...but I disagree.
"The ST Deputy Political Editor, Paul Jacob, has a rather sensible article on
the matter of the Seditious Bloggers. Mr Wang can nitpick a little here and
there, but basically he thinks that Paul has got the right Big Picture."
MrMachine can nitpick more than a little, and more than here and there. MrMachine thinks Paul Jacob missed the Big Picture entirely. With Jacob's first line, actually:
"THERE are some things, many actually, that are more important than freedom of speech."
Maybe so. Probably so. But to dismiss the entire issue of freedom of speech in the first line of the article is as ridiculous as George Bush saying that it's unimportant who was to blame for the failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina. Are there more pressing issues? Yes. In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, tens of thousands have to rebuild shattered lives. In Singapore (and indeed the rest of the world) the root causes of racism need to be understood and dealt with.
But both Bush and Jacobs are guilty of dodging thorny, messy, ugly, uncomfortable and above all IMPORTANT issues. For the ST Deputy Political Editor to be dismissive of the issue of free speech is not only baffling, it's frightening.
Let me be entirely, redundantly clear about one thing: Racism is something I've been blogging and commenting about passionately (sometimes overly so) since I began blogging. Like, the second day. I am not defending racists or their comments. Don't believe me? Look here and here and here, for a start. (The second one, you'll have to scroll a bit till you get to the heated discussion, but it's meaty.) Or do a google search with mercermachine and racism.
My point is, when I say freedom of speech needs to be discussed in regards to this issue, I do not say it blithely or easily. It costs me something to admit that racists might actually have a right to make racists comments. And spare me the semantics of 'they can say anything they want as long as they are willing to face the consequences'. I heard that one in the Army, and it wasn't funny then.
A discussion should be held, not on a political or legal level, but on an ethical and philosophical one. What is freedom of speech, and what if any limitations should be placed on it? What are the possible consequences of curtailing freedom of speech? What social responsibility should the blogging 'community' take for those who make wildly inapproriate, hateful, violent or racist comments? Should anything be done at all?
MrMachine says he doesn't know. But he does know that dismissing the questions isn't the answer.