Even by the flexible moral, ethical, and professional standards of American talk radio, the May 28th segment of KRXQ 98.5 FM Sacramento's Rob, Arnie, & Dawn in the Morning radio talk show makes for a sickening half-hour of ugliness and cruelty. For once, the focus was not LGBT adults, but minors. The hosts, Rob Williams and Arnie States, devoted the segment in question to a vicious diatribe against transgender children, some as young as five, focusing in particular on the case of one Omaha family raising a gender dysphoric child, and their decision to support her transition from male to female.
Williams and States took turns referring to gender dysphoric children as "idiots" and "freaks," who were just out "for attention" and had "a mental disorder that just needs to somehow be gotten out of them," either by verbal abuse on the part of the parents, or even shock therapy.
"Allowing transgenders to exist, pretty soon it becomes normal to fall in love with the animals," they said.
For his part, States bragged that if his own son were to ever dare put on a pair of high heels, States would beat his son with one of his own shoes. He urged parents whose own little boys expressed a desire to wear a dress to verbally abuse and degrade them as a viable response. "Because you know what? Boys don't wear high heel shoes. And in my house, they definitely don't wear high heels.
"I'm going to go, 'You know what? You're a little idiot! You little dumbass!'" States sneered, adding later, "I look forward to when [the transgender children] go out into society and society beats them down. And they wind up in therapy."
In light of the well-publicized suicides this year of the two boys who took their own lives because of bullying and harassment for "acting gay" (which, in the argot of modern North American teenagers, often refers to acting in a way considered unmasculine by their peers) the stunning lack of moral sensibility on the part of States and Williams is breathtaking. But it also points to the increasingly degraded landscape of talk radio.
The causal link between Bill O'Reilly's obsessive baiting of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller on FOX and Tiller's murder on Sunday, May 31st as he was ushering in his Kansas City church, is currently being explored, an exploration particularly relevant in the case of Rob, Arnie, and Dawn in the Morning, and the potential violent fallout from their inexplicably rage-filled invective against not only transgender children, but even boys who err on the feminine side of standard adolescent behavior, behavior States and Williams consider unnatural because "men are hunters and women are gatherers."
I shudder to imagine the response of the late Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover's mother if she'd had the misfortune to hear the KRXQ broadcast.
"They were always saying [to Carl] 'You're gay, you must be gay, you act like a girl'," Sideaner L. Walker told the press in April, speaking of the dead son she had to cut down from the support beam he hung himself from after months of taunts from his peers---taunts that likely bore more than a passing resemblance to the invective used by States and Williams on their May 28th broadcast.
"I'm not open-minded once I look into sumpin'" one of the two men grunted at the beginning of the segment, their voices interchangeable. "I have every right to call you a freak and judge you on that. It makes me sick. 'Mommy, I'm a girl trapped in a boy's body,'" he simpered, mimicking an effeminate little boy. "I want to wear a dwess."
They berated co-host Dawn Rossi, who seemed genuinely horrified by the rising crescendo of ugliness towards the children and their parents from States and Williams.
"You're actually defending allowing people to become freaks?" they seethed. "A boy who wants to wear a dress is a freak. A nut." Comparing transgender children to "fat bastard kids on Maury," States and Williams urged advocates of transgender children to "stop hiding behind research and laws," whose authority they wholeheartedly reject. Braying with the certitude of the jubilantly ignorant, States and Williams revealed to listeners that "transgenders [sic] did not exist four decades ago," apparently unaware of the historical fact that transgender individuals have existed in every culture throughout recorded history, including in native American cultures where the "two spirited" were revered as teachers, healers, and shamans.
By no objective standard are dumbed-down, Wal-Mart versions of O'Reilly like States and Williams journalists. Nor are they really experts on anything other than plunging the overflowing toilets of their listeners' psyches and selling the sewage back to them, repackaged as "insight," "common sense" and "plain talk" from fake-macho blowhards hiding behind radio microphones.
One doesn't need a primer on transgender or transsexual history in order to appreciate the awesome brutality of the KRXQ shock-jocks' diatribe. All one needs is to know a child, any child. They're small, they're vulnerable, and their world is populated with gods whose divinity is derived solely from their adulthood and perceived authority.
States and Williams chose to use that authority to attack a segment of the childhood population who are more vulnerable than almost any other. Transgender children are at a point in their lives when they feel their own bodies are the enemy, and alien to them. Many of them go to bed praying that when they wake up their bodies and their inner gender will be aligned.
"If the kid ever gets to be eighteen," States snarled, "and says 'I still feel like a woman!' you say, 'Get out! Go be a freak! And understand, SON, that society will never accept you because we still have some moral judgment."
As disturbing as it has become to an increasingly enlightened segment of the mainstream American population to hear LGBT adults vilified and degraded in the media as the discussion over gay marriage and Don't Ask, Don't Tell reaches a boiling point, no one with even a passing acquaintanceship with decency could have been prepared for KRXQ's May 28th pageant of brutality towards transgender children.
Who are, after all, children, first and foremost. Trusting, innocent, and vulnerable, they ought to be beyond the reach of the violent, hate-mongering adult rhetoric that is taken for granted in American talk radio. One needs no particular sympathy for transgender people to understand the prodigious boundary transgression of promoting contempt and disgust towards children,anyone's children, on a radio show.
This should give serious pause to adults of every political, economic, and social background, whatever their stand on LGBT issues. It should be of particular concern to KRXQ's advertisers and their customers.
My little godson Michael is the light of my life. His father was a hockey player and his mother is a legendary beauty. He embodies the best of those two people to absolute perfection. It's been educational to watch his awareness of his own masculine gender assert itself in the last few years. His gender identity wasn't "learned," it came to him already hardwired, in the same way studies continue to show that a transgender child's gender is hardwired. And whatever else his struggles may be in later life, I personally doubt that gender identity is going to be one of them.
But his gentleness and his vulnerability brings my protectiveness into hyper-focus. And if he wanted to wear a dress, or told me he was a girl, my instinct as an adult would be to protect him and try to understand him.
I can only imagine the perfect horror of having someone like States as a father. But if anyone ever called my godson a "sick little freak," or a "nut," or a "freak of nature," or beat him with a shoe for being himself, I could not, and would not, be held accountable for my reaction, or my inevitable response.
I know which end of the shoe I would be on if I ever met another adult who took the official Rob, Arnie & Dawn in the Morning child-rearing advice to heart after hearing it on KRXQ 98.5 FM Sacramento.
Follow Michael Rowe on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rowemichael