While Fair Comment is a separate defence from PIRC that applies to statements of opinion rather than assertions of fact, both defences apply only to matters of public interest.

The following is a transcript of WIC Radio's, Rafe Mair, and his comments regarding Kari Simpson's views on homosexuality and the positive portrayal of the gay lifestyle.

You can listen to a portion of the transcript by clicking on the link below. Mair's comments were brought before the Supreme Court of Canada by Simpson for defamation. The court ruled that it was fair comment.

Photo: Christopher Grabowski, The Tyee

Transcript of CKNW editorial broadcast of October 25, 1999
RAFE MAIR: And a very pleasant Monday, the 25th of October. Around the province of British Columbia on the WIC network I’m Rafe Mair broadcasting from the Pacific Centre in downtown Vancouver.

I really hate to give Kari Simpson any more publicity, something she soaks up like a blotter, but she’s become such a menace I really think something must be said. When I first knew Kari some 8 or 9 years ago she was involved in helping families whose children had been wrongfully taken by the authorities. She and I did a number of programmes on this, and this programme was nominated for a Michener Award as a consequence. Even more importantly the Ombudsman looked into the matter and changes were made. I felt very good about what Kari had done — she’d done excellent work — and what I’d been able to do by way of giving it some publicity. We worked together on other matters until it gradually became apparent to me that Kari was starting to become a little too uncritical of the causes she was taking. We both went overboard in the case of a lawyer’s complaints against authorities. Although there was something in what he said, he went too far and he had to apologize. Then Kari got involved in a case where a Langley family didn’t want their daughter to be forced to take essential medical treatment and the child died. There were other cases, one involving Munchausen’s Syndrome, where Kari not only defied authority — nothing wrong with that — but she began to quarrel with experts, not based on another expert’s opinion but on her own, offering as her qualifications that she was a mom. I began to wonder what had happened. Instead of well researched opinions Kari was now proceeding from a semi-religious base, and it was not long before the gay community was in her sights. The next thing I knew an editorial of mine stating my belief in the civil liberties of all including gays brought a letter from her claiming that I was in favour of grown men molesting young boys. To say the least I was taken aback, and after demanding an apology and not getting one told my producers that I no longer wish to have anything to do with her. Now, part of that I admit was personal. Who wouldn’t be mortified of being accused of supporting paedophilia but most of it was that I could no longer trust her judgment, and I certainly couldn’t judge what she presented as fact.

Then Kari got involved in the recall effort against Paul Ramsey in Prince George — Kari lives in Langley — on the basis that he was soft on the gay issue in the Surrey school system, those two harmless or three harmless books that the School Board and some of the parents had set their hair on fire all about. By this time in my view Kari had become unbalanced on the subject. I could only conclude and it’s still my opinion that once her organization got a little bigger and got some funds it went to Kari’s head, but that’s just what I think. Whatever, she’s become more than just a little hung up on gays in the school system and more than just a little disingenuous when she claims that she doesn’t really have anything against homosexuals. This latest business in Surrey is a disgrace. That parents would start taking children out of school because the teacher is a gay is beyond my comprehension. Everyone that I know had a gay teacher somewhere along the line. I had two that I know of. One was a man and he was a good teacher, no more nor less than that, but his sexual preferences had no impact whatever on either of us. The other, even though she is long dead, I will simply call Miss L. Miss L. was my music teacher in grades 3 and 4, and she was superb. I learned to read music at that young age thanks to her. What is fascinating about Miss L. was that in those days, the early 40’s, she was living in an open lesbian relationship, unheard of and more than just a bit courageous and was bringing up a young boy who eventually became a distinguished professional having a happily married life and family. I didn’t know Miss L. was a lesbian then although I did by the time I was in junior high school, and I can tell you she’s one of the three or four teachers I’ve had who had a profoundly positive effect on my learning. I tell you this because I don’t think that there are very many of you listening who didn’t have a gay teacher somewhere, whether you knew it or not.

Before Kari was on my colleague Bill Good’s show last Friday I listened to the tape of the parents’ meeting the night before where Kari harangued the crowd. It took me back to my childhood when with my parents we would listen to bigots who with increasing shrillness would harangue the crowds. For Kari’s homosexual one could easily substitute Jew. I could see Governor Wallace — in my mind’s eye I could see Governor Wallace of Alabama standing on the steps of a schoolhouse shouting to the crowds that no Negroes would get into Alabama schools as long as he was governor. It could have been blacks last Thursday night just as easily as gays. Now I’m not suggesting that Kari was proposing or supporting any kind of holocaust or violence but neither really — in the speeches, when you think about it and look back — neither did Hitler or Governor Wallace or [Orval Faubus] or Ross Barnett. They were simply declaring their hostility to a minority. Let the mob do as they wished.

As I listened to Kari Simpson I wondered about her, but I also wondered what was the matter with those parents, and my colleague Bill Good said it all on Friday when he said he’d rather have a competent gay teacher teach his kids than a vicious gay-basher. Don’t make any mistake on this score. There is no distinction between condemning the rights of blacks or Jews and condemning the civil rights of homosexuals. Whether she realizes it or not, Kari has by her actions placed herself alongside skinheads and the Ku Klux Klan. I’m not talking the violent aspects of those groups but the philosophical parallels to other examples of intolerance.

What’s next on the agenda in Surrey? Will there be a 1999 version of the Scopes trial in Tennessee in the 20’s whereafter the legal fight of the century between William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, a teacher named John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution? Or will it get even nastier with someone suitably impressed with the wisdom of Kari’s rantings deciding to take the law into his own hands and do God’s work? We all live under the law, my friends, and we live under a law which guarantees everyone rights, whatever their race, creed, sex, marital status or sexual preference, and the tactics of the bigot are the same no matter what the object of their venom happens to be. Kari Simpson is not a violent person. I in no way compare her to the violent people in the past that I spoke of and alluded to. The trouble is people who don’t want violence often unwittingly provoke it, and Kari Simpson is thank God permitted in our society to say exactly what she wishes, but the other side of the free speech coin is a public decent enough to know a mean-spirited, power mad, rabble rousing and, yes, dangerous bigot when they see one.

When we come back we’ll talk to Mike Smyth right after this.
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