THE cancel culture, that is to say the trend that is widely found on the internet and which concerns “cancelling” personalities (usually celebrities) who are perceived to be representing or doing something that arouses opposition has sparked much debate in recent years and has divided the world.
On the one hand, defenders speak of a the “weapon” available to the persons concernedan important means of social justice and empowerment of powerful figures.
But for others, it’s often misused and misplaced, while also being the talk of the town. attempt at silence and censorship.
Amid this environment of international division, one country wants to end the deeply contested online phenomenon by introducing what legal experts and observers say is the world’s first law against cancel culture, as CNN reports – alarming rights activists who fear such legal powers are being used to suppress free speech.
The religious law behind the bill
Over the past year, Singapore’s government has been “looking for ways to combat the cancel culture,” a spokesperson told CNN – amid what some say is a culture war brewing among gay rights activists and the religious right following the recent decriminalization of homosexuality in largely conservative Singapore.
Authorities said they were “reviewing existing relevant laws and legislation” following “feedback” received from conservative christians, who expressed fear of being invalidated for their opinions by online groups.
“People should be free to express their opinions without fear of being attacked from both sides,” the justice minister said in an interview with state media in August.
“We must not allow a culture where the people of religion are ostracized (or) attacked because they support their views or disagree with the views of LGBT people – and vice versa,” he added.
Her comments came before her historic repeal of a colonial-era law Or criminalized homosexual sex – even if it was consensual.
“We cannot sit idly by. We need to consider the right lines between hate speech and freedom of expression in this context,” the justice minister said. “There could be wider implications for society as a whole, where public discourse is impoverished…so we intend to do something about that.”
In a statement to CNN, the Department of Justice said that the impact of online cancellation campaigns could be “widespread and severe for victims”.
“(Some) have been unable to engage in rational public debate for fear of being attacked for their views online…and may self-censor for fear of being the target of nullification campaigns,” said one. ministry spokesperson.
What would such a law provide?
The first thing any law dealing with cancel culture should do is define the act of cancellation – an extremely complex challenge according to lawyers, as the culture of cancellation can be controversial.
The phrase originally comes from the slang term “undo”, which means to break up with someone, according to the Pew Research Center, and later gained traction on social media. The Center published a study of the cancellation phenomenon in 2021 that revealed a deep public divide between demographic groups in the United States – of the meaning of the phrase itself as well as what cancellation culture stands for. .
According to Eugene Tan, Associate Professor of Law at Singapore Management University (SMU), always “no accepted definition” annulment and, therefore, any legislative proposal must be “very clearly defined and drafted”.
“What does it mean when someone asks to be cancelled? How could the alleged victims prove they were undone?” said Tan, who was once an appointed member of Singapore’s parliament.
“Too often, incidents are interpreted, described or remembered by people in different ways. A lack of precision could lead to legislation that is too inclusive, cover acts that should notTan added, “But if the definition is narrow, the law could be under-inclusive and not cover critical acts when it should,” Tan said.
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