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19 Nov, 2020 11:48

‘More of us offended by your censorship’: BBC slammed online for editing out ‘derogatory’ words in popular Christmas song

‘More of us offended by your censorship’: BBC slammed online for editing out ‘derogatory’ words in popular Christmas song

The BBC was pilloried online after one of its radio stations decided to start playing an edited version of the beloved Christmas song ‘Fairytale of New York’ out of fear that an old-fashioned lyric would offend young listeners.

The 1987 song was first recorded and performed as a duet between Celtic folk punk band the Pogues and British singer Kirsty MacColl.

“We know the song is considered a Christmas classic and we will continue to play it this year, with our radio stations choosing the version of the song most relevant for their audience,” the BBC said on Thursday.

BBC Radio 1, which is mostly geared towards young people, said it will play an edited version of the song because its young listeners are “particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality.”

The station further argued that people unfamiliar with the track “would find some of the words stark and not in line with what they would expect to hear on air.”

In the lyrics, which are sung in the form of a dialogue between an alcoholic and a heroin addict, the homophobic slur “f****t” will be replaced with “haggard,” while another word will be removed entirely. The Scotsman newspaper reported that the word “slut” will be muted.

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BBC said its Radio 2 station, which targets a more mature audience, will continue to play the unedited version and “monitor listeners’ views.” The broadcaster’s Radio 6 Music, which specializes in alternative music, will play both versions at the “discretion” of individual DJs.

The track was briefly censored on BBC Radio 1 in 2007, but the station quickly resumed playing the original after receiving complaints from listeners.

The decision to edit the song now was likewise widely slammed online as “ridiculous” and “pathetic.”“Like our delicate ears will bleed if the BBC doesn’t save us from hurty words,” one person tweeted.

Some called the move “patronising,”arguing that it is not up to the broadcaster to “edit our music and art,” while others blasted the decision as “political correctness gone mad” and said more people were offended by the censorship than the song.

Twitter users insisted that the lyrics are not actually offensive. A person claiming to be a gay man wrote that the song is “great” and among his favourite Christmas songs.

“I’m gay. I cherish that song. Zero chance Kirsty MacColl would’ve gone near an offensive lyric,” another agreed.

Some, however, felt that the situation is nothing out of the ordinary. “Radio stations play edited versions of songs every single day, leaving out swear words. This is no different,” one person wrote.

Various classic Christmas songs have been described in the media as offensive and “problematic” in recent years. In 2018, several US radio stations banned the 1940s hit ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, saying its lyrics were inappropriate in the ‘MeToo’ era.

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