Beware of mislabeling hate speech as emotive speech

 

This is my original letter to Today’s forum and it was published today 30 June, but with some explosive contents removed lolz. Still it captures the essence of what I wanted to convey.

I refer to the letter “Beware of labeling emotive comments as hate speech” (June 24) by  Julian Lim Choong Ping.

The writer seems to think that Bryan Lim’s speech was taken out of context. However, let’s not forget that he posted the message on a Facebook social group which fights against rightful tax paying LGBT Singaporeans from equal rights from discrimination. A social group where posters regular incite violence against LGBT folks and posts pictures of beheading, hanging and beating of LGBT folks to support their point and yet hardly any police report were made against those posters.

Secondly, in the context of Orlando’s mass shooting incident,  Mr Lim’s speech brought about fear and panic amongst LGBT folks, their families and friends alike. Such speech cannot be construed as “emotive” speech but hate speech because of the possibility of incident actual violence against someone or groups of people. The writer fails and perhaps refuses to understand the kind of anxiety, fear and panic such message brought towards the LGBT community, their family and friends. The consequence’s of his message is only for him to bare, but it could have huge and deadly consequence for many more innocent people, especially when there are people who liked and supported what Mr. Lim has posted.

It seems odd that the writer find it reasonable to incite violence against people in the LGBT community and that its an infringement of his freedom of speech whereas. Yet he makes no mention that we have such laws to protect against person’s race, religion and gender. Is he suggesting that our sedition law is infringing on his freedom of speech too?

Any possible consequences of Mr Lim’s action on his employment is unfortunately, but not because of pressure from LGBT groups, but because it is the right thing to do in the context of the company’s own diversity policy. Just like how a senior banker was dismissed for expletive-laced rant against a group of construction worker in 2012. Not because of pressure from construction workers but because it was the correct thing to do.

The Today’s published article:

http://www.todayonline.com/voices/bryan-lims-comments-caused-anxiety-lgbt-community

Bryan Lim’s comments caused anxiety in LGBT community

FROM KELVIN WONG HENG
PUBLISHED: 10:40 PM, JUNE 29, 2016
The writer of “Beware of labelling emotive comments as hate speech” (June 24, online) seems to think that Mr Bryan Lim’s comments were taken out of context.

Let us not forget that Mr Lim posted his message on the page of a Facebook group that fights against the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Singaporeans to be free from discrimination.

Members of this group regularly incite violence against LGBT people through the pictures they post, for example, and yet hardly any police reports have been made against them.

In the context of the Orlando shooting, Mr Lim’s comments brought fear to LGBT people, their families and their friends.

Such speech cannot be construed as “emotive” but as hate speech because of the possibility of incident violence against someone or groups of people. The writer fails and perhaps refuses to understand the kind of panic those comments caused.

Oddly, he seems to find it unreasonable to infringe on speech that incites violence against the LGBT community, yet he makes no mention of such laws to protect against feelings of enmity between Singapore’s different races.

Is he suggesting that the Sedition Act infringes on his freedom of speech too?

The consequences of Mr Lim’s comments are for him to bear, but they could have huge consequences for innocent people, especially when there were others who liked and supported what he had posted.

Any possible consequences for his employment would only be right in the context of his company’s diversity policy, and not because of LGBT groups.

In 2012, a senior banker was dismissed for his expletive-laced rant against a group of construction workers, not because of pressure from construction workers but because it was the correct thing to do.

Show me the money Shan!

The tragedy in Orlando this week has brought up many different issues; internalized homophobia, violence against LGBT community, religious fanaticism and gun laws in the US.

Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam offered his and the government’s condolences to the victims and reiterated that they will protect all its people.

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/government-will-protect-people-regardless-of-race-religion-or-sexuality-shanmugam

The Government will protect its people regardless of race, religion or sexuality, Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said at the Khadijah Mosque on Tuesday (June 14).

“It looks like the gay community has been targeted. This is unacceptable. Violence against any group in any form is not acceptable. Here, the government will act decisively if there is threat of violence against anyone or any group. The government’s duty is to protect everyone.

“Their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, that’s not relevant,” he said, in the aftermath of a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando last Sunday, when a lone attacker called Omar Mateen gunned down some 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Yes, its a heartfelt condolence and sincere no doubt, but to many in the LGBT community, it rings hollow in view of the law and how the government allows and enforces its view in the public sphere. Continue reading

PM Lee is right, Singapore is not ready for gay marriage

Many bloggers took PM Lee to task for one of the article recently.

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/singapore-not-ready-same-sex-marriage-society-still-cons

Apparently one of the journalist asked PM Lee about gay marriage in Singapore and he said that Singapore is not ready for it because we are conservative society. He also noted that “We do not harass them or discriminate against them” and also that most Singaporeans would not want LGBT community to the the tone for Singapore society.  He, of course, warned against pushing the agenda too hard in case of strong pushback and that the views are very entrenched and that people get angrier as they discuss it.

Personally, I feel that journalist had asked the wrong question. Of course, PM Lee is right that we are not ready for gay marriage because we are jumping the gun on this. With penal code 377a still looming over the heads of gay men and an unofficial policy of non positive portrayal of “gay lifestyle”, we still have a long way to go before we discuss about gay marriage. So I feel that some folks are being unfair to PM Lee on this because the question was the wrong one to ask. Continue reading

Redux: Chan Chun Sing’s gay recruitment

This issue has gone cold, but pinknews recently picked it up again. Again like many LGBT issues there are legends and myths around the stories created, mostly by dissenters… but let’s get back to the basics.

Goldman Sachs published one of their diversity events on their company website with the following message

Goldman Sachs’ LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) Network invites you to attend this networking event to enable you to find out more about our firm, the LGBT Network, and discuss issues and concerns regarding being “out” in the workplace. The event will include a brief introduction to the firm and our culture and an opportunity to network with employees across the firm’s various divisions. Drinks and dinner will be served.

Goldman Sachs recently received an Asia Pink Award for “Extraordinary contribution to the LGBTI community” by Element Magazine at its ceremony in Singapore and will be a proud sponsor of Singapore’s Pink Dot event this June. The firm has also earned a perfect “100” score on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index, which rates companies on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees and their families.

Spots for this event is limited, please register before April 25, if . you are LGBT Students graduating in year 2015, 2016 or 2017 interested in attending this event. Successful applicants will receive a confirmation email with event details and location in early May

Continue reading

Of pink and red polka dots

Throughout the saga of the red dot (AKA FamFest) versus pink dot, a lot of accusation was thrown at both government and pink dotters, but I think it is important to step back for a clearer picture.

First of all, as admitted by Pastor Khong himself:

“#FamFest 2014 is about defending the family against the onslaught of sexual infidelity, divorce, family violence and media that promotes sexual immorality including the homosexual agenda.”

This very much is an exclusive event. Of course, everybody is against family violence, but the event is out there to shame people who may have sexual relationship outside marriage (for more complex reasons), divorcees and single parents as much as LGBT folks. Even if pink dot is not held on the same day, such an event may not be permitted to be held in the Padang, which Khong himself freely admits, as a place for national event. The event is anything but a national event because of its exclusive nature. Unless the dissenters were to tell me that past events like Rugby Sevens, Singapore Marathons, etc, have exclusive clauses against divorcees, single parents, disabled or LGBT, then their argument just don’t hold water. As to whether or not, the government did consider that it was held on the same day as the pink dot, it is everyone’s guess, but I am sure that they are aware.

Continue reading

Weighing in on Hri Kumar’s “them vs us”

FB was abuzz with likes on Hri Kumar’s recent comments on the HPB issue. Many people appreciated that he supported HPB’s publication from a health perspective objectively.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/hri-kumar/them-versus-us/659427524103848

But there a few points in his comments that we often hear or read politicians or fence sitters make that sounds like concern and supportive but is really as good as not saying anything. The way PAP govt. commented on the “hijab” issue is what comes to mind.

Look, I appreciated the fact the he and 2 other MPs were supportive of repealing 377a, even though for him it was only an academic exercise rather than an actual passion for equality in society. However, we know that the PAP would very often identify some MPs to make opposing point of views just to show that there are “some debate” during parliamentary sittings. So whether one makes a point of free will or was made to do so by their masters, it is anyone’s guest. Continue reading

Disappointed Mountbatten MP and dishonest disappointments

There is something about religion that makes seemingly nice and smart persons turn into complete brainless sheeps. Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuang is one good example. From some feedbacks from friends, it appears that he is a pretty nice MP, however, now they are utterly disappointed by this “disappointed” MP.

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/disappointed-mp-criticises-hpb-its-faq-sexuality

For me, the disappointment is not that he disagrees with homosexual persons, but rather the brainless and less than factual reasoning that he uses to justify his position, whilst trying to present them as facts. What is more disappointing is him trying to wave his Christian values as secular and factual. I don’t mind if one’s argument is based on religious values, but to be dishonest about it shows a lack of integrity on that part of the person.

Waving the straw men, he is quoted to have said: “homosexual relationships are different from heterosexual ones”. Exactly what is the difference is probably mentioned somewhere later; that homosexual relationships are not normal and there are no facts to say that they can form lasting relationships and that heterosexual relationships are based on values like trust, love, commitment and support, which to him, a same-sex one does not. Continue reading