Censorship of the Arts in Singapore

Topics: Art, Human rights, Arts Pages: 4 (1482 words) Published: April 1, 2008
What is the right balance to strike between freedom of and restrictions upon artistic expression? The commonly accepted definition of censorship- that certain texts, images, or films should be banned. The Longman’s English Dictionary defines censorship as to examine books, films, letters etc, to remove anything that is considered offensive, morally harmful, or politically dangerous. Narrowing down the definition to cover The Arts scene in Singapore, the question beckons should anyone have the power to place restrictions on an individual’s freedom of expression? One might liken that tying a gag over someone’s mouth! In a recent dialogue with Minister Mentor Lee (Friday, October 5th, 2007 – Singapore: From Arts to censorship), students posted the view on the natural contradiction in censorship codes and Singapore’s efforts to promote artistic expression. MM Lee answered simply by suggesting that artists can find expression through many other areas without crossing the red tape. An individual’s rights end when they impinge on the safety and rights of others. By enacting laws against pornography and other deviant sexual practices, we have accepted that freedom of expression should have limits. In addition, art, like any other form of free expression, should be subject to the same restrictions on an individual’s freedom of expression. To create a legal loophole for content such as racially intolerant speech, which could then seek protection on the grounds that it was a form of art. Other content such as race, religion, violence, coarse language, nudity, homosexuality are less clear cut. However can one say that so long as no illegal acts were committed in the creative process, the public should have a choice in deciding whether to view the resulting content? In recent years (2002-2007) the level of Arts activities in Singapore has gone up. We have many more events in our annual Arts calendar, higher enrolments in our arts schools, larger number of Singaporeans who...
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