Julie Burchill: What makes a hate crime?

 

Share
Related Topics

If you could put money on a word combo coming up empty on Google, one of the best bets would surely be "Dire Straits" and "hate crime". But apparently the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has just amended a 15-year-old ruling that the Straits' "Money For Nothing" was unfit for broadcasting, due to three uses of the word "faggot".

At the birth in flames of rock and roll some half a century ago, when Elvis was so incendiary that he could be filmed only from the waist up, and teenagers tore up cinema seats in sheer molten excitement at the sight of Bill Haley's kiss-curl, it would have seemed somewhat surreal to think that, one day, Canadian bureaucrats would take 15 years to change their minds about what someone could say on a record. Especially when the only thing that ever seemed remarkable about Dire Straits was that they looked the only act where the roadies had locked the band in the dressing room and gone onstage in their place.

The commission has finally accepted Mark Knopfler's explanation that the lyric ("That little faggot's got his own jet airplane/That little faggot, he's a millionaire") was written from the perspective of an envious "bonehead" and was not in fact Mr Knopfler personally bitching about Elton John and Boy George. But the strangest thing of all is, perhaps, that this 15-year ban happened because ONE LISTENER complained.

Imagine if every song in which a woman had been belittled, insulted, threatened with violence and done to death was removed from broadcast after just one complaint! Talk about radio silence. From "Hey Joe" to "Smack My Bitch Up" taking in a positive legion of bitches, hoes and stupid girls, the abuse of women has been one of the backbeats of popular music.

And as someone who isn't bothered by abuse, can find it quite bracing even, I'm not whining for it to be stopped. But I am saying that the way sexist abuse is treated as a totally normal, even desirable, strand of popular culture while racist and homophobic abuse must be legislated and demonstrated against is a fascinating illogical phenomenon. If Nick Cave had bashed in the head of Eliza Gay rather than Eliza Day where the wild roses grow, there'd have been a right old kerfuffle up at Radio One.

Public schoolboys writing about rap get a tangible cowardly contact high from the endless abuse of women and never see fit to question it, but you can bet your booty that they will throw the full weight of their spoon-fed fervour behind the promotion of a new record by the reggae singer Mista Majah P who has recently released an album called Tolerance, which seeks to challenge homophobia in general, and the "murder music" of the Jamaican dancehalls in particular.

Refreshingly, he is not cursed with the knee-jerk anti-Americanism which warps the worldview of so many gay rights activists: "Being gay is taboo in Jamaica, but living in America I've realised what they taught me growing up in Jamaica was so wrong". He seems a sensible and sweet person. But the existence of "Tolerance" still makes the point that the abuse of women in popular music is so deeply ingrained and widely accepted that an equivalent record protesting about it seems quite unthinkable.

I'm old enough to remember Rock Against Racism and Rock Against Sexism, and the number and calibre of the acts who queued up to lend their talents to the first worthy cause rather than the second really summed up how much more importance is attached to stamping out the "hate crimes" of racism and homophobia compared to those committed against women.

Of course there are race and homophobic attacks and murders, but there are not two people a week, every week, being killed because of their race or homosexuality in the way that two women a week are killed by partners or ex-partners because of real or imagined infidelity (that'll be the "hoes"), spiritedness (that'll be the "bitches") or both. All violent attacks and killings are hate crimes, be they racist, homophobic or gender-related. And any songs which encourage or applaud them are all equally pathetic.

Vanessa Redgrave's strange alliances

Talking of gay rights, how interesting to see that the walking, talking, ranting, canting beacon of all things bullshit, Vanessa Redgrave, has seen fit to throw her weight behind the "strong, wise, warm and gentle" Travellers who are fighting for the right to stay put in their settlement at Dale Farm in Essex.

I find it fascinating that, as a woman who had a gay dad and a gay husband, Redgrave persists in backing cultures which find homosexuality an abomination – the Chechen nationalists, the Palestinian goons, those in favour of Irish unification and now the Travellers. Is this some unconscious hostility she is working out? Or like so many rich, posh Lefties does she automatically assume that there is one rule for her type and one rule for everyone else? Whatever, I am sure that the Zionist thug Sigmund Freud could have a field day with her.

Abortion has never seemed a more sensible choice

The reaction to the news of Beyoncé's pregnancy may seem a bit OTT, but that's because – when a quarter of 18 to 22-year-olds say they don't want to reproduce – being a mother has never seemed like such a dumb choice for a smart woman to make, considering world over-population, economic decline and the repulsive level of self-congratulation which seems to affect spawners.

On hearing of the amendment to make abortion more difficult, my first thought was that it surely made more sense to offer counselling to women who wanted to go ahead with a pregnancy, rather than end it, so illogical does this seem in the current climate. As the official Worst Mother in Britain (Daily Mail) I would urge all women currently considering taking this step to think carefully and not enter into it lightly. Parenthood, while seeming an easy option at the time, can potentially traumatise you for the rest of your life.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living