Money for (Bleep!) No Way, Eh?

January 16, 2011

Canada, for many years the nation at the vanguard of the grating Political Correctness movement, has taken another strike at cultural insensitivity, this time targeting English rock band Dire Straits, who, in their song “Money For Nothing”, made a passing three-time use of an f-word. Not the f-word, mind you, but a rather less odious f-word referring to homosexuals. The word was not even used pejoratively in the song, but rather sarcastically, offering up a blue collar worker’s disgusted take on the easy and glamorous life led by rock musicians.

Context notwithstanding, a disgruntled Newfoundland listener got in touch with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and lodged a complaint; after due consideration, the CBSC found the song offensive, and issued a fatwa (excuse me, a ruling) requiring that the provocative word be stricken from the song, else it cannot be aired. The council’s statement said, in part: “The societal values at issue a quarter of a century later have shifted and the broadcast of the song in 2010 must reflect those values, rather than those of 1985.”

So now, in Canada, if you should hear the defining tune of the 1980s over the airwaves, it will go something like this:

“See the little (bleep) with the earring and the makeup; Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair;

That little (bleep) has his own jet airplane, that little (bleep) is a millionaire…”

I wonder how many Canadian listeners will take umbrage at the annoying bleep, compared to the numbers who found the original word distasteful (early indications show that callers have reacted overwhelmingly with disbelief and dismay at the editing: “Are you bleeping kidding me?!!”). I, for one, will simply change the station when I hear the familiar opening riff (which I quite like, by the way), and savor instead a quiet moment of resignation with regard to Canada’s ill-chosen area of world leadership.

Generally, it is the Canadian way to accept this sort of thing gracefully and move on; most stations across Canada have chosen to make the edits or drop the song from their playlists altogether. However, I am happy to say that a few rational souls in the wilderness have fired a salvo in the defense of free (i.e., impolite) speech. Edmonton, Alberta’s classic rock radio station K97 issued a rousing “No way, eh?”, announcing that it would play “Money For Nothing” repeatedly, unedited, for an hour during the popular Friday evening primetime listening slot, consequences be damned.

The director of the Fundamental Freedoms program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Cara Zwibel, had this to say: “I hope we won’t head down a slippery slope, because this opens so much up to question since there are many songs people could consider offensive. We think there needs to be a wide space for artistic expression.”

Cara honey, if you haven’t noticed, we here in Sensitivistan are already careening out of control on that selfsame slippery slope, well in the lead, with only Holland and a few Scandinavian countries barely visible in the rear view mirror.

(Here’s an idea: perhaps Dire Straits can reunite briefly to re-record that one word, changing it to “maggot”, which would work contextually, more or less, albeit with a different sort of bite. On behalf of the handful of normal people remaining in my homeland, I offer abject apologies to Mark Knopfler and Sting, both of whom must be deeply saddened by this recent turn of events. Or else they’re laughing their butts off…)