Genuis, a Catholic, described as “shockingly offensive” a Jan. 30 column by veteran journalist Neil Macdonald entitled “Simple truth is Canada’s mass shooters are usually white and Canadian born” and tweets linking to the article that said, “…Christian men are Canada’s mass shooters.”
Macdonald’s column followed the shooting of six men while they were praying Jan. 29 in a Quebec City mosque.
“The suggestion that ‘just about every single’ ‘mass murderer’ in Canadian history was ‘usually white and Christian,’ or that ‘Christian men are Canada’s mass shooters,’ is breathtaking both in its complete disassociation with factual reality, as well as in its scandalous slander against an entire community of faith,” Genuis said.
Of the nine examples Macdonald cited, only two of the murderers “grew up in families that ever attended church, and none of the nine appear to have been self-identifying or practising Christians,” Genuis said.
“None of them appear to have been inclined to their notorious acts because of their faith, or to have even claimed their faith as a motivation, and this article itself contained no support for the ridiculous claim that mass murderers are ‘usually Christian.’ ”
Genuis asked the Ombudsman to review the article and asked that it and related tweets be removed from the CBC’s website and social media accounts. He also asked for an apology.
Because the CBC receives taxpayers’ funding, it has a “special obligation” to “maintain high standards and avoid spreading offensive content,” he said.
“In this instance, what was published would have immediately been deemed utterly unacceptable and highly offensive were it about any identifiable group other than the one in question.”
Macdonald’s piece began with a criticism of the leap to judgment many conservative news outlets made regarding the identity of the mosque shooter.
“For a short, hopeful moment Monday, Trumpian conservatives were clucking and warbling triumphant tweets at one another,” Macdonald wrote. “Rumours swirling about the slaughter at the mosque in Quebec City had the shooter yelling ‘Allahu Akbar,’ albeit in a strong Québécois accent, as he killed and reloaded.”
As evidence emerged the alleged shooter was Canadian-born Alexandre Bissonnette, Macdonald observed many did not withdraw their tweets that blamed Muslim terrorists.
Genuis did not approve of speculation blaming Muslims either.
“I don’t think jumping to conclusions or establishing these kinds of stereotypes would have been appropriate or helpful in any event,” said Genuis in an interview.
Genuis said he speaks out against negative stereotyping, regardless of who is targeted.
If the shooter had been Muslim, Genuis said he doubted the CBC would have written a similar piece targeting the Muslim faith.