Thursday, 13 January 2011

Money For Nothing, An Issue About Something

Little bit of an uproar in the Twitterverse over the Oct 2010 by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council decision to ban the un-edited playing of Money for Nothing, by Dire Straits. Andrew Coyne is calling for the CBSC and the CRTC to "get knotted." *I had to look that one up

The morning hosts on Y108 also took exception to this ruling.

The one aspect of the outrage is everyone is arguing over the context of the use of the word "faggot". They defense rests on the concept that this statement is from the perspective of a blue-collar worker objecting to the lifestyle of rock stars. It isn't meant to be a slur against homosexuals. This defense is wrong for two reasons. The first is that the slur exists because it assumes that homosexuals are inferior, there is something wrong with them. Calling someone a "faggot" impinges their character by assuming they are unclean and inferior, just like a homosexual. It is an offensive word, and there is not an unoffensive usage for it. The second reason this is the wrong approach is that the fact it uses an offensive word is beside the point.

Sanitizing artistic expression so that it is not offensive to people is an utterly futile act. To completely clean-up songs, poetry, books, movies, plays, television shows etc. would make for a very vanilla experience, and at the extreme, no one could express anything as a thought as almost any concept can offend somebody.

Our popular culture is littered with songs that are offensive. For instance, I cannot listen to The Offspring's version of Feelings (from the album Americana). I had to rip and burn my own copy with that song missing.

When a regulatory bans a word or a song or a concept, it immediately highlights what hasn't been banned. If that is offensive, why isn't this? And that is a valid point. Why are we picking and choosing?

The apparent defense from the CBSC is that they are complaint based, they do not seek out songs, they wait until it is brought to them. This approach is invalid for multiple reasons. First, based on how this decision came about, a single individual can decide what is offensive for everyone else in the country.  one person decides for millions for others.  Second it assumes that people will react in a rational manner.  What offends me one day may not offend me the next, depending on my mood, my own knowledge or experiences.  This ban is in effect permanent, over a single momentary objection. It also assumes that the reasonably offended will take the time to object.

What we have is a totally arbitrary approach to censorship based on random objections. Seriously? Come on, we're better than this. It is not logical, it is not sane and it is time for this approach to be abandoned.  Thought police go home, or rather, "Get Knotted!"

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