As I write this column, I am about to rejoin Newstalk 1010 CFRB, the largest private radio station in the country and one of the most famous in North America. It is based in Toronto, but has an audience throughout Ontario on radio and across the country and abroad through the internet. It is an institution, the best of its kind. I have hosted shows on CFRB for almost 15 years, but parted ways with the station last November.
The reasons are old and stale and irrelevant. I made a mistake and humility is, well, good for the soul. What is important, however, is that moral conservatives had lost one of their few voices in mainstream radio, even one as flawed and weak as mine. I received several thousand e-mails of support and was genuinely surprised and moved. Put simply, I just hadn’t known how much support there was for the permanent virtues and values.
So I’m back, keener for the lesson and driven by the message. Because at its best, talk radio can be a conduit for genuine mainstream opinion. By “mainstream opinion,” I mean the instinctive moral conservatism embraced by most people, but made to appear unfashionable, anti-intellectual and prudish by the cultural and political elite.
The campaign to transform attitudes about life and sexuality has been fascinating. It took place in the legal, political, cultural and communications spheres. Politically, it did not in fact work very well, but it was so successful within the law that politicians were compelled to change. Culturally, it still continues and is horribly successful. Beyond obviously tendentious movies and television shows, there are the incessant gay characters who appear for no apparent reason in dramas, their “normalcy” and “niceness” emphasized to an absurd degree.
In communications, the campaign also worked. Journalists are generally supportive of the new immorality or they feel intimidated by what they are told is a consensus, or by boycotts and hostility if they do not follow a specific line. Talk radio has the opportunity to be different, though it has to be said that it seldom is – conservative in economic policy and foreign affairs, but achingly liberal when it comes to the vital issues of life.
One phenomenon I have noticed over the years is that some callers claim I am being rude when I refuse to agree with them and argue my position. This is not to say that I’ve never been rude, but in my defence, this is rare and usually because I’ve been severely provoked. But what it really means is that anyone who now stands up to the liberal status quo is assumed to be lacking courtesy.
It’s part of the broader and ironic cult of tolerance. Abandon a spouse and child, kill your unborn baby, cause untold harm through promiscuity and urge the death of the elderly and ill, but never be seen as being in any way intolerant. I remember several examples. On one occasion the caller said, “You are an awful person. You keep talking about right and wrong, right and wrong. The world has changed, my friend, and your outdated ideas of right and wrong no longer exist.”
So, I replied, what you are really saying is that I am wrong. A long pause. Then the phone slammed down and Michael Coren has been rude to another caller.
Another was when a pro-abort warrior called in to argue that nobody thinks abortion is a good thing, but moderate people think it’s a necessary thing. My response was to ask why it was not a good thing. If abortion is not the taking of a life, it is not bad but irrelevant. Like the removal of an appendix. There is no reason to limit its use or the period when it can be performed. It is only bad if it is the taking of a life. And if it is, it is never acceptable and always an act of slaughter. There is no middle way.
Once again, a thump of abuse and the call ends. We need to remember, though, that for every one caller there are tens of thousands of people who listen attentively but never pick up the phone. This is profoundly important when it comes to the notion of homosexual “marriage.” Talk radio can change the shape of the debate. We can emphasize that, for example, gay adoption is about children’s rights rather than adults’ rights. We can make the point that if love is the only criterion for marriage, we logically have to allow siblings to marry and must consider polygamy.
I can promise commitment to a cause and dedication to the truth. I will fail, I will fall and I will flounder. But you have my word that I will not forget. Thank you and bless you for your support, now and in the past and, God willing, in the future. And listen and call!
Michael Coren is a Toronto-based journalist and broadcaster. His website is at www.michaelcoren.com. You can listen to Coren live on CFRB on Sunday evenings from 7-8 p.m.