So the big news from the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is their ban of the Dire Straits’ classic rock song “Money for Nothing” from play on Canadian radio. Why? Because Mark Knopfler put the language of many uneducated, low-income males into the mouths of uneducated, low-income males.
I won’t get into the debate of whether the word “faggot” should be considered offensive enough to warrant such a ban, but I will say this: the context in which it was used here was entirely appropriate. Men such as those depicted in the song aren’t going to be using the word “homosexuals”.
Side note: I sang this song in my high school band and was too sensitive to others to use the pejorative. I substituted it for the word “fella”.
Prose should follow the same rules. In my own novel, Raincloud, uneducated, low-income males use many offensive slurs against First Nations people. Conversely, the First Nations characters use references and display attitudes that could be considered offensive to whites. These characters are not politically correct and reflect attitudes that are prevalent in the real world.
Is using pejoratives such as “faggot” in literature glorifying it? I don’t think so. If anything, using them exposes archaic attitudes that need to be addressed. And I’d be quite surprised if Mark Knopfler is homophobic or intended to promote homophobia.
Not that I know him or anything…
Richard Todd is a Canadian author and blogger. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com
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