WARNING! This blog entry contains offensive language and political interference. Reader discretion is advised.
"He who controls the past, controls the future" ~George Orwell
In a recent decision handed down on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council deemed the Dire Straits song “Money For Nothing” as discriminatory to gays because the song contains the word "faggot" in its lyrics.
Looking at the song’s lyrics in context however, I would think musicians should be equally if not more offended. The verse in question laments the “little faggot with the earring and the make-up” making more money than an unskilled appliance delivery man. The musician being scorned also has long hair. When the song was a current hit, I too had long hair and an earring, yet I was not offended at the lyrics of the song but found them funny. I have been called “faggot” many times because of the profession I have chosen as my career.
I have many homosexual friends, some of whom are bisexual and none of them that I know of are offended by those lyrics. The song also contains the words "chicks for free." Why then are women's groups not speaking out against this subjugating sentence?
And what about the word “gay?” Once upon a time it meant “Having or showing a merry, lively mood...” Hence, when Maria from West Side Story sings “I feel pretty, Oh so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and gay...” She is expressing happiness; but today that word garners snickers and derision. Would a heterosexual actress feel reluctant to take the role of Maria because of that word?
Hold that thought.
Also under attack is the Mark Twain classic “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” for its inclusion of the word “nigger.” While that word is not a part of my vocabulary, I have used it here to emphasize my points.
Again, like homosexuals, I also have friends who are of African ancestry.
I must however take exception to the removal of these words from their original texts. At the time Mark Twain was writing, “nigger” was a common, albeit cruel, word in the American lexicon. Today, it is featured profusely in rap music and the comedy acts of some of the African-American artists. In fact, I’ve watched some comedy routines such as the young Richard Pryor that offended me greatly because of the inclusion of that word, BUT... he wasn’t censored.
And that is the point I am getting to. When we start rewriting history to make it less offensive, we remove the horror that contains the lesson. It would be far better to keep the word as an example of inappropriate speech.
“Hear this word? Hear how awful it is? Understand how far we’ve come in our society by no longer using it in everyday speech?”
When we change the way books and songs were written, we cushion society from reality; a reality that if no longer prevalent, WAS at one time. This reality contains powerful messages and lessons that will be lost if history is rewritten.
I believe it is justifiable to make a word unacceptable on our streets and in current works of art. I would not use the words, “nigger” or “queer” in a book, story or song, but I refuse to accept the removal from works that are already written. That is getting dangerously close to George Orwell’s “1984” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”
Removing or changing words is to deny history. We have all seen what happens when an anti-Semite denies the Holocaust of WWII.
And rightly so.
If we allow censorship in these two incidents, it is only a matter of time until we censor Shakespeare, or worse, the Holy Texts of all religions from Hinduism and Buddhism to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Removing or changing words is to infringe greatly on our freedoms. Being told what to say, what not to say, and when we can or cannot say it, is only one short step from communism. Is that where we as Canadians really want to go?