Arthur Schaper: DePetro Boycott and Exeter Recall (Oh Boy!)

Friday, December 20, 2013


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DePetro's controversial reputation preceded him, so why did WPRO hire him in the first place?

Rhode Island became ground zero for two populist movements in the past week.

Let’s start with the RIGOP and RIDEM (and RI anyone else) boycott of WPRO’s “Independent Man” John DePetro.

This shock-jock is no stranger to controversy on the airwaves, nor to getting terminated for his uncouth or disrespectful terms. As a morning talk-show host, or ranter, in Boston on WRKO-AM, DePetro called the Rainbow Green candidate Grace Ross a “Fat Lesbian.” The obese homosexual politician took the slur in stride (she chuckled!), yet the radio owners fired DePetro anyway. Before the remark, which marked him for dismissal, DePetro had offensively claimed that a dead rape victim was asking for the abuse because she was frequenting a bar at 4am.

Indeed, such insinuations are inflammatory, inappropriate, inexcusable.

DePetro’s Latest Controversy

Now, onto the comments he cauterized on the air in September, and the setting and situation which prompted DePetro’s latest onslaught.

Labor groups were protesting Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who was hosting a fundraiser at Roger Williams Casino Park called “Women Changing RI”. One has to wonder what Rhode Island’s colonial founder would think of his namesake attached to a gambling establishment. Then again, Raimondo’s gamble on pension reforms and Wall Street investments paid off (for some people). Labor unions protested in full-force, denouncing the comprehensive pension reforms which she ushered through Rhode Island in 2011, which were supposed to protect Ocean State residents from drowning in unsustainable pension liabilities. Her unprecedented measures to curb billions of dollars of debt for her state have not met with the hopes becoming of her state.

DePetro excoriated the protestors:

“What a disgrace. You are an embarrassment. …You are parasites. You are cockroaches. You lie. You are union hags. There’s another word I’d like to use … it begins with a W. and an H. and an O. and an R. and an E. and an S. See if they can spell that.”

Insulating ourselves from the insults, the spirit of his message (however mean-spirited) cannot be overlooked. Instead of standing for principle and serving their constituents, public sector unions serve themselves. DePetro’s comments were indeed degrading . . . to the prostitutes. While women of the night (and men, for that matter) offer a service before getting paid, public sector unions as a rule do a bad job and cannot get fired, they take money from their employees without their consent, spend the funds on candidates and causes which the employees may or may not support, who in turn promise massive pensions and benefits, and make the taxpayer pay for the whole scheme. At least the unions protesting Raimondo were working the sidewalk.

So, the Republicans, the Democrats, Governor Chafee are boycotting WPRO as well as demanding DePetro’s dismissal. Gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung’s measured request is respectable – just fire DePetro.

I have a better question: DePetro’s outrageous remarks got him tossed off the air twice before. Why did WPRO hire him in the first place?

(By the way, John, thanks for putting the Christmas back in the Christmas tree! Bah Humbug to Governor Grinch!)

Exeter Recall

Now, on to the Exeter recall. . .

Rhode Island gun control activists failed to pass an assault weapons ban earlier this year. The RIGOP offered a gun raffle later on (it was a bang-bang success). Now the residents of Exeter, Rhode Island, launched a recall effort against four councilmember for passing a resolution which requested that the Rhode Island General Assembly empower the state Attorney General to process to process concealed-carry gun permits.

Having read the ProJo editorial and Dexter Liu’s response piece, I find it fascinating, if not strange, that a town clerk, with the assistance of a town sergeant, could not issue concealed-carry permits. The fact that Exeter has no police force should not preclude issuing the licenses.

The four sitting members targeted for recall assumed, and improperly, that they were representing their constituents’ interests in requesting the General Assembly make the decision, as opposed to the local leaders.

Frankly, ProJo’s slanted editorial could not be more offensive:

To many people, the confusingly written Second Amendment, or at least the most recent interpretations of it, seems the most important part of the U.S. Constitution. And gun companies are quick to try to thwart anything that might reduce the sale of firearms.

The recall had nothing to do with gun companies. And the Second Amendment is not confusing:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

American citizens carry firearms to protect their persons and their property, especially from an oppressive government (like Rhode Island, perhaps?). By its nature, a right is an individual asset. This provision certainly does not preclude governments from ensuring that concealed-carry permit applicants do not pose a danger to themselves or others.

Ultimately, the recall permitted Exeter residents to register their discontent (or not) with their councilmembers. 63% of votes rejected the recall (only 36% of residents voted, including absentee ballots from Texas).

So much for the will of the people.

Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more atSchaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


Related Slideshow: Infamous Talk Radio Controversies

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Arbitron Ratings Scandal

In 2008, radio host John DePetro found himself in the midst of a ratings controversy.  The Boston Herald reported,

The briefly stellar ratings of controversy-dogged-talkmeister John DePetro’s Providence radio show tanked yesterday after a whiff of scandal forced Arbitron to reissue its spring survey of listener-dial habits.

In the 6 to 10 a.m. weekday slot occupied by the self-proclaimed “Independent Man” on WPRO-AM (630), “the reissue ranked WPRO at number nine” among valued 25- to 54-year-old listeners, “down from the number four rank in the original release,” program manager Paul Giammarco and station market manager Barbara Haynes announced in a joint statement.

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Candidate Name-Calling

DePetro was fired from Boston radio station WRKO in 2006 for calling then-gubernatorial Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross a "fat lesbian." 

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Office Scuffle

The Providence Journal's Mike Stanton reported on an altercation in 2009 between DePetro and radio host Ron St. Pierre.

DePetro said he was hit -- and scratched -- in the eye with a balled up paper with a staple thrown at him by St. Pierre.  

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Buddy's Return - to Radio


After five years in prison for racketeering conspiracy from 2002 to 2007, former Mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci returned to the public eye with a radio show on WPRO.  

While controversial, Cianci's continued popularity has people wondering if Buddy might just make another run for Mayor in 2014.  

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Chafee's Talk Radio Ban

Upon taking office in 2011, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that he would not appear on talk radio shows and barred state employees in agencies and departments that report to him from doing the same during work hours.  

Governor Chafee is among the elected officials who have signed the "For Our Daughters" pledge.  

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Dennis and Callahan

WEEI sports radio hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended in 2003 when they referred to an escaped gorilla as a "Metco gorilla" waiting for a bus to Lexington -- with Metco being bus program that buses inner-city students to suburban schools.

Boston's" target="_blank">WCVB reported that advertisers Dunkin' Donuts and Blue Cross pulled back station support in light of the incident.  

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Severin Suspended

WTKK's Jay Severin was fired for making comments about sleeping with female employees over the years.  

Radio Ink reported on Greater Media's reaction to the incident.  

"Greater Media today ended its relationship with Jay Severin. Our company has always encouraged a free and open dialogue on a variety of issues and topics, and we will continue to be guided by that principle. But we also demand that our on-air talent maintain an appropriate level of civility, and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large.

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Imus' Racial Remarks

in 2007, nationally syndicated talk show host Don Imus called Rutgers women's basketball players "nappy-headed hos."  Imus was suspended -- then fired -- by CBS Radio.  

Five years later, Imus was back on the national radio circuit, as reported by New

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Rush Limbaugh

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy; his latest remarks prompted the Democratic National Committee to call on Republican leaders to boycott the Daily Caller, which defended Limbaugh's remarks in an article entitled, "Liberals want to stop men from checking out women." 


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