The Christmas song uses what is now considered a homophobic term
Lyrics in ‘Fairytale of New York,’ the Christmas classic by the Pogues, are at the center of a renewed debate this holiday season.
The Christmas song, sang by Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl, uses the word “faggot” which is now considered a homophobic slur.
Eoghan McDermott, a radio DJ for RTÉ 2FM in Ireland, raised the question on Twitter.
This debate rolls around again. I asked the two gay members of my team how they feel, since faggot is their N word. If people want to slur the gay community, this is their most powerful weapon. One favours censoring, the other outright not playing it. Neither like it. Simples. https://t.co/vNaPByZJ7J— Eoghan McDermott (@eoghanmcdermo) December 4, 2018
Phrases that have zero social utility should fall away. Enough vitriol out there without gay people having to feel uncomfortable so people that aren't affected by an insult can tap their toe. Black Eyed Peas "Let's Get Retarded" changed to "Let's Get It Started" - rightly so.— Eoghan McDermott (@eoghanmcdermo) December 4, 2018
Other RTÉ radio DJ Stephen Byrne echoed his statement, saying that the word shouldn’t be permitted on the air in the name of it’s ‘classic’ status:
Re: Fairytale of New York and its use of the word faggot. Just bleep the word, I dare you the same reaction to fuck, shit, cunt, and the n word in the way that people protect the use of a homophobic slur with the excuse of ‘tradition’.— Stephen Byrne (@stephenbyrne) December 6, 2018
While the McDermott and Byrne clarify that they do not want the song banned outright, they would like to see the word “faggot” censored like how other songs censor certain words.
In 2007, the BBC said they would be playing an edited version of the song which removed both "faggot" and "arse" from the lyrics. However, they quickly reversed their decision and went back to playing the uncensored version within a day.
Many people are quick to point out that when the song was written in 1987, the term 'faggot' wasn't necessarily considered a homophobic slur, but rather a term for a lazy person. Of course, the term has taken on new meaning as the song has grown older.
On Thursday, RTÉ issued a brief statement saying: ”The song 'Fairytale of New York' will continue to be played on RTÉ Radio without omissions.”
Watch the video for Fairytale of New York here: