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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Closer to “The Edge”

dolphinsmile
It’s a dolphin, and it looks like it’s smiling. It always looks like that.

Here it is, fans, my response from the MediaWorks Standards Committee about my complaint.  According to law, I had to file a complaint with MediaWorks first and be declined before I could appeal to the Broadcast Standards Authority, New Zealand’s FCC. Stand by for my response! All italicization is mine, for emphasis.

Dear Malcolm,

The MediaWorks Standards Committee wishes to advise you we have completed our inquiry into your formal complaint about the decision to broadcast on The Edge on 3 April 2019, an edited version of your interview with Dom Harvey, Meg Annear and Clint Randell. You complained that this breached Standards 4, 5, 6 ,8, 9 and 11.

We have not identified any breach of the standards set out in the Code of Broadcasting Practice. Our reasoning is outlined in further detail below.

If you are not happy about this decision you have the right in accordance with Section 7(3) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 to refer your complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, (P.O. Box 9213, Wellington or bsa.govt.nz) for the purpose of an investigation and review. You have 20 working days after receipt of this email to exercise this right of referral.

The Broadcast

The broadcast on 3 April was the final installment of a storyline which ran over three episodes of the Dom, Meg and Randell show. We have provided copies of all of the audio from these episodes, with this response. However in summary:

On 29 March the hosts first discussed the viral ‘Florida man’ birthday challenge, in which people conduct a Google search with their date of birth and the words “Florida man”, and receive news stories about the behaviour of a ‘Florida man’ on their birthday. ‘Florida man’ is a generic descriptor for a person who commits bizarre or idiotic crimes, popularly associated with—and often reported in—Florida.

Dom had conducted such a search using his birth date 3 February. The first search result was an article about you with the headline “Florida Man who had sex with dolphin says it seduced him”.

Following this discussion, listeners rang in to contribute their own birth dates and “Florida Man” stories.

On 1 April: the hosts discussed how they had recorded an interview with you, and provided some more detail about your story, including that:

  • you had written a book;
  • you had been fired from the aquarium where this occurred (which we are aware is not the case, but do not think is material);
  • you had been interviewed by MediaWorks’ journalist (at the time) David Farrier;
  • you had reviewed the movie “The Shape of Water” in a piece for Huffington Post;
  • the dolphin’s name was Dolly;
  • you had made a documentary about your relationship with Dolly;
  • you didn’t go through the court system and weren’t sent to jail;
  • you claim Dolly was in love with you;
  • you claim Dolly initiated the behaviour and seduced you over time;
  • you claim Dolly was so distraught when you were separated that she took her own life.

Meg made clear her opposition to hearing about bestiality and outlined her counter-view that Dolly was “traumatised because a man had seduced her and she’s a dolphin”. The hosts then sought and received feedback from listeners on whether or not to broadcast the interview.

Dom indicated he would need to clear it with his legal team before broadcasting.

On 3 April the hosts described the “Florida Man” challenge again, played extracts of the previous show and emphasised to listeners not to ‘flip out’ because they had heard the audience feedback and weren’t going to play the full interview.

They talked about Meg’s opposition to this storyline and played the following extract from the interview:

Malcolm: Dolphins’ skin is peeling all the time so they need to have it rubbed. She would roll over on her back and then swim forward until I was rubbing her [bleep].

Meg: This is sick. This is sick. I think you’re sick in the head and this is disgusting. This is a non-consensual situation. A dolphin cannot consensually choose to have sex with a human and you absolutely took advantage of that and I don’t want to be involved with this.

Meg explained she was flustered and furious, and the hosts explained that everyone who got into contact with the show – apart from one listener named Peter – had agreed that the topic was not appropriate for broadcast. Peter was given the opportunity to listen to the entire interview off-air and was then asked for his view of the interview. Peter indicated that he regretted having heard it.

Standard 4 Violence

The Violence Standard states that :

Broadcasters should exercise care and discretion when referencing violence.

We have not identified any content which referenced violence, and no breach of this Standard.

Standard 5 Law and Order

Under the Law and Order Standard:

Broadcasters should observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order, taking into account the context of the programme and the wider context of the broadcast.

As the commentary on this Standard makes clear, its purpose is to prevent broadcasts that encourage audiences to break the law, or otherwise promote criminal or serious antisocial activity.

This broadcast did not promote criminal or serious antisocial activity; rather the inverse is the case. The hosts criticised behaviour which is unlawful in New Zealand under section 143 of the Crimes Act 1961. We consider that this was appropriate,and there is no breach of this Standard.

Standard 6 Discrimination and denigration

Under the Discrimination and Denigration Standard:

Broadcasters should not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.

Although elements of the Broadcast – particularly Meg’s comments – were dismissive and even condemnatory of your behaviour, the Commentary on this Standard is clear:

“This standard does not apply to individuals…
The standard applies only to recognised ‘sections of the community’ which is consistent with the grounds for discrimination listed in the Human Rights Act 1993.”

We do not accept that people who have sex with dolphins, or even at the broadest level, zoophiles (i.e. people with a persistent sexual interest in animals) comprise a “section of the community” within the scope of this Standard. Although the Human Rights Act does prohibit discrimination on the grounds of “sexual orientation”, it defines this as “heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation” only (see section 21(1)(m)), and not an orentation towards animals.

This is consistent with the fact that bestiality is illegal in New Zealand. Zoophiles are not protected from discrimination in the Human Rights Act and we do not accept that the Standard applies here, or that the Standard was breached by this Broadcast.

Standard 8 Balance

Under the Balance Standard:

When controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs or factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.

As summarised in Guideline 8a, for the standard to apply, the subject matter must be an issue ‘of public importance’, it must be ‘controversial’ and it must be ‘discussed’ in a news, current affairs or factual programme.

The Standard does not apply in this case, because at least two of these requirements are not made out:

  • While clearly important to you, this issue is not relevant to the wider New Zealand public and is not ‘of public importance’. Bestiality, and the capacity for animals to consent to intercourse with a human are fringe issues, without any widespread or mainstream importance.
  • The Dom, Meg and Randell show is not a news, current affairs or factual programme. The show is promoted as a place for “the latest entertainment news, celebrity gossip, scandal, competitions and all the funniest gags to spark up your morning”. Listeners expect light-hearted chat and laughs, but do not reasonably expect it to be “authoritative or truthful”, which is the defining characteristic of a factual programme according to the commentary on the Standards.

Standard 9 Accuracy

Under the Accuracy Standard:

Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming:
• is accurate in relation to all material points of fact
• does not mislead.

The purpose of this standard is to protect the public from being significantly misinformed. However the Standard applies only to news, current affairs and factual programming, which this was not (see para 16b above) . Therefore there cannot be a breach of this Standard.

Standard 11 Fairness

Under the Fairness Standard:

Broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in any broadcast.

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 your interview, which was misleading and incomplete. We have raised these concerns with the show’s producers and presenters and have reminded them of their obligations under this Standard. We have also reviewed our processes to take into account the slightly unusual situation here, where a storyline was modified in response to clear listener feedback.

However overall we are satisfied that the storyline or the 3 April broadcast were not unfair to you, and fairly reflects your position in relation to your interactions with Dolly.

The BSA’s Commentary on this Standard states:

Generally, a consideration of what is fair will take into account the following:

  • whether the audience would have been left with an unduly negative impression of an individual or organisation
  • whether an individual or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme was adequately informed of the nature of their participation
  • whether informed consent was required and/or obtained (guidance on what constitutes ‘informed consent’ is found in Guidance: Privacy at the back of this Codebook)
  • whether the individual or organisation was given a reasonable opportunity to comment, and whether their comments were adequately presented in the programme
  • the nature of the individual, for example, a public figure or organisation familiar with dealing with the media, as opposed to an ordinary person with little or no media experience
  • whether any critical comments were aimed at the participant in their business or professional life, or their personal life
  • the public significance of the broadcast and its value in terms of free speech

The Committee has considered the context around the broadcast:

We accept that the show’s audience would have been left with a negative impression of you based on your behaviour with Dolly. However 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. The Committee is satisfied that there is already widespread distaste for the behaviour you engaged in. The feedback from listeners of the programme supports this view, and again we note that the New Zealand legislature has seen fit to prohibit bestiality with a serious criminal sanction of up to seven years’ imprisonment.

We consider that prior to the broadcast you were adequately informed of the intended nature of your participation. At that time the hosts did plan to broadcast your interview in full or use it for a podcast. It was only after they received overwhelming listener feedback and appreciated that there was no audience appetite for this story, that the hosts and production team reconsidered their approach. We would have expected them to communicate their decision to you. In any event is clear to us that you are experienced in dealing with the media and have told your story before, and we are certain that you would have expected and would have been prepared for opposition or condemnation of your behaviour.

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. However we agree with producers that in light of the audience’s clear expectations it was not appropriate to play the entire interview. 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 behaviour. Despite this we are satisfied that your position was adequately presented across the series of broadcasts, and the 3 April Broadcast on its own. In particular your claims that Dolly initiated and consented to this behaviour were presented, as were your claims that Dolly was forlorn by your separation and died of a broken heart, and the fact bestiality was not illegal in Florida at that time or until 2011. We do not accept that listeners were unaware of your position.

Summary

In summary there is no basis to uphold your complaint.

Kind regards,
The MediaWorks Standards Committee

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

 

Interviewer denounces author as “dolphin abuser,” walks out.

Well folks, I went on the Dom, Meg and Randell podcast this morning (in New Zealand, it was late afternoon the day before in Punta Gorda) and about 4 minutes into the interview, as I was describing Dolly’s first advances, rolling on her back and swimming forward until I was rubbing her genital slit, then, when I moved back to her head, doing it again, Meg (the female member of the interview trio, as you may have adroitly guessed) exploded into rage completely unrelated to what I was talking about.

Without giving me a chance to answer her accusations, she said I was a “dolphin abuser” who “took advantage” of that poor dolphin! Then she stormed out of the studio, all too eager to leave before she could learn the truth: dolphins are sexual creatures.

Very sexual.

The two male interviewers, Dom (who recently had a good friend commit suicide) and Randell, continued the interview without her, and it went rather well from my point of view. I got to say everything I wanted to say, got to promote human-dolphin telepathy, got to answer all the interviewers’ questions about the event and got to plug my book and ebook at the end. Listen to it all here, friends. (As soon as it’s published, it was pre-recorded.)

UPDATE: They recorded it, then sent me a version that was half long but still all right, and then, without telling me, they ran this shit. I’ve been treated badly by shock jocks before (Bubba the Love Sponge and Howard Stern come to mind), but I’ve never been set up like this! I feel like a bowling pin, and the station is going to get a letter from me denouncing this.  It’s right here, and they start talking about me at 42:30.

I am New Zealand!

black clouds dark dawn
Photo by meo on Pexels.com

I stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand, who are proud, free, and largely spared the insanity that infects the rest of the “Western World” — until now.

I stand in sorrow that this has visited them, and so unjustly.

Be strong, and know that the rest of the world shares your sorrow, and your determination to end this kind of murderous hate, this insanity called racism, by whatever means necessary.