t mean that 288 trans people have not died b/c of a culture that mocks their identities, erases their abuse, and refuses to learn or apologize when they make offensive “jokes” about life and death situations.

          Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but speech that encourages, emulates, or erases violence against the trans community is wrong and dangerous. (I’ll just keep saying it until it sinks in.)

    2. I’m sorry your corner of the universe is touched by death and cruelty, gee you’re the only ones. What about “Bad News to Happy Music”? Or don’t you care about foreigners? What about African genocide, racism, cancer, starvation, aids… maybe we should burn books, sensor cableshows and talk radio. RAD gave you the perfect opportunity to champion your “special cause” and trample the rights of others to enjoy a favorite talk show. Change the chanel if you don’t like it. Everyone has rights. Yours are as important as anyones. According to you all the good the RAD show does, all the support financial and otherwise, should be ignored or better yet cancelled because of your particular plight. Dawn should be ashamed and quit? There are many people and communities that find your particular “cause” sinful, sick and repulsive. Should you be silenced? If every “cause” had it’s way there would be no voice and no choice. Get over yourselves. As an individual I choose to not support any advertiser that pulled it’s advertising.

      • Welcome to the blog M Turl. Have you read this blog? All of the issues you raise as more important, have been covered here regularly. Some were even covered the same week as this issue. Nor does pointing to the suffering of one group negate that of others.

        I also find your argument unclear. First you list things you think are more important. then you call transgender rights “special rights” that some how oppress you. then you say:

        “Everyone has rights. Yours are as important as anyones.”

        Everyone should have equal rights. On that point, we agree. Where we clearly disagree is in standing up for people who are different than us or showing compassion for their suffering. When someone makes fun of abusive behavior, Rob and Arnie themselves called it “terrorism” on their show, or says they “look forward to” the abuse of tans people, they need to take responsibility for their words. No matter how you or they spin it, Arnie stating:

        “I look forward to when they go out into society and society beats them down”

        is both wrong and dangerous.

    3. Pingback: KRXQ Statement on Encouraging Violence Against Transgender Youth « Queer Youth Mental Health

    4. Wow. This thing has definitely been blown way out of proportion. I listen to RAD every single morning, I don’t agree with every single thing that all three of them have to say but it doesn’t change the way I feel about the issues they talk about. And the real issue is, it is ENTERTAINMENT. If they didn’t discuss real topics and real controversial issues, no one would listen!

      Everyone needs to quit being so PC these days and just let people talk.

      However, I do hope the show goes off the air, because I hope that they do not apologize. I have satellite radio too and I have no problem listening to them on it instead.

      • welcome to the blog Josh. We agree on one thing, whether they are allowed to remain on the air at their current station or somewhere else, they, like Imus, will likely be back on some form of radio within the year. And yes, that is b/c some people find offensive and derogatory statements amusing. While there is a lot of PC out there asking to be respected is only PC if you are not in power.

    5. I am new to WordPress and am so glad to have found this site. I am so impressed with the whole tenor of this article and thank you for countering what was clearly a very crass radio show that had stepped beyond acceptable behaviour.
      I have really enjoyed you taking apart every shred of their arguments while at the same time giving them credit where due for the apologies and retractions. From this side of the water (in the UK), I can see that reason (as well as dollars) can win. Thankyou. TinaCortina

      • welcome to the blog TinaCortina. Thank you for the compliments. I’m glad all of us writing and advocating got a positive outcome.

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