Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MDA: Morality Depends on Authority

(ST online forum, Apr 28, 2008) Right decision to fine MediaCorp over gay couple

I refer to the Media Development Authority (MDA) decision against MediaCorp in the article last Thursday, 'MediaCorp fined for airing show featuring gay couple'.

I agree with and applaud MDA's decision to fine MediaCorp for airing a show featuring a gay couple on television. In airing the show, MediaCorp is tacitly promoting a gay lifestyle. The act of airing such a show which promotes a gay (and alternative) lifestyle is detrimental to the common good, as well as societal values.

The media should not endorsing or promote the gay lifestyle and should not describe a gay couple as a 'family unit'. To do so is irresponsible and may lead to erosion of values and breakdown of the traditional family unit (father, mother and children). MDA must step in to ensure compliance and observance of the law and guidelines, which have been laid down to ensure good values and morals are upheld in society.

Jacelyn Chan (Ms)

(ST online forum, Apr 29, 2008) MDA high-handed in its fine on Ch5 for gay episode

I amdisappointed with the Media Development Authority's imposition of a fine on MediaCorp Channel 5 for airing an episode of a reality show depicting a gay couple with their adopted child on Jan 13.

Gay people living together with adopted children is a reality in countries such as the US. In censuring Channel 5 for carrying a television programme documenting the lives of one such couple, the MDA has denied Singaporeans the opportunity to reflect on the issue of 'non-conventional' family arrangements, and the merits or demerits of such a phenomenon.

I am saddened by the MDA's decision to once again adopt such a high-handed approach towards policing the media and determining what Singapore audiences can or cannot view on the soapbox. If children are to be protected from such issues as homosexuality, then the onus really should be on their parents and/or guardians to do the supervision.

Adult Singaporeans, I think, have enough prudence to decide for themselves on the feasibility and desirability of homosexuality within the Singaporean context.

Ken Lee Jun-Jie

My thoughts: Well, it is a pity my honours thesis only covered the Straits Times from January 2001 to December 2007. 2008 is still pretty eventful thus far, although paling in contrast with the years 2003 (Goh Chok Tong's non-discriminatory civil service hiring policy), 2005 (Balaji Sadasivan's logical link between gay parties and the spike in HIV) and 2007 (Lee Kuan Yew's views on homosexuality).

In it, I wrote that although sexual minority visibility has increased in the past few years (since 2003), it will articulated with the respective themes of morality, religion, crime, perversion, censorship and rights.

I have also noted in my study that the increase in civil rights-based discourses pertaining to sexual minorities in the newspaper has been met with resistance by conservative folk. The role of the moral police is thus decentralised, when you have the ordinary citizen as the moral crusader, and not only the media institution.

The problem with the issue of morality is not morality itself, but the persons and peoples who wear their moral subscriptions like badges. These badges justify their moral duty to propagate their brand of morality. They become experts of morality because they think they know best.

Of course, to play devil's advocate, moral relativism is grounded in some degree of certainty; you have to be certain to be relative. It is hard to conceptually prove that relativism works. But when it comes to people knowing it all and wanting to monopolise knowledge and systems of belief, you only have to question their agenda and motive.

Onus is on society and the dominant majority/elite to prove "right"-ness and "correct"-ness. All the marginalised have to do is to ask questions. No need to complain, just keep asking.

Example:
Statement: Gayness is wrong.
Question: Why is it wrong?
Statement: It is unnatural.
Question: Does that mean all things unnatural are wrong?

I am very perturbed by the open glorification of heterosexual relationships which are often framed in the context of a loving family with two or three or four (if you could afford) children, along with grandparents in tow. The government, through its community development initiatives, strive to shove this cultural goal/desire down our throats.

I had my appointment at the Registry of Marriages yesterday, to verify certain details for administration. A huge plasma television entertained us as we waited to be processed.

The programme was an educational guide to a healthy marriage, healthy sex life, healthy relationship with your in-laws, proper financial management and so on. It featured mostly the yuppie Chinese couple, along with the token appearances of ethnic minorities such as the Indian and Malay couples.

Basically, the instructional video embodies the middle-class Singaporean dream. For example, the "every girl"'s dream of having an elaborate once-in-a-lifetime wedding is a cultural goal deeply entrenched in her consciousness. Same goes for the guy too. You will spend and consume your way to fulfilling these desires, so that you can be "normal".

There is an iron-grip on the concept of "normal" in society. You have political, legal, social and economic structures all aimed at preserving this position of comfort called the status quo.

I quote Jacelyn Chan: The act of airing such a show which promotes a gay (and alternative) lifestyle is detrimental to the common good, as well as societal values.

What is the "common good"? What are "societal values"?

Whose "common good"? Whose "societal values"?

Is the "common good" an annihilation of minority groups which do not share the same "societal values" as us?

Jacelyn Chan should teach autistic children and persons afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome. Teach and reason with these individuals what is "good" and "bad" and justify them. How will you be able to convince them or answer the successive whys and hows? Stop at God and demand no more questions? Use physical disciplinary measures? Shock therapy? These individuals are only asking questions.

I have interacted with normal children, and are sometimes stumped by they asking lots of successive questions, because they are trying to make sense of something. When children grow up into adults, they have lost the spirit of inquiry. Trapped in the cold capitalist machinery, capitalistic rationality takes over.

If the "common good" and "societal values" are moulded in the interest of and meant for the straight majority, as claimed by the moral crusaders, how do you explain people like myself? I'm straight. Are you going to exclude me from your majority? How democratic is that?

I've been shrugged off as gay sympathiser (where "gay" is subject to its noun/adjective ambiguity), as someone who wants to politicise homosexuality and related issues in Singapore.

Firstly, I don't sympathise; I empathise. Discrimination, marginalisation, hate speech, stereotyping, disincentivisation, censorship, etc. - we all have been subjected to these at one point in our life. What makes it damning is that some people out there feel it is normal and okay to carry out these activities. Each of us have our own self-worth, dignity and some degree of self-respect. And I feel everyone has a right to at least prevent these from being eroded away.

Secondly, I want to politicise homosexuality in Singapore, because it is too depoliticised! People will think that homosexuality is simply reducible to a rational lifestyle choice, which is in turn reversible and discardable. In that logic, homosexuality can be cured since it is assumed to be a temporary "affliction". Stereotypes also exist wherein gay people are seen as richer, better educated, more creative and are hence important to our economy. Gay visibility is always articulated in these terms, while other strata and segments of sexual minorities become invisibilised or thought never at all to have existed.

When you politicise homosexuality, you bring to the spotlight social relations, social inequalities, the influence of institutions and the government, power relations, the cultural, historical and political background of rules, norms, values, and so on so forth. You look beyond the "disease" and the "irrationality" that is sexual deviance/diversity. When you depoliticise homosexuality, you take away the responsibility of the government, the various social institutions and other people in various positions of social power.

Essentially, I believe people are most threatened not by violence, force, incarceration, excommunication, usurpation, etc., but by others who continually ask questions.

"Can you explain what you mean by this this this?"
"To whom does this ultimately benefit?"
"What are all the properties that 'normal'-ness constitute?"
"On what specific assumptions are your ideas based?"
"WHY LIKE THAT???"

1 comment:

yuetching said...

yep..we r most threatened by qns that threaten to expose flaws..great blog..