On any given week all reasonable and rational people can be aggravated at the politically-correct nonsense that surrounds us. But last week gave us something new and something quite dangerous.
The CBC, Rogers Media and Bell Media decided to ban the playing of “Baby it’s cold outside.” The 1949 Academy Award winning song covered by artists from Dean Martin to Ray Charles to Lady Gaga, was found objectionable by some in light of the #MeToo movement because it was alleged that lines such as “I ought to say “No, no, no sir” (Mind if I move in closer?); At least I’m gonna say that I tried (What’s the sense in hurtin’ my pride?); “What’s in this drink?” and “Baby, don’t hold out.” — encouraged rape. In an age of Rap and Hip-Hop with seemingly every second line having an F....and B....word, we just have to laugh. But we can’t. Censorship is never a laughing matter.
The prohibitionists seem to have forgotten that the song was from another era. It was from a movie. If they had bothered to look at the scene, they would have understood the innocence of it Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams doing the duet in the movie “Neptune’s Daughter.”
But the more important question is are we now to go back to the days of banning books like “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” because some sensibility is offended? Or should we just go the total authoritarian route and burn anything that could rouse people’s consciences like “1984.” As Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee famously said during the Pentagon Papers case, “Freedom to publish is only protected if you publish!” Well, freedom of expression is only protected if you express. We don’t have to defend all words — or all lyrics — but we have to robustly defend the right to express the words.
Short of overt incitement to violence , freedom of expression has been and must remain an indivisible right. Too high a price has been paid to protect it for it to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. Canadian media should get a grip.
If you start banning words that are objectionable to some, you’ll never stop. Freedom is an open battlefield of ideas. That is a much more precious ideal to protect than some bruised sensibilities of fevered imaginations.
It is worth mentioning that Montreal’s Jewel-FM and Toronto’s Zoomer Radio among others, have refused to participate in this goosestepping intellectual conformity and have announced that they will continue to play this song. They are to be commended. And we would encourage everyone to at least post the song on their social media. A song is just a song. It’s censorship — particularly self-censorship — that’s dangerous.