BBC maggots back down

That “A Fairy Tale of New York” is the best ever Xmas single is not something about which reasonable people can disagree. So the BBC’s overturning of the decision to bleep out the words “faggot” and “slut” is to be applauded.

Andy Parfitt, the Controller of Radio 1:

After careful consideration, I have decided that the decision to edit A Fairytale of New York was wrong. Radio 1 does not play homophobic lyrics or condone bullying of any kind. It is not always easy to get this right, mindful of our responsibility to our young audience.

While we would never condone prejudice of any kind, we know our audiences are smart enough to distinguish between maliciousness and creative freedom.

In the context of this song, I do not feel that there is any negative intent behind the use of the words, hence the reversal of the decision. The unedited version will be played from now on.

9 Responses to “BBC maggots back down”

  1. Andrew Nixon says:

    Censorship on BBC radio is ridiculously inconsistent. Even during the Radio 1 ban, Radio 2 were broadcasting the song uncensored.

    They also let the word bullshit escape the beep button in Money by Pink Floyd and Fast Love by George Michael, but regularly cut out the “making love in the green grass” line from Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. Ridiculous.

  2. Jono says:

    And as the editor of Newsbeat (the Radio 1 news programme) points out on the BBC News Editors’ blog, the word was used more often on the reports of the ban than it ever would have been in the few plays that it would have had between now and Christmas.

  3. marc says:

    Definitive Xmas single of all time. Sounds like me and my soon-to-be-divorced wife are right now. Merry Fucking Christmas, ya tart!

  4. Martin says:

    Unfortunately for the BBC, the damage has already been done. Since the Gilligan affair the self censorship has been embarrassing, and I doubt they will ever recover as serious investigative journalists.

  5. Tom Rees says:

    I have some sympathy with the decision though. If the words were “You cheap lousy nigger”, then there would be no question of bleeping them out – or more likely banning the whole song from airplay.

    i.e. the point is not whether or not to ban – we all accept that some things are banned. The point is, that the song is using a term for ‘homosexual’ to be derogatory about a heterosexual.

    So it’s building on homophobia as a form of abuse. Why is homophobia on Radio 1 OK, but racism not? I see plenty of people reflexively denouncing the ban with ever really getting to grips with that one.

  6. Chris Stevens says:

    Well, I’m a resaonable person and I have to say it’s one of the worst ‘Christmas’ songs of all time, only outdone by Slade’s offering, which makes trawling round the shops at this time of year such a ‘pleasure’. Sit me down with a glass of Bristol cream and present me with Cliff Richards’ seven inches, though, and I’ll keep grinning until Twelfth Night.

    By the way, was I the only one who heard Penny Tranter utter the words: “By golly, it’ll be cold tonight” earlier in the week? Amazed none of the PC brigade picked up on that one. Good gods, hope I haven’t started anything…

  7. Andy Armitage says:

    Peter Tatchell was quoted on the Pink News website as saying, “I challenge those who defend the use of the word faggot in these lyrics to state publicly that they would also defend the right of white singers to use the word n*gger as a term of abuse in a song . . .”

    Actually, Peter, I would. It depends on the context. Is the singer him/herself using the word as meant by him/herself, or is it within the context of the narrative of the song, as “faggot” is in the Pogues’ song? If you’re going to edit “nigger” or “faggot” or “Paki” out of a song (and why your coy use of asterisks?), are you going to edit it out of a film or other drama, or out of a novel or short story?

    It doesn’t say “go and kill a faggot”. Context has to be the arbiter.

    Once you start on this road, anyone can claim any word is an insult. How much currency does the word need to earn before it gets this dubious accolade? A week? Two mentions in a tabloid newspaper? A bit of street talk? One mention on a talk show?

    Context. Perspective. Grow up.

    As for the nutter at Radio 1 who even considered that there should be a hint of a possibility of bleeping out the word – clearly not appreciateing that its being bleeped out would cause more offence than leaving it in – well, words would fail me if I didn’t feel I needed them to say what a prat he nearly was. I mean, just what “careful consideration” did these overpaid BBC panjandrums need to give? Probably needed to fill a morning and so decided to call a meeting.

    The world gets twattier every day.

  8. martyn says:

    FFS, if you want to hear homophobic lyrics just listen to 1Xtra, they also say nigger a lot too.

  9. Tom Rees says:

    A better comparison would be ‘spastic” – it would be unthinkable to use the word ‘spastic’ as an insult on Radio 1 (though no doubt OK in the right context, as a casual, throw-away insult on an entertainment network it would not be acceptable).