Monday, April 15, 2013

Ding, dong! The Witch is Dead

The Wicked Witch of the West, left, played by Margaret Hamilton, confronts Dorothy, played by Judy Garland, and Glinda, the Witch of the North, played by Billie Burke, right, in this scene from The Wizard of Oz. AP Photo.

Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz 1939 classic “Ding dong! The witch is dead” has being heavily promoted by opponents of the late Margaret Thatcher as a kind of musical revenge on the former prime minister in a posthumous protest over her polarizing policies. Her time in office was marked by battles with workers’ unions and the privatization of key industries, and she remains a divisive figure in Britain.

And by Friday, the Facebook campaign had propelled the song to No. 1 on the British iTunes and No. 3 on the Official UK Chart. BBC Radio 1 ordinarily does a Top 40 countdown on Sunday afternoons, in which every song from number 40 down to number 1 is played in its entirety. But on that particular Friday the broadcaster announced that the song won’t be played in full. Instead, a short clip will be played as part of a news bulletin explaining that the track has reached that place in the chart. It called the decision ”a difficult compromise.”

This is unacceptable because it is censorship and there is no other way to describe it. Some people in the BBC found it objectionable only because the song was used to celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher. So what’s wrong with that? Maybe the next step is for the BBC to compel YouTube and iTunes to remove the song. Let us see them try!

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