With so many petitions out there that achieve precisely jack shit for anybody, it's hard to imagine that anything significant can change after a single complaint. But it turns out that sometimes a vocal minority can make a world of difference, even if that minority is exactly one person and his or her complaint is completely stupid.
#5. A Single Complaint Gets a Song Banned in Canada ... 26 Years After It Comes Out
In January 2011, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) decided that the Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing" just wasn't fit for polite society and banned unedited versions from radio station playlists. The ban was the result of a single complaint, when one Newfoundland listener took issue with the song's use of the word "faggot," which, to be fair, does appear three times in the second verse:
See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah buddy that's his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he's a millionaire
That may even seem like a pretty valid complaint, if you don't know any more of the story -- you can't just write a song that flings words like that around willy-nilly. But it's the context that make this whole thing ridiculous.
First, that song was released in 1985, which means that it graced the airwaves for 26 years without incident until that single complaint made everyone suddenly realize that the lyric might be problematic. Second, there's the context of the words themselves (hint: the singer is playing the role of the "faggot" in the tale).
As denoted by the pink headband, worn by all homosexuals in the 1980s as a means of identification.
For those who are only vaguely aware that the song has something to do with microwave ovens and MTV, "Money for Nothing" was cobbled together from quotes that lead singer Mark Knopfler overheard from a deliveryman in an electronics store. Sung from his point of view as he watches MTV video clips in the store display, it's a parody of what guys like him think about pop stars, oblivious to the fact that the guy he was ranting at was, in fact, a huge pop star.
Understandably, the ban caused a public outcry, and one station protested by playing the song on repeat for a solid hour. In September, the CBSC lifted the ban after receiving "considerable additional information," including the fact that "the composer's language appears not to have had an iota of malevolent or insulting intention." In other words, someone finally let Canada in on the joke.
No one tell them how terrible poutine is. That joke still has legs.
#4. One Student's Objection Banishes a Classic Painting
In 2009, a lone student at El Paso Community College managed to have an entire art exhibit cancelled because she had a deep-seated opposition to eating babies. Well, that sounds pretty reasonable, but what we really mean to say is that she objected to seeing a Renaissance painting by baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens, which depicts the Greek myth of the god Saturn, who ate his kids before barfing them up again. Is it his fault that Greek myths were so fucked up?
Via Wikimedia Commons
Don't feel bad, Saturn. We've all been there.
Art students at the college's Valle Verde campus created collages designed to "showcase the elements of art or principles of design." The artwork, which was comprised of well-known masterpieces from different periods and movements, was displayed throughout one of the campus buildings. Apparently, the aforementioned painting offended the delicate sensibilities of one young woman, who found turning her head the other way to be a bit too troublesome.
The girl wrote a letter to the dean, saying that the collage was "offensive to her beliefs." After freaking out from this DEFCON-1 beliefs violation, officials ordered the collage removed, stating that the girl "was really offended" by the painting. In outrage, the college's art instructors and several students showed up and removed the entire display in protest against censorship.
"Whiny Dumbfuck Needs Hand Held to View Art."
Many students and staff wrote letters to the editor of the school newspaper criticizing the decision to remove the collage. One instructor pointed out, "It doesn't take an advanced degree to decide whether or not you like something. If your decision is 'thumbs down,' change the channel, turn off your radio, don't read that article or look at the artwork on the wall, but don't subject others to censorship." Even if that art features an elderly man chewing on a baby. Well, a painting of it, anyway -- if you ever witness this in real life, please call somebody.
#3. Post Office Bans Cat After One Customer Demands It
In Notasulga, Alabama, Sammy the Cat was a familiar sight in the front window of the local post office, where he sat every day and adorabled himself into the hearts of customers. Beloved by the 960-odd residents of the tiny town, Sammy lived down the street, but reported to the post office every morning and stayed there until closing.
That all changed after a single unnamed woman wrote a strongly worded letter to the postmaster, complaining that (no kidding) because Sammy didn't pay federal taxes, he had no business in a federal building. She later claimed that she was allergic and was afraid of the cat attacking her. We can probably assume she was more of a dog person.
You've shammed the government long enough, asshole.
The post office management took the complaint seriously and banned Sammy from the premises. Residents, outraged by the injustice, gathered outside the post office to lobby for Sammy while the cat wandered around looking sad. Several people donated money, and an 87-year-old retired schoolteacher rented Sammy his very own post office box in an attempt to get around the imaginary law that said he wasn't paying his way. Because, you know, he was an animal.
Eventually, the story spread, and Sammy began receiving mail and cat food from well-wishers across the United States. But the plan, unfortunately, didn't work, and the cat was forced to stay outside ... until he was hit by a car and killed. Sorry if you were hoping there was a happy ending here.
But later, he rose from the grave and lived happily ev- No. No, he didn't. He's still dead as hell.
The post office lowered its flag to half staff in memory of their cat, and the entire town mourned the loss of their furry friend. And while the news never reported that woman's name, you can be damn sure every bridge-playing, shuffleboard-loving old lady knows exactly who the traitor is.