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Didja hear the one about Billy Ray and the blonde?

Country Musings by Robert Loy, June 2001

Back when I was a lad, the jokes were all about women - how ditzy they were, how they couldn't drive a car, how they were only good for one thing, et cetera. Now political correctness has quashed this type of hurtful humor. The only women you can joke about with impunity these days are blondes, whom feminists evidently don't care for.

So, have we entered a new era of tolerance and understanding? Yeah, right. Turn on your TV, stand by the water cooler or open up that forwarded e-mail, and chances are you'll hear a joke about men - how primitive they are, how they can't talk about their feelings, how they're only interested in one thing, et cetera.

What does this have to do with music? Well, have you heard Billy Ray Cyrus' "Burn Down the Trailer Park˛ or seen the video? Probably not, even though it's a great song (not as great as Paul Thorn's original version, but that's not germane here).

It's been pulled from radio and TV. Censored. Why? Because the PC Police fear it might foster domestic violence. (You might recall Garth's "The Thunder Rolls˛ met with similar controversy.) Although, honestly, lines like "She hired the neighbor's son to cut out grass/She gave him cold iced tea and a piece of...pie˛ and "I was paranoid and scared to death/She came home with Aqua Velva on her breath˛ are more likely to elicit smiles than smacks.

And it's not like you can't retaliate against your no-good spouse on the radio. You can. You just can't retaliate against your no-good female spouse. The Dixie Chicks took great glee in poisoning a man and dumping his body in the modern classic "Goodbye Earl."

So what I'm wondering is: Hasn't the pendulum swung too far the other way? Why is male-bashing funny, but female bashing cruel and insensitive? Why is it okay for female musicians to bump off a fictional husband, but not vice versa? Any thoughts on the subject?