Beyoncé caves to woke mob over painfully dumb controversy

Beyoncé is self-censoring her song "Heated" to remove a commonly used word that a handful of people on the internet got upset over.

I’m not the biggest Beyoncé fan, though there may or may not be a video out there of me doing a terrible karaoke rendition of “Irreplaceable.” So something pretty seismic in the Beyoncé world has to happen for me to take notice — but my interest was caught when the widely beloved pop star recently faced social media backlash.

The controversy stemmed from Beyoncé’s new song, “Heated,” which includes the following lines:

“Yadda, yadda, yah, yadda, yadda, yah, yah
Yadda, yadda, yadda, bom, bom, ka, ka
Spazzin’ on that ass, spaz on that ass
Fan me quick, girl, I need my glass”

A handful of woke Twitter activists took exception to the use of “spaz” in this song, decrying it as bigoted against disabled individuals.

This outrage was quickly parroted by liberal media outlets, of course. It echoes a similar controversy that emerged a couple of months ago after pop star Lizzo used “spaz” in one of her songs.

The crazy part of this story is not that a handful of people on the internet got worked up over something insignificant and trivial. It’s that Beyoncé actually caved to this loud but essentially irrelevant Twitter mob.

“Beyoncé will remove the word ‘spaz’ from one of her new songs, ‘Heated,’ after she received criticism from disability advocates,” Rolling Stone reports.

“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” one of the artist’s representatives told the publication.

That’s right: Beyoncé is self-censoring her art to remove a commonly used word that a handful of people on the internet got upset over. She certainly has the right to self-censor if she’d like, but, in my view, it’s cowardly compliance that reveals just how out of control cancel culture and the outrage economy have gotten.

First, the notion that “spaz” is an “ableist slur” is pretty absurd. It does derive from “spastic,” which Oxford defines as “relating to or affected by muscle spasm.” And, in some other countries, “spaz” has a more negative connotation. But in the United States, it is commonly used to refer to someone hyper, someone freaking out, etc. Almost nobody uses it in a way that’s meant to involve disabled people or even has that in mind.

Yet, even if it is a mildly offensive word, so what? Hip-hop and R&B regularly use far more offensive words, including the N-word, “b****,” “f*****,” “whore,” “slut,” etc. That’s all fine, but “spaz” is beyond the pale?

As my friend and former colleague Liz Wolfe wrote for Reason, “It’s pathetic to give these activists this veto power. Rap tends to use words in ways people actually talk, not the platonic ideal of how people should talk if they want to be maximally sensitive.”

“[Beyoncé’s] decision suggests that perhaps she didn’t mean what she initially said; that words can be substituted on demand; that she has little attachment to the art she released,” Wolfe concludes.

There’s another element here: the infantilization of the disabled.

Physically disabled people or people who suffer from cerebral palsy are not emotionally fragile and in need of woke protectors to shield them from a word in some random song. On the long list of problems in their lives, this probably doesn’t rank in the top 1,000 for most disabled people. It’s noxious virtue-signaling and clout-chasing.

Shame on Beyoncé — not for using a common word in her song, but for caving to a relatively tiny online outrage mob and further fanning the flames of cancel culture.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner. 

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thought control starts with narrative control which begins with word control.

    Words are just words, and context is king. In the context of artistic expression, there is no expectation of neutrality, acceptance, or decorum. For example, paintings and sculptures of fully nude people occupy places of respect and appreciation in most fine art museums and studios. Art never requires explanation, context, justification, or defense–it’s art. The various forms of expressive art–painting, drawing, sculpture, media, literature, music, comedy–have an implied license to offend.

    In the USA, the First Amendment is the primary Bill of Rights amendment for a reason–it must reign supreme when not criminally abused. In other words, American citizens have the constitutional right to be offensive when not committing or inciting illegal activity such as yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater when no such fire exists.

    Understanding that being offended is a highly subjective and personal emotional reaction, and recognizing that being offended and dealing with emotional stress is and has always been a major component of all human experience, a well-adjusted person deals with it by employing critical thinking skills (largely nonexistent in modern institutions of learning) such as considering the source, evaluating the source’s mental status, discounting sarcasm, recognizing playful and flirtatious banter and inuendo, and straight up ignoring stupidity. There is no constitutional right to not be offended, and there is no constitutional basis to deny the offender their right to free expression excluding illegal intent.

    Over the past fifty years, a large percentage of the English alphabet has been assigned a taboo word—the F-word, N-word, A-word, S-word, etc. As best I can reason, the assigned letters are: ABCD-FGH-JKL-N-P-RS. I could not readily think of taboo words for EIMOQTUVWXYZ; maybe I’m not “sensitive” enough. When not written or spoken as “(something)-word”, there is a ridiculous convention to write a partial representation of the taboo word such as “f__k”, “n____r”, “s__t”, “G_d”, etc. as if we all don’t “speak” these words in their entirety in our minds anyway. (You did, didn’t you?) Why not just write the whole word?! And now it seems “s__z” will be all the rage.

    When specific words improperly are given mystical powers, it then becomes a justification for controlling the word; and, in turn, controlling the narrative; and, finally, in controlling thought.

    And then there are the pseudo-pronouns. But I digress.

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