Beware of the Dogma

When KFYI radio host John Dayl spews mindless hate, David Winkler listens

Then, during a commercial break, they say, Dayl turned to Renert, who is Jewish, and asked her, "So what's wrong with being anti-Semitic, anyway?"

"He said it in a way that would lead anyone to believe that he is anti-Semitic and proud of it," Renert says. But before she could respond, he went on-air and changed the subject.

"When I look back on it now, I realize that I handled it all so wrong." Renert says Dayl had her so off-balance, she didn't know what to say. Now she wishes she could have repeated his comment on the air and called him on it.

Dayl denies their charge. "I never said that. I never said anything like that. Why would I say that when I have Semitic blood in me? I have never said that, and this is not a 'Fuhrman' denial," he says.

Dayl is also, at times, fairly entertaining, especially when he's overly dramatic. That's when he seems to go into an ecstatic trance and can produce drawn-out paragraphs of relentless invective. Such as the time he recently discussed the prospect of sending U.S. troops to Zaire, his voice rising in a steady, stentorian rhythm until it came to a pounding finale:

"I don't care if those people die. I don't care if the Bosnians die. I don't care if the Haitians die. I don't care if any of these people die. . . . If you are so stupid, if you are so ignorant, if you are so power-hungry, if you are so whatever you are, and if you are so weak and so insipid and on and on and on that you can't deal with the problems that go on in your own government, then just go ahead and tear your country up, burn your neighborhood down, destroy your places of business and your infrastructure and your economic system and die as far as I'm concerned."

It's difficult to take such outbursts seriously. Or much else that happens on the John Dayl show.

One of Dayl's most characteristic traits is to lob a bomb and then head for cover; to denigrate blacks, for example, and then in the next sentence claim he doesn't have a racist bone in his body.

It's a tiresome effect.
Another pedestrian habit: his long, lurching conceits that can take a half-hour or longer to develop. One listener complained that he'd never heard anyone take so long to make such simple propositions. Dayl often takes so long to construct an analogy or build a metaphor that the original point of the exercise is lost in the mists of time.

And that has gotten him into trouble.
Examining his treatment of the recent gang rape--the latest gaffe for which Montini skewered him--it is possible to see that Dayl had attempted to set up a sarcastic premise.

Dayl had reviewed the Julio Valerio incident, the shooting of a teenage Latino suspect by Phoenix police officers after Valerio brandished a knife. Dayl had mocked, in a sarcastic voice, the community leaders and family members who had downplayed Valerio's faults in order to criticize police, who shot the youth more than 20 times.

Dayl's point--although he doesn't really state it--seems to be that some people dismiss the seriousness of crime committed by non-white offenders, blaming a general pattern of discrimination against non-whites for the offender's behavior.

It's a complex point which a host would only develop, one might expect, with an attempt at clarity and evidentiary depth.

Not John Dayl.
He stumbles on as he tries to remember a gang-rape incident which happened years ago in New York City's Central Park. By the time he's finished referring to it, it's nearly impossible to tell if he's still building his original conceit or whether he's off on a separate topic.

And that's when he dives into the recent Phoenix rape, saying that he couldn't "get too serious about this . . . she's only 15 years old, she'll outgrow this. . . . When you take a look at these ethnically--or whatever else--challenged young men and as young and youthful and wilding as they were. And the idea that most of them don't have a future anyway. . . . They didn't kill her, they didn't cut her up, as far as I know. . . . So as I say, these are things I really can't get too excited about. Because it's just one or two of the things that boys will be boys, and they will get out there and do that."

Is Dayl still maintaining the rather complex sarcasm that he had, with difficulty, sustained earlier? Or is the man who freely admits to being the "world's biggest chauvinist pig" now expressing his own views about the crime?

Dayl only clouds the issue when, responding to a caller who complains about his attitude, he cites a psychologist who had written that the victim's mind would have "shut down" after the first hour. In other words, Dayl seems to be saying, the crime really wasn't as grave as reported.

Only later, after the caller has hung up, does Dayl mention that she has failed to grasp his sarcasm.

He's been saying the same thing ever since.
"My point was that there would be a great wave of sympathy for the young rapists, and I was just anticipating it. Am I so subtle? Am I such a wordsmith?" he tried to explain to another caller.

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