Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thio, NYU and human beings

The latest news is that NUS law professor, Dr Thio Li-Ann, has cancelled her visit to New York University.

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/07/breaking_dr_thio_might_not_com.php

While there may be other academic ambassadors of Singapore to represent the country in other universities, I feel a little bit sad for Thio.

For a while now, she has received flak over news that she would be a visiting professor at NYU, teaching Human Rights in Asia.

Her appointment was met with a petition protest, and along with other online discussions and the obligatory flaming, it was a sign that someone whose track record of irrational homophobia would probably have difficulty teaching at a university like NYU.

There are two possible ways at looking at this.

On the one hand, it is said we should be confronting words and logic, instead of the speaker – a clear separation of rhetoric and personality.

On the other hand, there is the perspective that rhetoric and personality (or personhood rather) are intertwined.

In the case of Thio, we discard Voltaire’s statement (although Evelyn Beatrice Hall actually wrote it; we’ll never know) “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” and base our criticism of Thio on the belief that the personal cannot be separated from the political.

We disapprove of Thio’s words and Thio herself, to the point her career (or a part of it) is affected.

It is quite interesting to observe how some of us select specific perspectives or frameworks to make sense of certain scenarios – we either choose to separate words from the person, or choose to link words to the person.

If a person holds a political view (everyone does so any way), should he/she be penalised for it? I’m not talking about Potong Pasir and Hougang residents.

Aside from the irony of a homophobic person teaching human rights, I think she is more than qualified to teach it. Her beliefs are personal to her, and she has every right to put them out in public, in exchange for opposing views that target not her personality but her views, of course.

The perspectival flipflop shows that in certain domains, certain scenarios, how we selectively create rules of engagement to suit certain causes and agenda. For less ideologically challenging situations, we will defend a person’s right to say things. For other scenarios, we have a different set of rules of engagement.

The two possible reasons why some folks want to “make life difficult” for Thio are:
1) Prevent Thio from being in a greater position of authority to spread her divisive views
2) To an extent, let Thio know what it feels like to be ‘discriminated’ for what you are and what you believe in.

We have to acknowledge that Thio has the intellect, paid her academic dues and of course the critical thinking abilities of a professor. But is her brand of critical thinking insufficient and less critical for some of our liking?

We may want to outshout (metaphorically) and probably silence people like Thio, perhaps in the pursuit of political correctness. But in doing so, do we ourselves threaten the foundations of diversity that underpin their existence and their perspectives?

The presence of Thio and the likes of the legend George Lim Heng Chye, serve to remind us to the troubles we have in society, the troubles we have with (divisive) opinion, and not necessarily their personal troubles. Their seemingly legitimate ‘concerns’ with specific issues speak not only of the issues they seek to address, but also the overall picture of how fucked up our society is.

Their concerns serve a function too – to remind us how we can improve on how we see things and how we think. For instance, the concern about sexual morality in the context of growing acceptance of homosexuality serves to remind us not only about the problems with homosexuality (from the speaker’s perspective) but also about homophobia itself (about the speaker’s position).

When you talk about a problem, you raise 2 problems:
1) The problem you are talking about, and
2) Your mindset, which caused you to create, identify and discuss the problem in the first place.

The more the homophobic speak, the more they remind society that homophobia exists. It is then up to individuals to choose whether to address the contents of the speech or the homophobia buttressing the speech.

It is very much similar to religion itself. A devil is identified as a problem, but the devil’s identification speaks of the manner in which the god is justified as the solution or the right thing.

Most of us are already capable of understanding this. For instance, we know the problem with the PAP suing political opposition members bankrupt as not merely a problem with defamation, but also a problem with political strategy and leadership.

In my opinion, essentially, when individuals get together to become people, to become affiliated with culture, ideology, rituals, we become meaner, we start politicising similarities and differences and create more problems for one another.

44 comments:

Ryan said...

I spearheaded the campaign against Thio at NYU, and was quoted in today’s New York Times article. Because pretty much all of my comments were edited out, here is my take on the situation, and the Dean’s response.

This is not an issue of academic freedom because Thio took actions in the Parliament of Singapore that oppressed the LGBT community. Many students and alumni of NYU consider her a human rights violator, and we believe international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch would agree. By inviting her to NYU, the administration provided a human rights violator with tacit approval by a United States university that her views are within the bounds of academic freedom. We do not believe NYU would have considered her actions to be within the bounds of academic freedom if they had the effect of oppressing racial or religious minorities.

While NYU has historically been at the forefront of the LGBT rights movement, many of us are concerned that the law school treated this situation in a manner that is a step backwards. We are concerned how it will affect recruiting of LGBT students, and we are concerned how it will affect financial support from alumni.

Finally, while the Dean stated that “the value of the global program would be diminished if the visiting scholars all thought of difficult legal issues–including issues of sexual morality–in the same way,” we cannot comprehend what value there is in inviting a human rights violator to teach a course in human rights. He stated “We can learn from these visitors, and–we hope–they can learn from us.” I take issue with his statement that we can learn from a professor like Thio. For one, he is not a student, and
as a student I have no desire to debate with a professor who believes that LGBT individuals do not deserve human rights because their mere existence is a moral wrong. The human rights academic community is long past this
debate.

Ryan Golden
NYU Law Class of 2011

solo bear said...

Ryan,

Rather than pressurizing Ms Thio to be barred, it would have been better if she visited your campus and debated with you and/or your LGBT community.

You are only reinforcing that the gay community is intolerant of views that do not concur with theirs.

By the way, your point about her being a human rights violator is a little far fetched - another deed of yours that reinforces that the gay community makes mountains out of molehills.

Chrisloup said...

What is there to debate?

there is no debating with religious fundamentalists.

Chrisloup said...

and indeed, Ms thio was the one without the moral gumption to backup her deeds.

superduper said...

@solo bear

It isn't so hard to see where you are coming from; afterall, you did claim gay prides were 'attacking the basic family unit".

A quick check on the commentors' blogs will show that the majority of comments defending Ms Thio are coming from individuals with strongly Christian-influenced views.

solo bear said...

Chrisloup posted
>What is there to debate?
there is no debating with religious fundamentalists.
>>

Me:
That shows the gay community's intolerance again.

To superduper,

I am NOT concerned about TLA. I am talking about the LGBT community in the university, showing intolerance towards views that do not concur with theirs.

It does appear that this intolerance in LGBT community is universal, be it in Singapore or elsewhere.

Seelan Palay said...

Hi Ryan, if you need to reply to any further/other blogposts on this issue, check out this blog aggregation site: http://singaporedaily.net

superduper said...

@solo bear

Well, it isn't exactly ONLY the LGBT community which is showing 'intolerence' towards TLA and her views which 'do not concur' with theirs, judging from the low enrolment for her lectures. (I would assume not the entire Law Faculty in NYU are LGBT students.)

I believe that if a lecturer with a racist background were invited to give a lecture on human rights, there would be a similar reaction by say, African-American students in the faculty.

It sure does seem these days EVERYONE is rather 'intolerant', isn't it?

solo bear said...

superduper:
>>I believe that if a lecturer with a racist background were invited to give a lecture on human rights, there would be a similar reaction by say, African-American students in the faculty.
>>

Me:
You are trying to link TLA as a human rights violator. That is one of my questions to Ryan.

Is she? Or is the LGBT community trying make it look that she is?

super:
>>It sure does seem these days EVERYONE is rather 'intolerant', isn't it?
>>

Me:
Yeah, I am glad you noticed it. HR activists, Feminists, secularists and pro-democracy activists - they all seem to engage in hypocrisy. Here's some examples.

It wrong for terrorist to bomb innocents, but it is OK to support US who kills innocents - pro-democracy activists supporting call for regime change in lands in Mid East and parts of Asia.

It is wrong to force the hijab on the woman because it violates her rights, but it is OK to force it off her because she must respect the culture of the land - Feminists on the Muslim hijab.

Gays must have rights, but prisoners in Gitmo have no rights - HR activists.

Here is a past post I wrote about a year ago, about Walter Woon's swipe at so called human rights activists, calling them "fanatics". HR activism has itself become a religion. I tend to agree with him.
Human Rights - Walter Woon is commenting from a global perspective-

Another link below, on the same topic at TOC's website. TOC has since removed it. I wonder why. The link is Google's cache.
Citizen Woon

Mr Neutral said...

Maybe we should start a petition to get TLA to change her mind. She's great entertainment.

Sam Ho said...

i think the fundamental assumptions of both camps (assuming there are 2 opposing sides in this LGBT-related debate), is that one camp thinks that any form of sexuality outside heterosexuality is not legitimate, and is a lifestyle that can be learned and unlearned.

therefore this moral judgement already colours a person's perspectives.

it is rather difficult to debate on whether LGBT rights are legitimate if one camp does not acknowledge non-heterosexual forms of sexual orientation as legitimate identity traits. that's how i see it.

the "homophobic" camp will dispute comparisons between homophobia and racism, because sexuality is a choice to them, so the comparison is invalid.

you are born with race and into race, whereas sexual identity comes a few years after racial identity. the politics are different.

Sam Ho said...

with regards to solobear's statement: "Yeah, I am glad you noticed it. HR activists, Feminists, secularists and pro-democracy activists - they all seem to engage in hypocrisy. Here's some examples."

there are different branches of feminism for example. radical, liberal, difference, black, socialist, etc. so it's easy for a layperson to spot inconsistencies if we think it is all the same thing, but it's not actually.

different schools of thought or perspectives will always have their strengths and weakness. so there will always been inconsistencies and to an extent hypocrisies. very normal.

feminism has been criticised as rather oriented towards the white middle class woman.

and the criticism for the previous sentence has also been for its reductionism to ethnicity, as if ethnicity would solely and critically determine difference in ideology.

so there's a weakness for everything.

Darryl said...

I have been following this matter quite closely over the last week or so. These are my opinions and observations

1. Almost everyone agrees that it is Thio's right to stand in parliament and make that speech. A certain group of people then found her words to be very offensive.

2. However, Thio, and some other people, seem to have forgotten that it is also the right of each individual to make a response to her speech.

3. These responses can either be intellectual, or emotional (ie flaming or personal attacks). While you may argue that the latter is not appropriate or constructive, it is but a natural expression of our humanity. I don't think it's fair to tell people that they shouldn't be angry at the person who just spat on them.

4. The official responses from NYU and its student bodies have been professional and logical. NYU at no point considered rescinding her invitation. The call from the students to dismiss her was intellectually based on the premise that her views are in direct contradiction of the course she was being hired to teach. Mr Golden has succinctly pointed this out. Compare this with an anti-semite professor being hired to teach chemical engineering.

5. Thio's own responses to the criticism has been disappointing. Is it a personal attack if, after studying her lengthy rebuttal, i find that her arguments are not intellectually robust? She seems to fall back a lot on the argument that anyone who doesn't agree with her is biased and trying to silence her.

6. We must be clear that is it Thio who has voluntarily withdrawn from her tenure. Really, i see this as a victory for freedom of speech because at no point was anyone silenced. Both sides were free to argue and counter-argue. There was no top-down action taken.

7. I am very disappointed by Thio's withdrawal. She has lost what little respect i had left for her. At least in 2007 she had the gumption and conviction to stand in Parliament and forcefully make her point heard. But she has now chickened out in the face of real opposition. She has proven to me that she didn't know what she was talking about; that her one-sided statements were poorly researched, and do not stand up to intellectual debate.

solo bear said...

Sam
>>
it is rather difficult to debate on whether LGBT rights are legitimate if one camp does not acknowledge non-heterosexual forms of sexual orientation as legitimate identity traits. that's how i see it.
>>

Me:
My point is that if the gay community takes a hostile stance in NYU instead of debating with her, then for all the talk that the general community should accept gays is but just hot air.

As it is, the impression in Singapore is that the gay community is hostile, boisterous and uncompromising. NYU is just reinforcing that impression outside Singapore.

I am beginning to ask, is this the makeup of gays?

As for the different forms of feminism, yes, I agree with you there are many branches. However, the most dominant has so far been western based ideals.

What if the Muslim women in France and Germany assert their rights to wear the headscarf because they are 1)Muslims 2)Women. Would you see a clash between secularism and Muslim feminism then.

My point is western feminists see issues from their own perspectives and try to apply those perspectives onto others. Come to think of it, most propagators of western ideals like HR, secularism, pro-democracy etc are like that too.

Sam Ho said...

solo bear, i see what you mean. yes, some factions within the sexual minority rights movement are aggressive and appear uncompromising. it is just only one of different strategies to get a message across.

but of course, there's no need to generalise.

at the same time, i find some factions within the anti-gay movement as being passive aggressive, who use emotional tactics of fear, guilt and stereotypes not to perpetuate fear and hatred but sow their respective seeds.

actually, i'd be happy for thio to teach in NYU. she is a politically liberal social conservative who happens to be homophobic and religious. moreover, i believe it will not be her personal views that will be explicitly expressed, but rather the course she has to conduct.

i think the example of women and islam involves many ways of lookng at it. to even use the word "feminism" invokes to an extent the history of western feminism itself, so it's inescapable.

the identification of "secularism" and "muslim feminism" comes from specific subjectivities/positions, rather than neutral objective positions. in identifying an action/intention as characteristic of xxx feminism, the identity and politics of the identifier becomes complicit in the politics and implications of the action.

i agree with you that history favours certain ethnocentric classed forms of feminism, but that is not to say they impede the development of other feminisms. i think there's one branch of feminism called standpoint feminism too.

it is searching the inconsistencies and intolerance in feminism that helps the theory/philosophy evolve.

to be honest, i am against (ideal) democracy, because it can be manipulated into a numbers game where 51% can vote to kill 49%.

solo bear said...

Sam,

I am not an academic and I don't pretend to be one. I am a ground guy and I prefer policies that work, rather than airy-fairy ideals that does nothing to create harmony and integration within society.

My point is that Thio's visit would have provided EXCELLENT opportunity for the gay community to show that they can reason and talk, instead of just bawling and booing.

They gave up that chance and resorted to cowing Thio. Have they not reinforced the stereotype that gays can only make noise and cannot be reasoned with?

superduper said...

@ solo bear

I think you might have missed the point. Ms Thio voluntarily withdrew from the NYU visit- no one forced her to do so.

Yes, students may have expressed to her their opinions on her visit, perhaps more strongly by LGBT students than others. However, one should note that letters welcoming her visit to NYU would probably have been less publicised than those opposing her visit. Hence, we should not assume that all feedback made to Ms Thio by NYU students were of an opposing stance.

What I'm trying to say is that SHE was the one who "gave up that chance" instead.

solo bear said...

superduper,

Like I said, I am not interested in Thio Li Ann.

I am making a point that the gay community calls for acceptance. Yet, instead of showing they are capable of dialogue, they chose to be hostile.

No different from how gays have been behaving in Singapore.

The stereotyping of gays is their own doing.

superduper said...

solo bear,

I'm sorry if I'm starting to sound a little thick, but from what evidence do you conclude the local gay communicty unwilling to engage in dialogue?

solo bear said...

superduper

During the AWARE saga, did the gay community engage dialogue? Or did they make a loud of noise in a boisterous fashion?

superduper said...

solo bear,

Oh come on if a bunch of gays conspired to take over your church to advance the gay rights movement you'd have been 'boisterous' too.

Besides, prior to the EGM, countless chances were given to the ex-new exco to speak up about the takeover and their rationale for doing so. They were unable to come up with any sound arguments.

Realistically speaking, after realising the people up on the stage have got nothing to say at all, what did you expect? Cheering and some applause?

solo bear said...

superduper,

Gays should really shake off this Christian fundie is out to get them talk. It gives the impression they are looking for a scapegoat for their own folly.

Firstly, I am no Christian and hence your mention of the church takeover doesn't interest me.

Secondly, I am not interested in Josie and gang's silence before the EGM either.

To me, those two issues are an internal affair of AWARE.

What I am interested is as a parent, I went to the EGM, to see if the talk that AWARE's CSE contained its covert programme to teach young girls about homo. I got the confirmation at the EGM itself.

At the same time, I witnessed the boorish, boisterous, non-compromising, gangster-like behaviour of gays with my very own eyes.

Here is what I posted after the EGM.
Sectarian Christians replaced by Sectarian Gays - So what's the difference?

It is NOT unfounded to say gays in Singapore are not interested in dialogue.

superduper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
superduper said...

@ solo bear

On the other end of the argument, one could say the Christians are the ones acting like gays are out to get them. Why else would a group of Christian women with full-time jobs bother to spend so much time and energy to 'take over' a secular organization just because they believe that AWARE's neutrality on homosexuality in its CSE was a problem?

Also, once again, I can't help but think that you missed out the full picture on AWARE's CSE. Here's a statement by one of the CSE instructors, one which I somehow believe you will find some way to refute or refuse to accept as usual: http://mathialee.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/awares-comprehensive-sexuality-education-cse-re-homosexuality/

Admittedly, the EGM wasn't pretty at all, what's with 'shut up and sit down' and all, which I assume was the reason you failed to get the full picture on AWARE's original exco on their CSE program, even though you attended the EGM.

I still remain by my stand though, that the AWARE EGM is an unsuitable example to demonstrate willingness in dialogue because of the circumstances (once again, like I said, Josie Lau and her team's silence is relevant, however uninterested you are in it - it demonstrated that they had nothing to back their actions and hence the response by the women present, both gay and straight).

solo bear said...

superduper,

You keep mentioning about the Christians. That is YOUR dispute with them. As a parent, what gays and Christians slug between themselves is none of parents' concern.

As for Aware's CSE, it is deemed unappropriate by MOE. Rightly so. Teaching 12 year old girls about anal sex? How to put on condoms? That's bordering along pedophelia, don't you think so?

As for the EGM, all gays can remember is the one line, shut up and sit down. They forgot that for hours, their have been jeering, booing and acting like gangsters.

Take a look at the comments in the link I gave you in my last post. Look at how boisterous gay behaviour is. That's an EXACT reflection of the behaviour gays put up at the AWARE EGM.

How can one not conclude gays are unable to reason?

Diversity said...

I think if you check the AWARE videos you'll find that the booing started after somone on the new Exco panel told a former chairperson who was speaking from the floor to "shut up and sit down". That's what started it. I doubt solo bear was really there.

What I see here is the continuation of an online campaign by solo bear to smear the supporters of decriminalisation of gay people. Why so heavily motivated, if not a fundamentalist of some description? One can only guess.

Back to Thio, the subject of this article. Given the opportunity to engage in rigorous debate, she withdrew, and in a manner which the Dean of the faculty found "offensive".

People were less than impressed with her calibre once they saw her Parliamentary speech, and the manner in which she tried to defend her position.

I like the following extract from a US legal blog:

"Several readers have now sent links to this story about a Singapore professor who will be teaching human rights law at NYU this fall, who is captured on video arguing at length against the decriminalization of homosexuality (the links to the video can be found in the story linked above). The most striking thing about the video is its embarrassingly low intellectual level--she mostly just regurgitates Lord Devlin's side of the Hart/Devlin debate, which Hart won, both intellectually and as a matter of English law. There isn't even the pretense of a response to the obvious Hartian and Millian objections to her Devlinesque position. Now perhaps Professor Thio isn't as dumb as this performance suggests, and perhaps she has done good work in other areas--there are plenty of anti-gay bigots in the academy who have done important scholarly work (John Finnis is an outstanding example). Still, this is all a bit embarrassing for NYU. One imagines she will not receive a warm welcome in Greenwich Village this fall.

UPDATE: A colleague elsewhere writes:

In addition to your observations about the purely analytical deficiencies of Professor Thio's performance before Parliament, I think that this video helps to point out the deficiencies in the human spirit that she brings to the debate. The qualities of compassion, enlightenment, and living within the truth (to borrow Vaclav Havel's phrase) that a person exhibits in making an argument about human behavior -- or, conversely, the qualities of condemnation, bitter small-mindedness and unconcern for the humanity of others -- are sometimes as important as the purely analytical forces that one can marshall. This particular debate, which depends so much upon the basic, threshold question of recognizing the humanity of another, is one of those instances."

Diversity said...

PS - The above post is an extract from the blog of Professor Brian Leiter, John P. Wilson Professor of Law and Director, Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values.

solo bear said...

diversity,

Thio Li Ann again! Can't gays get on with life? She is gone. No more. Kaput. Why keep mentioning her?

Just like how the gay community and Aware kept talking about Josie weeks after she stepped down, you are now trying to talk about a no longer relevant factor - TLA.

As for the booing at EGM, I was there. It started with SIEW KUM HONG, asserting his authority over the chairperson. The booing was well orchestrated - by one of the members of old guard.

Don't try to pass the buck.

My point is that the gay community is not one you can easily reason with. So far, all the incidents that took place have proven me to be right.

You posted
>>
What I see here is the continuation of an online campaign by solo bear to smear the supporters of decriminalisation of gay people. Why so heavily motivated, if not a fundamentalist of some description? One can only guess
>>

Read the comments that follow my articles. Who are the ones who are motivated to paint non gay supporters as extreme? Why do I get a disproportionate high number of comments on gay topics?

To me, as long as the gay community refuses to accept that AWARE's CSE is unfit for school children, I believe we have a reason to be on our toes, watching out for what the next move the gay community would do, to corrupt our children in school.

Sam Ho said...

solo bear, i think a group feels even more marginalised when it is not even recognised as marginalised in the first place.

it's difficult to generalise gay rights activists. most activists are loud, because they need to be heard. they are loud because no one cares when they speak.

and yes, some activists can be really in-your-face.

but that's not to say that all "gays" are unreasonable.

my observation of the sexual minority rights movement in singapore is that it is dominated mainly by the discourses of gay men and lesbian women. bisexual people and transgender people have less political presence.

moreover, the "visible" parties are usually the middle-to-upper class folks in the sexual minority community.

there are other gay activists out there who fight for the underclass and lesser privileged gay people, and those who suffer multiple marginalisation.

surely the noise at AWARE was not entirely a "gay" voice, but a mix, no?

i've yet to scrutinise the CSE, but i feel it is important to tell kids what are their erogenous zones, so they can protect them with some dignity, rather than give them vague concepts such as "virginity", which is of course, commonly associated with female virginity.

any way, my point is that not all gay people are uncompromising and unreasonable. you and i will never know what it's like to be told your sexual identity is unnatural, sinful or a discardable lifestyle. the playing field for advancing glbt rights is very uneven to begin with.

for me, i'm just making it a little more even on my part by openly saying that i'm glbt friendly and i have glbt friends.

solo bear said...

Sam posted
>>
solo bear, i think a group feels even more marginalised when it is not even recognised as marginalised in the first place.
>>

Me:
I have seen marginalised groups taking it in their stride. I feel that race minority has a bigger cause than gays. Yet, they do not go round howling. Take the Sikhs for example. For many decades, they had to suffer taunts about their headgears and derogatory names given to them. Yet they still carry on with their lives.

Globally, the Arabs are taking it in their stride. They get profiled as terrorists, kicked off from planes etc. Yet, they do not howl.

You
>>
most activists are loud
>>

Me:
There is a difference between loud and boorish. I was at the Aware EGM. That was more than just loud. It was gangster like.

You:
>>
surely the noise at AWARE was not entirely a "gay" voice, but a mix, no?
>>

Me:
At the EGM, I saw one voice and one voice only - the gay voice. There was no other. That's because all other voices were drowned out. I was there.

You:
>>
i've yet to scrutinise the CSE
>>

Me:
Actually, I am quite surprised you said that. Isn't this the real issue of contention between the gay community and mainstream? If you want to bridge the gay community and the mainstream, you have to know what the issue of contention and disagreement is about.

How can you not take note of AWARE's CSE, which is the central point of issue that is causing distrust?-

Wasn't this CSE the very thing that parents feel they have been misled, cheated and their children used?

You:
>>
but i feel it is important to tell kids what are their erogenous zones, so they can protect them with some dignity, rather than give them vague concepts such as "virginity", which is of course, commonly associated with female virginity.
>>

Me:
That is the parents' job. Putting it crudely, it is none of Aware's or the gay community's business.

You:
>>
any way, my point is that not all gay people are uncompromising and unreasonable. you and i will never know what it's like to be told your sexual identity is unnatural, sinful or a discardable lifestyle. the playing field for advancing glbt rights is very uneven to begin with.
>>

Me:
Like I said, if you truly want to bridge the gap between the gay community and the mainstream, you have to see the REAL dispute. You keep bringing in religion like sin. That is NOT the disagreement.

The disagreement is that the mainstream would not like gays to force their ideas and practices into society. CSE was one of them. Another is that gays take it that we are against them if we do not support the repeal of s377a. Don't we have a right not to support?

That is the disagreement. NOT religion. As long as the gay community and progay group don't get the point of disagreement right, you will never close the gap.

You
>>
for me, i'm just making it a little more even on my part by openly saying that i'm glbt friendly and i have glbt friends.
>>

Me:
Then help them understand the following. For starters, stop talking religion. That is not the issue. The issue is:

1. Mainstream is now suspicious of gay agenda - as seen in its covert introduction of CSE in schools.
2. Gays label fence sitters (those who do not support the repeal of S377A) anti-gay, when we have a right NOT to support.

Please DO NOT justify the CSE, because they really have no right to teach our children. Please also do not justify why gays try to get us to support S377A. That choice belongs to each individual.

All I am saying is that if gays want to have their rights recognised, they have to recognise the rights of others.

Sam, you're a nice guy. If you ask me, racial minority is a more worthy cause to fight for.

Sam Ho said...

thanks

i've not sat through any CSE course though. most of the info i know about CSEs are from websites and are basically summaries. that is why i said i haven't scrutinised it.

any way, the media has revealed not only portions of the CSE, but also the for-your-eyes-only instructors manual for dealing with tangential issues related to sexual health and responsibility.

if it's a parent's job to teach children about sex and sexual morality, then why are MOE and the schools being involved? there's youths contracting STDs, unwanted pregnancies and so on. so these are issues that remind us that somehow children are not being taught to be responsible enough. (but funny thing is, responsibility can't be only taught, it has to be experienced and learnt most of the time)

i think religion is only one of many contentions. it influences how we see certain people - as lesser human beings, as inferior persons and so on. from my perspective, i find it difficult for gay people to have a dialogue when they are already viewed as sinners and inferior. there is a strong moral predisposition there already, that disadvantages dialogue in the first place.

on my accord i support the repeal of 377a because it's about mutual adult consent. symbolically, 377a is an act of separation and discrimination, where some Singaporeans have the same obligations but lesser rights. but moralists have used it to justify our prevailing homophobic values.

i agree with you on race. i also think about the underprivileged, the lower classes and the invisible segments of our society. and some of them might be of a non-heterosexual identity, or are struggling with gender identity. so it's a double jeopardy.

oh yes, and sexual minorities from broken families too.

a member of SinQSA opened my eyes and told me about the realities here. i was told that the gay rights movement here is almost dominated by specific classes of people, of specific ethnicity.

no worries, as time goes by, for every boisterous gay activist you have, there will a parallel movement in more subtle forms of advocacy like awareness-raising.

i think we become nicer people when we are in the know of the previously unknown bits of society, for example, the sufferings of fellow singaporeans that previously gone unmentioned.

the voices of suffering often go unnoticed when the articulate and loud shoutings of the privileged folks dominate the discourse.

solo bear said...

Sam posted:
i've not sat through any CSE course though. most of the info i know about CSEs are from websites and are basically summaries. that is why i said i haven't scrutinised it.
>>

Me:
That's good enough. The entire syllabus is there.

You:
any way, the media has revealed not only portions of the CSE, but also the for-your-eyes-only instructors manual for dealing with tangential issues related to sexual health and responsibility.
>>

Me:
That's the whole point! Undisclosed to the public and MOE, homo content was inserted and taught to 12 year old girls! That's where the distrust is now.

You:
if it's a parent's job to teach children about sex and sexual morality, then why are MOE and the schools being involved?
>>

Me:
MOE is helping out. Aware has taken this opportunity to sneak in covertly the gay agenda. Please UNDERSTAND where the distrust is. If you keep denying or ignoring it, YOU WILL NEVER bridge the gap between gays and the mainstream.

You:
i think religion is only one of many contentions.
>>

Me:
Sam, the only reason why I am talking to you about homo topic is because I believe you still can reason. Do you see me talking to other progays like Jolene or Mr Wang? Take my advice Sam - If you truly want to help the gay community, DROP THE RELIGION STUFF.

To the mainstream, the religion stuff is just a scapegoat used by gays to deflect their refusal to engage dialogue on other issues - like the CSE and its hard stance on those who do not wish to support repeal of S377A.

You:
on my accord i support the repeal of 377a because it's about mutual adult consent.
>>

Me:
I respect your choice. I also expect gays to respect my choice I do not wish to support the appeal to repeal.

You:
symbolically, 377a is an act of separation and discrimination, where some Singaporeans have the same obligations but lesser rights. but moralists have used it to justify our prevailing homophobic values.
>>

Me:
Drop the moral stuff. No different from religion. If you want to help the gay community, don't talk religion, don't talk morals. Talk about the fact that gays need understand that schoolchildren are out of their bounds. Talk about the fact that gays need to talk, rather than shout and yell like at the Aware EGM. Talk about that every person has a right to choice - including the choice not to support the repeal of S377A. That's what will help gays. Not scapegoats like religion or morals.

You:
oh yes, and sexual minorities from broken families too.
>>

Me:
Not suprising. In fact, that is the norm, rather than the exception. Many gays come from families where parents have little time for their children. Be it work or other social commitment. It is when there is strong parental bonding that you hardly see any gays in the family.

You:
i was told that the gay rights movement here is almost dominated by specific classes of people, of specific ethnicity.
>>

Me:
Classes of people? That about rubbishes the idea gay is inherited, doesn't it?

You:
no worries, as time goes by, for every boisterous gay activist you have, there will a parallel movement in more subtle forms of advocacy like awareness-raising.
>>

Me:
I have lived long enough to witness only 2 groups that are boisterous and gangster like. In the 70s, it was the hippies, glorifying drugs and free sex. Today, it is the gay movement, glorifying gay sex and multiple partners

superduper said...

I think enough has been said.

Am I the only one thinking that solo bear's comments are getting more and more fanatic? First, ignore religion, then ignore "the moral stuff". What's next? Ignore the gays? Ignore EVERYONE else who doesn't share your viewpoint?

Ending off any more comments by me on this post, I just want to share a quote by the Dalai Lama. "Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace."

You know ignorance is rearing its ugly head at you when someone comes up with a comment like "It is when there is strong parental bonding that you hardly see any gays in the family."

Perhaps we will look back in a decade's time and laugh at the asininity of this comment. Meanwhile, I think we can all agree to disagree.

D. said...

FYI, this is a paraphrase of a longer post by a NY academic dealing quite fairly with the points raised in this controversy:

“Was it any surprise that many at NYU were offended by the statements made by Thio? Thio’s speech in parliament was not couched in academic terms: she launched into a “visceral screed” against male homosexuals. In the face of such vulgar offence from an academic, is it incorrect for those offended to express their horror?

Her exchanges with NYU students demonstrated an apparent inability to understand why people took offence on a broader level than that of academic disagreement.

OUTlaw did not argue for recission of her contract; some others did and it was one of two options on the online petition (the other being merely critical of the appointment). No one view triumphed. But the debate was in the end a moot point as Thio pulled out; she certainly was not pushed. This was a very tepid protest by NYU standards; Thio had every opportunity to claim the academic and moral high ground, but preferred to claim victimhood and to attempt to re-bottle her rhetorical poison.

While pulling out, she played both the race card and the “gays-as-terrorists” card. What does being an "Asian woman" have to do with any of this? And with regard to "fears for your safety": if you throw open that door, be prepared to back it up. Some of the communiques in the public record directed towards Thio were shrill, but none of them even approached the level of antagonism that would imply more sinister motives on the part of the LGBT community and its allies.

So, in the end, disappointment. I join the ranks of those who would have, in the end, liked to see her on campus. I wanted my fears to be dispelled and my hopes to be supported, a "teaching moment," where someone whose anti-homosexual views could, through discourse both heated and respectful, be shown to lack the requisite academic foundation that would allow for their continued adherence in this country, though perhaps not in others.

That this did not happen is a shame. But please, do not blame this outcome on those who expressed their displeasure. Contrary to what you may believe, gay students and their allies at NYU do not control the debate. But they were entitled to express displeasure and to argue their positions. And, in the end, it was Thio's decision to withdraw. Nothing more, nothing less."

solo bear said...

superduper,

I claimed that gays (especially in Singapore) cannot reason and talk. Have I not proven to be right. Be wherever it is. Be it in my blog. Or the blog a gay supporter (like this one, Mr Wang's or Jolene's). Or a blog administered by gays themselves - like yawning bread, ovidia's blog etc. They are all the same. Gays will display the same characteristics. Combative, noisy, in denial mode. And never willing to debate with reason.

I am going to say it one more time. The real issue that need to be addressed, if the gay community wants to be accepted in mainstream, is the recognition that they have to respect rights of others, if they want their rights respected. In the last 2 years here are two self-inflicted incidents by the gay community, which have caused gays to later place blame on others, when the fault lies squarely on themselves.

1. S377A - if gays feel they have a right to ask for a repeal, they have to recognise that others have a right not to support that appeal.

2. Aware's CSE - The right to decide what the child learns belongs to the parents, not the gay community or anyone else.

As long as gays do not recognise the rights of others (as in the above 2 cases), the gap between the gay community and mainstream will continue to exist. The Church has nothing to do with this gap. Moral values have nothing to do with this gap. Stop finding excuses for your own folly.

So far, no gay has come close to discuss any gay issue rationally. It is all shouting and personal attacks.

As for my statement that if there is strong parental bond there will be hardly gay children, I stand by my words. If you read most accounts of gays, what is missing is the parental bond in the family. So what if a gay has a dad who is a cardiologist or mom is a CEO in an MNC? Or siblings with scholarships?

What counts most importantly is the home environment. Is the parent-child bond strong? That is what is missing in the families of many gays.

Btw, the parent-child bond should start when child is a baby. Not after it was found that the child becomes gay. That doesn't count.

Back to my main point. So when will we get to see a gay able to reason and discuss?

D,

To me, Thio Li Ann is able to hold her own. She has after all achieved her academic success. But that is not my concern.

My point is that gays have once again lost their chance to show that they can debate and discuss (this time with Li Ann), but blew it.

As with the AWARE case, all I hear is noise. No reason, no rationale, no debate. Just pure loud noise.

I await the day gays are able to just talk rationally.

Sam Ho said...

i still feel there are a number of reasons and factors.

again, not all gays are unwilling to reason without shouting.

and i think it's a little bit unfair to ask for a satisfying reason when you are laying down the conditions for the reasons.

i liken it to a discussion on juvenile delinquency, where the person chairing the discussion is rejecting perspectives from either psychology, behavioural science, sociology, psychiatry, social psychology or any combination.

there are some foundations that underpin why some of society think like they think, and why it appears natural for them to believe that others deserve to be labelled as they are labelled.

these foundations are associated with existing structures and their influences, like religion.

yes, those who ask for the repeal should definitely respect those who don't. and likewise, those who support the retention of 377A, should also respect those who don't.

but that doesn't happen. it is very difficult for the pro-377A camp to respect the repeal-377A because of the underlying knowledge and predisposition that since gay sex is unnatural and "wrong", and a social "wrong", it should therefore be a legal "wrong".

it's really a chicken and egg thing, and it's not quite fair to look at it from one perspective. i mean, that's the job of civil society and awareness groups, that try to illuminate the perspectives and lived realities of specific segments of society that previous were invisible and uncared.

it is the predisposition that allows one to generalise the community/"gays" that makes engagement difficult too, and this probably explains why there is never a proper conclusion when GLBTQ-friendly or GLBTQ folks engage you in internet discussion.

you make others feel like they should be arguing on your terms, and of course, similar to my character on most occasions, we like to have the last say.

this is reflective of society too. i'm very skeptical about the need to find common denominators in all of us for us to connect on the same level, because we're all different. that's cool, being different is ok. but being uncompromising brings out the negative side of differences, whether you are unable to reason or not shout, or whether you are laying out conditions for debate to satisfying your needs.

it's really chicken and egg, and everything we do just escalates tension and division. we have to humbly look within ourselves first and start listen without prejudice, but to listen without prejudice is ultimately impossible, because our values conflicts. and since our values conflict, we have to invalidate others to validate ours.

solo bear said...

Sam
think it's a little bit unfair to ask for a satisfying reason when you are laying down the conditions for the reasons.
>>

Me:
I have NEVER asked for any reason why gays are gay. All I am saying is that if they want their space, so do others. Hence, I take issue when CSE was covertly introduced, and when they call me a bigot just because I don't support the repeal S377A.

You:
these foundations are associated with existing structures and their influences, like religion.
>>

Me:
Sam, you are only proving my claim that gays cannot shake off the religion bogeyman. I have NEVER used the religion card. What religion?

You
it is very difficult for the pro-377A camp to respect the repeal-377A because of the underlying knowledge and predisposition that since gay sex is unnatural and "wrong", and a social "wrong", it should therefore be a legal "wrong".
>>

Me
Again, you think that it is an either-or situation. Just because I do not support repeal does not mean I am pro S377A. To me if it exists, so what? If it doesn't, so what too?

My issue is that gays want me to support the repeal of S377A, when I AM NOT INTERESTED whether it exists or not. I have a RIGHT TO CHOOSE to be indifferent. Yet, gays consider that as anti-gay!

You
it is the predisposition that allows one to generalise the community/"gays" that makes engagement difficult too, and this probably explains why there is never a proper conclusion when GLBTQ-friendly or GLBTQ folks engage you in internet discussion.
>>

Me
Actually, it is the other way. I have kept my blog open, without moderation, without even the bot scanner. Unlike some pro-gay blogs that shut out dissenting voices, making it difficult to make non-progay comments.

In spite of my open door policy, the gays shout, yell, scream and attack not only me, but other non-progay posters. So who is making it difficult to engage discussion?

You
you make others feel like they should be arguing on your terms, and of course, similar to my character on most occasions, we like to have the last say.
>>

Me:
I have never set any terms at all. I only removed one post and that was because it was linked to a gay porno site. That is illegal in Singapore. Goes to show how low that guy stooped.

I have allowed gays to have the last say many times. In many of the threads in my blog, I simply let them rant. Unfortunately, even having the last say is not enough for them. They take my hospitality as a weakness and claim I have nothing more that I can add to rebut them.

Not that they made any point that is relevant in the first place!

You
it's really chicken and egg, and everything we do just escalates tension and division. we have to humbly look within ourselves first and start listen without prejudice, but to listen without prejudice is ultimately impossible, because our values conflicts. and since our values conflict, we have to invalidate others to validate ours.
>>

Me:
I have had discussion with my people in many areas. Politics, economics, social issues, religion, philosophy whatever. Each group has its own shouters. But within those shouters, there are reasoners too.

As far as gays are concerned, I have yet to come across a non-shouter, save Mathia and Alex Au. Mathia does not recognise that AWARE has overstepped the boundary of parents. That is her right to believe that. Fine. But that IS THE ISSUE OF CONTENT between parents and gay community.

As for Alex, I am disappointed that he has to use gay porn to boost his site. He tried to justify that it is OK to put it up. Not that it does anything to add value to his post. I liken his tactic as a girlie site, using sex, sex, sex to attract hits. A pity, because non-shouting gays are hard to come by.

For the majority of gays, as long as you don't agree with them - even just one bit - you're anti-gay.

As if there is no middle ground.

D. said...

It's strange; from my perspective what I see mostly from solo bear is a wallpapering of comment columns and smearing of gay people, like the very obvious one of Dr. Au above, and a changing of the topic to what he wants to say.

To me this is much more insidious a drowning out of opposition voices than a few people getting excited when they are maligned and offended by the likes of Miss Thio. Solo bear is doing precisely what he complains of in other people, but in a less honest or justified way.

Again, I have to wonder about his/her obsession with homosexuality and maligning gay people throughout the internet, which is usually the preserve of fundamentalists who think they are fighting the anti-Christ or demons and who are thus not open to other views.

Perhaps that is the crux of the matter; maybe people like Thio do not think gay rights are human rights because they think they are fighting demons, not oppressing humans, some of them characterising opponents as "the mouth of the beast" (thus negating to some believers anything that they may say).

The stance of those that support equal rights for gay people is based on humanity and reason, and in some cases, like Anthony Yeo, a religiously informed humanity and wide experience.

moses said...

"you are born with race and into race, whereas sexual identity comes a few years after racial identity. the politics are different"

Whether anti-gay people are any better than racist people might hinge on this statement.

The good news is it's a red herring. Just because your race is known before your sexuality doesn't make the former more natural than the latter. Or, more precisely, it doesn't make the latter less natural.

Did you choose to be attracted to the opposite sex? Did you not just realise one day that they are attractive? Or did you make a conscious decision to be attracted to them?

Good questions, eh?

solo bear said...

D,

Cut the horse crap.

Not willing to admit gays let up this chance to debate with Thio Li Ann?

That's my main point to Ryan who made the first comment.

No more, no less.

D. said...

I’d like to add a moment’s thought for the teenagers that were massacred last night as they attended a support meeting for teenagers at a gay centre in Tel Aviv.
The black clad and masked gunman sprayed them with automatic gunfire. Two of the teenagers are dead, 10-12 injured. The gunman is thought to belong to a right-wing orthodox religious group.

From my perspective, there is little difference in nature between the mania that drives a person to this sort of horrific physical violence against gays, and that which drives a certain type of person such as solo bear or some of those that attend COOS and think they are at war, to continual verbal persecution of gays in the columns of the Straits Times or the comments columns of the internet. It’s just a matter of degree, and how far they are prepared (or able) to take their manic homophobia. It’s the same disease in my opinion.

Spreading lies and conspiracy theories about gays is small fry to these people. They no doubt think they are doing it in a good cause, just like the gunman who murdered these young people. The sad thing is that there appear to be some people in the Singapore government who play along with the homophobes to allow certain people to “save face”, rather than seeing it as the hate speech it is that ultimately leads to this sort of tragedy. In other countries they get prosecuted. In Singapore they get a pat on the back.

How dare Thio claim to be a victim because she didn’t have the courage to defend her homophobia face to face with some of those who have to live with such bigotry every day. How dare she put herself on the same footing as those who face murder, beatings, real persecution, and at it’s lowest level, internet and physical bullying, simply because some people just can’t stand that gay people exist.

solo bear said...

D:
From my perspective, there is little difference in nature between the mania that drives a person to this sort of horrific physical violence against gays, and that which drives a certain type of person such as solo bear or some of those that attend COOS and think they are at war, to continual verbal persecution of gays in the columns of the Straits Times or the comments columns of the internet. It’s just a matter of degree, and how far they are prepared (or able) to take their manic homophobia. It’s the same disease in my opinion.
>>

Me:
Any shooting and killing of innocents is tragic. The Tel Aviv gay shooting incident is no exception. Any civilised and sane person would definitely grieve at such senseless and brutal murder. I join with the rest of the sane world in condemning such attacks.

You, D, instead of grieving for the lives of innocents, have instead used this opportunity to advance your cause - the demonisation of those who do not support the gay cause.

Shamelessly, you feed on the dead bodies of the innocent, to satisfy your hunger to paint non-gay supporters as the ones feeding hate, when it is YOU who are the one doing it.

Your action is akin to cannibalism. You are feeding on the flesh of your dead brothers, for your own selfish gain.

I am aghast that you can even reach this stage. You use the dead of innocents, to blame those who do not agree with you, that they are creating this hate.

Just goes to show how low you would stoop.

D. said...

Clever reversal solo bear (so similar to Thio herself). But you studiously avoid the substantive issue of homophobia that makes a gunman do such a horrific thing. Religious groups are reported to have been putting up signs in Israel saying “kill the homos”. It wasn’t long before someone acted on it.

Of course most homophobes don’t go to such extremes, though there are many that do. It’s unlikely in Singapore (though I do recall a man getting kicked to death in Lucky Plaza), but the next best thing for the home grown homophobe is cruising the internet and doing what damage they can there. The hatred behind it though is the same, and it’s the same hatred that you and your friends who post in the online forums and in newspapers very clearly display.

If you really can’t see the connection between what motivates violent homophobia and the homophobia that motivates you to spend so much of your time online, compulsively maligning gay people and inventing conspiracy theories, then…I don’t know what to say to show you.

I would urge you stop for a moment before your next auto-reversal post and have a good look at the issue of homophobia, and how it could be addressed from the perspective of your own personal responsibility for it. Never mind anyone else, what could you do yourself to prevent the sort of homophobia that led to this tragedy?

solo bear said...

D,

You are still trying to draw blood from the dead to advance your own selfish agenda. Instead of collectively condemning the dastardly acts of terror, you are still trying to capitalize the situation, creating tension instead. Keep on doing this and even the fence-sitters won't empathise with you anymore.

Hate crimes are everywhere. Today, no thanks to this "war on terror" sparked off by Crazy Cowboy Bush, the Muslims (especially the Arabs) are main targets of hate. Also in Israel, long before hate crimes were targetted against homos, Palestinians had to endure it.

However, in spite of these hate crimes, they still carry on with their lives.

You have two choices now. Join the rest of the world, condemning the hate crime committed, or isolate yourself and keep blaming the bogeyman.

I see you have chosen the latter. What a way to confirm that the gay community really, really cannot think.