One would have thought that nothing can be more offensive than publicly proclaiming that children should be killed in cold blood, pre-emptively, on the off chance that they may grow up to take revenge. Even if these children are children of members of ISIS, it’s still offensive. One would have thought that nothing can be more morally reprehensible than advocating for what effectively amounts to genocide. In other words, one would have thought that nothing can be more offensive than the comments that Calvin Cheng, esteemed member of the Media Literacy Council (MLC), made online recently. He effectively was suggesting that we kill, in cold blood, children who probably look a lot like these:
Did Calvin Cheng get punished? Nope. In fact, the chairman of the MLC tried to justify what Calvin Cheng said. It’s amazing how someone can put himself through that incredible amount of moral gymnastics, twisting words, facts and rational analyses to hypocritically support an indefensible position. And there weren’t any police reports. Calvin Cheng wasn’t hauled up to assist in any investigation. He was merely “counselled”.
But if we had any illusions that Singaporeans have achieved a new kind of zen and tolerance towards internet trolls, we should wake up to reality. There are still Singaporeans amongst us who do get easily offended by things internet trolls say online. Offended enough to make police reports. Which is what just happened. Amos Yee got hauled up by the police yet again for investigation into some remarks he made that offended people.
Amos made the remarks in response to what Calvin Cheng said about killing children (of ISIS members) in cold blood. I believe the offending line is this: “Oh yes and f**k islam, and allah doesn’t exist”. By itself, it does seem pretty offensive. But, as with “violent” verses from the Quran, what Amos Yee said needs to be read in context:
“Oh yes and f**k islam, and allah doesn’t exist, but say you see a prick from ISIS who wants to kill or has even killed before, don’t think that’s a scenario where it’s alright to kill him. No crime (even mass genocide) is worth a punishment of torture or the death penalty, just maybe lock him up and assign him a proficient psychologist, and let him out whenever the psychologist deems fit. Then he’ll be able to go out and contribute to society without killing anymore (I hope), unfortunately that method requires skill, something the PAP government obviously doesn’t have (except during the elections)”
Yes, Amos Yee was being a disrespectful teenager. We all knew that about him. But his message, at least in this one paragraph, is one of moderation, of being humane. His choice of words were… regrettable. But I’m sure many of us have muttered under our breaths (if not shouted it out at the top of our lungs), “F**k this shit <or insert something else that we are really frustrated about>”. Is that really so offensive that should see someone being hauled up by the police for questioning?
And about questioning the existence of Allah… well… many people don’t believe that Allah exists. Does that mean that they ought to be brought in for questioning by the police? I mean… hello… the existence (or not) of Allah is a religious conviction, right? And… Singapore is secular. So we ought to be allowed to hold on to and proclaim our own religious views about whether Allah, or Shiva, or Dua Pek Kong, or the Force, or the tooth fairy or the fairy godmother exists, right?
So how is it consistent that Amos Yee, an angsty teenager who is known to have problems of stopping expletives from coming out from his mouth, needs to be hauled up by the police for investigations for making remarks that isn’t entirely out of the norm for angsty teenagers, yet Calvin Cheng, a well-educated adult, who called for killing of children of ISIS members in cold blood gets away with nothing but “counselling”? What kind of warped logic does our law enforcement agencies operate with? For that matter, what kind of warped logic do Singaporeans have? Why didn’t anyone make a police report about Calvin Cheng? Yet someone felt offended enough by the comments of an angsty teenager to make a police report? What kind of warped logic is that?
Perhaps it just goes to show that if you want to be an internet troll (and get away with it) in Singapore, you really need to take lessons from Calvin Cheng. And you must not have been publicly outspoken against the PAP. Otherwise, you may need to get comfortable with being in police stations for extended periods of time. Because Singaporeans are weird like that. If you are reading this and you aren’t a Singaporean, or haven’t lived in Singapore for significant lengths of time, and you are baffled, don’t worry. It’s not you. It’s us. We, Singaporeans, are strange like that. Please don’t laugh too hard or judge us too harshly. We will try to be better. It may take a (long) while. In the meantime, feel free to be entertained by our silliness.
[Featured image: taken from Mothership.sg]