Dear reader, it was a little over two years ago when I first ranted about Kyle Sandilands on my old blog. Then, it was because Sandilands had insensitively interviewed a rape victim, but now, it's because he has criticised a female journalist's appearance because she criticised one of his crappy TV shows. Just like last time, Kyle is losing sponsors and network deals, and just like last time, Jackie O is defending him, because she must be one of those women who likes men who have the intelligence of your average chimpanzee.
(On the off chance someone is sitting there thinking Kyle is just a normal Aussie bloke "having a laugh", I invite you to have a look at just one of many distasteful incidents on the Kyle and Jackie-O show, courtesy of The Dark Side of the Blog's old friend Media Watch.)
Now, what offends me most about Kyle (and Jackie-O, to a lesser extent) is not so much what he said in the first place, but his justification for saying it. Behold, Kyle's air-tight defence:
"We live in a country of free speech. You're allowed to say what you want and so am I."
This is a mindset journalists in Australia, and the world even, need to get themselves out of. I've previously discussed the irresponsible conduct of talk-back hosts in relation to climate change, but these men probably justified what they were doing because we live in a free country, and they have a right to say what they want.
Well, I'm afraid it's not that simple. Nowhere near that simple. Kyle defends himself by saying that because we (the public) can say what we want, so can he, but there are friggin' limits. Just because you can say something doesn't mean you should. The woman who criticised Kyle had some valid points, namely that Kyle's show (A Night With The Stars) was not performing in the ratings and that it was not entertaining. And how does Kyle respond? By criticising this woman's appearance ("a fat bitter thing", a "fat slag", "90s hair", etc.). Not only is this sexist, but it's extremely immature and lazy of him. Not once, in my entire gargantuan rant against Family Guy did I personally attack Seth Macfarlane or his team of writers. Personal attacks add nothing to an argument, and are often the product of a straw man, desperate to win the argument. For example:
PERSON 1: Climate change doesn't exist.
PERSON 2: Actually, the majority of the world's scientists say it does.
PERSON 1: But I've heard of a book by some professor who says we shouldn't be worried!
PERSON 2: That professor works for an oil company, of course he's going to say that. Besides, 97 out of 100 active researchers in the field agree that the climate is changing and that we are causing it. (source, in case you're interested).
PERSON 1: Whatever. What kind of person knows this much about climate change, anyway? Only losers who still live with their parents and spend their time playing World of Warcraft.
The idea here is that if Person 1 can make Person 2 look bad, Person 2's logic must be equally as bad, and therefore Person 1 is right. It's immature, lazy and unprofessional, especially for a man who has such an influence of people's opinions (sad, yes, but true considering his job).
The problem is that if anyone criticises radio hosts or journalists for saying something unethical, they can sit smugly behind the defence of "free speech". Free speech is all well and good, but if you going to attack someone or something, you need to back up your points with actual arguments, not just cheap shots at their appearance. Living in a country with free speech does not give you permission to be immature or rude. As depressing as it is to say this, Kyle Sandilands holds a significant sway over the opinions of many people, and he has a responsibility to behave appropriately and act with maturity, not just say whatever he feels like and pretend he's a champion for free speech.
Ultimately, Kyle Sandilands needs to be held accountable for his actions. 2Day FM has a responsibility to do what is right, not what is easy. Successful long-term businesses build relationships with consumers, and you're never going to acheive this by having your flagship presenter be a man who's hated by thousands of people. Kyle may give 2Day FM ratings in the short term, but in the long term, he's going to do nothing but damage the brand of what is supposed to be a family-friendly radio station. Kyle Sandilands is yet another example of someone who uses their position in the media purely to push their own views on the public.
That, and he looks funny.
© 2011 by The Free Man