From ‘Mediacorp fined $6300 for using derogatory term on air’, 15 May 2014, article by Janice Tai, ST
A fine of $6,300 has been slapped on Mediacorp by the Media Development Authority (MDA) for its deejay’s use of a derogatory term on air. On March 20, Mediacorp radio deejay Joe Augustin used a derogatory term (‘asshole’) on Ms Cassandra Chiu, who is blind, for complaining that the visually-impaired were being discriminated against and denied food at McDonald’s.
Ms Chiu, who moves around with a guide dog, had earlier posted on Facebook that she was refused free muffins at the fast food outlet because she is blind. Ms Chiu has been vocal on social media about being rejected at local establishments, such as clothing store Forever 21 and ice-cream shop Haagen-Dazs, because her guide dog was not allowed in.
Irritated by her constant complaints, Mr Augustin used an offensive term on her,and repeated it on air the next day to ask listeners if he was justified in doing so. MDA said in a statement on Wednesday: “As a free-to-air radio broadcaster, MediaCorp is expected to observe the requirements laid out in the Free-to-air Radio Programme Code which seeks to protect community interests by ensuring broadcast programming do not offend good taste or decency.”
Joe Augustin has every right to think that a demanding blind woman with a guide dog is behaving like an asshole, but to mouth off such a word on air is crude and unprofessional, even if it takes some brash balls to do it. It’s like calling a baby a asshole, or somebody’s grandmother one. It’s, for lack of a better word, just MEAN. Even politicians, however, sometimes use it in their petty squabbles. In 1995, Chiam See Tong accused SDP’s Ling How Doong of calling him a ‘bastard’ and ‘asshole’. Ling, in turn, complained about Chiam using ‘bumbling idiot’ on him. The difference is that the media saw it fit to print the ‘A’ word almost 20 years ago. Today it’s just a ‘derogatory term’, which covers everything from ‘bitch’ to ‘silly woman’.
A veteran station hopper covering the whole range of radio channels from Power 98, Radio 91.3, Gold 90.5 FM and now Class95, Joe has a ravenous appetite for controversy, citing his ‘passion’ as a reason why his on-air partners find it hard working with him, except when he was teaming up with Flying Dutchman on Class 95, a pairing which has become legend in the ANNALS of ‘morning show’ radio. Even his current partner wasn’t spared, with Joe once calling Glenn Ong, another one known for offensive wisecracks, ‘scum worthy’ following his divorce from Kate Reyes. Which can also translate to ‘asshole’. Ong once called for a mentally ill person creating a ruckus in public to be put to sleep like a mad dog. A pair made in heaven, then.
Joe had a couple of ill-fated partnerships with Petrina Kow and then Shareen Wong, where in both instances he was terminated, the latter for reading out an SMS from management on public radio. In 2012, a Facebook joke landed him a lawyer’s letter, the details of the joke remain unknown. He also once did a stand-up comedy stint at the Jubilee Hall back in 1998, and if he’s asked to go again following this swipe at a visually handicapped woman, he could try that out for a living, a job where you can pepper every sentence with one ‘asshole’ and get away with it. After all, Singapore is in dire need for a new ‘favourite funnyman’. This ‘asshole’ comment appears to solidify Joe’s position as the enfant terrible of shock jock radio, with people like Rod Monteiro and gang coming off as the next great pretenders to the throne. The throne of DJ assholes.
So how much of an ‘asshole’ was Cassandra Chiu being, really? When she first broke the news about how Forever 21 staff regarded Esme, I felt ashamed for our ‘compassion deficit’. This was followed by a series of dramatic rejections elsewhere, McDonalds’ on ‘Free Breakfast Day’, Haagen Daaz, Tanglin Mall, all told through the eyes of her furry friend Esme on Facebook. Few of us can truly appreciate what a normal day is like for Cassandra, so if you’re looking forward to a hash brown and coffee and squealed at among a stampede of kiasu Singaporeans early in the morning for bringing a dog in the premises, you may be excused if you decide to make a big fuss about it. Some of her, or rather Esme’s, posts may not be entirely fair to the establishment that denied them, like this one for example.
Or this one summoning the image of poor Esme being FLUNG right out of the door with her tail between her legs. Of course anyone with a heart who loves dogs will FLIP without even reading further, and maybe even dump their tub of Haagen Daaz right down the chute in disgust. After spitting into it. To folks like Joe Augustin who wouldn’t give you ‘face’ just because you’re blind, it’s emotional manipulation.
Of course, Cassandra and Esme seem to have far more pleasant experiences than negative ones, with many random strangers and companies being praised and thanked for their services, and the occasional unlucky ones like McDs suffering their combined wrath. Like Joe and FD once upon a time, these two are inseparable.
If I were blind and someone were to still call me names, I would take it that they were treating me just like they treat perfectly healthy individuals, and appreciate their willingness to suspend all sympathy just because I can’t see shit. Wow, I would say, that’s the first time anyone’s ever said that to me! Everyone else who thinks I’m annoying simply shuffles away like they’ve just seen a ghost that they can’t offend! Then I’d flip the bugger my still functional, middle finger and raise my free Egg McMuffin in the air, victorious like Harry Potter catching a Golden Snitch, with my trusty guide dog taking a sloppy piss in his general direction.