Falling Off “The Edge”

 

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If you’ve been following my disappointment with The Edge, a New Zealand radio station-podcast that deceived and defamed me, then you know I made a complaint to the Broadcast Standards Authority, their equivalent of our FCC. Here it is.

Discrimination and Defamation: I believe I am the victim of a set-up. DJ Dom Harvey emailed me on March 28, 2019 (my time, all dates same year) and asked if I would do the interview for what he described as “a radio music show.” I said yes, and the interview took place on Monday, March 31.

I was one minute into my story and describing how the dolphin presented me with her genital slit for rubbing, when Meg had what I can only describe as a total freak-out. (The station has bleeped “genital slit” since they archived the program. This term is used by marine biologists to describe the organ and is values-neutral, but the bleep gives the unwarranted impression that I used a vulgarity or slang.)

Meg then declares “That’s disgusting” several times, and I will grant her her opinion, what I’m complaining about is that the station never gave me the opportunity to present mine. Meg states “This is a non-consensual situation. A dolphin cannot consensually choose to have sex with a human. You absolutely took advantage of that.”

That is a tangible falsehood. Dolly, the dolphin in question, was released into open water several times a day to perform tricks with a riverboat. She had the option to leave many times. Furthermore, dolphins are famous for having homosexual sex, lesbian sex, sex with oars, sex with sharks, and even human beings. The late Dr. Ken Norris, a USC professor of marine biology and an expert on dolphins, said “Dolphins have sex the way human beings shake hands.”

Meg left the studio, ending any chance of answering her accusations, but the interview proceeded with Dom and Randell for about 20 minutes. At no time was there any suggestion that the material would not be used. I expected it to be edited for length and content, but I was not expecting what happened.

Dom emailed me that the show would air “in the next couple of days.” I expected him to inform me when, as all other radio and podcast hosts have done. When I hadn’t heard a date by April 4 I emailed him to inquire. In response, he sent me an edited, 10 minute version of the interview, which I thought was for my approval. I told him it was fine, but there was still no air date from him, so I looked in the program’s archives. There was an April 3 program, but the only part that was used was Meg’s freak out! No other parts of my interview made it to the air! Not only that, but the 10 minute file Dom Harvey sent me was a decoy, intended to placate me and hoping I wouldn’t find out how they butchered my interview.

As a result, I was placed in a very severely negative light. The station maintains that I wasn’t because Dom et al. had discussed the topic on previous shows and had given listeners the “facts” of the situation, in spite of the fact that one of the “facts,” that I was fired from the dolphin show, is a lie he made up. I was never fired because I never worked for them. I was a freelance student photographer given free access to the property to produce photos for a book about dolphins.

The station responds “…we are aware (this) is not the case, but do not think this is material…” In other words, The Edge is OK with their DJs lying, as long as they do it about unpopular people.

This is the most egregious censorship I have ever encountered. I was not only discriminated against, I was lied to and given a fake file that was never intended to be used. And I am being given no recourse by the station.

As the letter I received says, “The Dom, Meg and Randell show is not a news, current affairs or factual programme… Listeners expect light-hearted chat and laughs, but do not expect it to be ‘authoratative or truthful,’ which is the defining characteristic of a factual program according to the commentary on the Standards.”

In other words, it’s OK to lie as long as you call it entertainment and not news.

Had I known the terms of the interview — that my interview would not be treated as news or history but as a basis for the hosts to make up defamatory things about me — I would have not done the interview. My permission was granted under false pretenses, and the falsehoods continued through the broadcast of the show without informing me and Dom giving me the decoy file.

Another producer encountered this while interviewing me, and didn’t use the interview at all: https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/radio/kyle-and-jackie-o-forced-to-dump-interview-with-a-man-who-had-sex-with-a-dolphin/news-story/49fde32f995ab26ed9c83cae7a7b2d18

I do not see why the station didn’t do this, instead of voluntarily defaming me and defaming me.

Balance

The Edge claims that their “hosts criticised behavior which is unlawful in New Zealand under section 143 of the Crimes Act 1961. We consider this was appropriate, and there is no breach of this Standard.”

However, I contend that absolutely no efforts, much less reasonable efforts, were made to present my competing viewpoint. Indeed, Dom Harvey and cohorts appear to have gone out of their way, by a considerable amount, to denigrate and defame me. I do not advocate bestiality or any criminal behavior, just for legal, if not social, tolerance of harmless practices.

Accuracy

MediaWorks writes, “…the Standard applies only to news, current affairs and factual programming, which this was not… Therefore, there cannot be a breach of this Standard.”

Look, you can’t have it both ways: If the story isn’t factual, it can’t be accurate, now can it? They’ve admitted that the version of the story they’re promoting and using as an excuse to stay out of trouble with the BSA isn’t factual, and therefore, it is inaccurate.

Fairness

MediaWorks itself notes, “There are serious issues with how Dom, Meg and Randell dealt with you and your contribution during the Broadcast. In particular the Committee is concerned about the way the interview was edited and broadcast on 3 April, and the information which Dom Harvey provided to you after the interview, which was misleading and incomplete. …However overall we are satisfied that the storyline or (sic) the 3 April were not unfair to you, and fairly reflects your position in relation to your interactions with Dolly.”

Do I need to say that I manifestly disagree?

MediaWorks then proceeds to list all the considerations for what is fair, which I should not need to repeat here. But they refuse to take responsibility for the deception and treachery they used, saying instead “…we do not accept that this impression was caused by the Broadcast. In the Committee’s view, any negative impression was a result of pre-existing perceptions of bestiality and those who engage in it.”

Gentlepersons, what we are dealing with here is a STEREOTYPE of bestiality. I am college-educated, do not drag my knuckles, and have had sex with women hundreds of times, versus once with a dolphin; I have a biological daughter who designs my book’s covers. MediaWorks has chosen to inflame a rampant and potentially dangerous stereotype of the zoophile; indeed, the law banning bestiality in New Zealand, going back almost six decades, makes us second-class citizens, apparently without the rights granted to everyone else.

Why is this, I wonder?

“We consider that prior to the broadcast you were adequately informed of the intended nature of your participation,” MediaWorks writes. When audience feedback proved overwhelmingly negative to this subject, no word was provided to me. “We would have expected them (the producers) to communicate their decision to you,” MediaWorks notes dryly.

Gentlepersons, I know my story is radical and not popular with some people, and I expect them to oppose me. What I am not prepared for is sabotage, and that is what has been executed here. Perhaps the producers shouldn’t have used the interview at all! “A better decision would have been not to play any part of your interview, rather than playing only the portions of the interview in which Meg reacted to your behavior,” MediaWorks writes, admitting they made a serious goof.

However, it is apparently OK to defame me this way, because Dom, Meg, and Randell spent a couple of minutes discussing the subject on a prior show. How can I agree with their hosts, who don’t even bother with the impression of impartiality? The way MediaWorks allowed its hosts to portray me is like letting a member of the Ku Klux Klan deal with the concerns of the Negro.

The audience never got to hear it “from the horse’s mouth,” as we say here in the States. My experiences and words were interpreted by a hostile crew,  ignored and disparaged, and I was lied to and given false information by MediaWorks and its employees.

MediaWorks admits to this! “The Committee does not approve of the way your interview was edited, and we understand why you might feel you had not been given a reasonable opportunity to comment,” they wrote. Do I need to say more?

Their argument is that, because of a label, zoophile, I should have no rights under New Zealand law. May I point out that I am a human being? Does that stand for something in New Zealand?

The presentation of me on the show was grossly, manifestly unfair. Even MediaWorks agrees.

In short, MediaWorks went out its way to abuse me on the April 3, 2019 Dom, Meg and Randell program; violated its own broadcast guidelines; lied to me about it; failed to keep me informed of developments that affected me; and finally, gave me misleading information, the edited interview, which they never intended to use.

I hope you will demonstrate to the people of New Zealand that such unethical conduct doesn’t pay by condemning what MediaWorks has done, what the producers of the Dom, Meg and Randell show have done, and in particular, what Dom, Meg and Randell have done to me.

Thank you for considering the evidence objectively. – Malcolm J. Brenner

 

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