Thursday, May 5, 2011

They've Burnt The Soapbox

They've Burnt The Soapbox

(Again, it's been a while, hasn't it.)

Well, in all honesty, there really hasn't been much to report in the way of refused or deleted comments at as of late, owing primarily to the fact that the CBC have foregone the moderation process by depriving us of the privilege to comment in the first place. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it appears that the CBC has indeed gone and burnt the soapbox on which many of us have stood. And no, I'm not talking about the usual types of stories they tend to close to commenting (‘Young Woman Sexually Harassed by History Professor’, ‘Tory MP Raped Native Teen at Gunpoint 40 Years Ago’, ‘Second-Grader Suing Boyfriend for Child Support and Uninvited Groping’, etc.), but rather stories so mundane and innocuous that they don't automatically entail any legal gag orders (‘publication bans’).

For example, there was the story about former UN Special Envoy and overbearing goody-two-shoes Stephen Lewis criticising Madonna's failure to deliver on a promise of a new school for a small village in Malawi. “This story is closed to commenting,” stated the ubiquitous coda. What were they afraid of? Too many spurned and irate Madonna fans swamping their lazy moderators with tides of angry comments to wade through? Humiliating castigation of Saint Stephen Lewis?

Then there was the story about talented-yet-annoying singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright siring a daughter for Lorca Cohen, daughter of Leonard Cohen. Again, no commenting was permitted. What was the problem this time around? A fear that the story of a gay man (“Daddy #1”, as he refers to himself in the story) with a partner (‘Daddy #2’, presumably) fathering children for the daughter of a Jewish, bohemian singer-poet with a legendary libido would rock the right-wing, fundamentalist Christian boat out west, resulting in a barrage of vicious comments referencing the (alleged) left-wing bias of the CBC? On the other hand, might Wainwright and Cohen have demanded that commenting be closed in exchange for their willingness to share the story with a major news outlet? Probably a lot of both, I'd wager.

Even more interesting was their coverage of recent stories involving literary awards and competitions—hardly stories at all, some might argue, given the tired names and talent-optional contest criteria involved. Over the past few weeks, has posted at least three such stories: a new Montreal poetry contest boasting a grand prize of $50,000 (and guidelines and other particulars that are too ludicrous to take seriously!); famous former underaged whore Evelyn Lau and a few unknowns being shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Prize for women writers (Yawwwwnnn); and pissant Michael Crummey's latest tacky novel making the list of finalists in the IMPAC Dublin Award (which doesn't say much for what Canada has to offer the world these days). In neither instance was commenting allowed. Did they fear the snide comments of other writers (including moi), namely those who refuse to play the patriotic cultural game and/or kiss the government's arse, and the fallout such comments might incur? O happy me, if we're actually that dangerous to the cultural status quo!

Of course, most stories—i.e., the most blasé ones—are still open to commenting; and, as one might expect, my comments still get removed on those rare occasions when I bother to opine. Just recently, for example, on the day of the federal election, I submitted the following exaggerated observation in response to the CBC's obligatory (and pointless) marking of the polls' final open hours and closing:

“From my study window, I can tell it's obviously election day: the local wife-beaters and daughter-rapists who rarely leave the house are out in full swing today, driving to the nearby community centre to cast their ballots—the big letter ‘C’ in their car windows. It's enough to put one off food, let alone the voting process.”

My comment was initially posted, but removed some short time afterthe moderators having presumably acquiesced to the complaints of some Harper lover.

The government may change, but the CBC doesn't.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The CBC: ‘Faggot’'s Okay. ‘Nigger’—No Way!

The CBC: ‘Faggot’'s Okay. ‘Nigger’—No Way!

A number of converging topics to discuss this time around, people.

On January 5th, the CBC reported on their website that in a new combined volume of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, NewSouth Books of Alabama would be replacing all instances of the word ‘nigger’ with ‘slave’. This in itself is a ‘fine’ example of censorship bordering on historical revisionism, and it will certainly subtract substantially from the portrayal of Huck's inner struggle and inchoate transformation—which is the whole point of the novel, isn't it? But interesting as well, and more relevant to this blog of mine, was the CBC's decision to shun the word ‘nigger’ throughout the article in favour of the euphemistic ‘N-word’.

Things got even more interesting a few days later, on the 13th of January, when related how the intrusive, despotic Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) was demanding that radio stations across Canada cease to air Dire Straits' 1985 hit single ‘Money For Nothing’, after one lone whinerlistening to OZ FM somewhere in Newfoundlandcomplained about the use of the word ‘faggot’.

I responded to a followup story (a reactionary Money For Nothing Marathon on Halifax radio) with the following comment:

“Q104 FM is on the right track, for typical Canadian apathy is not the answer to such a bad call on the part of the CBSC in response to one lone whiner. So much restrictivism in this country results from the majority of Canadians lacking the initiative to undermine and oppose our legislative oppressors: those lobbyists, politicians and organisations from the Far Left and Far Right, who represent only five percent of the population ideologically, yet like to dictate what the whole of Canada cannot do, say, feel or perceive.

“People should be considering additional ways of opposing this inane ruling. For example, might it be possible for Dire Straits or their record company to launch a lawsuit against the CBSC? Should Canadians start complaining to the CBSC left, right and centre, whining about every lyric from every number from every angle they can possibly think of, thus overwhelming this self-important organisation, calling their credibility into question?

“I'm also wondering why the lone whiner from St. John's who started all this hasn't gone public with his/her convictions. If s/he is so righteous, what does s/he have to worry about? Whatever the case, the crank who made the complaint has done nothing to help the gay/lesbian community, merely incurring more contempt for said community on the part of the general population. Come to think of it, I would not be surprised if the lone whiner wasn't even gay—just another self-righteous, white heterosexual ‘liberal’ who likes to be heard.

[Actually, it turns out, the lone whiner was a lesbian from Corner Brook.]

Two days later, I posted this additional comment:

“Something else I find so fascinating about all of this is how the left-wing nitpickers in this country are coming to resemble the right-wing nitpickers from decades ago. When I was in high school, in the early '80s, boys and girls who attended Salvation Army youth camps during the summer were told how Josie Cotton's hit single,‘Johnny, Are You Queer?’, was promoting homosexuality. Nearly 30 years later, the same ends are being met, but by different means. Is it any wonder then that socialists like Jack Layton and his New Democrats would prop up antiquated Christians like Stephen Harper and his Tory government by supporting their often restrictivist bills? They have more in common than what separates them! Come to think of it, given his mixture of Marxism and Christian theology, the late Tommy Douglas may very well have been the forefather of this two-sides-of-the-same-coin phenomenon in Canada.

Remarkably—and to their credit, for once—the CBC is yet to delete my posts!

Albeit a relatively subtle one, I think the most interesting aspect of these stories of censorship and their handling by the CBC would have to be the hallowed public broadcaster's reluctance to use the word ‘nigger’ when discussing the edited Twain novels—especially in light of the fact that they had no qualms about using the word ‘faggot’ when addressing the word's use in ‘Money For Nothing’! As James Woods says at the end of Contact, That is interesting, isn't it?