When televangelist Jimmy Swaggart said he would kill a homosexual who looked at him romantically, he violated the ethics code of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, an industry panel has ruled.
Swaggart made the remarks during a discussion of same-sex marriage on a Sept. 12 broadcast that was carried by the Toronto station Omni 1.
“I’m going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I’m going to kill him and tell God he died,” Swaggart said.
Swaggart also said that politicians who are undecided on the issue of same-sex marriage “all oughta have to marry a pig and live with him forever.”
The comments prompted a complaint that was filed with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, the arm of the CAB that deals with viewer feedback.
A few days later, Swaggart backtracked, saying the expression was a figurative one. He said he has used the expression “killing someone and telling God he died” in jest thousands of times.
“If it’s an insult, I certainly didn’t think it was, but if they are offended, then I certainly offer an apology,” he told the Associated Press.
The council ruled that Omni 1 was entitled to broadcast Swaggart’s views opposing same-sex marriage, as well as his criticism of politicians who take no stand.
But it added that the station breached the CAB’s human rights and religious programming clauses “on the basis of Swaggart’s suggestion that killing someone would be the proper way for one to respond to homosexuality.”
The panel said the debate over same-sex marriage is “more than legitimate” and “democratically essential” but said Swaggart’s “negativity” was “visceral.”
“The problem of Swaggart’s language is, in a sense, exacerbated by the fact that he, as a religious figure, can be presumed to set an example for his community. It would, therefore, be easy for someone to infer that this might be the proper way for a Christian of this sect (or possibly of any sect) to respond to homosexuality,” the ruling added.
Omni 1 issued an on-air apology shortly after the broadcast, so it is not required to broadcast the council’s decision.
Both the CAB and CBSC are non-governmental organizations.