“Charles, they could put Hitler in there and you would vote for him.” This rhetorical vomit was not hurled by a jacked-up dullard at two in the morning in some booze can.
It was served up to me in an exchange on CTV Newsnet on Election Day.
The host asked me what my Corus Radio Network callers had been saying.
I told her that most of them were dying for change.
She then asked a Halifax-based talk-show host what his callers were telling him.
Instead of respecting her question, he made it personal, and some would say hateful.
Those who listen to my radio show on a regular basis and have heard the segment (it’s available on www.charlesadler.com) were stunned that I chose not to crush the lad. Since he was travelling the low road, I planted my feet firmly on the other road, allowing him to go on at some length.
Time turned his words into a self-made rope that he used to suffocate his credibility.
The host asked me for an opinion, and I simply said that I wasn’t willing to engage in the discussion on his level.
He fulminated about Hitler and Stalin and Satan, all the while trying desperately and disgustingly to make the case that Harper was a frightening authoritarian whose voters were mindless social conservatives.
It was the Paul Martin Campaign redux. Here was a featherweight failing miserably in selling the idea that Harper was too far removed from Canadian values.
He didn’t make the sale for two reasons.
1) He strayed too far from the mainstream himself by comparing Harper’s supporters to Nazi sympathizers.
2) I didn’t nibble on his toxic bait.
It was a metaphor for what happened nationally. Martin’s scare campaign imploded because Canadian voters refused to swallow Herle’s Hemlock (Liberal strategist David Herle was the commander of Paul Martin’s war room).
Within minutes of the TV show, the story became the talk of the blogosphere. The Bourque Newswatch gave it two headlines that rocketed the story into the country’s cranium: Adler would vote for Hitler and CTV guest insults grandson of Auschwitz victims. In case you don’t know this, my paternal grandparents, Joseph and Rose Adler, were murdered in the name of Hitler.
While some of my listeners were angry with CTV, I was not. They had no way of knowing that the guy in Halifax was going to go nuclear. They assumed that since he had been gainfully employed by a reputable Canadian broadcaster, Rogers Radio, he wasn’t a bush leaguer.
Nobody at CTV put words into his mouth and nobody at the network prevented the tape of the segment from making its way into the blogosphere. I personally requested a copy from a senior CTV News executive. He knew that I wanted to create a national radio discussion of what is and is not out of bounds in public rhetoric. He graciously and courageously dispatched the tape to my computer.
Many broadcast outlets do not release tape of programming that they feel may cause them some negative publicity.
Within two hours of my TV encounter, I found myself in a Unitarian Church in the riding of Winnipeg South Centre, voting for the party that was being trashed by the talk-show host.
Marking an X beside the Conservative name on the ballot was probably the most effective response to what had taken place on the people’s airwaves.
Exercising your democratic right is the most satisfying way of taking out the trash.