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?

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