, 09.13.2022 04:03 PM

My latest, maaaaan

Johnny Rotten snarled. The crowd roared.

“God save the Queen,” Rotten howled, as the assembled Toronto fans howled back. “She ain’t no human being! And there’s no future in England’s dreaming!”

Rotten and his Sex Pistols – drummer Paul Cook, guitarist Steve Jones and pre-Sid Vicious bassist Glen Matlock – weren’t nearly as youthful as they once were, back when they released their ‘God Save the Queen’ single during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, in 1977. It was 2003, many years later, and the Grey Pistols had reunited to play at the Molson Amphitheater, in an unashamed and transparent money grab.

Watching the band from the side of the stage, this writer – who still has an original pressing of ‘God Save the Queen,’ purchased at Kelly’s Records on the Eighth Avenue Mall in Calgary shortly after it was released – it was unclear whether Rotten et al. meant what they were saying. Were they anti-monarchists? Anarchists? Republicans? Johnny Rotten wasn’t giving any hints (yet).

Those in the Toronto audience weren’t wearing their anti-monarchist credentials on their tattooed sleeves, either. Sure, they knew all the words to the Pistols biggest hit – which reached number two on the BBC charts, even though the BBC refused to play it on-air – but they looked like they were mostly there for a good time, not some political time. Some, however, wore God Save the Queen T-shirts, complete with a safety pin through the regal lip. Not nice.

As the Queen is laid to rest this week, her 70-year reign at an end, the Sex Pistols pose no threat to the monarchy, nasty lyrics and nastier T-shirts notwithstanding. The real threat to the monarchy lies elsewhere.

Right about now, the anti-monarchist forces are getting ready to do battle. It’s coming.

After the appropriate period of deference has passed, the hoi polloi will tear themselves away from their usual schedule – meeting at the Toronto Tennis Club to talk about poor people, or adding their name to a petition about climate change and the blanding turtle, while actually doing nothing about either – and compose a joint letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail, demanding an end to the monarchy in Canada.

Why? The usual arguments. They’re foreigners, the Royals are, and we Canadians can manage our own affairs, thank you very much. They’re unelected, and therefore undemocratic.

They’re too expensive to maintain, and they’re rich enough to support themselves. They’re unwanted by a majority of Canadians, 19 times out of 20, a poll will proclaim – a poll commissioned, and carefully crafted, by those same anti-monarchist types.

If we are being truthful, we have to admit: not every one of those arguments is spurious or without merit. The House of Windsor is, in fact, headquartered in another country. None of the Royals live in Canada.

And, yes, not one of them was elected to the positions and titles they hold – although we could probably make the same argument about Canada’s Senate, which (unlike the Queen) periodically attempts to replace the judgment of elected MPs with its own.

Are they costly to Canadians? Well, no. Canadian taxpayers didn‘t ever shell out a nickel to the Queen, although her portrait could be found on one side of said nickels. Nor did we ever pay her a salary. We do pay for Royal visits to Canada, however. (As we pay for most of the costs associated with visits by Presidents of the decidedly republican United States of America, too.)

Finally, should Canadians ever be consulted about whether we remain within the Commonwealth, whose leader is a King or Queen? Certainly. Sure. That’s what has happened in other countries.

Australia held a referendum on becoming a republic in 1999, but Aussies voted to stay within the Commonwealth. Over decades, Barbados made multiple failed attempts to hold a referendum on the issue, then simply proclaimed itself a republic last year.

Here? Well, in Canada, we are typically confused. Last year, Angus Reid (rudely) released a poll on the Queen’s 96th birthday. It found 51 per cent of us wanted to cease being a constitutional monarchy. But then the same poll found that many more – two-thirds! – had great affection for Her Majesty.

So will we become a republic? This writer – who was in Calgary punk band, and who regularly played a shambolic cover of the Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’ – personally thinks it’ll never happen. For starters, it means reopening the Constitution – and no one, save and except Quebec and Alberta separatists – wants that.

What’s more: both Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre have this week pledged allegiance to King Charles, and solemnly reaffirmed our place in the Commonwealth. (Jagmeet Singh’s NDP has a different view, but no one cares what they think.) So, constitutional monarchists we shall remain.

And what of the Sex Pistols? Funny you should ask.

On the sad occasion of the Queen’s passing, someone remembered Johnny Rotten, who is a senior citizen and now lives in California. Tweeted Rotten: “Rest in Peace, Queen Elizabeth II. Send her victorious.”

Below that, Rotten posted that iconic image of Queen Elizabeth.

Except this time, she wasn’t wearing a safety pin.

[Kinsella was the founder of punk label Social Blemish Records, which he claims had more hits than zits.]


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    PJH says:

    Another wonderful piece, Mr. Kinsella.

    I have noticed the usual republican ragings on the MSN news pages when they post stories from the various news agencies about the Royal family(and I have to say, even this dyed in the wool Monarchist is suffering a bit of “Royal fatigue” currently from the never ending stories about the Royals during this time, which should be a time for quiet reflection, imho) I digress.

    What I have noticed is that the number of thumbs up and hearts posted about the articles concerning the Royal family is generally about two to one in favour compared to the negative symbols. As well, the positive comments about the Royal family generally outweigh the negative ones.

    I know these are not scientific polls, but it gives me an indication that there is still a great deal of support for the Constitutional Monarchy system of Gov’t within Canada. I like our system of Gov’t, and the bit of pomp and circumstance that it entails, but what I think I like most about it….is that it differentiates our system of gov’t from our neighbour to the South. From the amount of coverage about the Royals I am seeing from American news agencies, I can’t help but think that many are feeling just a bit of Rex envy at the moment. Much to many republicans chagrin no doubt.

    God Save the King!…

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    Robert White says:

    Great article and good chuckles too. Methinks Warren has his sense of humour back again, thank God.

    I’m pleased Rotten was at least respectful of Queen Elizabeth this time round. He likely grew out of his
    oppositional defiance of authority figures post-Punk era.


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    Sean says:

    Excellent piece…

    However I would add that very… very… few Canadians actually understand what a Constitutional Monarchy is. Same with a full blown Republic. The truth is very few of us were able to stay awake through Gr 9 history class. Those of us nerds who did stay awake through Gr 9 history class realize that this is the danger of throwing such questions to a referendum.

    Ask Joe and Jane Frontporch if they want an American Style Republic and 90% of respondents will tell you to fuck off and die. Exact same result if you ask the exact same people whether or not Canada’s Head of State should automatically be the scion of an ancient noble family. Both options are ridiculous to Joe and Jane Frontporch.

    I say Canada will remain a Constitutional Monarchy because it it less complicated and annoying to consider any alternative and that’s exactly how Canadians like it.

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    Arron Banks says:

    I think it depends on a couple of things (though I agree it’s the constitution that’s really preventing the change). I think what Scotland will do is probably the first domino. Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon and former SNP leader Alex Salmond were there to see the new King when he officially took his role in front of the Privy Council but after this honeymoon period, I think the independence movement goes into overdrive especially in the wake of Brexit. I think Australia is also an interesting one to watch since former PM Malcolm Turnbull told 60 Minutes Australia this week he still wants out and will probably move to re-introduce such a question in the near future. And with Prince Charles less graceful than his mum, if there is any hint of scandal that comes out of an unknown embarrassing past slip up, that will be the death kneel. The next 18-24 months I feel will be the make or break period for the monarchy as current constituted. It will get a boost in England, but it’s elsewhere where the cracks will show up first.

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    Patrick says:

    The level of confusion/ignorance about this subject is astounding. The Commonwealth is a mix of monarchies and republics. Should Canada become a republic it might well choose to remain in the Commonwealth. The BIG QUESTION is what do we replace the Crown with? See Australia. The U.S. “elected king” is surely not on the table.

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      The Doctor says:

      Especially that Presidential Pardon thingy and that “cannot indict a sitting President” thingy. Unbelievably stupid. What could possibly go wrong?

      Donald J. Trump, for starters.

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    Martin Dixon says:

    Johnny Rotten may be a senior citizen(barely) but like many senior citizens, he is still rocking with Public Image Limited. I have a lot of idiotic friends who will cancel musicians because of their political views. Ditto comedians. Seems like a pretty stupid reason not to enjoy their music or comedy. I thought I would look up Johnny’s since his views don’t get thrown in your face like Clapton’s. He seems t have been all over the map during his life.

    An excerpt from his wiki page:

    “Lydon became a U.S. citizen in 2013 because he “believed in Barack Obama” and his health care reform, on which he states, “his healthcare thing didn’t quite work out what we all want, but there is a great potential there. Now we’re looking at dismantling and, you know, [a] crazy loony monster party.”[102]

    Before Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Lydon said, in response to questions about his prospects: “No, I can’t see it happening, it’s a minority that support him at best, and it’s so hateful and ignorant.”[96] In 2017, though, he said “I’m up for anyone shaking up the jaded world of politicians”.[103] During a Good Morning Britain interview in March 2017, Lydon described Trump as a “complicated fellow” who “terrifies politicians”. Lydon said that there were “many, many problems with (Trump) as a human being” but defended him against accusations of racism: “What I dislike is the left-wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist and that’s completely not true.”[97] He elaborated to NPR: “He’s a total cat amongst the pigeons … [He’s] got everybody now involving themselves in a political way. And I’ve been struggling for years to get people to wake up and do that.”[60]

    In 2018, Lydon was photographed wearing a shirt that read Make America Great Again.[104] In October 2020, Lydon told the BBC’s Newsday programme, “Yes, of course, I’m voting for Trump … I don’t want a politician running this world anymore.”[105] A month later, during an interview on Good Morning Britain, Lydon confirmed he had voted for Trump in the then-upcoming Presidential Election, describing Trump’s Democratic opponent Joe Biden and his 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton as champagne socialists. He also described his support for Trump as stemming from his background as a working class Englishman and accused the US media of being dominated by liberal ideology, but “liberal with the truth” and claimed “they toe the line of the Democrat party by assumption that they know what’s best, yet they don’t know nothing about blue collar workers, Latinos, African-Americans in or outside of large cities.”[98]”

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    Gilbert says:

    I think the United Kingdom can decide its own affairs, and it certainly appears that the monarchy will remain there. However, I think it makes absolutely no sense for Canada to have a foreign monarch as head of state. Ask Mexicans or Filipinos if they want the Spanish king to be their head of state of state. I highly doubt it.

    Do the polls that ask Canadians if they want to keep the monarchy represent Quebec adequately? It seems likely that support for the monarchy is weaker there than in any other province.

    King Charles III will almost certainly be less popular than his mother. The way he treated Diana was terrible, and it’s no secret that he annoyed a number of government ministers with his devotion to particular causes while he was a prince.

    Ask the French if they miss their monarchy. I don’t think many do. It will survive in the United Kingdom but will probably become less influential in the future.

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    Steve T says:

    I’d say the biggest irritants in Canada regarding our Commonwealth connection are the GG and the provincial equivalent LGs.

    Those positions do cost Canadians money, and the roles are useless. At the provincial level it mostly flies under the radar (random happy-clappy celebrations of various unimportant stuff). However, at the federal level we’ve had some pretty crummy GGs in recent decades – most of them reek of patronage and/or virtue-signalling – and some of their spending habits have been grotesque.

    If there was a way to ditch the GG/LG money pits, that would probably neutralize a lot of the anti-monarchist sentiment in Canada right away.

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      The Doctor says:

      I dunno about that. Seems to me that Selfie Boy makes an announcement every day that exceeds whatever we spend on GGs.

      If you’ve got fiscal concerns, get rid of Selfie Boy and Jagmeet and their merry band of drunken sailors on leave.

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        Steve T says:

        Let’s make a deal – we get rid of Selfie Boy and Jagmeet, AND the GG / LGs.

        There would be much rejoicing!

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        Wayne says:

        As a drunken sailor for over 36 years (and going). I am offended with being lumped in with Selfie Boy and Jagmeet.

        Every drunken sailor I’ve know (including myself) stopped spending when the money was gone. Not Selfie Boy, he will just borrow some more or print some more

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    Pipes says:

    Here at the trailer park, the parkers are discussing this issue. Presiding over an open fire, our eldest and most respected full-time park resident said “that Kinsella lad is right! The rich folks and the posers will extend their affluent induced douchbaggery at the Royals in 10 days after her Majesty is put to rest. Mark my words and then the first time the King comes to Canada the same rich people and posers will be elbowing, and selfying each other for a picture.”

    Well, you heard it here first!
    This is Pipes reporting from parts unknown.

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    william shakesfeare says:

    Nothing about much ado. Sigh.

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