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Watain Ban: Rock music or religious cult against our public order?

by Joe Sekular

The band was banned because there were public complaints that alleged the band were known for their satanic views, advocated satanism through their songs, espouses anti-Christian views, endorsed violence, had performances in the past that involved animal carcasses and splatter of pigs blood.

According to Wikipedia,“Watain is a Swedish black metal band…..The band have become infamous for their Theistic Satanist views and for their live shows which involve pyrotechnics, candles, Satanic rituals, animal carcasses, and blood.”

So it was well known what the band controversially stood for when the organisers were granted a public entertainment licence.

The fact is, therefore that, having gotten the requisite right to stage the band in Singapore for a ticketed public performance from the authorities, that same authorities revised their decision and withdrew the go ahead for the concert causing mayhem and disappointment in its wake.

In my opinion there are a series of wrongs the PAP Government is responsible for, that must be addressed and stoutly criticised.

First and foremost, Watain is a black metal band that relies upon very dark sources for its musical inspiration. They are entertainers, not a religious cult and no one has accused them of being anything else than being musical entertainers even if some most understandably don’t like their satanic inspirations. Rock music is a secular matter not a religious matter.

Second, even if I am wrong about the fact that they are a Swedish black metal band and the band is instead better characterised or otherwise, in fact, found to be a Satanic religious sect whose followers were the public concert goers, the public would have been entitled to attend the concert by virtue of the Constitutional guarantee of the freedom of religion in Singapore.

Article 15 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore guarantees freedom of religion in Singapore. Specifically, Article 15(1) states: “Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and to propagate it.”

The band therefore cannot be deemed under law to be a threat to public order just because followers of other religions did not like their beliefs. If this was the case, you would have to ban every place of worship as every other religion believes the other is wrong and damned to Satanic hell for their beliefs.

Thirdly, the authorities were wrong to bend to public pressure from certain religious groups. Even if Watain espoused religious views that were unacceptable to many, Singapore is a secular state and the matter of the bands beliefs were a private matter that the State should arguably not have interfered with.

This is supposed to be a secular society. The State should have treated this matter at that level. They have given too much say to religious interests and forced the country into an extreme position on this matter much to our international embarrassment.

Religion is private business and must remain so here. The PAP Government has unnecessarily encouraged religiosity and the space for worship when they should have encouraged far greater discretion in religious expression and certainly not allowed religious groups to dictate policy matters in the way that is the case here.

Ours is now an over sensitive society of purposefully thin skinned types of all shades and hue who stifle free speech and expression every chance they get to suit their extreme religious sensitivities instead of allowing people to believe what they want.

Has the State a position on the existence of Satan or hell. Is this a matter appropriate for a secular state to determine or be concerned about? Which law in our statute books provides for this type of spiritual question to be determined or otherwise deem it a social ill to be cured?

Where is the threat to public order or our internal security? Will Satan cause Singapore’s undoing? Is this the position of the PAP Government?

Finally, if Watain were in breach of our religious harmony standards or norms or rules, the authorities were negligent in the first place in approving the concert as they should have been well aware about the nature of the band and should be liable for all loss and damage suffered by all affected.

The band has performed in many countries with religious groups that were offended by the values the band represented but that can never be the basis for banning a concert unless the band’s performance would contravene any SLE doc provision of our laws.

Instead of encouraging diversity of religious view points including secular ones that do not accept any religion, the government chose to defend certain groups views as to God.

Instead of encouraging the citizens to be more resistant to offence, they have endorsed the easy taking of offence.

This was nothing short of a fiasco on the part of our government administration which they should be ashamed of. The initial decision to allow but give the concert a rating was the correct one.