Cannot

2012

‘Sticker Lady’ street artist arrested

2014

Town council asks seniors to remove chairs from ‘cosy corner’

Singapore libraries to destroy copies of gay penguin book (subsequently halted)

2016

Same-sex kiss cut from Singapore staging of Les Miserables

2017

‘Golden staircase’ no more as art student removes hotly debated project

SOTA student’s ‘impromptu’ art installation bearing former teachers’ names removed by school

Censorship

– 1 –

[–]NO_LAH_WHERE_GOT 6 points 3 hours ago
Anti-censorship folks are usually intellectual, educated types who can think critically, sniff out BS, analyze intent and so on.

If you spend any time on the Facebook comments sections of any of our news organizations, though, it becomes clear that lots of people are troublingly impressionable.

So censors and anti-censors are talking past each other. The censors are usually hesitant to draw attention to the socioeconomic/class nature of the problem, and the anti-censors (like most people) usually live in social bubbles.

Put another way, censorship isn’t about silencing people like Amos Yee- it’s about curating and sanitizing the context for people like the guys who slapped them.

Of course, there’s the additional concern of who regulates the censors, and whether censorship will be abused for narrow political interests.
But I think anybody who’s ever actually had to be responsible for a community quickly learns that you have to have some form of moderation. Otherwise the conversations are hijacked by the loudest, ugliest members of the group (eg Brexit).

There are no easy answers, there is no rulebook, and some people will always be hurt or upset regardless of how you act or refrain from acting.

Censorship has a cost. You have to setup a censorship task force (or “media development and regulation authority”, whatever you want to call it). You have to pay them. You have to be careful that they don’t overdo their job and stifle society. There’s the opportunity cost of all the other things they could be doing instead.

If we lived in a world of thoughtful, reasonable people who carefully evaluated all the media they consumed, there would be no need to have any censorship at all.

So the only reason that “censorship was completely reasonable” was that the cost of censorship had to be lower than the potential cost of people misinterpreting TRS as factual.

TL;DR: Censorship has everything to do with a population not being able to handle misinformation.

– 2 –

I decided to write this after reading about the censorship of nudity-related performance art pieces. Somebody wrote an article about how nudity = basically pornography, and so it should be banned.

Ironically I think a big part of the intent of the art is to address the assumptions of the people who write articles like this.

The idea that nudity = pornography is a hypersexualization of the human body, and that’s not actually a universal thing

Naked Ladies in particular looks like it’s quite nuanced. It’s meant to ‘evaluate the politics of female nudity’ – to ask why women are so sexualised. To allow the objectified to reclaim her position as subject and force the audience to re-evaluate.

This reminds me of “it’s racist to bring up race” being used as a way of silencing people who want to talk about the racial prejudice they’ve experienced.

If we censor art that involves nudity, we remove an opportunity for people to see nudity as something OTHER than hypersexualised + pornographic. So this is very tragic, because it ensures that people will continue to only see nudity in this very sexualised sort of way.

There are some Tumblrs and subreddits and other spaces where people share pictures of their bodies in non-sexualised ways. I have a friend who’s a part of a private Facebook group for women’s fitness, and there’s an offshoot of that group where the women often post pictures of themselves in the nude or nearly nude to share their fitness progress. And they’re so comfortable with each other that they don’t bother to pose – they just let it all hang out. And my friend was telling me just how refreshing that was, because it helped her reevaluate her own assumptions about what nudity is, what nudity looks like, what the body is, what the body is for. And the fact remains that we’re all constantly swimming in advertising – you can’t live in a city without encountering advertising.

I find myself thinking now about other instances of censorship. A kiss on the lips in a performance of Les Miserables was censored after people were outraged by it, completely missing the entire point of the kiss. The kiss wasn’t a celebration of homosexual love, it was a cynical, sarcastic kiss by a man trying to insult another. It was, come to think of it, sort of like Michael Scott kissing Oscar in The Office.

It’s frustrating when people who are thoughtlessly pro-censorship think they are winning some sort of moral victory every time they censor something, instead of taking the trouble to just discuss what they think is so wrong about everything. I find myself thinking even about how quick we are to demonise people who say racist or xenophobic things – Amy Cheong comes to mind.

– Notes and Links –

NYtimes – The Censors’ Disappearing Vibrator