Chalk one up for intolerance and hatred.
Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing is no longer fit for Canadian ears.
Good thing the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council finally cleared that up.
The song was released as a single from 1985s Brothers In Arms, and won a Grammy, an American Music Award, a MTV video award and was Billboard’s No. 1 single in September 1985.
And, did we mention, it has been played unedited in this country for more than 25 years.
After it was aired on Newfoundland’s CHOZ-FM on February 1, Canada’s broadcast watchdog received a single complaint from a listener complaining the song’s use of the word “faggot” was “extremely offensive.”
The station sent a pleasant letter telling the listener that, while they appreciate their concerns, the song has a good pedigree and is perfectly OK.
What it didn’t say was, if you don’t like the song, change the channel. Or turn the radio off.
Nevertheless, the listener pushed the case, the lawyers worked themselves into a frenzy and … well, the result is censorship for nothing.
It should be noted the song, written by Mark Knopfler and Sting, mocks furniture movers who badmouth gays.
The offending line is, “that little faggot’s got his own jet airplane …” as in, while you’re humping refrigerators across town, you lumberhead, the guy with the odd hair and lifestyle that you senselessly despise is a millionaire.
No matter, apparently.
After considering the evolution of language, context, and pondering the words fag and faggot, and their respective alternate definitions (a cigarette and bundle of sticks, respectively), the watchdog backed the irate listener.
Dire Straits’ use of the word faggot breached the Canadian Association of Broadcaster’s code of ethics several times, according to the watchdog’s legal decision.
OZ refused to ensure the programming had no abusive material under the broadcasters’ ethics and equitable portrayal codes.
It failed to prevent the airing of degrading material.
And it didn’t avoid the use of derogatory and inappropriate language.
While OZ’s lawyers argued legitimate artistic usage -Â according to the code, bigoted individuals may be part of a program provided it is not fundamentally abusive – the council rejected that argument, saying it didn’t apply to songs.
The decision is well-researched, painstakingly argued and absolutely ridiculous.
Hatred and intolerance thrive in darkness. And censorship, no matter how well intentioned, merely creates the shadows they need to grow.
Under the banner of protecting segments of society, it actually promotes ignorance, racism and bigotry.
It also destroys old, decent songs.
The council’s edict is worse than a recent decision by Alabama University to publish sanitized versions of Mark Twain’s classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Fin because those are, arguably, artistic decisions. Other publishers can retain Twain’s original words.
In this case, all Canadian broadcasters are supposed to abide by the watchdog’s decision.
Of course, in the age of digital downloads, iPods and YouTube, the original song is ubiquitous and available to anyone who wants to listen. The only victim will be rock stations in Canada, which in the age of internet streaming and iTunes are dinosaurs anyway.
Besides, the song is 25 years old, for crimminey’s sake. All the young dogs and bitches are listening to Lil Wayne.
Money for Nothing will be censored on Canadian airwaves.
I want my MTV. And the chicks for free.