Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Hozier and Nine Inch Nails are some artistes whose songs have been cited for containing “offensive lyrics”, a Singapore Parliament handout issued on Monday, April 1, apparently showed. While, not part of an April Fools prank, the handout was in conjunction with a ministerial statement delivered from Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam earlier that day.
A picture of the handout was shared on Facebook by Workers’ Party MP Chen Show Mao. The document displayed the lyrics of the four artistes and was cited as examples of “offensive lyrics” that could be considered “hate speech” and a threat to racial and religious harmony in Singapore.
Earlier that day, Minister Shanmugam delivered a 90-minute Ministerial Statement on hate speech. He emphasised the need to curtail offensive speech even in the entertainment arena, saying that offensive speech was “worse than hate speech”. Offensive speech, which can imply that its targets lack morality, intelligence or dignity, is “even more insidious” than hate speech, he added.
Minister Shanmugam’s statement came in the wake of the high profile cancellation of the planned concert by Swedish black metal band Watain on March 7, after Christian leaders expressed opposition to the band’s public performance.
Minister Shanmugam also said that offensive speech can lead to “dehumanisation” and create an environment “conducive to discrimination and eventually violence”.
Ariana Grande remains the most popular artiste on Spotify in Singapore. If the government has set such a low bar for “offensive lyrics” then tens of thousands of Singaporeans, especially the youth are susceptible.