Connect to share and comment

Canadian broadcasters ban uncensored version of "Money for Nothing"

Analysis: Radio stations cannot play Dire Straits song because of the word "faggot."

Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler
Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler plays "Local Hero" in Newcastle, England, on Sept. 20, 2003. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Editor's note: GlobalPost featured this article in "Great Weekend Reads," a free compilation of the week's most colorful stories. To receive Great Weekend Reads by email, let us know at

TORONTO, Canada — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has banned radio stations from playing uncensored versions of “Money for Nothing,” the classic 1980s rock song from the band Dire Straits. The council has judged the word “faggot” — used three times in the song — as offensive and unacceptable for broadcast.

The decision, made on Wednesday, has been met with a barrage of dismissive and derisive reactions. Christie Blatchford, one of Canada’s best known columnists, described it as the “triumph of small minds and over-parsed language.” And several radio stations have protested the decision by playing an unedited version of the song.

It should be noted that this is not another example of what some might call Canada’s “nanny state.” The broadcast council is not a government body. It’s made up of about 760 radio and TV stations across Canada. It’s an example of a private industry regulating itself.

The song, written by Mark Knopfler and Sting, is from the perspective of two working-class grunts doing back-breaking work delivering and installing kitchens. They’re watching music videos on MTV, a relatively new phenomenon in 1984, and one of them describes “the little faggot with the earring and the makeup” who’s making a fortune as a musician. They then conclude: “That ain’t working / That’s the way you do it / Money for nothing and your chicks for free.”

“I should have learned to play the guitar,” one of them laments.

The complaint in Canada came from a single person in the Atlantic province of Newfoundland, a woman identifying herself as “a member of the LGBT community” (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).

In her complaint about “faggot” to the broadcast council, the unidentified listener wrote: “This word carries an unavoidable connotation of hate. By airing it unapologetically on the radio, this station is indirectly propagating hate. Although I can see the value in a timeless classic rock song in its original form, I cannot help but feel that it does not overshadow the importance of ending discrimination.”