Sometimes punishment is swift and severe, as Rochester radio hosts Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck learned firsthand after an atrocious on-air segment about transgender people cost them their jobs. After discussing a new transgender health care plan by the city of Rochester, the two began making crude transphobic jokes (e.g. playing the Aerosmith song “Dude Looks Like a Lady”) and calling trans people “nutjobs.” The pair also came perilously close to outing a transgender girl who plays for a local high school softball team. At first it was announced on the Facebook page of 98.9 The Buzz that the radio personalities had been suspended indefinitely. That was just last night. By this morning Entercom Rochester released this statement:
“This morning Entercom fired Kimberly and Beck effective immediately. Their hateful comments against the transgender community do not represent our station or our company. We deeply apologize to the transgender community, the community of Rochester, and anyone else who was offended by their hateful comments. We are proud of our past work on behalf of the local LGBT community and we remain committed to that partnership.”
Vice-President/General Manager Entercom Rochester
There seems to be plenty of support for the decision to fire Kimberly and Beck, but the two had no shortage of supporters as well. Here are some of the comments from the radio station’s Facebook page:
Bigotry? What u don’t like the truth ?-Bernie Ryan
Where was the bigotry and hatred????? I listened and even tho I didn’t agree entirely they had some good points. What about those who suffer from cancer…why can’t the city pay for their reconstructive surgery…..Don’t be surprised if lawsuits ensue based on discrimination.-Beth Lynn Van Hook
The only ones showing hate and bigotry is the transgender community and their supporters.Kimberly and Beck did nothing wrong , clearly you haters never listen to them .Instead you haters just jumped blindly on to the bandwagon .-Shaun Padden
Yes [being transgender] is a choice, JM you fucking moron. Did people on the frontier or in the colonial days worry about wanting to be a woman when they were a dude…21st century issues causes by declining common sense…. -John Magnuson
Transexualism is not a choice? Are you serious? Has hate and lies blocked your brains with anti-truth mucus? How stupid can someone be to believe transexualism is not a choice?!-Izzler Zzl
the main point of what they brought up had nothing to do with a transgendered teenager but instead the asinine thinking of the asinine mayor of Rochester who decided she wanted to have us join the slime pit of San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC in forcing taxpayers to pay for sex reassignment surgery and then having the gall to also ask for a tax increase to help fund it. KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE YOU EXPOSE YOURSELF AS AN IDIOT! -Kevin Russell
[Y]ou’re obviously confused between hate and ignorance. Saying a drug addict is a scumbag is, well to be honest, true. Sorry, but put your big boy pants on and accept the fact that your friend from the sound of it was a non-contributor to society and fit the basic stereotype of being a loser or scumbag. Likewise, saying a person is “nuts” because of their lifestyle is not hate speech. They didn’t tell listeners to form a lynch mob and hunt down gays and trannys, they didn’t say all drug addicts should just be killed, or anything like that. They gave their opinion on a person based on the story of their life choices. I put my daughter on the back of my motorcycle and she rides with me, has been since she was 6. If you don’t agree with that and think it’s dangerous and go around saying I’m an idiot, should I be able to piss and moan until you lose your job because I don’t like your opinion of my life choices? -Brad Noody
And, as usual, there’s a bunch of people who couldn’t understand the First Amendment if you rolled up the Constitution and swatted them on the head with it. Yes, you can still be fired by your employers for hate speech. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences as I have pointed out numerous times by now. Just ask Donald Sterling.
Well, I have nothing left to say about this except good riddance to bad rubbish.
Usually when there’s news about a radio host saying something ignorant or hateful, one might think of Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage. Today, we actually have a pair of small-time radio hosts from Rochester, NY for a change of pace, and they really don’t like trans folks. In response to the city of Rochester adding transgender health care benefits to city employees and their families, Barry Beck and Kimberly Ray of WBZA Radio 98.9 began mocking transgender people on the air, questioning their sanity and comparing sex reassignment therapy to elective surgeries. Via LGBTQ Nation:
On Tuesday, local radio hosts Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck of WBZA Radio 98.9 characterized the new city healthcare coverage with rants such as, “The dude can look like a lady and the city is going to pay for it!”
“Does that mean then if women want a boob job they’ll pay for a boob job because that’s only right,” asked Beck.
“The services that will be paid for under the new coverage – gender reassignment surgery, psychological counseling, because you’re probably a nut job to begin with!” adds Ray. “That’s my opinion.”
. . . .
The hosts continue their 12-minute segment to discuss transgender female athletes and how they should not be able to participate insports in the gender in which they identify.
“When he steps up to the plate, doesn’t he have two bats?”
One female caller criticized the hosts, telling them they were “incredibly disrespectful towards transgender people” and that they shouldn’t spread misinformation, even as a joke, to which one of the male hosts (identified as Chris Konya) replied: “Thank you, sir” as the others laugh.
Hilarious. If you wish to hear this atrocious segment you may listen to the audio here:
And instead of apologizing or walking back their comments, the duo decided to dig in their heels. Kimberly Ray sent out a Tweet telling critics to “get over it”:
True, Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck do have freedom of speech, including the freedom to be transphobic dicks while on the air. However, this only prevents the government from exacting punishment against them for speaking their minds. Now if their employers — whose Facebook page can be found here — decided to suspend them or terminate their jobs over their horrible remarks, that would be a different story.
Update: WBZA has announced on its Facebook and Twitter pages that because of the duo’s “hateful comments against the transgender community” they have been suspended indefinitely. So, just as a reminder to Barry Beck and Kimberly Ray: freedom of speech does not include being free of consequences. #getoverit
The Los Angeles Times – Similarly, a federal judge just overturned Oregon’s prohibition on same-sex marriage.
Jezebel – Hooters posts a horrific rape joke on its Facebook page, then said they were hacked. Sure.
NBC News – Pentagon approves transfer of Chelsea Manning for sex reassignment surgery.
Salon – Having been convicted of assaulting a police officer — an involuntary response after he grabbed her breast — Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan has been sentenced to three months in prison at Riker’s Island.
Mother Jones – Pro-gun extremists are targeting women with death and rape threats.
New Republic – The firing of New York Times editor Jill Abramson, rampant sexism and the gender wage gap.