3 Jan 2007

We are all collaborators now

Yawning Bread starts January 2007 on a high note in terms of insight and journalistic integrity. The entire article can be accessed here and below are a few extracts that I feel contain many truths.

[...]Another example would be the onus placed on webmasters to police the chatrooms, forums and comment trails of their websites. While the government does have a small crew that trawls through the internet for what they deem as offensive content, mostly they depend on complaints from the public. If any posting has breached any of our numerous laws that proscribe racial and religious hate speech, sexual language and images, defamation (very low threshold here when it comes to political leaders' egos) or "election advertising", then unless the webmaster has taken prompt action to remove such postings, he will be just as guilty as the original offender. If the offender is anonymous and untraceable, then the webmaster alone will have to face the music.

Of course, this is not unique to Singapore. Many other countries rely on similar mechanisms of getting the proprietors to police their own turf, and holding them accountable under the law. Nor is it unreasonable.

However, what we should be watchful about is the abuse of this mechanism that arises from Singapore's democratic deficit. While the ban on smoking is well-justified in the public health interest, what if other laws serve partisan or illiberal purposes? Private citizens would then be compelled by law to act as agents for these aims.

Compelled to serve the government's interest

I mentioned "election advertising" above. This is the law that forbids anyone from using the internet to promote any candidate or political party during an election campaign [3]. Singaporeans know full well that while the law may in theory be party-neutral, in practice, it favours the incumbent People's Action Party. Since all our mainstream media are government-controlled, barring the digital media from being a channel for opposing views handicaps the opposition. Thus, when webmasters are expected to implement the law, the government is, in an indirect way, making party helpers of us all.

[...]This illustrates a well-known axiom: that totalitarianism destroys our sense of humanity. People end up, whether for reward or self-preservation, as tools and agents of the state, doing things they might not, in good conscience, want to do, or equally often, refraining from doing what they rightfully feel they ought to do.

[...]If we couldn't stop the blatantly partisan creation of Group Representation Constituencies by law, if we couldn't stop the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act and the Broadcasting Act that put all print and broadcast media under the thumb of the government -- and foreign media too [6] -- what's to stop another law another day to make censors, informers and enforcers of us all?



10 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

Who's to say that the ban smoking is justified? Who say's it is "ok" to sacrifice the right of an individual to consume a legal product in a peaceful manner for "the public"?

These democrat nut cases can't argue a decent case against govt interference.

How about a look at it this way: If the govt can use its force to stop people from SMOKING, what else do you think they could do to OUR FREEDOM?

But, in this article yb thinks it is OK for the state to interfere in smoking, but not ok for the state to interfere in the freedom of speech or expression.

WTF?

The health issue related to smoking could have been handled beautifully by the free market, and it is not too late to repeal the anti-smoking legislation. Non smokers can freely boycott places who don't cater to them; vice versa for those who like to smoke. Venue owners who are passionate about "keeping the customer satisfied" might have special areas designated "smoking" and "non smoking" to cater to as many patrons as possible.

As long as the activity can be conducted in a peaceful manner, with voluntary cooperation, the state has no business interfering.

S'pore govt claims to be "pro free market". It consistently passes laws to LIMIT or PROHIBIT voluntary association and peaceful resolution, favouring instead massive state interference backed by heavy-handed, almost merciless "punishment".

When there are too many laws, there will be too many criminals. And if you make it a "crime" for people to express themselves, then eventually you will get "criminals" because self-expression is a natural human thingamajig. Fuck it. Neither can you say "Praise Jesus" or "Fuck Jesus" in public. Either which way, they'll get you on some "religious" insensitivity issue. :)

Ah... what will become of my cuntry?

... or what's left of it...?

Anonymous said...

To Matilah_Singapura

<< Who's to say that the ban smoking is justified? Who say's it is "ok" to sacrifice the right of an individual to consume a legal product in a peaceful manner for "the public"?>>

_______________________

Surely the issue is not that it is a *legal* product but that it is *harmful* one. Never heard of the ill effects of secondary cigarette smoke?

I am all for individual choice and freedom but your freedom to swing your arms any which way stops at the tip of my nose.

What choice does the non-smoker have when queuing for a taxi or bus and a smoker in front and behind him blow smoke into his face? Exercise his right to remove himself from the queue and walk home?

Fine. Let's stop the smoking ban in all these public places as you suggest. Why, non-smokers can then exercise their free choice and steer clear of taxi and bus queues etc. and just stay home and grow old healthily and gracefully ... away from the harmful effects of having to inhale secondary cigarette smoke.

Icarus

Matilah_Singapura said...

> Never heard of the ill effects of secondary cigarette smoke?

That has never been proven inconclusively

...but I do agree that freedom is based on individual self-ownership and non-coercive behaviour i.e. "your freedom to swing your arms any which way stops at the tip of my nose."

Which means to say, that even if you use your "harmless" property, and I don't care for its (side) effects, you violate my freedom by continuing to do so - i.e. I don't smoke. You smoke in close proximity to me, I'm affected.

Thus, we are in agreement: no individual has the right to force anyone else to endure the physical effects of that individuals use of his property.

But the state's laws has actually prevented people, and entrepreneurs from seeking peaceful and equitable solutions. The free market can solve just about any issue, because the free market operates through voluntary association.

Since smoking is a "dirty" activity, it can be priced accordingly. They always leave a mess, thus charge them for the cleanup. Why not have a special area for them to smoke, and charge them? If Changi airport can do it, why not the rest of the island?

Most rational and considerate people who happen to be smokers don't smoke in queues. Of ocurse you'll get a few idiots now and then who don't give a shit about others — they're easily dealt with.

Sure, have laws banning smoking in certain areas, but have a decent alternative too. That's all I'm saying. And remember, there's always PROFITS to be made from "solving problems".

For e.g. The person who wants to quit, has a "problem" to be solved. Does the state round up smokers and throw them in cells to cold-turkey them out of their addiction? No. The smoker has a plethora of choices provided by the free market to help him quit — patches, gum, therapy etc. He is free to choose. No one is "sacrificed" and everyone wins. Such is the nature of voluntary cooperation in the market.

Anonymous said...

To matilah_singapura...

< That has never been proven inconclusively >

You sound like a mouthpiece of the Smoking Lobby Group. Suurrre.

< Why not have a special area for them to smoke, and charge them? >

What happens if they choose to smoke in non-designated areas? Why should they choose to pay in the first place when they can smoke anywhere for free with no laws to stop them?

< Most rational and considerate people who happen to be smokers don't smoke in queues. Of ocurse you'll get a few idiots now and then who don't give a shit about others — they're easily dealt with.>

How? Remember, these are inconsiderate dickheads to be smoking in your face in the first place. Ask them to stop politely and they will jump to attention and accede to your request? And if they don't?

Icarus

Anonymous said...

Paying for the privilege of smoking in certain areas when you don't have to? And what possible motivation would compel anyone to do that pray tell? Errr ... Duh.

Do you live in an alternate universe or it's just that you have insights to human nature that others don't?

Any other brilliant recommendations ... err Braniac?

Gormlessly,

PS

Matilah_Singapura said...

Well, all I did was give suggestions to solve a "problem" — i.e. potential conflict between the right of people to conduct their lives freely and peacefully.

Airports have smoking areas, and people cooperate. Yes, people CAN and WILL cooperate voluntarily, as long as it is in their SELF INTEREST to do so.

The point is: it can be done. There needn't be any conflict between smokers and non-smokers IF the state steps away and allows enterprising folks to figure it out.

But if you dumb motherfuckers (obviously educated and brainwashed by the state) are more content in attacking me personally, at least give me a bloody nose, or go the fuck home! ;-)

Anonymous said...

But if you dumb motherfuckers (obviously educated and brainwashed by the state) are more content in attacking me personally, at least give me a bloody nose, or go the fuck home! ;-)

________________

Dumb is ... suggesting stupid and nonsensical ideas.

Even with bans, inconsiderate people will break the law and smoke in non-designated areas. What more without, and PAY for the privilege to smoke in designated areas when they don't have to??? Wherabouts in Shangrila are you from?

If you really believe that then I have a bridge in the Arizona Desert I wish to sell you. And if you are really nice I will also introduce you to my gnomes who live at the far end of my garden. :-)

PS

Matilah_Singapura said...

Er, are you on drugs? Just curious...

So where's my bloody nose? Too stoned to fight, perhaps? ;)

Anonymous said...

To Matilah_Singapura

Er, are you on drugs? Just curious...

So where's my bloody nose? Too stoned to fight, perhaps? ;)

................

Yaaawn.

With a dumfuck like you coming up with such dumb ass ideas how not to matilah Singapura! Indeed.

Most appropriate .. that monicker. :-)

PS

Matilah_Singapura said...

Yep. You are on drugs. Enjoy! ;)