27 Mar 2006

Homophobic Lee

Spotted on Singapore Election.

Comments made in October 2005 by Lee Hsien Loong




PM Goh liberalises hiring of gays in Singapore Civil Service, 2003
Channel i
1 min 58 sec - Mar 17, 2006


50 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

I suspect there are some evangelical Christians behind this.

akikonomu said...

Let me say that the title of this post is sensationalist. If you actually bother to watch the damn video, you'll see Minilee falling back on majoritarianism in order to justify the tolerance of homosexuals in Singapore and yet justifying the gag on their access to the public eye.

That is NOT homophobia.

clyde said...

Is there a bullsh-t meter on Google video?? I can't seem to turn it down coz it was just overwhelming my ears...

akikonomu said...

Let's get this straight: Minilee's comments from that video clip aren't homophobic. They're just cowardly, waffling and half-hearted.

Homophobic would be appropriate if Minilee said gays deserve to be beaten up. Did minilee call gays morally reprehensible or an abomination, or even just unnatural? Did he say he feels uncomfortable around gay people? He said none of that in the video linked in the post.

You can't count on a hand the number of US Democratic senators or even UK MPs who take a more liberal stance towards homosexuality than Minilee. Most centrist politicians, if quizzed about these issues, will sound just as 'balanced' and waffling as Minilee - yet we don't go around calling entire legislatures homophobic, do we?

I'd rather slam Minilee for things that he's actually guilty of.

ycbi said...

Ah yes the evangelical Christians , Now they realy are a worry !

Charles said...

"Antipathy to them - and condemnation, loathing, fear, and proscription of homosexual bahaviour - is what we call homophobia...

The term homophobia is now popularly construed to mean fear and dislike of homosexuality and those who practise it"

- Homophobia, A History, Byrne Fone

Can Mr Lee's remark be construed as not homophobic even though he did not said gays shd be bashed up? Sure, he did not use "offensive" language but nevertheless, the reasons he gave are not "substantiated" and seems to hide behind a veneer of "conservative" values.

Perhaps the question we should ask is "if he is homophobic or not" but rather, WHY is there a need to "manage" gay issues?

Anonymous said...

I think he was largely right on his statesmanship of "management" on this issue as the head of the state. It is, as he stated, a "delicate issue". That said, gays activism and counter-gays activism are matters of reflective equilibrium among the populace which the government should play as little role in it as possible.

They still have to make their stand on certain issues (such as the Pride Parade) but this does not allow one to conclude that their stance alludes to consequences of homophobia.

What I would really like to see is a public forum where folks who stand for gay rights and values deliberate with folks who stand against their values. If there is one thing which the government can do for the people, it is this type of supportive and congealing role between otherwise oppositional forces, than to remain politically neutral (or openly but subtly oppositional, however, secretly and subtly supportive) on public media. Since there were matters of similar, if not more, importance handled this way before (for example, the muslims-christian discussion in the states, or the public execution debate in singapore), I don't see why this should be discounted as a strategy unless gayness is something to be triumphed in a closet but embarassing to display in public.

Cory said...

A public forum? Do you really think people will speak their minds in public? Especially if they support gay rights? That sounds like the perfect forum for the Christian right to push their agenda.

Anonymous said...

The real problem is that as history shows its the very fact that Gays have and do lead the world in inovation and tolerance to others . It is this that the st8's fear most of all that in reality GAYS are just so much beter at life skills than so many str8's :)

Anonymous said...

Cory, a public forum does not mean a honest forum, so to speak. It simply implies that there is an eventful place where people can generalize what they value about their values, that's all. If one is as cynical as to say that nothing truthful can be achieved publicly, then I think one is destined to live in the closet forever.

On the other hand, I do think that the Christian right should make their stance apparent, since their best justification is not one based on reasons, but one appealing to pure belief.

akikonomu said...

"history shows its the very fact that Gays have and do lead the world in inovation and tolerance to others."

Starting, I suppose, with Ernst Rohm, Edmund Heines, Adolf Hitler, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb - all gays, all very innovative and tolerant historical figures.

Anonymous said...

Akikonomu,

hey, you left out Alexander the Great, who was all gay, tolerant and innovative.

On one hand, It is foolish to believe that tolerance or innovation is the exclusive capacity of a one single group of people differentiated by their sexual preference. On the other hand, it is even more foolish and naive to argue that gays exclusively belong to the banality of evil. If good and evil can be differentiated like that, I guess we have some real work for our genetic engineers at biopolis.

soci said...

Akik, treating people as a minority and therefore 'legitimately' open to suppression by a majority is unfair to say the least, attempting to justify the condemnation of that minority by appealing to the 'public good' a public that discriminates against the group is legitimising reinforcing the fear of the minority yet oppressed group.

We are right because there are more of us? We must keep the herd calm and ignorant.

Justice, humanity, ethics, freedom of expression, speech, sexuality - the right to live without the state telling you what you can and can not do at every level of existence?

The suppression of homosexuality in Singapore is merely a symptom of overt 'authoritarianism'. One that many seem willing to accept.

Lee is Homophobic, the policies, the laws, and the enforcement of those laws confirm it. See through the rhetoric...

clyde said...

Let's lay out the definition of homophobia from dictionary.com:

Main Entry: ho·mo·pho·bia
Pronunciation: "hO-m&-'fO-bE-&
Function: noun
: irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals

Firstly, I don't see discrimination as being exclusive to physical abuse or calls for violence against a particular individual/group. In fact the more accurate definition would be an unfair balance in human rights and civil liberties between sexual orientations. Which is EXACTLY what PM Lee was emphasising; that gay groups do not withold the same rights as heterosexuals to carry out various social activities. A society can be tolerant and not neccessarily incite hate and bigotry, but as long as a minority stands with fewer rights than his/her heterosexual neighbour, I'd say it was homophobic discrimination from the highest level; Lee and his government. If the State won't see you legitimately as an equal, don't expect anybody else to.

Second, Minilee's excuses for such anti-gay laws are somewhat irrational. It's my guess (and probably not alone on this one) that minilee's excuse of a conservative majority is nothing but bullcrap. But even if this were true, a majority consent does not justify or rationalise discrimination. And since when did public opinion ever matter to the sg govt. If they wanted, they'd make a phone call to MediaCorp today and everybody would be 'brainwashed' into homophelias by tomorrow. Perhaps a less appropriate person to describe as homophobic would be a fundamentalist christian seeing as their anti-gay views stem from religion rather than an aethist's logic. As leader of a state that remains impartial to religion, I therefore conclude that yes, minilee is indeed more homophobic than a fundamentalist christian.

Perhaps he was lacking conviction and waffling on in that room because in his head, he was actually yelling "f--- you fags!".

Anonymous said...

Such a close and narrow-minded garmen!

Would they also similarly restrict those gay and lesbian travellers coming to sg? If so, then we are going to lose out on tourism and affecting the economic growth again. So irritating!

So simple! Calling all gays and lesbians. GE coming soon. You shld know what to do since garmen is constantly depriving you ppl so much of happiness in life.

Then, if still not effective, then look for greener pasture elsewhere - MIGRATE since they can't appreciate you ppl.

A modern city but traditionally minded bunch of nutty leaders.

What's the use of opening up the orchard area for another 24-Hr food galore? Don't we have enough of food centres and food courts around the island already?

It is not 7th month - the hungry ghosts festival every day. Hungry ghosts also want enjoyment and not just food alone!!! Wake up garmen.

Fedup hungry ghost

akikonomu said...

soci, you bring up a good perspective!

However, why should gay people in Singapore be given the right to express themselves publicly when ordinary people in Singapore are denied the same rights to self-expression? Instead of screaming homophobia and threatening to leave, I'd rather see aggrieved persons of alternative persuasions fight for wider civil rights first.

pantalaimon said...

The restrictions on free speech that affect everyone in Singapore also, in this particular sphere, do so in a particularly viewpoint-discriminatory manner. It's true there is a wide spectrum of things that both gay and straight people are not allowed to say, and these restrictions are all problematic. But it's also true that both gay and straight people are especially prevented from saying things in favour of gay rights and equality and acceptance for gays, while expression of anti-gay sentiment more or less goes unrestricted and unpunished. It can't be denied that this is a specific instance where the government consistently demonstrates especial oppression of a particular point of view. You can quibble over it all you like but as far as I can see, that's clearly homophobia.

It's not clear to me that gay people or those who would champion gay equality have any particular duty to devote particular efforts to the cause of free speech in every conceivable sphere. Ideally, everyone would. But it's true that there's a particular dimension to restrictions of free speech in the form of homophobia which someone might reasonably choose to focus on in particular. And it's not at all unreasonable to take up only one worthy cause of many. People don't have unlimited time.

akikonomu said...

It's not clear to me that gay people or those who would champion gay equality have any particular duty to devote particular efforts to the cause of free speech in every conceivable sphere.

You want us to support your cause, and you're not sure if you want to support the application of free speech to the rest of society? imo, that's as good a reason why gay rights should not receive the support of ordinary people. No such thing as a free lunch, you know.

Matilah_Singapura said...

That's right. Free speech is free speech, unless it is willfully restricted by contract law: e.g. you work for someone and the deal, which was mutually agreed to, is that you don't reveal certain things about your work.

Free speech includes the freedom to make racist slurs, hammer religion, ridicule sexual orientation, fuck the government(s), call the pope a paedophile, anyone's mother a whore, the dalai lama a wimp, any imam a goat-sodomiser, and Hitler a hero.

Everyone has the right to free speech whether the govt allows it or not. No govt can "give" freedom. Govts can only take freedom away, since they are hold the territorial monopoly of coercion.

Free speech is bounded only by the imagination of the speaker. ;-)

If there were free speech, making homophobic comments would be perfectly OK.

Are any of you rusty-tromboners ready for that? :-)

Anonymous said...

dear matilah,

You sure have a very naive concept (and practice) of free speech. Given your own definition, asking you to shut up and go away seem to be perfectly okay. It is therefore my freedom to curtail yours through speech. Do you think that works?

pantalaimon said...

Akikonomu:

"You want us to support your cause, and you're not sure if you want to support the application of free speech to the rest of society? imo, that's as good a reason why gay rights should not receive the support of ordinary people. No such thing as a free lunch, you know."

Depends on what you mean by the word "support", doesn't it? I for one care a lot more about free speech in party political contexts, human rights and criminal justice than in relation to gay rights and religious freedom, for instance. I would (and do) give money and volunteer time to Amnesty International but not to PLU or to a religious organisation, for instance. But I don't have any quarrel with other people doing the converse (i.e. putting particular effort into ending homophobia but not into ending arbitrary detention), and I would certainly verbally and in spirit support their efforts in so doing.

It's called pluralism and diversity. Not only do I rather quite like it, I also think in fact you can't reasonably expect everyone to take up the cudgel equally against every possible cause out there. Why isn't fighting some corners quite worthy? Why should one have to devote equal efforts to fighting all?

Matilah:
While broadly agreeing that free speech should allow homophobic expression as much as pro-gay expression, I don't think the boundaries for intervention in speech should be defined solely by contract law. I think there's something to be said for also criminalising incitement, procurement and conspiracy i.e. I wouldn't criminalise saying "Gays suck, I hate them" but I would criminalise saying "Look, why don't you and I go kill that guy over there because he's gay."

Matilah_Singapura said...

anonymous: I think you don't understand what private property is. I own myself, I own my mind, my lungs and my vocal chords. If you prevent me from using my private property, you violate my rights.

You have a right to express your ideas. My only duty is to leave you alone (to enjoy the use of your property). There is no obligation on my part for agreeing with the CONTENT of your expression. I have every right to abuse the hell out of you (but not threaten you in any way). So get fucked :-)

pantalaimon: Yes, if there is a threat of force, that is an afront to private property rights.

ALL one-on-one relationships are governed by some sort of explicit or implicit contract - which sets boundaries, under a framework of voluntary association. I can assure you if you habiyually use harsh language with your friends or significant other, they'll eventually terminate the realtionship.

Almost everyone here is forgetting one thing:

No one can make you feel bad without your permission.

Freedom of speech comes with its "antidote": freedom to ignore and choose to do something else with your being and your time.

Matilah_Singapura said...

PS: to anonymous

You are entitled to TELL (as opposed to the verb you used:ASK) me to "go away" - you are expressing yourself freely.

In no way are you "curtailing" my free speech. I can respond in words, or simply ignore you.

Ever been on stage? If you have, have you ever been BOOED?

Anonymous said...

Matilah,

When, and if it was ever possible, that I have ever prevented you from using your "private property"? Do you really think free speech is something like the garden hose you use to water your cactus and also your mouth (BTW, it is highly suggested that you wash your mouth :o)? I don't think so. Making animal utterances that no one can really understand in the world is using your lungs but saying something which other people can understand and response to is beyond simply using your "private" lungs.

BTW, verbal 'abuse' is not protected under any free speech act that I am aware of. Why don't you try to verbally abuse someone, publicly of course, and see if you violate the other person's rights of dignity and self-respect. It is obviously apparent that you only think you know! And to say that no one can make you feel bad without your permission, you are saying that we are walking around like operating systems which must perform permission giving at every moment of a social interaction! If that's the case, make sure you ask for permission next time. Since you did not, we did not think the condition exists.

It sure looks like most of your friends have terminated friendship with you to permit you to have such a penetrating insight into human nature and free speech. Maybe time to change your perspective on these matters?

Free speech has no antidote because it is not poison: it only becomes the ridiculous venom of those who do not know how to really value it. Sure, I could have ignored you but that would only allow your version of free speech for others. That, my friend, I will not permit with my free speech.

clyde said...

"However, why should gay people in Singapore be given the right to express themselves publicly when ordinary people in Singapore are denied the same rights to self-expression? Instead of screaming homophobia and threatening to leave, I'd rather see aggrieved persons of alternative persuasions fight for wider civil rights first."

While there is authoritarianism applied across the board that suppresses civil liberties, the problems facing the gay community is one of discrimination. Discrimination does not necessarily imply that the other party is treated well, only that the discriminated party is treated poorly relative to the rest of the community. It would be completely predictable of an authoritarian system to oppress public celebrations and parades not in their (the govt) interest. But in cases such as the Fridae incident for example, even indoor social activities are not safe from the long arm of the Law. Which begs a few questions:

1)If the event was indoors, how was it potentially offensive to the non-gay public?
2)If the event was proclaimed a gay/lesbian event, what potential did it have of attracting unexpecting non-gays?
3)What are the chances of the "conservative majority" and the gay community being in the same room at all?? If you see your uncle at a nightclub, chances are he ain't too conservative in the first place.

So let's get this straight. Heterosexuals are allowed to socialise, flirt, drink, and even bartop dance, engage in sexual activity (apart from oral sex), while gays/lesbians are denied the same previlige amongst their own community? In the instance of the Fridae event, answering the above questions will show even a "conservative majority" excuse is not an eligible one, and this is when law enforcement and government policies turn into harrassment and homophobic bigotry from the highest level. They may not be granted all the rights they should have, but they certainly should not expect any less than the heterosexual.

***********************************

"Free speech has no antidote because it is not poison: it only becomes the ridiculous venom of those who do not know how to really value it."

While that may be true, it is also equally venomous when a person doesn't know how to handle another person's views which some may find offensive. In general, I have to agree with Matilah's concept of free speech. In theory, everyone has the right to offend another, and equally, everyone has the right to ignore. But just because you could theoretically steer a car with your feet doesn't always make it a bloody good idea! It is the increasing amount of legislation that has been drawn up to protect people's "feelings" that have bastardised the concept of free expression. Social culture and character should always dominate and dictate what we say. While such acts, including the Sedition Act, may have been drawn up with all good intentions, you will find sooner or later that these come with more drawbacks than desired, such as self-censorship, and an increasing reliance on the law to shape society. Perfect example: Singapore.

Having said that, I still recognise that there is a line to be drawn, where beyond lies contempt, conspiracy and intent to cause harm towards another individual. But one always has to be careful in differentiating a simple hate wish, and an actual plot to commit crime. A thought crime is only a thought crime until a person is actually commited to acting on it, as per pantalaimon's example.

Anonymous said...

Clyde,

"In theory, everyone has the right to offend another, and equally, everyone has the right to ignore. But just because you could theoretically steer a car with your feet doesn't always make it a bloody good idea!"

I think you just answered your own question by contradicting yourself. Yes, indeed, theoretically it may be consistent and all, but if you put it in real practice, we may all find out that steering a car with feet may not sound so ideal. And so this analogy applies to Matilah's comments, that though you may theoretically have the right to offend another (which begs the question of why would you do that in the first place: is there no other way to put it across?), in practice, it is not justified because your rights to do so violate another's rights to be prevented from such an offence, verbal or visceral. Of course, we may want to escalate this into a tit for tat game of violating each other's rights, but at the end of the day, if it is mutual understanding or social justice that we are pursuing, then free speech in the former sense is not going to get you there. Why waste or pervert a good thing and might I say, a right?

If you think it is social culture and character that constrain one's sense of self-censorship, then may I ask, where do these come from? At the end of the day, we come to a crossroad where you are either a believer that nothing, and I mean nothing, other than your own sense of human self-respect guides your free speech, or you take the path that commits you to some need of justification along the lines of "social culture", "character" or "legislature". I am not a believer that law has complete control to mould society especially where the libertarian system is concerned, but if we head down that path (I am not thinking of Singapore, but the USA), it is clear to see what kind of society we will eventually get.

Anonymous said...

"Aikonomu: I'd rather slam Minilee for things that he's actually guilty of."


He is guilty of being a fence-sitter during that interview. However he is also guilty of the things his administration has done or not done since he became PM. His administration is more homophobic than the previous one under GCT though he prefesses open society and what not. By that he is also guilty of being a liar.

Anonymous said...

I find that minilee does a number of things more for his own convenience and his own egoism. And also a number of things he said have negative impact on the sg's economy.

For eg, he said something to the effect that those 40 yrs and above are not efficient and are not so capable and therefore should not be paid with a high salary based on experience and seniority. Then, soon after, the local and foreign companies started to retrench the elderly people. And slowly and thereafter, foreign investments were withdrawn from sg and caused more retrenchments and then the downfall of the economy for a few years.

Being a PM, how could he not know the demographic of sg? He is above 50s and he is getting such a high pay based on experience and seniority, isn't he?? Furthermore, he has to be assisted by MM and SM.

This negative impact on the economy has subsequently affected the citizens emotionally and mentally. Those being retrenched find difficulties in getting a job subsequently and were so distressed that some were thinking of committing suicide (featured on TV). One man actually committed suicide in his car on the 3rd day of Chinese New Yr - also featured on TV show. Staying near my place, there were also two men jumped from their blocks of flats -unreported cases. And more in the newspapers.....

And then, he and his men consistently told every citizens to tighten our belts, etc while they themselves getting big bomb pays. He could even promote the President before his term was renewed and another MP.

Next, when minilee was DPM, one of the female MPs raised the point to relax the regulation to provide the same benefit to the female counterparts as that being enjoyed by the males in the civil service. But he immediately rejected and said that it was not necessary and some of his "olddie" MPs supported his idea and they were all laughing at that point of time in the parliament debate.

In one of the recent debate when MP Mah revealed the upgrading project, Minilee asked whether his consistuency AMK will be in line soon but Mah said no - must go according to Z-A. But for this coming GE, minilee announced that his consistuency will be upgraded.

But immediately after he became PM, he quickly relaxed the regulation and even offered more "carrots" in favour of the feminism.

Now, the giving away of progress package and bonus awards, etc in hope of getting more votes for the coming GE.

Actually, the upgrading of lifts at every floor was first recommended by Chiam See Tong for his own consistuency using their accumulated funds. However, it was rejected by the ministry as it was not under the regulation to do so. Now, the garmen is following suit with imposition of few requirements to be met.

Chiam also said that the citizens were burglared as the lane was brightly lit. So he requested for more lights to be installed but he was prevented from doing so.

Who is more caring for sg citizens?

Anonymous said...

"the lane was NOT brightly lit....."

Anonymous said...

Just a few weeks ago, I went to a small shopping mall in Hougang by bus. As you know, Hougang is run by the opposition party. As far as I know, the bus route which I took is a new bus route.

But when I waited to come back, I waited for sometime without realising that there was no same bus on the opposite side of the shopping mall. And then one lady came to the bus-stop and I asked her which bus-stop should I go to in order to take the same bus when I came. The lady told me that I have to walk down about 2 bus stops away. She also added that the Bus route has recently been altered.

And the shopkeepers in that shopping mall complained that the business there is very poor.

How could the business be good, I ask myself......reason???

Matilah_Singapura said...

To anonymous:

It is wonderful that you claim to be able to govern your free speech.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm quite capable of governing mine - by my own standards.

Yeah, I do have a foul mouth. But everyone makes their own emotions, you dumb fuck :-)

Listen, dip-shit, you have to allow me to give you "an experience" - regardless of how much abuse I hurl at you.

Have you got it yet?

Oh BTW, every individual has a natural right to his opinion - and that includes MiniLee! He can be as "homophobic" as he likes, and piss off as many poofters as his words might.

Here's another one of those oh-so true pithy sayings:
You can't cheat an honest man.

Anonymous said...

matilah_singapure, you must be mistaken. Are you telling to the right anonymous?

Anonymous said...

matilah,

You can say what you like but that does not mean that you have my respect. You don't have to announce that you have a foul mouth, because it is not only clear that you do but you really really suck at expressing yourself beyond the two versions of a four letter word. I guess that's because you try to sound so french with an occasional pitiful aphorism or two that makes no sense whatsoever.

Ah, I don't think you have a right to talk about "natural right". A person who can only hurl insults and verbal abuse really belong to in the best case, a barbarian camp, or in the worst, a zoo. Natural rights are for human beings who communicate by language, not "fuck" this or that. If all you are only capable of animal talk, then maybe an animal rights group may fit you better.

Please, you don't have to tell me a secret. I would only accuse you of lying. It is obvious that your sub-standard of governance is really no governance at all.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous: dont mind matilah, he is just a inwardly confused and disturbed individual who has confused sexual activities with daily speech leading to a deficiency of self expression compromising his natural rights to free speech. really sad...

clyde said...

"I think you just answered your own question by contradicting yourself. Yes, indeed, theoretically it may be consistent and all, but if you put it in real practice, we may all find out that steering a car with feet may not sound so ideal. And so this analogy applies to Matilah's comments, that though you may theoretically have the right to offend another (which begs the question of why would you do that in the first place: is there no other way to put it across?), in practice, it is not justified because your rights to do so violate another's rights to be prevented from such an offence, verbal or visceral."

Actually, my comments are not contradictory because while my analogy implies offensive language is not neccessary, in no way would I impinge on the rights of another to offend (or drive with their feet). If you cannot grasp the Right to Ignore, then that is to your own disadvantage. I find it even more incredibly absurd that people cannot excercise this right on the Internet, let alone a face to face conversation. The logic of one's rights to say something potentially offensive having the effect of impinging your rights is a completely construed concept. Because the irony of having a ficticious 'Right not to be Offended' conversely impinges another's right to speech. Ask yourself if (a)your civil liberties have been reduced, and (b) if your human rights have been reduced. Answering these and acknowledging that the "Right not to be Offended" is contradictory in itself, and will conclusively show that your concept is flawed.

Let's also remember that Rights in this context is dictated by the Law. If you believe in pursuing social justice and mutual understandings over legislation, then I don't see any reason why you should think that Matilah should face potential prosecution by the Law. This situation is very much similar to the incident where the Danish caricatures offended the muslim community. Alex Au (Yawning Bread) duly noted the bastardisation of free speech when people become fond of affixing "responsibility" to it. It suggests a freedom you have which must be curtailed depending on how offended another becomes. And it's not hard to see that where legislation is involved, self-censorship becomes inevitable. Perfect case study yet again: Singapore.

While we obviously encourage respect for opposing views on this blog, my opinion does not deviate far from Matilah's idea of free speech. One does not have to use profanity or share his opinion of you in order to agree with him.

Anonymous said...

Clyde,

"The logic of one's rights to say something potentially offensive having the effect of impinging your rights is a completely construed concept."

A construed concept does not mean that it is something that can be dismissed in practice. Like the naive form of free speech you champion so much, it is too, a construed concept. Imagine a world where you are the only soul around: does your free speech have any significance or even meaning to it? Of course not! It is only free in a public of diverse interests and values, and it begets its freedom through an interaction and respect of value holding creatures acknowledged as human beings. If I am unable to respect another's religion by desecrating their utmost religious icon, my free speech as ostensible free speech is meaningless and valueless. Sure, I exercise my rights but if it leads to only me standing on a pile of corpse after a clash of civilisations, what's my free speech worth? One should be forced to take a consequentialist position on matters as grave as this is. To think otherwise or to speak of free speech like it is something that must both be theoretically adhered to and worshipped without reasonable thought within a web of belief is a most barbaric perversion of something good and earned with real blood by real sacrifices.

I am afraid I disagree with Alex's comments on this incident. Responsibility is not something we can affix to entities when we like it and detach when we do not like. I think it is an intrinsic part of our moral nature. Given so, it is not bastardisation of free speech at all, but our consciousness of some possibility of transgression of moral lines has happened.

Given this, I don't really understand your definition of civil liberties or human rights. To me, they sound really trivial in the rarefied way they were stated. Matilah's example is really the most insignificant type. But to return to the Danish incident, though neither my civil liberties or rights have been diminished through this exercise of free speech, I, as part of the constituency which has been humiliated is compelled to act in a certain way due to the web of belief and values I adhere to. You may say that since we are all free, we should not be compelled to act in one way or another. However, we don't live in a rarefied world where spheres of values are held in distinction and are discrete to one another and to think otherwise is being unnecessarily naive.

Just to be honest with oneself, if someone verbally insult your mother in the hawker center, will you let that abuser continue to do that (since he has his rights of free speech) by walking away, or keeping silent so he or she may do so to another's mother? If your answer is yes, then it is obviously certain that you are a follower of a rarefield concept known as free speech and you are also not a moral being. To be controlled by a construed concept is to give up one's freedom, so to speak. If your answer is no, then perhaps you don't believe in the naive concept of free speech and at least you are a moral being. Given that, free speech may be just one of the many construed tools we have invented thus far for the betterment of humanity and it may not be the most perfect exemplar we have. Through this recognition, we concede that our moral judgment is still higher than the tools we have constructed.

Lastly, I do think you have to share Matilah's value of profanity in order to agree with his position. To deny this is to be intellectually dishonest. All he had in his comments were nothing but profane name calling and in cases where it is not so, senseless lingo. So to say that you can stay away from his debased value system yet agree with him is to either be a hypocrite on one hand, or a senseless idiot on the other. Since I believe you are neither, it is a great contradiction indeed.

clyde said...

"A construed concept does not mean that it is something that can be dismissed in practice. Like the naive form of free speech you champion so much, it is too, a construed concept."

Uhh...yes a construed concept should be dismissed as soon as possible, especially in real life. I cannot imagine why anyone would knowingly follow falsehood. You see, you are confusing the moral right and the Right to free speech. Take your 'hawker centre' example. In a public domain, a stranger should have the right to say something potentially offensive, perhaps a joke about 'Ang Mohs' in a place where caucasians frequent. Or someone could shout a slur at my parent/relative. To that I would exercise my own right to verbally intimidate him back. He was morally wrong. But my rights would not be violated. I exercised my own. It's fair game. Remember, free speech is the right to express ANY opinion in public without government intervention. Do you really think I should press charges against a guy for calling me names? If you want to fight your concept on moral grounds then do so. But don't conflate the two.

This confusion also leads to your inability to comprehend how I can share Matilah's views without thinking that you too are an idiot. The concept of freedom is inextricably tied to the concept of choice. One does not have to make the same choices as another to believe in freedom. Just because I believe people should be able to chew gum doesn't necessarily mean my dislike for Bubble Yum makes me a hipocrite. He chose to use profanity and to an extent, demean you in order to prove a point. As I said before, our choices should always be dictated out of our own character and moral judgement, not by law in the context of speech. What IS wrong is that we apply our own sense of moral laws on others for which they must obey. Where do we draw the line if we let other people's "feelings" dictate what we say? You essentially lose the essence of 'free speech'. If Christians decided the '+' symbol was offensive in textbooks, should we all invent and implement a new plus symbol??

We are all adults here, and I'd expect none of us should find any need to run off to the nearest police station and report Matilah's very foul mouth.

Anonymous said...

Clyde,

"what IS wrong is that we apply our own sense of moral laws on others for which they must obey."

At no time did I ever claim that Matilah's class of comments should be arbitrated by the law, force, or police. I don't know why you keep alluding to the fact that my retort is an attempt to enforce some type of official censorship to his comments. I certainly don't agree with him, and definitely don't like his method of expression, but did I say anything that goes something like this, "let's go to the supreme court to sort this out"? I think it is your own faulty imagination at work as far as this goes.

On the point of idiocy, I think the true idiot is one who seeks distinction where there is none. Let's try this. You say that I have confused and conflated (by the way, they are not synonym of each other) moral right and Right to free speech (with a capital R: wow). Yes, indeed I think they are the same so I don't really understand your rebuttal. After all, if the right to free speech is a moral right of man, then by exercising the right of free speech I am also exercising my moral right. A second level of idiocy is the thought that one can separate or extricate oneself from moral commitments while exercising some intrinsic rights. If you can say the concept of freedom is inextricably tied to the concept of choice, then you should surely understand too that the concept of choice is tied to our moral rights to choose as human beings. After all, there cannot be morality without free choice, right? So how can you then say that moral rights and rights to free speech are distinct and separate categories?

Of course one does not have to make the same choice as another to believe in freedom! But your counter-argument is flawed simply because our topic at hand is not chewing gum but a set of propositions. To restate my point, Matilah's propositions consisted of firstly, senseless profanity due to his inept command of language, and secondly, equally senseless verbiage as far as meaning goes. So if you say that you agree to his propositions, you must either also agree with his senseless profanity, and or, senseless verbiage. If you want to wiggle out by saying that you are not agreeing with either of these propositions but his undisputed right to make these propositions, then you are missing the point because at no time did I ever claim that Matilah's should not be allowed to speak.

I can agree with you that the act of drawing a line is very challenging but to deny that we do that is again, to be dishonest. Come on, we do that everyday to our boss, our friends, our families and even with unknown bloggers :)! I think the person who refuses to do that comes across as socially inept in the best case and in the worst, emotionally retard. What I wholely agree with you here is the problem of allowing a certain group dictates the "rights" and the good for the society. That said, there is still a big gap on what we have argued thus far and the very act of imposing our moral values on others. To be honest, I just don't know if the latter is even latent when we decide to open our mouths coherently. To put your ideas out in the open so to speak, is to endanger a certain part of the world to loss and destruction.

Matilah_Singapura said...

To anonymous 1 & 2:

Thanks for playing guys, and dignifying my comments with your responses. :-)

I was about to suggest you contact your alma maters for a complete refund on the fees paid for your (expensive?) educations, and return the money to your hardworking parents, but at least you displayed some degree of intelligence in your posts.

I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

"Everyone has an opinion and an arsehole".

... and to live fully as a human, you need freedom to use both.

And that's my opinion, arseholes :-))

Anonymous said...

Hello Matilah,

actually you have two arsehold, one on your head and one at your rear. I am quite sure you used both. That's my opinion :)))

Matilah_Singapura said...

Hey man, that's the spirit! I "got you" to use foul language. Yay! I win!

clyde said...

Anonymous, here are the two primary problems I see with your attempt to tackle this issue.

1)Quite rightly, Matilah has won at the end of the day because while almost every other reader has chosen to ignore him, you have decided to work yourself up. Not towards me, but to him. Like your earlier metaphor, 'if no one listens, does it make a sound'? By responding to someone you deem undeserving of respect, you have already dignified his response. And I am actually very amused at how he's even got you to use profanity within the last 2 comments! He keeps tempting you and you keep taking the bait till eventually, you will have lowered your standards to the very thing you despise.

2) Obviously the root to our problem of disagreement is the very definition of free speech. By my definition (and apparently dictionary.com's), the term "free speech" is any opinion that can be expressed without government intervention. Thus whenever I mention "free speech", there is an unsaid reference to legislation. Hence, we are really on the same moral page but you choose not to recognise that the Law is separate from morality by either by failing to recognise this difference or using the term "free speech" loosely in its own sense. The chewing gum example is valid because there is a difference between "would/should not" and "cannot". I found it misleading by your quote that one's right to offend impinges your own rights; implying the other person forfeit his Right to offend.

Let's just agree Matilah should not (morally) use profanity, but reserves the Right (legally) to be a good boy or not. I will find some time later to respond to your other comments on my own blog.

Anonymous said...

Oh, is "arsehold" a foul word? :)) touche.

Clyde,

1. It is quite alright for Matilah to 'win' the day. I don't really mind that. To simply conclude that I was worked up because I responded just does not make sense. I could have been bored, maybe psychotic or maybe I have nothing better to do, or maybe I just want to have an interesting discussion with someone: all possibilities.
Things do make a sound even if no one listens. People can deny that, but why try to deny the objective, realist world?


2. You are misquoting me on your "impingement" or forfeiting your rights concept. That was all I wrote: "in practice, it is not justified because your rights to do so violate another's rights to be prevented from such an offence, verbal or visceral". Justifiability as a qualifier is still a long way off from your outright forfeiting concept. Therefore, you are quite right to say that the other has the right to offend you, but under some formal arbitration, it is not a justifiable excuse, or reason, or even rights to say that because I possess this rights, I am excused from incurring a penalty. See the point?

3. I really don't understand your point on free speech and legislation.

Sure, our (tentative) conclusions are:

(a) Matilah is a bad bad boy (how do we know for sure? Can there be a girl with such foul mouth? Of course!) with a bad bad foul mouth.

(b) Formalized foul language should not be used on forum to express one's thoughts.

(c) Matilah has full rights to do so even if (b) is frowned upon :) but it is really unjustified for one's understanding.

Thank you for reviewing my post, I appreciate it. Not too often to meet thoughtful people.

soci said...

there is going off topic and then there is really going off topic. Well done everyone, we have reached a new level of irrelevance, or are you trying to define free speech.

If you are here is my ten cents worth... I would like to make a distinction between claims of free speech and 'parrhesia'.

According to Foucault (1983) “Parrhesiastes says what is true because he knows that it is true; and he knows that it is true because it is really true.” Parrhesia does not depend on evidence or a Cartesian Mental state it is not belief linked to truth (mental experience) but is a verbal activity, which no longer fits into our modern epistemic framework. Certain ‘moral qualities’ are the proof that he/she has access to the truth and vice-versa. The moral quality is his/her courage. In parrhesia, the danger always comes from the fact that the truth is capable of hurting your interlocutor and yourself. A speaker in order to be engaged in parrhesia is always in a position of inferiority, and is aware of this status. Finally, in parrhesia the speaker is able to speak and is duty bound to speak the truth but not under duress. Parrhesia is therefore related to freedom and duty.

Claiming 'free speech' when calling a minority names or evil is not free speech in this sense, it is attacking a minority. No more no less.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Huh? All that philosophical gobbledegook... what's the point?

All children speak freely until they are "conditioned" by their parents, then later by social institutions.

Free speech is best done, not defined.

So are the "less educated" who go: "kani nabu chow chee bai [insert racist slur]" in the wrong?

Oh, BTW how come if you use "ang mo" or "gwei lo" or "mat saleh" that's sorta OK... even accepted in board rooms. But if you call someone a CHINK you could end up in court?

...just wondering...

soci said...

"BTW, I'm not a do-gooder. I'm not one of those fluffy new-age types who believe in "peace and love". Heck, leaning very much toward Ayn Rand's Objectivism and the classical liberal ideas of Molinari, Bastiat, Mises and Rothbard, I'm even sceptical of (political) democracy.

But I do believe in the primacy and sovereignty of the individual."

Philosophical gobbledegook? Looks like the pot calling the kettle...

Matilah_Singapura said...

Aha. Parrhesia.

Top stuff!

Anonymous said...

Soci,

But the problem with the idea of parrhesia still lies in the very starting premise of self stipulation of what is true (or the truth). What if those who verbally attacks, do name callings on the minorities really believe that their starting premise is true and believes in speaking frankly (that's the way they know how to express themselves as we know from some people around here) in order to save the truth of a world free from the ails of homosexuality in order for it to be governed by the good of only the heterosexuals? Assuming that there are also a number among these who speaks freely despite knowing that they may get punched or persecuted by the gay community or hate crimes advocacy groups, what then?

That said, you are probably right on when you say free speech is less rarely adopted as a right for good than a weapon or shield for one's agenda. Guicciardini once said that we should all be beware of those who constantly champion liberty because (according to his experience) given the right incentives for themselves, a totalitarian system works just as well too.

Matilah_Singapura said...

>> Guicciardini once said that we should all be beware of those who constantly champion liberty because (according to his experience) given the right incentives for themselves, a totalitarian system works just as well too. <<

That was way back when - the individual was throrougly screwed, unless one was born in the "right class".

Individuals (in developed societies) are definitely more empowered now. And the same aspect of human nature - SELF INTEREST - is still within all of us.

We live in times where a 19 year old can become a squillionaire, and 14 year olds have blogs, mobile phones and iPods.

We also have govts who have enormous power - many of them extra-terrestial powers over their citizens. Present day governments chip away at our liberties at every chance they get - the very civil liberties elected governments are supposed to protect.

That is why, I don't trust governments, nor anyone who works for or with any government. And no, I don't wear a TFH (Tin Foil Hat)

clyde said...

Why would you? We all know aliens never come to singapore. It's already been brainwashed and sterilised for a planetary takeover.