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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

Hating hate speech

I’m glad engineer Gary Yue Mun Yew had a heavier book thrown at him for inciting hate. So it’s going to be two months jail for him for suggesting that people here do an Anwar Sadat style assassination during the National Day parade two years ago.
I wish though that ST had more information about why he was originally fined $6,000 only. I turned to Today, which had a shorter story but was longer on details. While ST readers were told only about his Sadat video posted on Temasek Review Emeritus facebook wall, Today said he had also posted another doctored photo of a Vietnamese beheading former Cabinet Minister Wong Kan Seng. Today also said the fine was $8,500 – for both acts.
Why only fine? According to Today…
Convicting him in March, District Judge Low Wee Ping had found that Yue had intended the post to contain an incitement to violence. But he concluded that Yue had not intended to incite violence, as he had made the post out of “angst”, and had been psychiatrically assessed to be “attention-seeking”.
I am glad that the prosecution appealed. Seems to me that TWO acts can’t be justified out of “angst’’ – for crying out loud. Yue even replied to comments, reiterating his stand. Also, you can seek attention in other ways, like posting naked pictures of yourself!
I still wish there was more information on his crime, given how the Prophet video is causing such anger everywhere. Like, did he use his real name? Probably not. What sort of views did he get? How many people responded and did anyone shout him down? What is the responsibility of TRE in all of this? Did it take down the postings or did they remain long enough online to make people angry? The judge said that the extent to which peace had been affected was “low’’. I wonder how he came to this conclusion. Because no one took up Yue’s suggestion?
So we are tough. Excellent. The American who did the Prophet video that is causing such anger and which has led to deaths is sticking to his “I do not regret what I did’’ position. I hope the families of the dead Americans picket his house and demonstrate that they too can exercise their freedom of speech, especially since the American legal system appears powerless to deal with him.
I am all for tightening up on hate speech here. There’s already so much racist invective online that I’m actually wondering when the ISA will be invoked against perpetrators. Not that I wish it. So long as the law is tough and the community objects vehemently to hate speech, there’s no need for such a blunt weapon to exist.
On the subject of penalties, it appears the French system is too weak to deal with the publication of pictures of Kate sunbathing topless. Not so much powerless as toothless. What penalties that can be levelled against the errant magazine is small beer compared to what it will rake in in terms of copies sold.
So your privacy gets invaded – and other people make money. I thought Andy Ho wrote a good piece in ST today on the Protection of Personal Data Bill that will be making its way through Parliament. As he pointed out, Government agencies are exempt. I am horrified to think that someone in the G can put together everything on me if he has a mind to. Let’s hope this issue gets a full airing during the debate.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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