A student newspaper editor has called for the word “faggot” to be censored from The Pogues’ popular song "Fairytale of New York" over claims it is offensive.
Tom Haynes, the assistant editor of The Tab, shared his opinion about the classic Christmas song in an article titled: “Dear straight people, stop singing the word ‘faggot’ in 'Fairytale of New York'” - which has since divided people on social media.
According to Haynes, the line in question, sung by Kirsty MacColl, “you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot,” is homophobic - but despite being censored on some stations, including the BBC and MTV channels, continues to be sung by “straight people” when it comes on.
“Only when you take a step back does something seem off with that picture in 2018,” Haynes wrote.
He also points out that, despite being repurposed by the gay community, the slur can “evoke very specific memories of being bullied either online or in real life” and is comparable to the n-word.
Haynes concludes by suggesting that people simply skip the word when singing the 1987 song - which has faced lyrical controversy numerous times in the years since it was released.
“That’s all - one word, two syllables. Not too much of a stretch, right?” he wrote.
The response to Haynes critique of the beloved Christmas song has been varied - with some disagreeing and labelling the editor a “snowflake” millennial, and others recognising that he has a point.
According to some people on social media, who have defended the use of the word in the song, faggot has a different meaning in old Irish slang.
“I won’t be refraining from singing the lyric ‘cheap, lousy faggot’ in 'Fairytale of New York' because it’s not in reference to any homophobic intent - in old Irish faggot simply means a lazy person,” one person wrote.
Another said: “Snowflakes left right and centre saying 'Fairytale of New York' is homophobic when in reality the cheap lousy faggot line is in reference to laziness.”
However, others agreed with Haynes’ opinion and the suggestion that the word should be omitted from the song - including RTÉ DJ Eoghan McDermott, who recently brought up the debate on Twitter after he announced he agreed the song should be censored.
According to McDermott, he made the decision after asking two gay members of his team how they feel about the song - with both agreeing the use of the word is inappropriate.
"One favours censoring, the other outright not playing it. Neither like it. Simples," McDermott tweeted. "The fact this song is a classic isn't a strong enough defence to not at least censor it. We censor s**t, f***, a**, weed and loads of other comparatively benign words in songs. It's not a big ask."
Nobody complained. The fact this song is a classic isn't a strong enough defense to not at least censor it. We censor shit, fuck, ass, weed and loads of other comparatively benign words in songs. It's not a big ask.— Eoghan McDermott (@eoghanmcdermo) December 4, 2018
And others pointed out that, despite a different meaning, the word may still be considered offensive.
"I honestly cannot see the obsession with straight people needing to be allowed to say faggot in 'Fairytale of New York'? Is it a power thing? If you feel oppressed not being allowed to say it, imagine how it feels being on the receiving end of it," one person said.
Another tweeted: "As someone who got called a lot of names in the 90's at school, faggot did not mean lazy. And the Pogues were British-Irish, gigging in London. In 'Fairytale of New York,' the idea that faggot wasn't abusive is a transparent attempt to rewrite history."