IRISH DJ Eoghan McDermott has called for broadcasters to censor the lyrics to The Pogues Christmas classic "Fairytale of New York" in an issue that has proven divisive with fans of the song.
McDermott, who has a show on RTÉ radio, voiced his concerns in series of tweets in which he claimed several members of staff are uncomfortable with the song's use of the word "faggot".
"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," he wrote.
"One favours censoring, the other outright not playing it. Neither like it. Simples."
"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."
McDermott called on radio stations to move with the times and censor the song.
"The fact this song is a classic isn't a strong enough defence to not at least censor it," he said.
"We censor shit, fuck, ass, weed and loads of other comparatively benign words in songs. It's not a big ask."
The comments come as part of a wider debate over the inclusion of the lyric in the duet between Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl, which also includes the word "slut".
Fans from both sides of the Atlantic weighed into the debate, with many taking McDermott's side in the argument.
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
amazing how people are still out there trying to defend f***** in fairytale of new york when....you can just swap it out for braggart and have the same tone and vague rhyming scheme 🙄
— raid mom juni (@dilinaga) December 5, 2018
I'm not entertaining straight people's opinion pieces on whether the word "faggot" is offensive in The Fairytale of New York. You don't get to define what is offensive to Queer people. Ever.
— Pizza Dad (@JJDodders) December 4, 2018
do y’all realize that faggot is an offensive term that means “a male homosexual” like that IS the definition you don’t get to decide when that is and isn’t offensive THAT IS WHAT IT MEANS. When it is said in Fairytale of New York she is literally using being gay as an insult lmao pic.twitter.com/Au6c8G8vj2
— nick (@versacedeIrey) December 4, 2018
Since it's come up again, no, you do not need the homophobic slur in "Fairytale of New York. "Go look up the performance of the song in 1992, the lyrics changed to "You're drank and you're haggard", use those lyrics.
It's one of my favorite Christmas songs, knock this shit off.
— Ellak Roach (@Ellak96) December 5, 2018
Fairytale of New York is only acceptable if they bleep out faggot.
— Nick Gilbert (@nickrgilbert) December 4, 2018
Why do radio stations still broadcast Fairytale of New York uncut? If somebody made a song now which used "slut" & "faggot" as pejorative terms, there would be an outcry. I'm not easily offended but I really don't think we should be normalising homophobia @thisisheart
— Heather Ryan (Heather Cosgrove) (@DrHFRyan) December 2, 2018
There was some backlash though, with many taking to social media to express their dismay at the idea of the song being censored.
The world has gone soft. Can’t sing Fairytale of New York because it’s offensive. Can’t say bring home the bacon, it’s also deemed offensive. Gingerbread man is another one. Hope santy brings everyone a lamp this year cause the world needs to lighten the fuck up.
— gk (@GarrettKenny_82) December 5, 2018
Why the FUCK is 2018 ruining Christmas songs? ‘Baby, it’s cold outside’ and ‘Fairytale of New York’, they were written in different times, you’ve listened to them your whole life, grow [email protected]
— Dj Magiggs (@Djpaulmcardle) December 5, 2018
Some fought back, pointing to a double standard and arguing that the use of the word, in any context, was unacceptable.
The usage is still “gay as a synonym for bad” even if it’s not intended as a direct jab. If a group tells you that it’s considered offensive and you continue to use it when you could just not, at that point you’re either being inconsiderate or antagonistic.
— Seán (@tweetedbysean) December 4, 2018
Kirsty McColl changed the lyric to 'haggard' on TOTP in 1992. Sis been knew a full 26 YEARS AGO that it wasn't okay.
This isn't liberals or PC Culture, nor is it 'woke'.
Anyone straight crying about not being able to sing it is homophobic, full stop.
— holly x (@hollyshortall) December 4, 2018
A few people were able to see the funny side.
Found the new lyric change for Fairytale of New York
"You scumbag, you maggot, long sword in a baguette"
Really brings the song into 2018 https://t.co/68i41MC8go
— Stephen (@Stephenlough95) December 4, 2018
It's 2018 and they still haven't changed the lyrics in fairytale of New York. It's deeply offensive
I mean how do my fellow scumbags feel about it
— Paul Murphy (@paul_mujayob) December 3, 2018
Just let Kirsty MacColl call Shane MacGowan a faggot for Christmas. The woman died in a boating accident hasn't she been through enough?
— Scratch Dog Mendoza (@Pork_Soda_187) December 5, 2018
And there was a fairly sizeable Irish contingent who were keen to highlight what the word means in Ireland and why that may have a bearing on the debate.
The Pogues being a british celtic punk band and Kristy MacColl a british singer reckon this more what they meant in Fairytale of New York rather than the homophobic slur used in the States pic.twitter.com/yZBs7GchWx
— Shane (@shnowley1699) December 5, 2018
Before the inevitable “Fairytale of New York is homophobic” tweets start spilling in, I gotta tell you that “faggot” means “lazy person” in Irish (the song’s origin), in case you don’t know
— Christian (@Smithy_Chris_) December 2, 2018
Why are people getting so triggered by the word “faggot” in fairytale of New York... One, it’s an Irish song and the word faggot has a different meaning there. Two, if you’re getting triggered by a word that’s not even directed at you then stfu. Three, You’re a snowflake.
— DAN (@ThisisDan_) December 6, 2018
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 which the gays simply are NOT!
— Alannah-Rose (@ARJOGK) December 5, 2018
Thankfully, there was one thing everyone could agree about the song: Ronan Keating's 2000 cover version is truly dreadful.
Ronan Keating's version of "Fairytale of New York" is possibly the worst thing my ears have ever heard. And that's saying something. Why does he sound like a pirate?!
— Ben Weston (@benjaminweston) December 4, 2018
Just for the record I’m fine with the use of “Faggot” in Fairytale of New York.... it’s the Ronan Keating cover that offends me.
— Rich (@richwalker1978) December 2, 2018
Where do you stand on the issue? Have your say in the poll below...