Then take a lesson from these faggots* at the CBSC (Canadian Broadcast Standards Council) and censor classic songs from radio airplay because some prick*2 complained about the use of a word which has taken on an additional meaning in modern times.
For those of you who don’t follow global news, I’m referring to the recent decision by the CBSC to censor Dire Straits‘ classic Money for Nothing because one person in the backwoods of Newfoundland (amidst the Rocks and Trees) complained because it used the word “faggot”, which, in England, even today, is still used to refer to a bundle (of twigs, iron, or chopped meat), a junior who performs duties for a senior, and a guy (who may or may not be homosexual) who is just creepy. In the Dire Straits classic, while it is obviously being used in a derogatory manner to describe someone who has reached a station of life that he obviously does not deserve in the eyes of the song’s protagonist, it’s obvious that the contempt from which the comment springs from the song’s protagonist is non-sexual in nature and the definition (of the many that have been applied to the word since its inception almost 800 years ago) is more along the lines of “a guy who is a creep*3“. As such, there is no grounds for complaint and no grounds for censorship.
As far as I’m concerned, this decision is just disgusting. Not only was the song written well before the creation of the CBSC, but it was written before the creation of the CAB (Canadian Association of Broadcasters), which was the precursor organization. In my view, this should make the song ineligible for censorship. And even if it wasn’t, whatever happened to literary license and this thing called free speech?
While we’re at it, should we rewrite Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” which is an American classic that won the Pulitzer Prize in the year of its publication (1960) for its rather realistic portrayal of what life was like in the 1930′s in Alabama small towns? After all, from a modern perspective, the language in that book is much more offensive than Dire Straits’ use of the word “faggot” in Money for Nothing. Consider this line from Chapter 9: “My folks said your daddy was a disgrace an’ that nigger oughta hang from the water-tank!” Said with intent, it might even cross the line into hate speech, but that wasn’t the intent of the author who wanted people to understand what life was like in the 1930s.
In the same light, when Mark Knopfler use the word faggot, he was attempting to describe how hard-working labourers saw music stars at the beginning of the MTV generation. You played a few riffs, sang a few songs, and made a million dollars. They broke their backs and barely paid the bills.
Let’s not forget that a song is a story, and stories are not hate speech. They are artistic forms of communication meant to broaden our understanding of the world around us and the people in it. And if you don’t understand that, then a faggot*4 has more smarts than you do.
* where this blog is using the classic, now obsolete, meaning of the word faggot which was once used to refer to a “man hired into military service simply to fill out the ranks at muster” because I can’t believe they were hired on suitability for the job at this point
*2 where this blog is using the slang definition of the word which means “an obnoxious or contemptible person” because only a truly contemptuous person would complain about the use of a word completely out of context and insist that free speech be censored when no slur was made or intended
*3 note that the slang definition of creep is “an obnoxious person” and not “pervert” as some people seem to think it is these days
*4 in this case, the blog is using the other classic meaning of the word faggot, which is “a bundle of twigs”
*5 and I mean that in the most common utilization of the phrase in modern times