Education must replace the censorship of music

That’s it, I’m seriously done. This political correctness thing has gone too far.

I know it’s not very Canadian of me. I know we’re the Superman of toleration, the Mecca of diversity and respect and all that. But after last week’s Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruling that the Dire Straits classic “Money for Nothing” has to be edited or cannot be played on Canadian radio, I’m giving up.

The song makes reference to “that little faggot” in its second verse. It was written by Mark Knopfler as an ironic statement based upon his own interactions with a furniture mover who called the singers on MTV “little faggots.” It was not intended to be anti-gay and it was not intended to somehow subtly erode our pluralistic democracy. It’s a song that’s meant to be ironic. It’s making fun of gay-bashing, not participating in it.

Yet, in a way that is so very Canadian, after a complaint by a St. John’s, Newfoundland resident, it is now prohibited (in its original form) on Canadian airwaves. I know that supporting something that offends anyone is un-Canadian. And I know that tonight when I go to sleep I’ll likely be haunted by the ghost of cultural-mosaic-past.

As that Trudeauvian spectre appears over me tonight, calling me “inconsiderate” and “bigoted” or even “American,” I will ask him one simple question: are there not dials on the radio? If a song (or TV show or anything else for that matter) offends you, can’t you just make the choice not to watch or listen or read it? I will tell that phantasm that that’s what really offends me: the idea that I can’t, as a citizen of this country, make my voice heard on my own. The idea that I can’t choose not to listen to something because I find it offensive while simultaneously respecting the fact that others might want to listen to it.

Perhaps the ghost of cultural-mosaic-past will take me on a trip to show me the error of my ways. Maybe he’ll bring me to a little family in central Calgary where he’ll show me a little boy yelling the word “faggot” at a schoolmate. Maybe he’ll say “Now you see what this kind of art does? That little boy is who censorship protects.” You hear that all the time. Violent video games, sex on TV, words on the radio, everything– we censor it to protect the children. I’m not completely immune to that argument and there’s no question that there are some things (pornography, graphic violence, Miley Cyrus and the cast of Jersey Shore, to name a few) that I think we should keep from our children. But I would tell that spooky spokesman for government overreach that those are also learning opportunities, that a bad word in a song or a breast on TV are important chances to open dialogue with kids and maybe, just maybe, let them know that they can talk to us about difficult issues.

More than likely at that point the ghost will drench me in ectoplasm and begin censoring all the books on my shelf, but at least I would’ve got my point across.

Sanitizing culture will not make us more tolerant or more accepting. It only makes it more difficult to have the important conversations that make those things possible. The word “faggot” was acceptable in 1985. It isn’t now. Let’s talk about how that happened, let’s talk about how important gay rights are. Heck, let’s talk about the words that are acceptable now and shouldn’t be. You see what art can do? It starts conversations. It enables progress. For crying out loud Canada, let it.

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