Pop stars Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga appear to have been listed as examples of artists whose songs contained “offensive lyrics” in a Parliament handout issued on Monday (1 April).
Workers’ Party MP Chen Show Mao shared on Facebook a picture of the handout, which appears to be part of the Ministerial Statement that Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam delivered in Parliament earlier in the day. The document showed lyrics of the aforementioned artists as well as those by rock band Nine Inch Nails and singer-songwriter Hozier.
In the song “God is a woman” by Ariana Grande, the example cited was, “You love it how I touch you/My own, when all is said and done/You’ll believe God is a woman”.
Another example was the song “Judas” by Lady Gaga in which she sang, “I am just a Holy Fool, oh baby….I wanna love you/But something’s pulling me away from you/Jesus is my virtue and/Judas is the demon I cling to/I cling to”.
The song “Heresy” by Nine Inch Nails was also cited for its “offensive” lyrics: “He sewed his eyes shut because he is afraid to see…He dreamed up a god and called it Christianity/God is dead and no one cares/If there is a hell, I’ll see you there.”
In his Ministerial Statement on hate speech, Shanmugam emphasised the need to curtail the problem even in the sphere of entertainment.
In his 90-minute delivery, Shanmugam addressed the cancellation of the planned concert by Swedish black metal band Watain on 7 March. He noted that Christian leaders whom his ministry consulted did not want the concert to go ahead under any circumstances because of what Watain stands for.
Even though the concert was initially granted a restricted license, it was eventually cancelled as many Christians found the band “deeply offensive and denigrating”, Shanmugam said.
The minister also said that offensive speech can lead to “dehumanisation” and create an environment “conducive to discrimination and eventually violence”. Offensive speech, which can imply that its targets lack morality, intelligence or dignity, is “even more insidious” than hate speech, he added.
The Law Ministry also tabled the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill in Parliament on Monday.
The Ministry said that the Bill seeks to protect society against the damage from deliberate online falsehoods created by malicious actors. It stressed that the draft legislation targets falsehoods, not opinions and criticisms, nor satire or parody. It defines a falsehood as a statement of fact that is false or misleading.
Proposed sanctions include fines of between $30,000 and up to $1 million, and/or jail time of up to 10 years. The penalties could be doubled if the falsehood will or is likely to impact public interest as defined in the law.
Only those who act to deliberately undermine society using falsehoods will be subject to the criminal offences.
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