When I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, the stereotypical bowdlerizers of speech–the people excising “offensive” lyrics and literature– were the uptight blue-nosed sort who feared that “someone, somewhere, was having fun.” (H.L. Mencken).
Now, the “progressive” Left has replaced the Puritanical Right as the great policer of speech. “Progressives” have always policed speech (“you are politically incorrect, comrade!”) so this is really nothing new. Both Left and Right have a long history of searching out words they feel are too sensitive to the ears of minors or thin-skinned individuals. (Apologies in advance for those who suffer from blue noses or thin skin).
Latest example: the Canadian “Standards Council” has banned the Dire Straits song for using the word “faggot” in the classic 1980s tune “Money for Nothing.” I learned this after listening to the song on the Dire Straits’ album “Brothers in Arms.” The song brought back memories of my youth so I searched out the video which was as good as I recalled (classic MTV video of the 1980s). Alas, the video has also been excised so that it is “good for all countries.” Now Canada can join the Religious Right in America and the Muslim bloc (in the United Nations) in bullying or outlawing “hate speech.” Perhaps the result will be some Universalist Code of Speech.
What makes this even more chilling is that they are attacking not only present speech but scouring the past for things that might offend someone if ever read or heard now. Shades of Fahrenheit 451.
The new rule of thumb: don’t say anything that might offend any one one hundred years from now. Good luck guessing what might be on the “hit list” in the year 2111!
Coda: the secondary definitions for “bluenosed: “Canadian.”
Kind of appropriate, eh?