Freedom of Speech has Limitations?

ryan

Nobody believes in total freedom of speech you say?
I do, but yeah I’m a nobody in the Singaporean political sphere, perhaps you’re right.

I do mind child pornography and there are laws against this, laws that protect children from being taken advantage and exploited.

Well I don’t know about you, if I had a 12 yr old child who shows keen interest in the fine art of demolition, maybe because their daddy (hypothetically me in this scenario) happens to be a professional buildings demolitionist, I would teach my child first and foremost the safety of demolition. Our children are not a vessel to live vicariously through, they’re their own person and it’s up to us as parents to offer support with what they’re interested in (as long as it doesn’t violate any laws or harm another person) and perhaps some day, this hypothetical child of mine will be the heir and successor of a top class demolition company because their daddy didn’t restrict their curiosity.

And yes I agree with you that “free speech with boundaries” argument is just pointless because free speech already has a definition, it’s the freedom to speak freely to share your mind and ideas, no matter how nonsensical, idiotic, crazy or offensive it is without fear of legal or violent repercussion, because all of those are subjective, it’s up to the individual who is listening to determine this for themselves,

Is pornography okay?
Yes it is, its legitimate work, in countries where pornography is legal there are unions formed to protect the rights of porn actors and actresses.
I’m assuming you’re talking about legal porn and not amateur revenge porn.
Revenge porn is a clear violation of privacy and as such is illegal.

Should we be allowed to criticize Politicians?
Yes, no person/people, institution, ideology or religion are immune from Criticisms, Mockery, Satire or Scrutiny.

Example when we prioritize the feelings of the religious to not be offended, we get movements like “We are against the pink dot” whose anti gay stances which are backed up by theology cannot be challenged for fear of wounding their religions and getting you in jail.
So they get to spread their message of hatred towards homosexuality and you can’t do anything about it because their ideology and religion is protected by law.

Can companies sue us for expressing displeasure at their products?
No, because we paid for these services we expect a standard of service.
Like with the recent FlyScoot incident where passengers were stranded over 20 hours, sure it’s a budget airline but when I see people defending the company for their incompetence saying “you pay cheap like dat lor” you know 400 dollars is still a lot of money to some people the least a company could do is display a fair bit of professionalism and own up to their mistakes and compensate when those happen.
Companies can however sue if they are being slandered or libel to protect themselves from falsehoods.

Your last paragraph is basically saying, free speech has limits, who sets these limits?
When did I relinquish my ability to think for myself to another person or a group of people to decide for me what I can and cannot hear?

Just a short excerpt from a post I made with regards to this same point being brought up

“So guess to those Singaporeans, my standard of Freedom of Speech (the one where its actually freedom of speech) this would be going too far. That more moderation needs to be done, maybe we should have a committee to decide for everyone what is and what isn’t allowed. You know, thought policing, alleviating your freedom to think for yourself so that another person or a group of people may do so for you, this is the problem with many Singaporeans that I’ve come across.”

To sum up this long winded post.
When people say “Free Speech should be limited/have boundaries”
What they’re really trying to get at is the “Right to not be offended”
Which by the way doesn’t exist because offense is taken not given.
If someone finds themselves offended its their own prerogative to stop taking offense.

Peace!

“Nothing happens when you’re offended” – Steve Hughes.

Click here for my explanation of Free Speech.

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The Fear of Freedom

Recently a new video to highlight the injustice the City State has incurred onto the 16 yr old dissident Amos Yee.

That should have been it but being a curious person that I am, I decided to look through the comment section and what I have found are a myriad of comments of citizens expressing their fear of freedom and coming to the defense of the City State in it’s inhumane treatment of a child.

Comments such as these
thefarah

My replies are as follows.

1) He criticized a religion, it’s wrong to insult a person’s faith
Why? you can make a claim why something is positive or negative but not explaining the claim, makes your claim worthless.

Religions are not immune from insults, scrutiny, criticism, mockery or satire because, stick with me here I know this is a radical idea for you, not everyone believes in religion. And when religious people make a claim about scientific or academic theory being wrong because it doesn’t match up with religious doctrines, then I suppose your position would have to be, “Well religion is right, because we cant insult them, we cant scrutinize their claim or mock them” Well then the earth is in the center of the universe.

Well thank “god” that’s not the case and thank “god” Galileo still kept his scientific papers for the rest of the world to see and thank “god” the church does not have a say in academia because now we know the earth is not the center of the universe

2) Freedom of speech is reserved for important things
If “freedom” is reserved then it’s not free is it?
Like saying, Free seating but only if you reserved or Open to Public but tickets required.
Also important things like what for whom, based on what and whose standards?

3) Conditions of your country are deplorable.
Well I’m from Singapore and I agree, they are deplorable especially with people like you espousing your willingness to give up your freedom to think for yourself but on a serious note, whose country are you talking about?
Oh nevermind, it just hit me, you’re one of those people who thinks Singapore is world class compared to other countries because those countries have a littering problem I assure you, as someone whose been around, Other countries are much cleaner than our less touristy spots.

4) You protested in your countries, did huge changes come about? Not really does it?
I can name you one protest that had recently brought about new legislation, Ireland – Legalizing same sex marriage. So protests don’t dont work huh? If you wish to suffer in silence,  do so at your own whim but don’t tell me I have to join you.

5) These laws are necessary
Which laws? The ones that tell you how to think?
Maybe for you.

6) Singapore you know that religious and racial harmony is important, peace is maintained.
 I’ve long been under the impression that the peace in this country is maintained through ignorance and fear, and your entire post is a good summary of my suspicion.

7) Country with various Religions and Races
Why do Singaporeans keep thinking we’re the only country that is a metropolis of race and religion?

thebashir

Harmful, Insulting subjective weasel words.
If someone insulted my mother or father, I would take offense.
Then I would calm down and realize that taking offense is a waste of time and stop being offended nothing happens when people are offended.

Yes there are limits to everything, limits that you set for yourself.
So stop trying to impose your limits onto other people.

religious freedom

Tell that to the Jehovah’s Witnesses who are persecuted here and have their literature and books outlawed.

mindyourownbusiness

You heard the man, Singapore, meddling with other countries.
Don’t even bother reporting or commenting on outside world.
Isolationism Now!
I’m just being sarcastic, please don’t take me out of context.

freedomofspeechmeans

Actually it does, what you’re trying to get at is the “Right to not get offended”.
The thing is, that’s impossible because offense is taken, not given.
So if you find yourself offended, then its your own prerogative to stop taking offense.
Secondly, no one has to respect anything or anyone they don’t want to, this includes your “founding father” and religion.

freedom of expression

There’s no absolute right?
So you think human rights for us to bargain for?
How very Singaporean
“Uncle this one freedom of speech how much, ah? wah so expensive leh, I take half can discount or not?” 

Human rights is not something that is to be “moderated” or compromised.
When you do that, you are denying individual autonomy, this means the standards that you’ve moderated your rights may be fitting to you but they certainly do not fit other people.

I’m glad you’re happy but just for a moment, try not to be solipsistic?

wedonotconform

A victim of propaganda, believing what the media says about Amos defaming his bailor.
If you don’t follow this saga, I wouldn’t blame you either for believing the misinformation but allow me to offer you the source, Amos’ own wordpress blog.

A short summary, Amos is called out his bailor for his actions towards him, emotionally black mailing him (Amos) if he didn’t comply with Vincent’s demands, by threatening to recuse himself as Amos’ bailor, evidence of the harassment here.

The rest of her message, yes indeed freedom of speech is the cause of hate crimes, sorry my sarcasm gets the best of me at times.

Again another Singaporean who does not understand the difference between Hate Speech and Free Speech.

Hate Speech is a speech that is a call to violence or a physical threat on a person or people or group of peoples.

Speech like this, by Jason Tan.
maiming

An actual physical threat to maim the child, by the way, he got off with a stern warning.

Singapore is not the West
Sounds like an argument for “Asian values vs Western Democracy” fallacy.

And what I understand of Asian values is that it means we’re tolerant of child abuse.
Neo Gim Huah the man who slapped Amos sentenced to 21 days in jail.
Jason Tan (above) a stern warning
Amos Yee, for speaking his mind, 40 days in remand and still counting.
If this is Asian values, I want no part of it.

If a nation’s people is so insecure about their race and religion that a single off colour remark about either is the spark to unleash racial and religious turmoil, then that’s not peace or stability, it’s a house of cards waiting to crumble under the weight of it’s own ignorance and how can we learn about race relations when there’s laws actively prohibiting such discussions for fear of offending or wounding feelings?
That we think stereotyping and racial profiling is acceptable, like the comment below.

Penal Code section 298 and 292
Laws based on feelings have no basis in legislation.

Feelings are subjective and laws are supposed to be objective.

racial profiling

A spectacular example of what I mean when I say our “racial and religious harmony” is nothing more than a facade, I was racially profiled by my name.
This was my reply:

myreplycen

Can we please stop with the racial profiling, it’s annoying.
Just a piece of advice, if you meet someone who has a “muslim sounding” name, don’t just assume they’re muslim, if it really matters to you what faith they’re of, like when it comes to knowing what food you need to cater for them or you’re just plain curious, ask them.

Because I get offended when you serve real bacon to your non muslim guests and give me not bacon because you think I’m muslim, depriving someone of bacon is torture!

But seriously, I don’t go around assuming everyone who is Indian is Hindu, do you? 


We, as a country, have bred a culture within 50 years of autocracy of people who are actually petrified of basic human freedoms.
We think that freedom of speech needs to be moderated.
We don’t know the difference between hate speech and free speech
We think that religions need to be held above human rights
And the biggest joke of all
We think the government is secular.

I call it, Singapore Syndrome, it’s Stockholm Syndrome on a national scale.

A message to my Singaporean readers, stop being afraid of freedom and your human and civil rights, it is not the place for governments to restrict them but their duty to protect and uphold your rights and freedoms from those who wish to revoke them from you.

Peace!

“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness” – Alejandro Jodorowsky

Amos Yee: Not just a Rebellious Teen

amosmandela

Reading an article on TheOnlineCitizen.com interviewing his bailor Mr. Vincent Law has really given me an insight on who Amos Yee is as a person.

When Amos was taken back into remand, I had assumed 2 things.
Either Vincent Law does not have the $30,000 to front or Vincent Law offered to the front the $30,000 and Amos Yee declined his proposal.
Needless to say, I was glad it was the later.

A lot of people are under the impression that Amos Yee just a young angry teen full of angst, rebellion and lacking in empathy.
If he truly was lacking in empathy, He would have taken the offer by Mr. Law and squandered it by breaking the terms of the bail a second time, yet he chose not to.

He understands the injustice of Act 377A in Singapore that criminalizes male homosexuality and empathizes with their fight to get this law repealed, it serves no purpose in a civilized society and no amount of slippery slope fallacies used by the ruling governing body can ever justify this blatant discrimination.

His less than subtle, humourous and sarcastic commentary on the Little India Riot showing maturity and understanding of situations while being balanced and constructive, is a sign of a green and thriving mind that is well beyond its years.

The only fault of his youth is that it’s not given him the tactical understanding of how work around the system but again, even if he did work around the system, I wouldn’t doubt the system would find a way to incriminate him as it has shown itself to with other critics.

In the shared conversation with Mr Law, where he confronted Amos about his religious beliefs, Amos yet again shows a wisdom that is well beyond his age, Yes we can take issues with religious doctrines, we can criticize them and we can disagree with them but that doesn’t mean we have an issue with the religious just because we’re atheists.

Amos Yee has truly shown true strength in his character.
His unrelenting desire to not conform or compromise.
His maturity in responding to “Cookie Tan” the man who openly made his desire to maim the genitals of a teenage boy then stuffing said member into the child’s mouth.
Choosing to remain in remand over risking someone else’s money.
His ability to articulate his thoughts into material.
These aren’t just actions of a rebellious teen, these are actions of someone who sees injustice and will not stand for it.
Admirable traits in someone so young.

Since day one of this saga, it has been refreshing to see how one Singaporean teenager has been so brazen and defiant in standing up for his freedom of speech, I only wish more of us have the tenacity of Amos Yee.

And I hope at the end of this saga Amos comes out unbowed unbent and unbroken.

Peace!

If someone tells me that I’ve hurt their feelings I’m still waiting to hear what your point is” – Christopher Hitchens.

Additional Links
Read more about Amos Yee on his Blog

The Humble Banana

For certain Christians, it is a nightmare for Atheists like myself.
atheistnnightmare
Except that it’s not, as the evolution of the banana from barely nutritious seed filled berry to what we know as a banana today is easily explained through artificial selection.

For ignorant people
banana
It is a derogatory term used to describe an oriental person who tries to act white.
Yellow on the outside, white on the inside.

But for an amazing group of people.
freeamosyee
The banana is a symbol of support and solidarity for a prisoner of conscience.

Every time you see a banana, whether it’s bright yellow or green, remember your human rights and your civil liberties, those that have been revoked and restricted from you.

Just as Hong Kong has it’s Yellow Umbrella.
We too have our yellow Banana.

Peace!

We’re often stuck with the names our enemies give to us,” – The High Sparrow from Game of Thrones (The Books)

Awesome blogs I subscribed to and you should check out:
Amos Yee’s Blog
Jess C Scott’s Blog
The Heart Truths
Like Dat Oso Can Meh
Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign

Western Democracy won’t work in Singapore

This is the party line towed by Singaporeans when Journalist Articles mention the restrictions to human rights and civil liberties in Singapore.

First of all, what is “Western Democracy” ?
I was under the impression that Democracy is Democracy.
According to the dictionary this is what it means

government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

If you know what a “Western Democracy” is, please by all means, leave me an explanation in the comments. Is it like “Western Confucianism” or  “Eastern Epicurean-ism” Whatever that means.

Seriously though, is the democratic facade in Singapore such a thick veil that it’s hard to see for the average person? If you think 9 opposition seats out of 99 is a democracy, you probably don’t understand what a democracy is.

How are issues supposed to be debated when almost the entire parliamentary body is made up of a single party that covers for and supports one another? That is neither “western democracy”, “eastern democracy” or democracy. It’s what we call an Echo Chamber.

In otherwords, it’s an autocracy, “government in which one person has uncontrolled or unlimited authority over others; the government or power of an absolute monarch” the opposite of a democracy where the masses govern, here you have an elite person or an elite group deciding what’s best for the masses. 

I’ve long said that Singaporeans are unable to think for themselves and often rely on the government to think for them, well this is what 50 years of autocracy has done to the people, it’s damaged us as a society, a society that tries its hardest to silence dissent and keep its citizens free from thought.

It’s time for change, it’s time wake up Singapore, do you remember your Singaporean pledge, the part where you say “To Build a Democratic Society”, do you actually mean it or do you just say it because the Principal in your school makes you recite the pledge?

Peace!

“In nation after nation, democracy has taken the place of autocracy.” – John Charles Polanyi

Recent debunkle over Straits Times highlights the Importance of Free Press

Imagine a world without the internet, imagine a world where the media is controlled by the iron fist of the government. Not too long ago, as late as the late 90s and early 2000s this was a reality.

Before the internet became a household application, all Singaporeans had to rely on was the word of the government owned press and controlled media. So when the Straits Time reported that Amos Yee’s mother had reported Amos to the Police because she said he was an uncontrollable child by the Straits Time via an unnamed reliable source (let’s be a honest, an anonymous tip and probably an attempt to defame him so the issues he brought up would be looked over) many Singaporeans would have bought it hook, line and sinker but I was skeptical, since when were anonymous tips considered reliable sources?

The fact that the free agents, the internet sleuths, of “The Online Citizen” had a more journalistic approach when it came to covering the evidence of what Mrs Mary Yee said, you know, interviewing her instead of an unnamed source, just shows the lack of professionalism and integrity with the companies within the SPH.

Which brings me to my next point, many Singaporeans are under the impression that Singapore has freedom of press what with it’s many newspaper companies and magazines, I’m sorry to break this to you, friends, that is just an illusion.

newspapers

All these companies belong to the same corporation.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that all of them answer to one boss.

Where North Korea succeeds in being an independent authoritarian country that shuts out any outside information from it’s citizens, Singapore fails drastically in this aspect because we seek out foreign talents, not just lower class foreign talents to clean the streets and roads but foreign talents from countries where human freedoms exist, so we need to keep the gates of information slightly ajar to keep dissent low, media is still tightly controlled just not as drastically as it is in North Korea.

However, printed media still holds most of the power as it is the most easily accessible form of media to the layman, therein lies the problem. When the only media allowed is government controlled, it’s not a stretch to say that it will be used for government propaganda, for an effective means of erasing blemishes in history and to tarnish the opposing dissenters, Mr Lee even admits that much.

Freedom of the press, freedom of the news media, must be subordinated to the overriding needs of the integrity of Singapore, and to the primacy of purpose of an elected government”, Address To The General Assembly Of The International Press Institute At Helsinki, 9th June, 1971 – Lee Kuan Yew

And it is very effective, so effective that many people on the street still believe the lies about Dr. Chee Soon Juan being a rabble rouser and a troublemaker still persist, character assassination at its best.

When a simple internet search on Dr. Chee  will show contradictions to what has been said about him by local media.

This is the issue that every opposition party in Singapore has to face, I’m not sure if it’s uniquely Singaporean that state own media is legally allowed to print libel, promote slander and character assassinations on opposition members but this is a practice that needs to be challenged by promoting freedom of press to allow citizens to have more than just one perspective and make up their own minds.

As big and wide as the internet is, most of us don’t have the time in our hectic schedules to look up current affairs affecting Singapore or Singaporean politics on the internet most of us use the internet to look up cat videos, I know I’m guilty of that. This is why freedom of press is paramount, it allows us to get a multifaceted view on issues and allows us to make up our own minds, a practice many of us take for granted.

I’ve already made up my mind about Straits Times and the recent coverage on Amos Yee is more evidence for me to not take them at face value.

Peace!

“When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.” – Christopher Dodd

Sniffing Out Propaganda

I return my gaze to the article on “The Independent” by Mr. Calvin Cheng and followed it back to it’s source, “The Strait Times” a Government therefore PAP owned newspaper company, where I read the article in it’s entirety and has become blatantly obvious that is is a propaganda piece targeted at the lower educated Singaporeans who have never experienced life outside of Singapore.

Mr. Calvin asserts that Singapore instills these draconian laws  that restrict our freedoms because any good person wouldn’t break them by citing petty criminal offences such as littering, leaving gum everywhere, urinating in public, vandalizing to more serious issues like drug smuggling and rape.

Well I hate to break it to the man but even with these laws in place, you will still get people committing them, look around you. The only way to fully stop people from doing something you don’t like is to take away that freedom, like chewing gum. To my foreign readers, chewing gum is contraband in Singapore and we wonder why we’re called a nanny state.

It’s so simple, if you don’t obey we take it away.

Mr. Calvin points out, back in the 60s we had racial riots and yes we did, it is not for the Government to say, okay you cannot gather here and you cannot say such things. It is the duty of the Government to protect our human rights, from those who wish to revoke them from us, not to repress our rights. So instead of learning from that historical event, we push the narrative of racial harmony, restrict the freedom of assembly for fear of another riot.

If America had acted like Singapore during it’s civil rights day, the Jim Crow Laws would still be in effect but they understood what civil rights were and deemed the Jim Crow Laws unconstitutional allowing for the minorities and those who supported them to stand up for their freedoms, was there violence during these uneasy times, yes of course but they learned what real freedom costs, unlike Singaporeans who would rather be sheltered by ignorance and fear, fear that we would go back to the 1960s instead of learning from our mistakes and not repeating them again.

And he has the audacity to call our draconian society, civilised.
I’m not even going to bother addressing the more severe crimes he mentioned to which he thinks it’s uniquely Singaporean that we criminalize those and take actions against because any intelligent person would know better (and be against corporal and capital punishment, to which he suggests are a good way to deter such offenses, civilised right?).

Next he talks about “Freedom of Speech” and likens it to giving people the freedom to offend other people’s religions, race or defame another person.
I really don’t know if he believes in this drivel hes writing or if hes just towing the party line but I’m sure someone who has had the privilege to travel the world and live abroad would understand that freedom of speech is a necessity to progress humanity forward by being able to highlight unpopular opinions and controversial subject matters, such as religion and politics, to which I’ve highlighted in my post “Freedom of Speech is Freedom to be Human” and he says we’re better off because our Government with their unlimited government funding can sue private citizens.

The best bit is where he has the audacity to defend Operation Coldstore by argumentum ad populum, by comparing Operation Coldstore to Operation Demetrius and Guantanamo Bay, making the assumption that people who condemn Operation Coldstore do not feel the same way about Operation Demetrius and Guantanamo Bay, when most critics of such human rights abuses, detention without trial, universally condemn such actions.

As a Singaporean, I am ashamed that my country people can excuse such actions saying, “oh it was necessary for the time” or “oh it because they were communists”. Fun Fact, there is no evidence to support that Barisan Sosialis members were communists and secondly, even if they were communists, it doesn’t give anyone an excuse to detain people without a trial.

The fact that he defends the blatant human rights abuse by the government with this fallacy is testament to his support for it but I could be wrong. Much like how “To Singapore, With love” by Tan Pin Pin a documentary about Singaporean Exiles which attempted to show the humanity in those exiles received a “Not Allowed All Audiences” rating by the Media Development Authority in Singapore.

We cannot even make up our own minds, well we can, but we’d have to take extra lengths to go across the causeway to watch it, point being it’s banned in Singapore so we only get the one sided view.

And he claims there have been no trade offs.
Maybe there has been no trade off for Mr. Calvin Cheng but for many Singaporeans, those who value their independence, human rights and civil liberties, there might have been a massive trade off.

And maybe this is just one huge propaganda piece to protect the delicate sensibilities of the lower to middle class Singaporeans who had never experience life outside of the country, where the truth of dissent might shatter their view of reality.

The rest of the article, he confuses freedom for security, which I’ve already replied to, in “Freedom and Security are not Synonyms“.

Peace!

“The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief” – Jacques Ellul

Sources
The Original Article
To Singapore, With Love
Operation Cold Store
Dr. PJ Thum on Operation Cold Store