Mahyuni, what the media needs is more, not less, credibility

“What the media needs is more, not less, credibility. Now, freedom has already proven to be, like most good things always are, misused. But you don’t misuse credibility. The meaning is so confined, there is practically no room to play around”

Li Hamdan

This is in response to an article entitled Time to get a sense of humour by Erna Mahyuni in the Malay Mail issue of 21 February, 2018.

In life, or rather, in the civilized world that we live in, there are lines we don’t cross, right? Let me give a simple example – like what you have already indicated, never insult somebody’s mother, or you might get a broken jaw for your mean sense of humour!

So, there are things you may accept as funny, comical, hilarious, humorous, or simply entertaining. These are the kind of jokes that are decent, not meant to severely damage a person’s dignity and his precious self-esteem (maruah diri).

Making fun of a respectable national leader may not necessarily cause a dent to the leader’s integrity. Drawing a caricature of our PM for example, may be considered perfectly alright so long as he is not made to look like a fool or to appear disgusting.

There are fine lines distinguishing what is considered as decent or acceptable humour and what is disgraceful, insulting and mean. There are lines between what is deemed funny and what is construed as hate. Would you take it as good, laughable comedy when the joke is mean and disrespectful? Do you find a joke that is distasteful entertaining? That is the issue. That is the crux of the matter.

It is not as if public figures must be revered and never mocked. This is not just about locking up people for making fun of the establishment, nor is it about punishing citizens for any sort of insult. This has to do with the question of ethics. There are ethical lines that need to be observed. Only then can we have fun and a good laugh.

On the question of freedom of expression that you have touched on, have we not already covered the topic quite extensively before, not here but somewhere else? In fact, there was a bit on this in your last article about the proposed new law to control fake news.

This is what I have to say in then, quoting you:

What the media needs is more, not less, freedom.”

Interesting point. How about this: What the media needs is more, not less, credibility. Now, freedom has already proven to be, like most good things always are, misused. But you don’t misuse credibility. The meaning is so confined, there is practically no room to play around.

This law to muzzle fake news is the only way to guarantee credibility. How do you define fake news? Reliability of its source, credible or not. When the source is not credible, it must be verified. Without which it is fake. There is no compromise.

“Let us hope then that any legislation made to weed out falsehoods doesn’t end up strangling whistleblowers and killing the actual gatekeepers of truth.” This is a different topic…I will touch on this next time around.

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