Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Episode 786: Writers In Prisons 50th Anniversary Event

Just found out some pretty shocking news. Nothing that affects me directly, so don't worry, but it's still shocking nevertheless. Anyway, moving on, I just got back from the Writers in Prisons 50th Anniversary Event at the Arts Centre, which featured people from English PEN and Index on Censorship in conversation with Maureen Freely. It was an interesting session, including the bit where one of the ladies from Index on Censorship basically lambasted Singapore, albeit briefly. I didn't say anything, partly because I totally see where she's coming from, and also because this wasn't the forum for going into the matter, which I think is a lot more complex than most Westerners can appreciate, purely because they're not coming from the same place as I do. To summarise my general position, I think any criticism levelled at Singapore needs to be viewed in the context of Singapore as a giant socio-politico-economic experiment. To go back to the event itself, it was fascinating to see people so engaged in defending something that I have to admit I've always taken for granted. Most interesting thing I learnt was probably that the USA is apparently the only country in the world that legally protects freedom of speech, in the form of the First Amendment. Also had no idea how tough libel laws were in the UK!

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