Thursday, January 13, 2011

Political Correctness and Dire Straits - the first real test of my commitment to ranting

There are a couple of links to a story that will follow in this post that I saw on a number of news organization’s websites today. I've only included two links, but there are dozens if you want to Google-search it. I frothed at the mouth when I first saw this story, and immediately thought to myself that I should post it on my blog.

Then, my self-doubts began to emerge. It was not a doubt about my feelings on this issue. It was whether or not voicing my feelings, on this and other sensitive issues in the future, would alienate me from people I care about. AND, I also felt doubt about whether I could state my case clearly. I know how I feel. Can my words do it justice?

My first post on this blog said that the content is here primarily for me, for reminiscing in years to come. And, for all I know, no one either reads this blog or cares what the hell I think. And maybe my point of view is wrong. Maybe I think it’s right now, but in 20 years time I might feel differently. It might be interesting to me in years to come to see how my stands on various issues evolved over time.

But today, here and now, I am firmly of the belief that the concept of political correctness has gone way-way-way-way-WAY too far. And the way this world is shaping up, I don't see that opinion changing any time soon.

Twenty-five years ago, Dire Straits had a Grammy award-winning hit called, “Money for Nothing”. Today, in its infinite wisdom, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has deemed the song “offensive”, and has banned it from being aired in Canada. The offending word is “faggot”.

Broadcasting council rules Dire Straits tune too offensive for radio - Vancouver Sun

“The council said: "The societal values at issue a quarter-century later have shifted and the broadcast of the song in 2010 must reflect those values, rather than those of 1985." “

Where to start with all the things that are wrong with this decision?? In no particular order of importance:

I remember 1985 very well. I spent the better part of it in England. I know that the word “faggot” was not a word used in polite company then, same as now. So their argument, that this decision is one reflecting changing times, is utter crap.

Have these people ever listened to a rap song? The use of the 'n' word (the American one, not the Newfoundland-based one), the use of foul language, the advocacy of cop-killing and wife-beating? All those elements must be acceptable in Canada, but not the word “faggot”? Give me a … flipping… break. Not the ‘f’ word I really wanted to use, folks, but I’m trying to be politically correct.

What about short people? Remember the song with the lyrics “Short people have nobody to love”? Isn’t that offensive to short people? They are able to change their stature no more than gays can change their sexual orientation, but short people are fair game, apparently.

And fat people too, “Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round.” Thanks, Queen. Good to know. I hate the song and turn it off when it comes on the radio. I never for a moment thought about approaching the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council to cry like a 5-year-old about it.

“The Bitch is Back”? Wow, Elton John will be next, I suppose.

Alanis Morrissette dropping the "F" bomb in "You Oughta Know"? Oh, my virgin ears. Get that off the radio now!!!

What about the Boomtown Rats - “I Don’t Like Mondays, I’m gonna shoo-o-o-o-o-o-ot the whole day down.” Written about a kid who shot up a school because he reportedly said “I don’t like Mondays”. Wow, better get that off the air, fast.

Turn off the goddamned song if you don’t like it or find it offensive. Don’t impose your censorship on those of us who are able to make choices about what we listen to and what we don’t. Government institutions should be about building roads, schools and hospitals, and maintaining the law of the land. Since WHEN did I elect anyone to create a group to tell me what I cannot read, or sing?

Aren’t we living in a society that supposedly supports the right to freedom of speech? Is this another step closer to living under a Big Brother regime as reflected in the book “1984” by George Orwell? That book ought to be required reading of every citizen of the free world before leaving school. If you’ve never read it, I strongly suggest you do. Prepare to be frightened by how quickly our society is galloping towards that end.  

Evelyn Beatrice Hall summarized French writer Voltaire’s thoughts on the matter with the quote, “I dislike what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it.” This sums up the very basis of freedom of speech. It’s not the non-controversial speech that needs to be protected, it’s this very sort of thing, and we, as a civilized society, are smart enough and sophisticated enough TO MAKE OUR OWN CHOICES, AND NOT HAVE THEM IMPOSED ON US. YES, I'M SHOUTING!! I am able to make my own decisions and choices, thankyouverymuch.

This Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is governed by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. That’s a lot of fancy-sounding words, for a lot of civil servants, who are spending their days deciding what you, as Canadians, can and cannot watch on TV or listen to on the radio. No wonder satellite radio is taking off like a rocket!

I’ll be quite honest with you. I’ve sung along with that song countless times over the years, and until today, I didn’t even realize that the word "faggot" was in it. I must have thought it was another word, and I’ve been singing it wrong all these years. But now I know, and let me tell you this…

…until the CBSC and the CRTC go on record saying that the Stompin’ Tom Connors song, “The Man in the Moon is a N_____” is offensive to Newfoundlanders and is to be banned, I will continue to sing “Money for Nothing” louder than ever, and use the right words, because that “Man in the Moon” song is offensive enough to make me CRAZY. But the CBSC will never hear that from me. I’ll just do what any other free thinking, free-speech advocate would do – turn the radio off when that song comes on. Simple. As. That.

And for those lobbyists and their backers who strong-armed this decision? Grow the hell up, for the love of God. (Oh, am I allowed to say "God"? Have I offended someone? Another rant for another day...) And furthermore, stop sounding like a 6 year old yelling, "You hurt my feelings. My governmental big brother is going to beat you up." Fight your own fight, with your right to turn off the radio.

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