Many people would have read Calvin Cheng’s comments about how we should kill children of ISIS members just in case they grow up to take revenge. In case you think I am misquoting Calvin Cheng, here’s a screenshot of his comments:
His comments has certainly riled people up. So much so that some people have written to the Media Literacy Council (MLC). Why? Because Calvin Cheng is a member of the MLC. The email to the MLC chairman explains that what Calvin said in a very public sphere is counter to what MLC is supposed to be promoting.
In response, the Chairman of MLC said:
It is utterly deplorable that the Chairman of the MLC doesn’t do what MLC itself advocates. Particularly, one of the core values of the MLC is astuteness and discernment, which, according to the MLC, is “Knowing right from wrong. Recognizing fact from fiction.”
If the Chairman of the MLC was indeed astute and discerning, and did his part in reading the comments that Calvin Cheng had actually made, he wouldn’t be so quick to conclude that Calvin Cheng was only advocating the killing of child soldiers in the heat of battle. Why do I say that? Because Calvin Cheng also said this in the same discussion thread where he advocated killing the children of ISIS terrorists:
A little bit of historical context. Imperial China often practised the brutal policy of killing the extended families of perceived enemies of the state. This often included children. Innocent children. Unarmed innocent children. Not in the heat of the battle. But in cold blood. In deliberate and calculated fashion. It is like saying that we should have killed every single Japanese POW at the end of WWII. And also killed their children too, just in case they grow up to take revenge.
So how can the Chairman of MLC, if he was indeed astute and discerning, and did what MLC advocates and took Calvin’s comments in their entirety, believe Calvin’s claims that he was only advocating for killing armed child soldiers in the heat of battle?
In fact, if we read all of Calvin’s comments, one may even conclude that Calvin is advocating to eradicate every single Muslim. Because Calvin seem to suggest that in order to stop the ISIS scourge, we need to destroy their families. And if we were to follow what was done in Imperial China, it means killing off every member in the extended family. Not just the children of those who are already members of ISIS, but anyone who might take their place to exact revenge. And to do that pre-emptively. Not in the heat of battle. But pre-emptively. Just in case they grow up to take revenge. Doesn’t that mean having to pre-emptively kill every single Muslim?
That is abhorrent and disgusting.
The issue of how best we can tackle ISIS is a complex one. It may well be that we will need to resort to violent and less than humane means. It may well be that we do need to kill child combatants in the heat of the moment. It may well be that we may need to kill innocent people used by ISIS as human shields when hitting military targets in military strikes.
But I can’t understand how doing what Calvin is advocating for will solve the ISIS problem. If anything, it will exacerbate it, driving more people, who otherwise wouldn’t have thought of joining ISIS, to fight for ISIS. In fact, I think that is exactly what ISIS is hoping for – more oppression and disenfranchisement of Muslims worldwide so that ISIS have more people they can readily recruit.
But even if what Calvin advocates is what we need to beat the ISIS scourge, his other behaviour on the same thread is still antithetical to MLC’s core values, particularly these three:
Empathy – ” ‘Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself’ Whether offline or online, nobody wants to be on the receiving end of nasty comments or hurtful behavior.”
Respect – “Respect and tolerance for differences (whether it is gender, religion, race or socio-political views) will go a long way in making online interactions more constructive and meaningful. There is no need to make personal attacks just because we disagree.”
Integrity – “Offline, most people are respectful, polite and courteous. Online, why do people turn into trolls and bullies”
Inspiring others positively – “Encourage. Appreciate. Comfort. Spread Joy. Lend a Hand. Do Good. The power and choice to do great things online is in our hands. Why spread rumours when we can talk about good things? Why criticize when we can encourage? Why not stand up against a cyber bully? Let’s look out for one another and make the Internet a better place.”
Yet, let’s see what Calvin Cheng says in the same discussion thread:
It is clear from the above that Calvin Cheng does call people idiots online. Does that show empathy, as defined by the MLC? I don’t think so. Isn’t that making personal attacks? Is that still being respectful? I don’t think so. Isn’t that turning into a troll already? How is that having integrity, as defined by MLC? I don’t think so. Is calling people idiotic inspiring others positively? I don’t think so. How then can Calvin still be a member of MLC if his behaviour is so antithetical to MLC’s core values? Only if MLC is a supreme hypocrite.
I also heard a preview of an interview that Calvin Cheng did with a MediaCorp radio station. In that, he used the analogy of bullies in playgrounds to describe online trolls. He said that he believes in punching bullies. According to the core value of MLC, where you don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself, it means either Calvin Cheng actually wants people to punch him, or he is a hypocrite. He doesn’t agree with the core value of MLC. Yet, he still wants to be a member. It also means that he has no respect for others and tolerance for different views, and would quickly resort to personal attacks. Doesn’t that mean that he doesn’t agree with the core values of MLC? Yet, he still wants to be a member of the MLC. What a hypocrite!
So Calvin Cheng is intellectually sloppy, advocating for simplistic violent measures as the silver bullet to the ISIS scourge. He is a hypocrite, doing all the things that are antithetical to the MLC core values and yet still wanting to be a member of MLC. And MLC will be hypocritical if it lets Calvin Cheng stay on as a member.
[Featured image: MLC logo from MLC website]