Free speech is fine, unless it might offend

Now a music-industry censor is telling radio stations to retroactively edit songs to avoid offending anyone, eh?

Canadian radio station have been warned to censor the 1985 Dire Straits hit “Money for Nothing,” after a complaint that the lyrics of the Grammy Award-winning song were derogatory to gay men.

A St. John’s, Newfoundland, station should have edited the song to remove the word “faggot” because it violates Canada’s human rights standards, according to ruling this week by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

A unnamed listener to OZ FM in the Atlantic Coast province complained to the industry watchdog last year after hearing the song, which features Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler and fellow rock star Sting.

The council said it realized Dire Straits uses the word sarcastically, and its use might have been acceptable in 1985 when the best-selling “Brothers in Arms” album was released, but said it was now inappropriate.

“The decision doesn’t really relate to the Dire Straits song at the end of the day, the decision relates to the word in question,” Ron Cohen, the council’s chairman, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Actually, Mr. Cohen, it relates to the unalienable right to free speech and treating people like adults who can handle hearing a mildly naughty word without having their self-esteem crushed, particularly when meant satirically. (And even if it were meant as a genuine insult.) Tell me, where does it stop? Re-editing TV reruns? Forbidding the performance of Mozart’s Idomeneo? Censoring poetry readings on the air? If it may give offense, shall we then ban The View? (Okay, you might have an argument with that one.)

Really, this kind of paternalism has no place in a liberal democracy, whether done by the government or a non-governmental agency, and Canadians should give the nannies at the CBSC an uncensored piece of their mind.

RELATED: Other posts on Canada and free speech.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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One Response to Free speech is fine, unless it might offend

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Phineas Fahrquar. Phineas Fahrquar said: Public Secrets #tcot Free speech is fine, unless it might offend: Now a music-industry censor is telling radio s… http://bit.ly/fSk7dX [...]

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