2 Oct 2005

Porn? No, Blogs Bug Me More

If by mainstream publications Carl Skadian is referring to the Straits Jacket, he has got to be joking. As a blogger I am naturally worried by anyone who writes for the PAP controlled media in Singapore and dares to use the term 'journalist'.

Singapore's press freedom has been ranked 147th by Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International and the US State Department have consistently questioned Singaporean Laws that undermine freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Singapore. Now if you would like to check these 'facts' simply google them in the right hand corner of this blog.



The past few weeks have thrown up another worry about children and the Internet, as if parents don't have enough on their hands.

I'm talking about blogs.

As a journalist, I'm naturally wary of blogs already, mainly because bloggers are wont to throw accuracy out the window.

That's because checking facts seems to be the last thing on bloggers' minds unlike, say, mainstream publications which, for the most part, do their darnedest to make sure what they publish is accurate.

For bloggers, saying what they feel like saying seems to be de rigueur, consequences be damned.

Now, blogs have generated much controversy, but what happened here about two weeks ago takes the cake.

Just in case you missed it: Three people were charged with making racist comments in their blogs. They allegedly made seditious and inflammatory remarks about Malays and Muslims.

In one particularly galling incident, one among the three allegedly admitted to being "extremely racist" in one of his entries online.

That just about did it for me and blogs.

I'm glad the authorities hauled the trio to court. Hopefully, doing so will send a message to like-minded folk in cyberspace that they'd better start putting the brain before the mouse.

As far as I'm concerned, blogs are possibly the worst things about the Internet. Sure, pornography and other stuff rightly furrow the brows of parents, but the things some bloggers say go far beyond the pale.

I have read some of these comments, chiefly because some sane members of the public occasionally e-mail such views to us, to raise a red flag about what goes on out there.

Frankly, some of the blog entries just beggar belief. The amount of vitriol being spewed by some of these chaps will leave you speechless. And all the talk about self-regulating is just so much bull to me. You read about cases where people are forced to shut down their blogs because they get a stream of invective from folks who don't agree with what they say.

But there are many more blogs which encourage like-minded people to come forward and pour petrol on the fire.

Then there's the curiosity factor. The Sarong Party Girl blogger was one. She might have toiled in relative obscurity for a while, but once the word got out, the hits just kept on coming.

In the case of the three charged under the Sedition Act, there was worse to come.

After news of the charges broke, some members of the blogging community made comments that seemed far from the realm of common sense to me.

Here were three people charged with making inflammatory statements--in a society where being tolerant is constantly drummed into us, no less--and other bloggers were worried about what the incidents bode for freedom of speech.

They were alarmed that the arrests meant there was some campaign afoot to curtail what one could say online.

They had got to be joking. I wonder where it says that freedom of speech means one can go around irresponsibly taking potshots at everyone one dislikes, with a medium which has probably the widest reach of all.

Sure, you might have the freedom to say what you want, but it comes with responsibility and accountability. Many of the bloggers I have come across have neither.

As I said, blogging, to me, is the biggest danger out there. It's also given me more work to do when it comes to my children.

Now, I have to find a way to keep my kids from believing what they read when they come across such blogs.

My children are part Chinese, part Indian and part Eurasian. Plus, they have relatives whose faiths are a whole spectrum, from Roman Catholic to Muslim.

Already, they're asking some hard questions about the state of the world today, especially when it comes to acts of terrorism that have been committed since 9/11.

Sometimes, without thinking, they mouth certain things after reading or watching a news item that I then have to catch.

With all these influences around them these days, irresponsible blogs are not going to help.



By Carl Skadian
The Straits Times/ANN


1 comment:

lee hsien tau said...

Well, Carl Skadian, my advise to you is to buy the necessary amount of bricks and seal your children in their rooms with no means of communication with the outside world till you or they be culled to the lord whichever comes first. Like my financial strategy lecturor once said, if you're afraid of being knocked down by a car, don't leave the house.
You need to live as far as you can from the 3rd rock from the sun