GP Comprehension Paper – Media Censorship

General Paper Sample Comprehension Paper Question & Answers (Paper 2)

GP Comprehension Question Paper – Media Censorship


(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language, namely, for the use of English throughout this paper)

Note: When a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE (IYOWAFAP) and you select the appropriate material from the GP passage for your answer, you still must use your own words to express it, to get maximum credit (out of the remaining 15 marks).


1. Explain the relevance of the writer’s first sentence to the rest of the paragraph. Explain in your own words as far as possible. [2]


The writer is making an observation about life in general which is specifically applicable to the case in point i.e. now that libertarians have won the fight against censorship, they should be overjoyed. However, the reverse is actually the case as they are appalled by the sheer amount of uncontrolled distasteful / offensive material polluting society.


Note by GP Tutor: This is actually a case of irony here. JC pupils who can identify can state the irony will gather an extra bonus 1 mark.



GP Passage Text
Being frustrated is disagreeable, but the real disasters in life begin when you get what you want.



2. What does the writer mean when he says that our present reaction to the prevalence of pormography might be due to a ‘cultural hangover’ (line 13)? Explain in YOWAFAP. [1]


Explanation hangover is something remaining / surviving from a previous time or situation (not, in This case, the unpleasant after-effects  /headache / nausea caused by drinking too much alcohol)

The writer believes that our current discomfort/unease to the prevalence of pornography might be a lingering effect from previous, more conservative (even prudish) / less permissive societal norms  /attitudes – ie we are somewhat discomfited at the moment because previously we would have been shocked / embarrassed by the same material.



3. Was anyone ever corrupted by a book? (line 14) Why does the writer find it “incredible’ that both a) sociologists and b) university professors should ask this question? AIYOWAFAP. [2]


Since sociologists argue that other elements of have the same ability to corrupt making the the mass media have the power to debase viewers, it would be logical to assume that books (also a medium / means of mass communication) answer to the question self-evident.


University professors would not be teaching / have chosen their career (nor would it exist in the first place) if they (and society in general) did not believe that great works of literature have the ability to edify, enlighten, enrich, improve and positively influence readers (it is their raison d’être) By the same logic. unsavoury / objectionable / unwholesome tracts would possess the power to corrupt.



the same sociologists who seem convinced that advertisements in magazines or displays of violence on television do have the power to corrupt

by university professors whose very lives provide the answer


4. Why do the critics of censorship feel that we should not be ‘unduly concerned about the spread of pornography (line 44)? AIYOWAFAP. [2 marks]


The lack of restrictions and control would lead to pornography being abundant readily and legally available;

hence the thrill of illicit pleasure will disappear / appetites begin to pale as people eventually become disinterested / titillation bored / satiated by / tired of it.



Free competition in the cultural marketplace will dispose of problem. When forbidden fruit becomes not only permissible but also plentiful

people will grow weary of pornography as appetites become jaded and titillation fades


6. We have no problem differentiating between repressive laws prescribing alcohol, drugs and tobacco and liberal laws regulating them. Explain how the example given in the last two sentences of this paragraph illustrates the above statement. Explain using YOWAFAP. [2]


Instead of proscribing / prohibiting / outlawing smoking, which is oppressive authoritarian / autocratic,

we ban / bar cigarette advertisements so as to discourage the habit / express disapproval of it, which is a more open-minded, libertarian approach.


Lifted from text:
we have not made smoking a criminal offence.

we have prohibited cigarette advertising on television so that the habit is not condoned


7 In paragraph 10, the writer suggests that some works of art should be permitted even if they are considered obscene. Explain why he believes this.. [1m]


A work should be allowed to be published if it promotes the greater good / fulfill a more important goal / aim.


The work’s existence ought to be tolerated because it serves a larger purpose


8. What evidence does the writer give in paragraph 10 to support his claim censorship does very little harm? Answer IYOWAFAP. [2 marks]


Literary censorship did not actually lead to the loss of many works of true value / quality

Even when censorship laws were relaxed, the  readership of previously censored works did when not soar / substantially rise (i.e such an action did not suddenly create a more cultured discerning / enlightened public)



 I doubt that many works of real literary merit ever were suppressed l

Nor did I notice that hitherto suppressed masterpieces increase in demand when censorship was eased.



9(a) Why does the writer think that many of his fellow liberals might view liberal censorship as a contradiction in terms’? [1]

9(b) How does the writer counter this potential criticism? [1]


Liberals believe in individual freedom of choice. Censorship would thus seem to be an inherent contradiction, since it restricts liberty.


The writer argues that, paradoxically, liberal censorship defends the notions of freedom, as it prevents society from moral decline and the complete degeneration / chaos which follows. Without a stable society, individual freedom can not be attained.

Note: General Paper students who recognise that there is a paradox here, will get the bonus LANGUAGE marks.


Liberal censorship can be seen as a protector, not destroyer, of liberty in that it that it preserves a society from decadence, which is the precursor of moral anarchy and eventual collapse.



H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Media Censorship

JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Passages:
Pornography, obscenity and the case for liberal censorship, By Irving Kristol





Q10. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)

Word1 Mark 1/2 Mark
exultation (line 6) jubilation, great joy, lively rejoicing, triumph, celebration


No mark: happiness


indispensable (line 59)vital, necessary, essential, crucial, cannot be done without

No mark: cannot be thrown away


circumscribed (line 75)restricted, contained within boundaries, constrained, limited, confined

No mark: lessened, mitigated diminished, alleviated, reduced


awash (line 87)inundated / overflowing / flooded / deluged

No mark: filled with, full a overwhelmed by


bluntly (line 94) frankly, in a forthright manner

Straightforward, directly

No mark: simply, just



Reminder: Do not try to give a list (string of answers). Credit is most often be awarded to the first word, and the rest are disregarded.


Q7. Summary Question (SQ) (8 marks)

What objections does the writer have to pornography and obscenity? Refer to material from paragraphs 4 to 7 only. Answer in no more than 120 words, not counting the opening words below. UYOWAFAP. [8]


The writer objects to pornography and obscenity because..



Lifted from the GP TextRe-expressions

such spectacles… brutalize those who flocked to witness them. Pornography and obscenity affect our citizenry in a similar fashion

desensitizing them to equally barbaric behaviour

Nor can the magnitude of this problem be overstated

an epidemic that is infecting our entire culture.

Pornography’s whole purpose… is to treat human beings obscenely

to deprive them of their specifically human dimension

But when sex is public… the viewer [cannot] see [human] compassion and [human] ideals,

but sees only the animal coupling/ merely copulating

the real meaning of human relationships has been degraded.

when bestial appetite rules, human dignity is inevitably lost

appeal to and provoke a kind of sexual regression

The pleasure one gets from pornography and obscenity is an infantile form of self-gratification

easily become a permanent self reinforcing neurosis

such a neurosis, on a mass scale, is a threat to our humanity, nothing less.

are inherently subversive of civilization

an affront to decency

fundamentally undermines family values

and social mores

pornography is an act of subordination which is not only inherently degrading to women conveys erroneous beliefs,

which result in gender discrimination

23 and, in extreme cases, sexual assault

people become cruel / coarsened / less human/ behave like animals

and unfeeling / no longer react with disgust / abhorrence to similarly offensive / debased material

the extent of this challenge is great / huge Le it constitutes a grave threat)

which spreads like an insidious disease, permeating our way of life

presents / depicts people in a disgraceful / disgusting / morally repugnant / abhorrent manner

robbing them of the quintessential qualities that define/differentiate us / make us different from other animals.

when sex becomes a spectacle / spectator sport, there is a crass disregard of the deep feelings emotions and values that make us human

an act of love is reduced to a mere physical act act of fornication / sexual reproduction

diminishes / debases the actual / genuine value / worth / significance / importance of the connection / bond people have with one another

when we are controlled dominated by brutish / animal / base desires / instincts, our self-respect / self-worth / self-esteem disappears

incites / brings about a type of sexual degeneration / reversion

the self-satisfaction derived is merely primal / crude / immature / self-indulgent

can develop into an enduring / lasting / fixation / phobia / obsession / psychological / mental disorder / affliction/ ailment / condition

collectively, it is a menace to / endangers the qualities that epitomize our species/ race/ separates mankind from other animals

intrinsically / essentially undermines our cultural progress development as a species

offends / goes against our sense of propriety wholesomeness / polite society what is considered acceptable correct behaviour

essentially / basically subverts / erodes / challenges / weakens parental teaching / the principles that underpin the family as a basic unit of society (allow ‘family’)

and cultural norms / traditions / customs

subjugates / treats (women) as less valuable or important / make (women) subservient

essentially humiliating / demeaning to females

communicates untruths / falsehoods / false assumptions

creates / engenders sexual bias / prejudice / inequality

even to the extent of causing physical attack / hurt / harm



Note: Time management is important for success in the SQ. Also, write down the number of words used.



Q11 Application Question [8 marks]

To what extent do you agree with Kristol’s arguments for liberal censorship?
Kristol ends by contending that, currently, America has got the balance wrong in terms of its censorship policies. Do you think that your society has got the balance right? Explain why.

Remember to refer to relevant material from the passage as well as your own knowledge and opinions in your answers to both parts of the question. (8)


JC GP Students should demonstrate an understanding of liberal censorship and explain the extent to which they agree with Kristol’s arguments.

Make reference to Singapore’s censorship policies to support their stand on whether she has got the balance right.

Good answers would demonstrate a nuanced and sensitive approach in the student’s appreciation of the arguments in the passage.
Areas which might be addressed include:


Cultural context
Kristol’s views are largely American in perspective. His arguments might not necessarily be applicable to S’pore.

In a conservative society such as SG, are Kristol’s views too liberal?

Is liberal censorship desirable?

Are Singaporeans sufficiently mature and educated?


Can liberal censorship be implemented especially since it seems to be a contradiction in terms?

Is it possible to achieve in the age of the Internet? (E.g. Singapore blocks about 100 pornographic sites but Parents Advisory Group for the Internet conducted a survey with NTU and found out that 66% of teenagers have visited pornographic sites)



Arguments for liberal censorship (raised by Kristol)EX / EV/ Application to SG

The idea of restricting individual freedom to protect the individual from himself and society in general, in a liberal way, is not at all unfamiliar to us. (paragraph 8)

We have, however, and with good liberal conscience, prohibited cigarette advertising on television so that the habit is not condoned. (paragraph 8)

Liberal censorship can be seen as a protector, not destroyer, of liberty in that it preserves a society from moral anarchy which is the precursor of decadence and eventual collapse. (paragraph 11)

…serves a larger moral purpose (paragraph 10)

Our cultural freedom has not improved as a result of the new freedom (paragraph 10)

if you care for the quality of life in our American democracy, then you have to support liberal censorship. (paragraph 11)

Background;   The Censorship Review Committee meets every ten years to review and update censorship objectives and principles to meet the long-term interests of our society. (Media Development Authority or MDA).

Agree:    Any society will want to be able to protect its interests in certain broadly agreed areas. Whether it is tobacco advertising, hate speech or child pornography, there will continue to be a strong justification for censorship. Arguably in some areas, we should favour more, not less, censorship. For example, Singapore protects children developed countries and trade me situations sometimes cross the border of what others would consider good taste. There comes a point when the exploitation of freedom of expression is to be hall against the general well being of others. Accordingly must agree that liberal censorship should be enforced the grounds that an absence of it would be injuries to health and morals.

Singapore is a small and young country and is not ready for media freedom. We should not think that no censorship is some communication nirvana we should be heading for. We should be aiming instead for a regulatory regime that more accurately reflects the interests of society. In some areas we should be loosening up, in other areas there is a case for tightening.


Disagree:   Singaporeans are sophisticated, well travelled and rich – yet the rules governing their media belong to another era. Domestic political news is carefully filtered commentary is generally pro-establishment, and nothing faintly titillating is allowed. Even foreign journalists have been brought to heel through defamation suits, denial of press visas and circulation restrictions on foreign magazines.

Societies with a deep tradition of free speech constantly remind their members that this individual human rights secured for its value to society, With regard to free speech, however, Singaporeans prefer to err on the side of caution, unsurprisingly so when choices are polarised as “individual versus collective” or “freedom versus responsibility”, implying that free speech is inherently selfish and irresponsible. This understanding and rationale for censorship is infinitely old-fashioned and fallacious. What Singapore needs is a media that is conducive to the development and exchange of ideas and which provides a venue for debate. It is time to achieve quantum leaps in freedom of communication.


…a small minority that was willing to make a serious effort to see an obscene play or book could do so. (paragraph 9)


Agree:   TV, radio and print have producers and editors obliged to adhere to media regulations, but anyone can put things up on the web or circulate by mass email. The Internet is largely free of gatekeepers and is a “fetch” medium: the user has to go out and get the information he wants. If a person is interested in pornography, he is going to be surfing for pornography on the web and whatever one’s area of interest, he will tend to go to the sites that reinforce his existing ideas that challenge them.

Disagree:   Whilst we accept that freedom of expression paramount, the safeguarding of society’s standards is a chief concern for others in the wider community. Pornography and other seditious material which could certainly be said to harm health and morals are no less damaging merely because licences are granted to agents which market such articles.


Literature has lost quite a bit now that so much is permitted. (paragraph 10)


Agree:   The evidence is as follows: In 1963, Singapore banned the hit song ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon, fearing that it referenced marijuana, Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope and All For You were also banned due to homosexual and sexually explicit themes that were found unacceptable to our society. Royston Tan’s 15, dubbed a threat to national security, had various key scenes expunged, and the only occasion it was shown uncensored was at the SG International Film Festival.

Disagree:   The government is right to be concerned (obsessed?) with social order and national stability. The work the authorities dub as “threats to national security have no real intrinsic value. In the case of 15, Singaporeans have no need to learn about this niche of their society (secret societies) in such a graphic way and through a vehicle with no moral message.


.. (preserves) the freedoms of a liberal society and protects) the values of a civilized one. (paragraph 11)

Agree:   Liberal censorship is the most appropriate middle ground that can be struck. Singapore has developed a uniquely stringent standard with respect to print and broadcast journalism, but they have not done so with the Internet. That the Internet is almost completely unhindered by the Singapore government despite legal powers it has given itself, is a known fact. We can read any online newspaper from anywhere in the world. If one is willing to pay, you can access almost any site.

Singaporeans themselves have created, with a lot of political discussion. This is not at all what one imagines should be happening in heavily-regulated Singapore, certainly not when one compares it to our tame print and broadcast media.

Disagree:   Censorship, in any kind or degree, contravenes freedom of expression. It is unclear how these regulations can defend the values of a civilized society.



NOTES about censorship in Singapore (including examples which could be used to evaluate if she has got the balance right.)


Discussion about race and religion is very carefully circumscribed, in order to “preserve social The virtues of “family” were likewise held to be above criticism, and there are strong al messages when it comes to matters of sex and marriage. Gradually, there has been a little loosening up. The commercial trend towards showing more skin has been unstoppable, though one still cannot write favourably of single parenthood.

As for homosexuality, there used to be even more silence about this subject than of religion, and what little mention there was, was generally censorious. But like sex in general, over the last 10 – 15 years, there has been increasing depiction of homosexuality in cinemas. On TV nowadays, having a gay character does not automatically disqualify a serial, so long as the character “behaves”. In mainstream newspapers, fairly neutral passing mentions are now common enough to be unremarkable but editors are still careful to keep these references brief and lightweight, .ie. as a minor facet of someone or some event.

The other impulse for censorship – to buttress the ruling party’s dominance – is less negotiable. There has not been any loosening up on this front and not likely to be any. Any writing that is judged to threaten their legitimacy, including moral legitimacy cannot expect to be tolerated.


The controversial Section 33 of the Films Act bans of the making, distribution and exhibition of “party political films”, at a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years. The Act further defines a “party political film” as any film or video

(a) which is an advertisement made by or on behalf of any political party in Singapore or any body whose objects relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore, or any branch of such party or body; or

(b) which is made by any person and directed towards any political end in Singapore


Exception are, however, made for films “made solely for the purpose of reporting of current events”, or informing or educating persons on the procedures and polling times of elections or referendums.

In 2001, the short documentary called A Vision of Persistence on opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam was banned for being a “party political film”. The makers of the documentary, all lecturers at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, later submitted written apologies and withdrew the documentary from being screened at the 2001 Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) in April , having been told they could be charged in court. Another short documentary called Singapore Rebel by Martyn See, which documented Singapore Democratic Party leader Dr Chee Soon Juan’s acts of civil disobedience, was banned from the 2005 SIFF on the same grounds.

On the other hand, Channelnewsasia’s (CNA) 5-part documentary series on Singapore’s PAP ministers in 2005 were not considered a party political film. The government response was that the programme was part of current affairs and thus does not contravene the Films Act. Since they do not concern the politics of Singapore, films that call out political belief bet entries, for example Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911, are allowed.

Foreign publications that carry articles the government considers libellous, including The Economist and the Far East Economic Review (FEER), have been subjected to defamation suits and/or had their circulations “gazetted” (restricted). The sale of Malaysian news in Singapore is prohibited; a similar ban on the sale of newspapers from Singapore applies in The Malaysia.



More examples:

In 2007, Singapore censored two art films at its annual film festival because of their sexual content and religious symbols. “Princess”, an animated film by Danish director Andes Morgenthaler, was withdrawn from the S’pore IFF after the censor demanded the festival cut a “religiously offensive” scene. “Solos”, a Singapore film about the homosexual relationship between an older man and a boy, was censored because of “explicit homosexual lovemaking scenes”.

2007: Two minutes of material are cut from Ekachai Uekrongtham Pleasure Factory, a feature film set in Singapore’s red-light district of Geylang.

2007: Taiwanese director Lee Ang releases his critically acclaimed film Lust, Caution. Aware of our reputation for sexual prudishness, distributors Buena Vista International submit a censored version to the MDA: the same version screened in China and Malaysia, with nine minutes of sexually explicit scenes cut. This version of the film is rated NC (16) and receives no cuts from the Board of Censors. However, Singapore filmgoers raise an outcry over the fact that they are unable to view the original film: many boycott the censored version. Buena Vista International eventually agrees to release the uncensored version of the film, one month after the initial release of the cut version. This version is passed with no cuts by the MDA and rated RA(21).


Visual Art:
2007: SooBin Art Gallery opens a month-long exhibition showcasing the oil paintings of female Beijing artist Chen Xi. The centrepiece was to have been Fly Onto Clouds, a 4-metre high image of a nude woman covered with soap suds, standing against a black backdrop with a parrot flying over her head, but the painting is deemed too sexually provocative by the MDA, which bars the gallery from displaying the work in full public view at the gallery’s location at the ground-floor atrium of the MICA Building.



Comments from Tutor for General Paper :
-If examples from own country is not given, only a maximum of 5 marks.

-remember to state your country and include references to her in your AQ answer.


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