It was announced last week that Canadian radio will now be censoring the 80’s classic Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. Going forward, stations in Canada will only allowed to play a version that has the word ‘faggot’ removed. This was due to a complaint from an individual in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
A few months back, I posted a similar sentiment about the photos of Col Russell Williams (since relieved of that honorific) being plastered all over the news media. But this is another story altogether – and in fact, if you contrast the two, it’s an interesting comparison.
The argument about publishing Williams’ images had to do with the public’s right to know about the truly deranged nature of the crimes, and the criminal who committed them, in order to execute proper legal process. But nobody in the public got to weigh in on whether they should be able to stumble upon that information.
Talk about the squeaky wheel in action!
Here, we’re looking at an admittedly objectionable word, taken in isolation, and saying the public should not have to hear it…because one person complained!
Again, I do not in any way support the use of the word ‘faggot’ if used to promote hatred of homosexuals (except, I suppose, when gay men use it to self-identify. In this case, my understanding is that these folks intend to take the hatred out of word by claiming it and using it in their own way.)
But if you’ve got an ounce of intelligence, you can see that the song was intended to point the shameful finger at the very people who use such language and have narrow, hateful attitudes. It’s satire, folks! Aren’t Canadians known for being more tolerant than some other nations of subtle, artistic interpretations of our world? ‘Guess not.
Then there’s the argument: ‘Well, some people won’t get that from the song. They’ll just hear the word and get offended.’ Or better yet, ‘Do you want your kids to hear that and start walking around calling people that.’
My response? Sure, there’s the risk that maybe they would. But as a responsible parent, I would find out where they’d learned the word. And had it actually been from this song – a marginal possibility some 25 years after its release – it would be a good opportunity to educate them about the hateful worldviews some people have about others who are more, er, colourful (and more likely, successful) than they are. Remember that this song was released around the same time as it’s main target, MTV: remember glam pop, shoulderpads and big hair (and that was just the guys)?
In my book, the lesson about how smallminded people can be is of more value than anything they’ll ever hear from Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Brothers.