Shutting Down or Up
There have been a number of petitions lately to shut down websites: namely to close down STOMP and another to shut down The Real Singapore.
Now I’m a fan of neither and I think the world is a better place if the type of content prevalent on these two sites were never produced. I have previously suggested that STOMP relook its function because it offers SPH a means of circumventing the need to adhere to intellectual property laws.
Asking for these sites to be shut down hardly addresses the key problems. They are merely platforms upon which content is created, and if they were removed, producers of these content would simply relocate. The counter to undesirable speech isn’t the suppression of speech, it is the proliferation of speech, particularly expressions against said undesirable values. There is a place for censorship, but it ought to be exercised very judiciously. Values considered undesirable to one may be ok to another, and force of suppression could very easily be misused.
We currently suffer a deficit of good content. We often speak of this “silent majority”, who in our minds is made up of sensible people who are able to tell right from wrong. I’m not so sure. I think we’re all a myriad of different emotions and viewpoints. We are sometimes sensible and other times irrational. What we do need very much in our society is to have some balance in our utterances. We need to be able to speak when motivated by things and thoughts that are noble and good as much as (or better yet more than) when we are angered.
We could look at this as teething problems associated with a maturing society. But it starts here. Our voices need to find a greater range of tones and colours. While it is necessary at times to tear down structures that shouldn’t be, it is even more essential to build better and more praiseworthy ones.