By: Respect Singapore
Increasingly, conflicts between religious conservatives and the rest of secular society are being resolved by the authorities using some “give and take” policy of balancing interests and mutual appeasement.
Don’t like Adam Lambert? Ok, we’ll allow the concert but he won’t perform gay-friendly material. Don’t like Madonna and her Rebel Heart Tour? Ok, we’ll allow the concert but will rate and censor it. Against the “gay agenda”? Ok, we’ll keep #s377A but won’t “pro-actively enforce it”.
I don’t think that addresses the problem. It’s just negotiating away the problem, sweeping it under the carpet.
The approach should not be about giving and taking. The approach should be about principle.
Religious groups have the right to comment on, influence and criticize our conduct and values. Some may dismiss their comments as hypocritical, but that’s besides the point. It is their right, their freedom of speech.
But no religious group can be allowed to dictate our conduct or values by banning books, taking over civil organizations, criminalizing private consensual conduct. Or determining the content of secular shows because, well, it otherwise offends them.
In other words, you have the freedom to practice and propagate your religion. But you cannot abuse that freedom to impinge on other’s rights.
And that’s fair to everybody. If you are Christian, and you don’t want to live in a society dictated by say Muslim values, it is only fair that you likewise don’t get to impose your Christian values on the rest of society. Same goes for all other groups, religious or otherwise.
That’s what diversity, tolerance, inclusivity is. That’s what real balance is.
To the authorities, I say take a stand. Don’t take the practical but cowardly way out. Govern by fair, reasoned and clear principle. Govern with courage. Not by always arbitrarily mediating out some ad-hoc compromise on a case-by-case basis to pacify one or both sides, coming up with some temporary reprieve to a problem you and I both know will never go away.
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