Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rony Tan and the State - 2 - "Things will get much, much messier"

We don't have any anti-discrimination laws expressly spelled out (even the wording of our constitution is aspirational on this issue, and does not set out examples of what discrimination etc is). Which is why they've used the Sedition Act.

I guess I don't have an issue against invoking the Sedition Act, because I find the notion that religions be allowed to preach against each other to be fundamentally flawed. But then, I also don't believe in an absolutist concept of truth - which is the basis for such hateful speech anyway: [insert religious text here] says [insert subject of hate speech here] is wrong and therefore it is wrong.

I think it's frightening that people in positions of power are allowed to preach whatever they want regarding the incontrovertible truth of religious ideology with a view to influencing a group of people. Personally, I believe this lays foundations for extremism.

To be honest, I was completely offended by the WAY in which he belittled Taoism (and the concept of karma and the chanting), as if fancying himself some kind of stand up comedian. It was irresponsible and pretty hateful. And given that he has no grasp/understanding of Taoism, on what basis is he making these comments?

I think the reason we don't have anti-discrimination laws is because they don't want to get rid of the discretion not to prosecute. The ISD basically forced him to capitulate and retract all his hateful crap and apologise thereby appeasing the groups he maligned, as well as keeping the Christians' persecution complex at bay. I'm pretty sure the ISD called up Derek Hong during the AWARE issue, because I don't think he apologised out of the goodness of his heart or anything. I don't think the ISD is attacking the freedom of association or religion in this regard - I think they're saying "Look here, you can preach but stay out of purporting to be an expert on other religions kthxbye". While it does seem paternalistic, I think it might actually be a better alternative to prosecuting this guy, as would be the case if we had anti-discrimination laws (even then, who's to say the ISD won't be involved? Usually they don't trumpet their involvement - this was an anomaly!)

Just my view on things lah, I think if you start prosecuting people for irresponsible proselytising things will get much, much messier.

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