Activist: Censorship Leaves Rights in Dire Straits

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Source: TheChronicleHerald.ca – By Michael Lightstone

Decision to ban song over slur draws protests

Q104 program director J.C. Douglas planned to play the Dire Straits song Money For Nothing repeatedly for an hour at his Halifax radio station on Friday night to protest the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’s ruling that the song violates industry ethics. (Tim Krochak / Staff)

Q104 program director J.C. Douglas planned to play the Dire Straits song Money For Nothing repeatedly for an hour at his Halifax radio station on Friday night to protest the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’s ruling that the song violates industry ethics. (Tim Krochak / Staff)

// The censoring of an anti-homosexual slur in an old rock song recently judged unsuitable for Canadian radio is the wrong way to deal with hurtful language, a Halifax gay-rights activist said Friday.

Kevin Kindred said he personally believes “censorship is almost always a bad idea.”

He said a better notion would be to “talk about why we’re offended, and, if we really feel it crosses the line, complain to the station.”

Kindred said the 26-year-old song, Money for Nothing by the British group Dire Straits, should not be sanitized for radio listeners in this country.

“Getting Big Brother involved in telling people what they can and can’t say is going too far,” he told The Chronicle Herald.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, a private sector watchdog, decided Wednesday that the hit song violated industry ethics because of the tune’s multiple use of the word “faggot.”

The council’s ruling followed a complaint from a radio listener in Newfoundland.

Critics of the decision have said the song is a form of artistic expression that has a fictional character — a redneck lout who’s deriding pop stars — using the offending term. But a spokesman for the standards council, Ronald Cohen, said even Dire Straits removed the word from performances and anthological releases of the band’s material. On News 95.7, he said the fact just one person complained is irrelevant.

“The CBSC has spoken (and) there’s no thought to revisit this,” Cohen told the radio station. “We’ve been dealing with complaints and problems on radio and television, on behalf of the public, for 20 years and frequently it’s only” a single complaint that prompts action.

Kindred, a lawyer, acknowledged the word in question is “offensive and problematic, and I understand why people are offended by it.”

Yet many people in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community are leery of censorship, he said, and “really hesitant of banning words and banning ideas.”

Metro rock station Q104 planned to broadcast an unedited version of Money for Nothing on Friday, with some commentary, during a repeat-play marathon between 9 and 10 p.m. Program director J.C. Douglas said the station intends to play only the unedited song in the future. He said the issue for station management is freedom of expression.

“We’ve had a number of members of the gay community give us their support and tell us that they’re in favour of what we’re doing,” said Douglas.

This is the second time in the past few weeks the radio station has been involved in matters concerning the gay and lesbian community. Last month, Q104 changed an on-air promotional advertisement after a complainant alleged it was homophobic.

The station’s holiday spot said: “We’ll deck the halls, but we draw the line at gay apparel.”

Douglas said at the time that Q104 didn’t mean to offend anyone; the station agreed to change its in-house ad.

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2 comments on “Activist: Censorship Leaves Rights in Dire Straits
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