Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Couple charged under Sedition Act for evangelism in Singapore


From the Straits Times, dated April 16, 2008

Couple charged under Sedition Act

A COUPLE were yesterday charged with distributing an evangelistic publication that cast Prophet Muhammad in a negative light.

Ong Kian Cheong, 49, and Dorothy Chan Hien Leng, 44, face two charges each - one under the Sedition Act and the other, under the Undesirable Publications Act.

They are alleged to have distributed the evangelistic publication to a Woodlands resident on March 6 last year, and to a Sembawang resident seven months later, on Oct 19.

Ong, who works in a telecommunications company, and his wife, a bank employee, were represented by Mr Selva K. Naidu.

In court yesterday, the police prosecutor sought an adjournment of the case, pending a Health Sciences Authority report on handwriting specimens.

It was not explained in court why this came about.

The couple were freed on a $10,000 bail each, and their passports were impounded.

The case will come up on April 29.

In 2005, a 27-year-old man became the first since 1966 to be jailed under the Sedition Act for posting inflammatory and vicious remarks about Muslims and Malays on the Internet. He was jailed a month. In a connected case, a 25-year-old was given a day's jail and fined $5,000.

Later that year, a 17-year-old blogger was given probation.

The following year, a 21-year-old accounts assistant was given a stern warning for putting up an offensive cartoon of Jesus Christ on his blog.

Under the Act, the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and/or a jail term of up to three years.

The maximum penalty under the Undesirable Publications Act is a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to 12 months.

By Elena Chong

A brief note

Within a multireligious and multiracial society, I believe most Singaporeans would agree that the deliberate provocation of religious sentiments via incendiary speeches or related acts should be monitored closely and even condemned by the law. However, the case as presented above is perplexing and very disturbing indeed. It seems that the distribution of “evangelistic publication that cast Prophet Muhammad in a negative light” is a seditious act in Singapore. But what about the distribution of books and movies that cast Jesus - the Lord, Savior, and God of Christians - in a “negative light?”

Apparently, it is not only considered non-seditious to distribute, sell, and promote books in Singapore that cast Jesus “in a negative light,” but also regarded as good entertainment to show movies that promote blasphemous massages concerning the deity of Christ.

Beside the Sedition Act, the Undesirable Publications Act (CAP. 338) “prohibits the importation, distribution and reproduction of undesirable publications.” The only conclusion I can draw at this moment is this: literature that casts “Prophet Muhammad in a negative light” is undesirable and illegal in Singapore, but materials and movies that blaspheme Jesus Christ is not only legal and acceptable, but also considered acceptable public entertainment.

Why are there double standards?

PS: Isaiah, a fellow Christian blogger, has more to say concerning the "seditious" tract. My friend, Daniel, has some comments concerning religious persecution.

31 comments:

Evangelical books said...

I suspect a possible reason for the double standard is simply fear. Remember what happened in Denmark with the comic depicting Prophet Mohammad? And the (almost) worldwide chaos that followed?

Now, IF Christians were to do likewise wherever Jesus Christ is blasphemed (Da Vinci Code, Jerry Springer the Musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, etc), governments would behave differently.

Question is, why do Christians NOT riot, burn flags, threaten with death, murder those who blaspheme Jesus Christ?

I leave your readers to think this through...

Anonymous said...

incredible train of thought. Ever stopped to think that Da Vinci Code, Jerry Springer blah blah....., are all works of *GASP fiction? Insensitive nonetheless but The Little Bride is clearly written as a fiction meant to represent Truth (i.e. like Bible Cartoons which are fictional but intend to show a true story)

I'm quite convinced that if someone had come along distributing materials that seriously blasphemed the Christian faith would also be likewise arrested as these two have. Please control your knee jerk reactions, and your 'the world is against us mentality' (I thought that was reserved for the Muslims, such violent creatures eh?)

Agagooga said...

I find it amusing that while some Christians want to persecute those who (allegedly) attack their religion, Christ himself was crucified for attacking Judaism.

vincit omnia veritas said...

To Dear Mr/Ms Ano Nymous,

Hi Ano,

Thank you for visiting my blog ... again! I remember a Mr "Ano" visiting my blog not too long ago, but anyway ...

Insensitive nonetheless but The Da Vinci Code is clearly written as fiction meant to represent *GASP* Truth. You mean you do not know this? Have you read the author's interviews? For e.g.

http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/au-brown-dan.asp

Q: How much of this novel is based on fact?

Dan Brown: All of it. The paintings, locations, historical documents, and organizations described in the novel all exist.

So Dan Brown claim that his "fiction" is based upon FACT ... "all of it." All means ALL. Geddit?

Please control your knee jerk reactions against Christians, and your "the Christian are having knee jerk reactions" mentality. (I thought that was reserved for the terrorists, such violent creatures, eh?)

vincit omnia veritas said...

Hi Aga Googa,

How did Christ "attack" Judaism? Please let me know your in depth research. Thank you.

Googoogaagaa,

Vincent

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Jenson,

If you read the links from my post, you would see documentation of protests from all over the world by Christians and Catholics against the film.

And you might say, the Christians in Singapore didn't protest or burn flags in the streets. But neither did the Muslims from Singapore when those events occurred.

In fact, the National Council of Churches in Singapore did write to the authorities to request for a ban. Catholics were also involved.

http://www.nccs.org.sg/davinci.php

http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Movies/05/17/da.vinci/index.html

"The National Council of Churches in Singapore, which also had requested a ban, planned lectures to refute aspects of the film and the book on which it is based. The censorship board gave the movie an NC16 rating, barring viewers under 16, arguing that "only a mature audience will be able to discern and differentiate between fact and fiction.'"

The point is, the Government knows the film is very offensive to both Christians and Catholics, but went ahead anyway.

Agagooga said...

Dan Brown claim that his "fiction" is based upon FACT ... "all of it." All means ALL. Geddit?

Actually he said that the paintings, locations, historical documents, and organizations exist.

If I write a story about the ISD invading my house and dragging me away in the middle of the night, the organisations etc exist. This does not mean that the story is true.

Note: he claims the novel is based on fact, not that it is 100% true.

Agagooga said...

The Bible is offensive towards many religions (it condemns non-believers), yet it is allowed.

Do you think Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris et al are offensive too? Let's ban all their books!


Jesus transgressed and urged his followers to transgress the Mosaic law. I know you are going to say that he was fulfilling it and all that, but from the point of view of Judaism, he was attacking it viciously. If you're going to invoke the 'he was the Son of God' justification, that's just special pleading.

Agagooga said...

The Da Vinci code comparison is so out of place. Almost everyone agrees the Chick Tract is offensive, but most people (including many Christians) have no problem with the Da Vinci code. If we have a lowest common denominator for determining offensiveness, we should just go kill ourselves because everything will offend someone.

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

Excellent post. =) The duplicity is quite apparent.

Agagooga said...

Dan Brown's language is very sneaky. As I said, he did not say the EVENTS were true, he said the ORGANIZATIONS etc existed. Please note the distinction.

You say that major religions should have special exemptions. How is this different from the double standards you accuse the government of having?

Okay "viciously" is not a good word, but he did transgress and urge people to transgress Judaism and Mosaic law very seriously, and thus attacked the religion. The following is probably going to be useless, but let it not be said that I didn't try. From the point of Judaism:

- Judaism is against humans being divine
- Judaism preaches the indivisibility of YHWH
- Jesus falsely claimed to be a messiah
- He contradicted the Torah and claimed that its commandments were null and void. One example of a Jewish religious law he transgressed (and urged transgression of) was that of diet - he said you could eat anything, which is blasphemy in Judaism. Another example is his plucking grain, which transgressed the Sabbath. In fact if you're really strict, the punishment for breaking the Sabbath is stoning.

http://www.aish.com/spirituality/philosophy/Why_Dont_Jews_Believe_In_Jesus$.asp

I am not assuming the truth of the bible in any way. I am showing that, even on Christianity's terms, what Jesus did was a violation of Jewish law.

Re: Da Vinci Code and Satanic Verses, more people found the latter offensive than the former. I am not defending the law, I am just explaining it.

The degree of offensiveness... is evaluated by the leaders of a particular religion
This is amusing, given that Jewish religious leaders got Jesus crucified.

I am also reminded of the Last Temptation of Christ. It was considered offensive by some Christians, but now people realise it made a very pertinent, important and moving theological point.

Some Christians wanting to persecute those who allegedly attack their religion:
- Corpus Christi got bomb/death threats
- The Last Temptation of Christ movie got molotov cocktail-ed in France
- http://comment.straitstimes.com/showthread.php?t=10293&page=4#36

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Aga Googa,

Exactly, Aga. Dan Brown's novel, which has a fictitious story outline, claims to be based upon facts which includes allegedly factual Christology and gynealogy. That is why so many books were written to dispute/repudiate such "facts" concerning Christ which were presented in his "novel."

If you write a story about the ISD invading your house (fiction), but you claimed as fact that you were the direct descendent of a King Agagooga, then historians might dispute your claims concerning your royal lineage.

The Bible, as well as the Quran and Sanskrit, are the religious texts of various major religions. As a multireligious society, the government cannot ban such religious texts. (As a fact, the Bible is a restricted book in certain countries).

But Dan Brown's book isn't a “religious text” central to any religion (unless you worship him and start a new religion?). :) That's poor analogy.

You claim that Jesus transgressed the Mosaic Law, and urges his disciples to do the same. But the Bible says (quoting Jesus) in Matthew 5:17-18 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." So your allegation concerning this is incorrect.

Furthermore, your answer begs the question: how did he, from the point of Judaism, attack the Judaists "viciously?" Please share with me your in depth research and documentation (or is that a bare assertion?). Thank you!

Lastly, the Da Vinci Code "comparison" is not "out of place." Satanic Verses was also a novel (fiction), so why do we ban it in Singapore? Why the double standard?

Going by your argument, "most people" do not have a problem with the Satanic Verses (except for a minority of a "minority" in Singapore). There are likewise Muslims who are not offended by it. So why ban it? (I am not against the banning of the Satanic Verses, but I question the double standard).

The degree of offensiveness of a particular religious publication is not based upon headcount, but is evaluated by the leaders of a particular religion i.e. theologians and pastors who know what is at stake, and what exactly is being said in such literature.

As in the case of the Da Vinci Code, the National Council of Churches in Singapore had asked for its ban. Likewise, there were protests in various parts of the world by both Catholics and Christians asking for its ban. (did you read my post and links?)

Yours truly,
Vincent

PS: You wrote, “I know you are going to say that he was fulfilling it and all that, but from the point of view of Judaism, he was attacking it viciously. If you're going to invoke the 'he was the Son of God' justification, that's just special pleading.” Your question assumes the factual accuracy of the biblical documents i.e. that there is a person called Jesus and that the Jews crucified him. To draw an answer based upon the claims of the same biblical documents that you accept is no “special pleading.” If you claim that you do not accept the factual accuracy of the biblical documents, then please show me how you come to the conclusion (via textual evidence) that 1) There is a historical Jesus, 2) Jesus attacked Judaism, 3) Jesus was crucified, 4) He was crucified because he attacked the Judaism.

Even if Christ DID “attack” Judaism – whatever “attack” means – and Christ was indeed crucified by the Jews, you need to show the causation between the two events. Otherwise, it’s just another post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.

You also wrote, “Christians want to persecute those who (allegedly) attack their religion.” Please also show me how you know that Christians “want to persecute” such people because they attacked “their religion.” Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc and bare assertion?

Agagooga said...

See my replies in your blog

Sicarii said...

Vincent:

Well put, brother. :)

Socrates_Reincarnate said...

Just a question for all Christians out there.

Imagine a world where there are 30,000 religions out there, one of which is Christianity. The gods of the other 29,999 religions say that worshippers should follow each of them or else they would be thrown into their hells. The other 29,999 religions also require their believers to win new convert.

A question for all Christians out there - How would you deal with the other 29,999 religions? How would you live in such a world?

Socrates_Reincarnate said...

Actually what Dan Brown wrote is a mere storm in a tea cup (can't understand the ruckus kicked up by church leaders, etc).

The big question is perhaps the canonisation of biblical texts by the then church authority. There are a multitude of doctrines out there. The Nag Hammadi is one of them. Remember Origen and his reincarnation doctrine. It was the church leaders who decided what is heretical and what is orthodox.

Centuries later, what constitutes orthodox Christianity has been decided by the church and in the case of protestants, Martin Luther.

The proliferation of multiple doctrines(Origen), and in later centuries, revision by religious authorities, somehow reinforces the view that Christianity post-Martin Luther (in the case of Protestants) and early Christianity (during the time of jesus) is a little different.

It may interest Christians out there that Greek classics played a part in the Christian concept of god, i.e. god is the alpha and omega, the prime mover of the universe.
http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/retrograde/aristotle.html

This is an irony, considering the fact that Christianity teaches that it is the only way, yet it assimilates elements of the other ways (Aristotle example). In addition, it is by no means a static doctrines, being subjected to revisions by religious authorities.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Hi Socrates/Kelvin Zhang,

Just a few points to make.

1) Your comment is irrelevant to my post. Please keep to the subject. If you have questions concerning Christianity, there are many good websites/books out there for you to consider.

2) Concerning the alleged Hellenistic/Greek influence of Christianity, this had been refuted and repudiated by many scholars since. As a primer, see:

The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought?
by Ronald H. Nash

It's not that I do not want to talk further on this issue; I do not have the time now to spoon-feed you with the information which can be found in many books - if you have bothered to check it up. (Is it your intention to know the facts?)

3) "A question for all Christians out there - How would you deal with the other 29,999 religions? How would you live in such a world?"

This is such a loaded question. Can you at least focus on the perceived "problem?" Let me tell you what - rephrase your question (a little more specific please!), and I'll see what I can say.

Socrates_Reincarnate said...

If you are able to grasp the essence of my loaded question, rhetoric as it may be, my 29,999 religions examples is to illustrate the problems encountered if Abrahamic faiths co-existed together, with each insisting on its own blend of truth, heaveny rewards, theology, etc.

Socrates_Reincarnate said...

Citing some religious scholars don't add strength to your arguement.

If you know the history of Christianity well, the Christian concept of universe (Earth being the center of the universe) runs parallel to that of Aristotlian-Ptolmaic universe. Influential thinkers of Christianity have also come into contact with Aristotle's philosophy. You may have heard of St Thomas Aquinas. No prizes for guessing which school of philosophical thought that he subscribes to.

It's fine if you want to believe that Hellenistic philosophy (actually they came after Aristotle) had no influence on Christianity, but my point remains that the beliefs of Christianity is not as static as what some Christians make it out to be. Ask any Christian today whether they think that the Earth is the centre of the universe, and you will not find it surprising that few would dare to stake such a claim today.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Kelvin Zhang/Socrates,

”Citing some religious scholars don't add strength to your arguement.”

>On the contrary, the citing of such relevant authorities does “add strength” to my argument. This is an old question, and has been rebutted repeatedly. I am just flabbergasted as to why you have no familiarity with such interactions between religious scholars.

Ironically, you do not seem to be an authority on this issue; why should I take your word for it?

”If you know the history of Christianity well, the Christian concept of universe (Earth being the center of the universe) runs parallel to that of Aristotlian-Ptolmaic universe. Influential thinkers of Christianity have also come into contact with Aristotle's philosophy. You may have heard of St Thomas Aquinas. No prizes for guessing which school of philosophical thought that he subscribes to.”

>Your argument is at best an ignoratio elenchi. If you are acquainted with Aristotle, you should have known this basic error; he has much to say regarding this.

Your allegation was that the religion of Christianity is based upon Greek/Hellenistic influence.

But the Christian religion is founded upon the writings of biblical authors, not Thomistic writings.

There are numerous Christian philosophers (including Aquinas) who are influenced by various ideologies. It does not follow that the Christian religion (which is based upon the Bible) is itself the product of such influences.

“It's fine if you want to believe that Hellenistic philosophy (actually they came after Aristotle) had no influence on Christianity, but my point remains that the beliefs of Christianity is not as static as what some Christians make it out to be.”

> It's fine if you want to believe that Hellenistic philosophy had any influence on Christianity, but my point remains that your belief in such Hellenistic influence is not based upon research and proper inquiry.

“Ask any Christian today whether they think that the Earth is the centre of the universe, and you will not find it surprising that few would dare to stake such a claim today.”

>Why should Christians make that claim? Your statement begs the question, “Can you show that the Bible teaches that the Earth is the center of the Universe?” Some Christians may have believed in little flying spaghetti monsters or the Return of the Jedi, but you must show the causation between such beliefs and the biblical texts. Just because certain Christians hold a particular belief does not mean that the particular belief is the product of biblical exegesis or biblical teaching. (cum hoc ergo propter hoc)

“If you are able to grasp the essence of my loaded question, rhetoric as it may be, my 29,999 religions examples is to illustrate the problems encountered if Abrahamic faiths co-existed together, with each insisting on its own blend of truth, heaveny rewards, theology, etc.”

>Your question was, “How would you deal with the other 29,999 religions? How would you live in such a world?”

You have to specify what you are asking – my socioeconomic struggles, my emotional/existential angst, and/or my epistemic “problems” in relation to the existence of several religions?

How would I live in such a world? I would pay my bills; that’s how. J What problems?

>Again, your comments are not relevant to my post. Any further comments from you should adhere to the context and subject of the post. Thank you.

Yours truly,
Vincent

Socrates_Reincarnate said...

Maybe I didn't explain myself clear enough with my 29,999 religions but I will try.

Your blog post was on some anti-islam messages that were sent out by some Christians, am I right?

Islam is an Abrahamic faith, similar to Christianity. Thus, what I am trying to get at is if Christians live together with Abrahamic-like religions like Islam (as in my 29,999 religions examples), do you think they can co-exist peacefully?

This is a question one may ask in the light of the sedition charge for anti-islamic messages as you have highlighted in your report.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Kelvin (Socrates).

Question: "... do you think they [Abrahamic faiths] can co-exist peacefully?"

Answer: Yes, I think they can (and with certain caveats).

I commend to you the following speech by our ex-PM and now SM, Mr Goh Chok Tong:

http://worldharmonyday.com/ircc_pm_goh.php

SM Goh said, "I take great satisfaction in seeing mosques, churches, and Chinese and Hindu temples in the same neighbourhood. Khadijah Mosque, for instance, is situated in a part of Singapore - Geylang - where there is probably the greatest concentration of mosques, temples, churches, Chinese clan associations etc. This shows that Singaporeans are able to accommodate others of different faith. It is this mutual accommodation of interests that has won us the social harmony we enjoy today. ...

We have done well so far. Singapore is a model multi-racial, multi-religious society. Our Muslims have contributed significantly to this. Let us, together, continue to build a successful society of peace, prosperity and progress."

Shall we applaud together for Singapore? :)

niko said...

True, in Singapore, the situation is as it is where religion is a hot potato. We can only say good things about religion, and if we criticise it, it becomes 'inflammatory' and 'vicious remarks'. I haven't found these 'vicious remarks' posted. But this makes me wonder though, is religion open to criticism at all? We can criticise other’s political view, criticise a football coach but we cannot criticise a religion? What makes religion so special? Why THIS double standard? Oh wait, I know, this is Singapore we're talking about here. Where it is a multi-racial, multi-religious society. But so is America, where people enjoy much more freedom of speech than Singapore. I guess it all reflects how the society is here in Singapore. When you criticise a religion, there will be people who get all thin-skinned and edgy, and the government for sure realises this and strives to protect its people. This just outlines the deeper problem singapore society has which is that with the internet and all this new media, the government will have a harder time controlling speech. Singapore is making the same mistake many european countries do - instead of allowing open confrontations that would teach religious people to respect other people's freedom of expression, be they christians, muslims, or hindus, the government here tries to prohibit the so-called "hate speech". This has worked for most of 20th century, but this doesn't mean it will continue to work in the 21st.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Hi niko,

“We can only say good things about religion, and if we criticise it, it becomes 'inflammatory' and 'vicious remarks'.”

>Untrue; that is a bare assertion. I wonder if you are exposed to these “criticisms” of religion. Have you been to a bookstore lately?

“But this makes me wonder though, is religion open to criticism at all?”

>Of course it is.

“We can criticise other’s political view, criticise a football coach but we cannot criticise a religion? What makes religion so special? Why THIS double standard?”

>Firstly, it is untrue that religion cannot be “criticized.” And that depends on how you define “criticize.” Secondly, a distinction must be made between “criticism” and “sedition.”

>There is no such “double standard.” But there seem to be double standards when it comes to the criticism of a certain religion as stated in my post.

“But so is America, where people enjoy much more freedom of speech than Singapore.”

>Criticisms of the LGBT movement in some States are tantamount to “hate-speech.” So, I have to disagree with you here.

“When you criticise a religion, there will be people who get all thin-skinned and edgy, and the government for sure realises this and strives to protect its people.”

>Again, that depends on how you define “criticism.” If it is merely uneducated bare assertions and seditious comments, then the government is absolutely justified in her actions - provided that there are no double standards.

“Singapore is making the same mistake many european countries do - instead of allowing open confrontations that would teach religious people to respect other people's freedom of expression, be they christians, muslims, or hindus, the government here tries to prohibit the so-called "hate speech". This has worked for most of 20th century, but this doesn't mean it will continue to work in the 21st.”

>I would love to have absolute “freedom of speech,” but the question is this: where do we draw the line?

>Niko, did you start the Blogger account just to post comments? I think you should start blogging too.

I don't usually allow anonymous comments; what is your real name?

niko said...

Yes, Niko is my real name. I hope you like it. ☺

No, I do not blog. Yes I just opened an account because you don’t allow anonymous posts. Perhaps I should start blogging but for now, I do not blog. I hope you don't mind that. ☺

You said: There is no such “double standard.” But there seem to be double standards when it comes to the criticism of a certain religion as stated in my post.

Yes I agree with you on that. To me, the double standards now are that muslims can say anything against other religions, and they can teach their kids racism and that's fine in singapore, however, if exactly the same things are done by non-muslims against islam - then the people are charged here. Sorry I did not include this point earlier.

You said: I would love to have absolute “freedom of speech,” but the question is this: where do we draw the line?

Draw the line? Free speech should only be one way – free.

There are all kinds of people who say they like free speech, but the only true ones are those who want free speech for everyone, regardless of their views.

I said America has much more freedom of speech than Singapore, which is true.

(Please understand that I am not saying America is better than Singapore in all respect. But I am making the comparison of the degree of freedom of expression allowed in Singapore and America. I am a proud female Singaporean who acknowledge that there are good and bad things about Singapore, as with other nations.)

Freedom of speech includes rational criticisms as well as jokes or comments or drawings or any mode of expression that are both uneducated or brilliant, stupid or otherwise, hate-speech of the LGBT movement, etc. no matter how much we like or dislike it. That is the freedom of expression people should be entitled to.

Seditious or not depends on the nation’s law. For instance, if I say something about race or religion that you dislike, in the Singapore context, you get the right to charge me with seditious act.

You can say something malicious or even funny about my race (Malay) or my atheism or my friend’s religion in a way that I may dislike, but I will not expect you to be jailed for this because I believe you are free to say whatever you want.
Drawings of Prophet Muhammad are not considered seditious in America or Denmark. And I think they should not be considered seditious period. But they are considered so here because of Singapore’s Seditious Act in Chapter 290 of Singapore’s Statutes.

But I believe this only reflects the society here in Singapore. This is not so in America. For instance, Reverend Paul Jennings Hill and Christians there can say death to abortion doctors as loud as they want, or non-Muslims can say death to Muslims or Muslims can say death to America, and this is their right to freedom of expression. They must be arrested only when they actually commit the act of murder because murder is a crime.

You agree with me that religion is open to criticism and it is untrue that religion cannot be criticized, but out of curiosity, do you think, for example, Islam is open to criticism at all?

You said: Untrue; that is a bare assertion. I wonder if you are exposed to these “criticisms” of religion. Have you been to a bookstore lately?

Yes, there are such books found in bookstores and even libraries in Singapore. But, if you mean it is untrue that we can only say good things about religion here in Singapore i.e this or that religion is a religion of peace, then perhaps I could start saying all the bad things of religions right here in your blog, be it rational or inflammatory or funny.

And now that you mentioned it, indeed I haven’t been to a real bookstore lately, but I do buy lots of my books from online bookstores, like some of those books that openly and rationally criticize religion that are banned in bookstores in Singapore. ☺

niko said...

Hey Vincent

I said: "To me, the double standards now are that muslims can say anything against other religions, and they can teach their kids racism and that's fine in singapore, however, if exactly the same things are done by non-muslims against islam - then the people are charged here."

Let me elaborate on this. When I said Muslims can say anything against other religions and teach their kids racism, this is largely based on my experience when I attended Madrasah several years ago when I was a teenager. I do not have any recordings of proof but I certainly remember one religious teacher saying we as Muslims must be aware or not befriend the Jews or Christians, or we as Muslims must not trust the Reuter news source because they are associated with the Jews.

I do not know what they teach in Madrasahs in Singapore nowadays but I believe they will refrain from such un-PC (politically correct) teachings, given the present focus on this religion.

I have grown up listening to Muslim adults telling me similar things - even nowadays I hear those 'coffee-shop talk' of some Muslims saying similar things - which back then when I was younger I merely listened to in awe but now I simply balk at whenever I think or hear of it.

And another concern is how the authorities judge a particular expression to warrant the charge of seditious act or merely a ‘stern warning’.

Personally, when it comes to freedom of expression, if people post or publish such divisive teachings on their blogs or pamphlets, then so be it. To me, these will only compel open confrontations, freedom of thought and debates of opposing views that is required for critical self-examination. Censorship may be harshly enforced here now, but in the age of Internet, it just becomes harder to impose.

Yes, say whatever they want - as the saying goes, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me - but if they cause us real harm and deliberately put our lives in danger, then that is a line that they should never cross.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Hi Niko,

Ah ... that's your real name. I'm glad it isn't Nike. :)

I agree with much of what you have written. Inly these clarifications:

1) I mean it when I say, "Where do we draw the line?" To better understand why I said a "line must be drawn,"

Read :http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freedom-speech/

See the article's Introduction: Boundaries of Debate.

2) There are hate speech laws in America, which can be harsh even by Singaporean standards. For example, see:

http://www.cwfa.org/articledisplay.asp?id=6458&department=CFI&categoryid=family

"The law, SB1234, classifies as "hate speech" any public expression that makes certain favored citizens feel "unwelcome" or "intimidated." Anyone found guilty of using such expressions could face six months in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Homosexuals, transsexuals, women, the homeless and assorted minority groups have been given the authority to decide what constitutes "hate speech." It's all based on their emotional response to a speech, a conversation, a book or article, a poster, a radio broadcast--whatever. If it makes them feel uncomfortable, it's hate speech. "

And you say America has more freedom of speech? Perhaps in the area of religion, yes. But in Singapore, I can say MSM is sin, and I don't get jailed for it. The same cannot be said of certain parts of the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, or the USA.

3) Personally, if you have good arguments against Christianity, I'll be the first one who would invite you for a good debate (after my exams, that is). I only dislike comments that are ad hominem in nature, and do not reflect good research or familiarity with the material being dealt with.

Kind regards,
Vincent

vincit omnia veritas said...

(Sorry Niko, I don't know what's wrong with blogger. I published your comment, but it didn't appear. Here it is).

Hey Vincent

I said: "To me, the double standards now are that muslims can say anything against other religions, and they can teach their kids racism and that's fine in singapore, however, if exactly the same things are done by non-muslims against islam - then the people are charged here."

Let me elaborate on this. When I said Muslims can say anything against other religions and teach their kids racism, this is largely based on my experience when I attended Madrasah several years ago when I was a teenager. I do not have any recordings of proof but I certainly remember one religious teacher saying we as Muslims must be aware or not befriend the Jews or Christians, or we as Muslims must not trust the Reuter news source because they are associated with the Jews.

I do not know what they teach in Madrasahs in Singapore nowadays but I believe they will refrain from such un-PC (politically correct) teachings, given the present focus on this religion.

I have grown up listening to Muslim adults telling me similar things - even nowadays I hear those 'coffee-shop talk' of some Muslims saying similar things - which back then when I was younger I merely listened to in awe but now I simply balk at whenever I think or hear of it.

And another concern is how the authorities judge a particular expression to warrant the charge of seditious act or merely a ‘stern warning’.

Personally, when it comes to freedom of expression, if people post or publish such divisive teachings on their blogs or pamphlets, then so be it. To me, these will only compel open confrontations, freedom of thought and debates of opposing views that is required for critical self-examination. Censorship may be harshly enforced here now, but in the age of Internet, it just becomes harder to impose.

Yes, say whatever they want - as the saying goes, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me - but if they cause us real harm and deliberately put our lives in danger, then that is a line that they should never cross.

Niko

vincit omnia veritas said...

Hi Niko,

"Personally, when it comes to freedom of expression, if people post or publish such divisive teachings on their blogs or pamphlets, then so be it. To me, these will only compel open confrontations, freedom of thought and debates of opposing views that is required for critical self-examination."

I never disagreed with that. Sentiments alike.

Besides, I do not believe in "blind" faith. Faith should be rational, but that discussion is for another day ... :)

Believe it or not, I enjoy Daniel Dennett's books - yes, his rabidly anti-Christian books. They help me think deeper into things.

kind regards,
Vincent

niko said...

Hello

It's been so long...

And I don't see my replies to your last comments here, Vincy...

vincit omnia veritas said...

Niko,

I have said that I will only post comments which are not anonymous. Technically, starting a new ID speaks nothing about your real name.

And your (unpublished) posts reek of senseless ad hominem attacks. If you want a debate with me, get yourself a proper blog displaying WHO YOU ARE.

I have enough of people with no courage to own up to what they have written - and that means putting your true identity behind your comments.

Do you notice that posters on my blog have REAL blogs with REAL posts, not anonymous folks with new IDs set-up just to post incendiary comments on my blog?