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Banning another person’s reasonably expressed point of view does not create a racially harmonious society

by Ghui

I note with interest the banning of a film on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) on the basis of the film’s “skewed narrative”.

Is there a transparent criterion for what constitutes “skewed narrative”?

As cited in the article hyperlinked above, the following films have also been banned under the same “Not Allowed for all Ratings” (NAR) banner:

  1. the 2014 documentary “To Singapore, With Love” by Singapore film-maker Tan Pin Pin on the basis that Tan’s sympathetic portrayal of the exiles legitimised violence and subversion in politics; and
  2. a 35-second promotional clip featuring footage from the 2014 edition of annual gay rights rally Pink Dot.

Any film or documentary will always have a point of view. Does having a point of view constitute “skewed” or is it a question of having a point of view that does not suit the policies of the government at that point in time that is the problem?

In any given conflict, there are bound to be multiple sides (or at least two sides) of the story. Surely all sides should be given equal air time in order for the narrative not to be skewed?

By banning one version, isn’t the IMDA perpetuating the very evil it seeks to eradicate?

Films, art and the like have always been means of expressions by people. The audience then forms a view based on their own experiences. If anything, the message merely creates awareness. It does not have a hypnotic effect on the audience. As such, all sides of a story should be given its time of day without fear.

I am not suggesting that blatantly offensive content be permitted and I am sure that most of us would be able to agree on what constitutes content that blatantly stirs up trouble for the sake of it. For instance, the repeated use of racial or religious slurs simply for the sake of it and without context would clearly attract the NAR ban. Given that the film in question is one that has been internationally recognised, I doubt that it is one that stirs up hate for the sake of it.

I am not suggesting that all audiences will agree with the film’s point of view. But do we have to all agree in order for something to be shown?

Are we a society that will descend into racial war simply because someone expresses an aspect of the conflict through the experience of a particular group?

This is an international issue that the world has long been aware of. Would an award-winning film really cause that much controversy?

True racial harmony is when we can accept each other’s differences and still respect each other. Banning another person’s reasonably expressed point of view does not create a racially harmonious society.

In fact, I would argue that it creates misunderstanding and perpetuates suppression, repression and ultimately, a lack of understanding and bigotry.

How can understanding be forged if no one is allowed to explain their side?