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01/31/2011

'Dire' situation: There's conversation to be had here -- just not the one Tony Perkins is having

by Jeremy Hooper

Okay,

Screen Shot 2011-01-31 At 9.02.20 Am(A) In "Money For Nothing," the word in question is "f*ggot." And yes, that word absolutely does mean the same thing today that it meant in 1985.

(B) That aforementioned word is not even in the same ballpark as the word "gay." Whether in "The Christmas Song" as a synonym for happy or as a descriptor for homosexual human, the word "gay" has a positive connotation. So there is no analogy to be made between potential bans pertaining to the two very different words.

(C) Randy Newman's "Short People" was pure satire, meant to combat prejudice. Clearly.

(D) The "f word" in this particular song was meant to come from the tune's narrator, not from the band itself. Whether or not that makes it okay is up for debate, with Canada's CSBC this time coming down on the side of word-removal. Others -- straight, gay, or whatever-- disagree with that choice. There is certainly a conversation to be had in regards to the censorship. A conversation that could even traverse usual "culture war" lines.

Though regardless of where one stands: (E) It's probably not so smart for a "pro-family" contrarian to respond to this word and this particular act of censorship with the line "If homosexuals can start gutting our vocabulary, we won't be able to fight back." Because if this is the kind of vocabulary gay opponents wish to use when they "fight back," then that mindset might've just validated why a blanket removal of this particular term is always an understandable safeguard.


This from Tony Perkins:

"In 1985, Dire Straits was number one on the charts. Now they're first on a hit list of another kind. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. In Canada, you can have freedom or tolerance--but thanks to the human rights council, you can't have both. Last week, the country banned a song that's been playing on the radio for 25 years. Why? Because in a nation of 33 million, one person complained. She says the lyrics offend homosexuals. Obviously, the words didn't mean the same thing in 1985 that they mean today. Neither does "gay," but we don't ban "The Christmas Song." The problem is, once you start censoring things, where does it stop? Will Canada outlaw Randy Newman's "Short People" because it offends the vertically challenged? Of course not--because this isn't about sensitivity. It's about acceptability. If homosexuals can start gutting our vocabulary, we won't be able to fight back. And as far as they're concerned, why bleep out one word when you can bleep out everyone who disagrees?"
In Canada, Even the Straits Are Too Gay [Family Research Council]

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