News of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council's decision to ban Dire Straits' 1985 classic "Money for Nothing" has become headline news and water-cooler conversation in Canada.
All these years after the song's release, the use of the word "faggot" in its lyrics was deemed "unacceptable" and contravenes the Human Rights Clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code. News stations made it a top story, talk shows booked guests to talk about the issue, and Facebook updates about the decision were rampant -- the vast majority of which were against the ban.
"First Mark Twain and now Mark Knopfler ... tomorrow Marky Mark," wrote local Toronto musician Peter Joseph on the social networking site. "Censorship sucks!" wrote Scotty Brown, who works as a lighting technician and tour manager.
And "Hot Child in the City" hitmaker Nick Gilder posted, "It must be some sort of joke, the banning of 'Money for Nothing'; it can't be! ¨It would suggest we have completely lost our humour, have no cultural depth or ability to recognize a documentary send up!" More than 50 of his "friends" commented, including Mike Lang, who replied, "I think Elton John should rename 'Honky Cat' to 'Caucasian Cat.' It's offensive."
Three Newcap Inc. radio stations are protesting the ban, two in Alberta (K-97 in Edmonton and K-Rock in Coldlake) and one in Nova Scotia (Dartmouth/Halifax' Q104), all of which play classic rock. All will exercise the right to free speech and loop "Money for Nothing" non-stop from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight (Jan. 14).
On K-Rock's web site, the station explains its reasoning behind the marathon: "The Dire Straits song was originally released in 1985 and has since aired tens of thousands of times across Canada, has won a Grammy and has been performed by GLBT supporter, Elton John. If you listen to the context of the term, you will realize it is an artistic portrayal of a bigoted person looking at the riches and excess of the music industry." It also provides an email for the CBSC if listeners wish to voice their concerns.
Patrick Cardinal, operations manager for Edmonton Radio Group and Newcap Radio, told QMI Agency, "In terms of our listeners, they absolutely support our right to play this song and the right to hear it in its entirety. If we get a CBSC complaint about this, we will vigilantly defend our right to play this song."
Jason Roberts of Edmonton's EZ Rock told the newswire that he can understand CBSC's decision. "I love the song, but I'm kind of riding the fence here. I can see why somebody would find it offensive," said Roberts. "It's 2011. Nobody uses that word anymore."
On xtra.ca, Canada's leading gay and lesbian news site, the comments are lively and split.
"It's about time!" wrote Keith from Vancouver. "When Dire Straits released 'Money for Nothing' back in the '80s, it made me sick. As a teenager growing up in a small hick town in Ontario, it really bothered me as a closeted gay kid. I've been waiting 30 years for something to be done about it!"
While no official statement has been made by Egale Canada, an organization "fighting for gays and lesbians everywhere," the executive director Helen Kennedy told the Associated Press that she agrees with the ban.
"It perpetuates the stereotype; it's negative and it's offensive," she said. "If you look to the origin of the word, it's disgusting."
Mark Smith, a longtime member of the music industry and a former Pride Toronto board member, told Billboard.biz: "It is a slippery slope to remove any form of expression from public view. Freedom of expression does not mean I have to like what you have to say. The term 'faggot' may be offensive to some, but to ban a word without having it in context is far more offensive."