Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tieleman takes on Spector for using B-Word with Belinda Stronach

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column - News, Views & Attitude
Tuesday November 7, 2006

The case of Belinda and the B-word

When a man gives his opinion he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion she's a bitch.

- Betty Davis

It's simply inexcusable to call Liberal Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach - or any other woman - a "bitch" on the radio.

But surprisingly that's exactly what veteran political commentator Norman Spector did Oct. 30 and again yesterday on CKNW's The Bill Good Show when discussing the story of Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay and Stronach's past relationship and MacKay's apparent reference to her as his former "dog."

I was on the air with Spector for our weekly segment and immediately objected to his language, as did several male and female callers.

It didn't matter. Spector repeated the B-word and defended his use of it, creating a national news story.

Spector is no radio shock jock. Rather, he is former chief of staff to Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former deputy minister to Social Credit Premier Bill Bennett. He has also been Canada's ambassador to Israel.

But despite a wealth of experience in politics and diplomacy - which I respect - Spector said:

"You know, I'm not in politics. I can say it. I think she's a bitch. It's as simple as that. And I think that 90 per cent of men would probably say she's a bitch for the way she's broken up [retired hockey player] Tie Domi's home and the way she dumped Peter MacKay. She is a bitch."

I interjected right away:

"Well, Norman, I think you're taking a lot of liberty there. We don't know what happened in the Tie Domi case. We do know that she broke up with Mr. MacKay. And we don't call [Vancouver South Liberal MP] Ujjal Dosanjh or [Liberal leadership candidate] Bob Rae or others names like that.

"So I don't think that's a fair characterization. I think it's fair to say you don't like her politics. And I don't either personally. But I think that crosses the line."

Please don't confuse my objection to Spector's comments as "political correctness" - the fact is that Spector's language simply violates politeness and common decency.

It also is another unhelpful comment that will dissuade good women of all political stripes from considering elected office when we need more than the pathetic ratio in Parliament of just one in five MPs being women.

With views like Spector's is it any wonder that when women legislators are in the media it is far too often talking about themselves instead of their political views?

Lastly, isn't it ironic that I'm the left-winger defending family values and appropriate language while Norman Spector, the conservative, is using the B-word like a rapper and making unproven allegations about a woman's sex life?

Norman Spector should apologize.

Hear Bill Tieleman Mondays at 10 a.m. on CKNW AM 980's The Bill Good Show. Website: http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/ e-mail: weststar@telus.net


Anonymous said...

What a predictable and lame comment. Someone says a bad word in public so jump on the politically correct bandwagon and make an issue of it. Boo-hoo. If Spector thinks Stronach is a bitch, so be it, that is his opinion and he is entitled to it, no matter how intellectually challenged and self-revealing as it may be.

But all of this crap that it will dissuade women from entering politics is pure BS. There are many good women in politics across this Province and this Country who manage to serve without being called a bitch. They also manage to avoid sleeping with their colleagues and having extra-martial affairs as well.

No doubt Tielman you are a left winger, complete with the moral outrage and all else.

Anonymous said...

You may claim that you are not being "politically correct" but you are asking someone (Spector) to only use language that is calculated to provide a minimum of offense to an identifiable group (women). This by definition is "political correctness".

Spector's choice of words was poor, but he is entitled to make that choice, and shouldn't be censored for making it.

To say that Stronach is an "unpleasant woman" would certainly not have the same effect or carry the same weight.

Anonymous said...

I am completely shocked by the comments here, this is truly not what I expected to encounter: I thought the greater community would thank Tieleman for holding Spector accountable for his name-calling of Belinda Stronach.
Well, thank you Bill Tieleman for bringing Spector's sexism and ignorance to light. I also appreciate that you pointed out the difference between his personal opinion of her and of her political views.
We often hold other public figures accountable- sports heroes, musicians, actors, etc- for their role in socializing young people. Often politicians get left out of this, but the truth is the camera is pointed on politicians as well.
The use of "bitch" as a method of name-calling is certainly proof-positive of gender inequalities in our government. It takes a strong man such as yourself to bring these issues into the spotlight.
Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

To the previous post, it appears your objection is only to using the word "bitch" - and not to the sentiments expressed.

To paraphrase Shakespeare "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet".

I suggest your issue with the word "bitch" is self-imposed.

Anonymous said...

Spector says Stronach is a bitch simply because she broke up with MacKay. He offers nothing to back up his contention. It begs the question, is every woman who breaks up with a man is a bitch in Spector's mind? I wonder how Spector has reacted when women have broken up with him.

Spector also blames Stronach for the Tomi marriage breakup. Again he offers nothing to back up his argument. How do we know that the Domis were not already separated? News reports citing Domi's wife indicate he had strayed before. Why doesn't Spector cast dispersions Domi's way? Must it always be the woman's fault - at least in Spector's mind?

Monday's comments that Spector is not in politics and "he can say it" make me wonder how he would defend someone making disparaging marks about jews -for instance?

Would it be a case of its okay for Spector but not for others? I think Norman has potentially opened a Pandora's Box for all kinds of wingnuts.

He says Stronach is a "bitch" simply because she crossed the floor. What words does he use for male Conservatives that crossed the floor or chose to sit as independents? Rumours abounded at the time that Stronach simply beat MacKay to the punch when she crossed.

Forget Stronach's action. Lets now consider Spector's actions. As a journalist/columnist one wonders about Spector's disclosure of potential conflicts. I was told by a Liberal I know that after they were elected in 2001, Spector tried very hard for a DM appointment by Campbell.

Has Spector disclosed this to CKNW or the Globe and Mail? Have listeners and readers been given the opportunity to consider his criticisms in context of any failure to disclose?

I think Spector is an asshole. I'm not in politics - I can say it. It's as simple as that.