Monday, August 8, 2011

Rock and Roll police?

The other day, while driving, I was listening to one of my favorite classic rock and roll stations out of Tampa, Florida. I heard the familiar beginning sounds of Dire Straits “Money For Nothing” so I turned up the volume and got ready to listen and sing along. (It’s true. I can sometimes be seen on the highways of Central Florida singing along with the stereo. It’s not pretty but it’s fun.)

The first verse of the song went well. Next came an instrumental interlude that I didn’t remember being in the song at that particular point. Then came the third verse and I realized what happened. Someone, either the radio station, their parent company, or the publishers of the song, had removed the vocals of the second verse and left only the music. In today’s society the words apparently are offensive to the point of being removed from a song that is 26 years old. The verse reads as follows:

“The little faggot with the earring and the makeup; yeah buddy – that’s his own hair. The little faggot’s got his own jet airplane. The little faggot is a millionaire.”

These words would certainly not be acceptable if the song was written today. The word “faggot” is derogatory. Except there are songs written every day that contain foul, crude and insulting language. Many rap songs contain things that I wouldn’t want my child to listen to but they’re not played with lyrics removed. Some pop songs are the same way and the music of the subculture is often disgusting. But it doesn’t seem to be censored.

This song has been out for 2-1/2 decades. What will be censored next in the name of political correctness. The Pledge of Allegiance is being changed because someone said its words are offensive. How about old movies? “Blazing Saddles” was hilarious but the “N” word was used several times in the beginning. Will it be banned? How about Richard Pryor’s “That N******* Crazy” - one of the funniest comedy albums ever made? What about comedians who are people of color making jokes about white people or gay and lesbian comedians who make jokes about straight people? Will that be censored or is that acceptable because… well, it’s just acceptable? Where does censoring in the name of political correctness stop? And why is it that some things are offensive and others are not? Why is it that it’s OK for some people to insult some groups but not OK for other people to insult other groups? How about Bill Mahar’s show “Politically Incorrect”? Should it not, by its very title, be banned? He certainly offends me sometimes.

I’m not a heartless bigot who believes insulting, mocking or making fun of someone because of their beliefs, their lifestyle, etc., is acceptable and OK. But by the same token I’m not looking forward to the censorship it seems is coming in the near future. Taking the vocals out of a 25 year old song because it might be offensive to someone (but most likely isn’t because it’s just an old song) seems a bit ridiculous to me. I’m curious as to who it was who actually altered this song and I may call the radio station and ask. Do we really want to become a nation where anything and everything that is deemed by someone to be offensive is no longer allowed? Isn’t it freedom of speech, regardless of whether or not it may be offensive, one of the best freedoms we have in this country? And isn’t the right to express yourself, whether or not everyone agrees with you, part of that very freedom?

I’m guessing whoever altered the song, or instructed that it be altered, did so thinking it was the right thing to do. People complain that the government is slowly taking our rights away. Do we want to help them by voluntarily giving them away on our own?

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