Pulling Jesus out of FHM

In an act of deference to religious hypersensitivity, FHM Singapore is pulling its latest issue off the shelves because of two articles that were described as "highly objectionable and deplorable" by the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS).

TODAYonline reports in the article "FHM pulled off selves, editor apologises":

SINGAPORE - The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) has sharply criticised two articles published in the latest edition of FHM Singapore, describing them as "highly objectionable and deplorable". The criticism prompted an immediate apology from the senior editor of the men's magazine and the removal of the publication from newsstands islandwide.

In a statement yesterday, the council, which represents more than 150 churches across denominations, said the articles "make fun of the Lord Jesus Christ". The statement, signed by NCCS president Bishop Dr Robert Solomon and its three vice-presidents, added: "These articles appear during the holy season of Lent when Christians remember the sufferings and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and they cause serious offence and hurt the sensitivities of the Christian community."

The NCCS also urged the authorities to "look into the matter and ensure the material in question is removed", adding that "such offensive articles threaten the religious harmony that we work so hard to build and maintain".

Noting that it has become "fashionable" to depict religions in the media in ways that are offensive to religious communities, the council urged that "society must be on guard against such trends". FHM Singapore is a title produced by MediaCorp Publishing. The articles in question were entitled "Which of These Celebs Might Secretly be Jesus?" and "Jesus 2.0: What can we expect?".

When contacted, FHM Singapore senior editor David Fuhrmann-Lim said: "We would like to apologise for any offence caused ... We are always sensitive to people's religions and beliefs, and while the article was written with a tongue-in-cheek humour, we do realise now it was not done in the best taste or judgment. We will certainly be more mindful of such sensitive issues in the future."

"Furthermore, we will immediately remove all copies on sale in the newsstands; this process should be completed in the next two days," he added.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the industry regulator Media Development Authority said: "We are investigating this complaint for a possible breach of our content guidelines for publications."

Let's see what do we have here. We have religious hypersensitivity being used to justify censorship. We have religious folk who don't differentiate between humor and malice. We have a business kowtowing to religious bullies. We have the same meaningless "FOR religious harmony!" rhetoric being employed. We have the authorities being invoked to possibly penalize the expression of unpopular speech.

On a side note, why are these good Christian folks reading FHM? Oh wait. My bad. All their sins are forgiven so what would a little lusting hurt anyways. Duh.

Back to the topic; There's really not much left to talk about. This nonsense is small compared to the bigger nonsense that is our social-legal environment here. Religions are accorded undue respect and influence on our freedom of speech here in Singapore. There is no reason why such humor should be censored because some religious folks are "offended" that not everyone has nice things to say about their sacred stuff.

Imagine if the Prophet Muhammad was depicted instead. Given the climate in Singapore, I'll be surprised if no one was prosecuted under the Sedition Act. Yet, it should be allowed just as FHM shouldn't be censored. But then again, the authorities would simply give in to religious pressure because those religious folks might riot over such inane offense.

Singapore. Where we wuss out to religious hypersensitivity.


Anonymous said...

The problem with religion, because it's been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe en mass what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation. - Sam Harris