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):
- They claimed they had a right to their “personal feelings” as if bigotry is a personal issue even when aired on national radio
- There show is meant to “reflect society not change it“
- they cannot “stop for disclaimers” every time they use language people don’t like.
- that the quotes from the previous show were “out of context quotes” “or [quotes that] lack perspective“
- freedom of speech (which Dawn also championed) and while I support fos the line crosses at saying you are “looking forward” to transbashing
- 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:
- 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?)
- 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.)
- 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.
Vice President & General Manager
On Air Personality
On Air Personality
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.):