'Untrue' that list of 'offensive' songs circulated in Parliament is to be banned: Shanmugam

'Untrue' that list of 'offensive' songs circulated in Parliament is to be banned: Shanmugam

The list of songs that Workers' Party Member of Parliament Chen Show Mao posted on Facebook on Monday (Apr 1) does not contain ones that have been banned or are going to be banned, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said. Tan Si Hui reports.

SINGAPORE: The list of songs that Workers' Party Member of Parliament Chen Show Mao posted on Facebook on Monday (Apr 1) does not contain ones that have been banned or are going to be banned, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said. 

In a ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday, Mr Shanmugam spoke about the risks that hate speech poses to Singapore, especially when it is derogatory, offensive or insulting to a particular race or religion. 

READ: Shanmugam warns 'serious consequences can follow’ when countries are lax about hate speech

As part of his speech, he gave an illustration of songs with offensive lyrics, and cited Irish musician Hozier's songs as an example. He also said there is "plenty of material all around" and said MPs can read about these in the handout which Mr Chen had later posted. 

Mr Shanmugam on Tuesday said: "People who did not listen to the speech may misunderstand that the list contains songs which have been banned or are going to be banned.

"All of that is untrue," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Mr Chen had posted a document dated for the Apr 1 parliamentary sitting, and among the songs listed were Nine Inch Nails' Heresy, Ariana Grande's God is a Woman, Hozier's Take Me to Church and Lady Gaga's Judas. These were mentioned as examples of songs with offensive lyrics.

Mr Shanmugam added in his post: "Doesn't mean that it can all get banned, just because some people find it offensive." 

Mr Chen later told CNA in an email that his post, titled "Lesson of the Day", shared something new he had learned on Apr 1 - that "all the lyrics cited are deemed offensive speech" in the context of the ministerial statement.

This context, as he understood it and as framed by the ministerial handouts that accompanied the statement, includes questions to consider, Mr Chen said, such as "should we allow unrestricted offensive speech in general mainstream discourse, in religion, politics, media and entertainment, even if it is not hate speech?" 

He did not comment on Mr Shanmugam's follow-up on his initial Facebook post.

The minister had spoke at length in Parliament on Monday about how there should be restrictions on offensive speech in public discourse, even when it is not hate speech, as over time it creates an environment "conducive for discrimination and eventually violence". 

READ: Watain concert cancelled based on Christian community’s reaction after initial approval

“If we normalise offensive speech, after a while, the tone, texture of public discourse will change. Giving offence to others will become normalised,” he said in a ministerial statement in Parliament on restricting hate speech to maintain racial and religious harmony in Singapore.

CNA had earlier sought comment from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Info-communications Media Development Authority on the post made by Mr Chen. 

Source: CNA/kk(db)

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