Intolerance – YOU Might Be The Next Target

Update: MDA has clarified with the organisers that there was never any intention to threaten the event or the hobbyists attending it. Nevertheless, my point still stands: if one person or group can be the target of discrimination, so can any other person or group. All it takes is one individual with an agenda or an axe to grind, and anyone, anyone at all can arbitrarily come under attack. That’s what people are afraid of now. And that’s what we need to be careful of, any time we feel tempted to decide that someone else is somehow morally inferior to us.


We’re feeling threatened.

This weekend, a large hobbyist event takes place at the Marina Barrage. The organisers have received two advisories: one from the police, warning against revealing outfits, and one from MDA, suggesting that the hobbyists not wear their costumes on public transport. Yes, it’s a cosplay event. And to be absolutely frank, the advisories were more like gentle requests, and the arguments about revealing costumes and wearing your stuff on public transport have been going round the cosplay community for a while.

This time, though, there’s been an uproar. People became very upset about the advisories. They’re alarmed, angry and feeling threatened. In particular, they feel threatened by the religious right. Last year a churchgoer called the police on a cosplayer because she didn’t like the girl’s costume, and the same church has several times instructed security guards to chase cosplayers away from public venues. I was one of the hobbyists thus chased away on one occasion.

Why the reaction? Just look back a few weeks, when the National Library Board, in response to a complaint from one individual with an agenda, withdrew three books about alternative family structures and scheduled them for pulping. A public trust was broken then, and it was further broken when comics depicting non-mainstream romantic relationships were banned or permitted based on whether they included violence against people in those relationships. And you know what? It isn’t just people in non-mainstream relationships who feel threatened now.

Coming so soon after the religious right attacked books in the name of crushing homosexuality, cosplayers – whose hobby is vilified in some quarters for ‘promoting immorality’ – are worried. Are we the next target? The right-wingers were held off by the minister. Are they coming for a softer target? Are they coming for us?

And this is where the broken trust shows. The library wouldn’t protect minority families. Cosplayers are afraid that the police or MDA won’t protect us. If the right-wingers come to the event and attack someone whose costume they don’t like, people feel they can’t trust the authorities to protect them. Some people are actively making contingency plans for dealing with incidents caused by moral vigilantes.

For that matter, what guarantee does ANY minority – by race or religion or sexual orientation or hobby- have that the authorities will protect them? Look how easy it is to arbitrarily cause trouble for someone. When anyone with an agenda can assemble a collection of names – real or fake – on a petition and get the authorities to act against a group they don’t like, no one is safe.

And yes, I myself feel threatened on a personal level. Will someone with a narrow interpretation of their religion one day influence a client to fire me because of my hobby?

This is the real slippery slope. Not the presumed sexual immorality that some people are so obsessed with, but the erosion of everyone’s safety, everyone’s peace of mind, everyone’s rights. When discrimination against one minority is actively supported, everyone is endangered. No matter how upright a life you might lead, no matter how well you conduct yourself, there is no guarantee you will not be the next target.

Ban Homosexual Budgerigars!

The last pet budgie I ever kept. You can’t even tell properly whether it’s a a male or a female!

Today I realized that the AVA should ban budgerigars because they are against family values. Pet shops should be prevented from selling these birds. Budgerigars are dangerously popular as pets, especially for young children, but what kind of family values are our children learning from them???

Having kept budgerigars for close to 20 years, I have observed these appalling, anti-family traits in them:

Male budgies have uncontrollable homosexual inclinations. Give a couple of male budgies access to each other and there’s a 90% chance that they’ll try very enthusiastically to mate. If one of them isn’t keen on mating, the other one might rape him. And when they’re not going after each other’s backsides, they’ll be humping the perch, the toys, the food containers and, given a chance, their owner’s hand. What will little children think, looking at their pets doing these pervy things?!

Female budgies attack their own eggs viciously. I’ve had a female budgie which didn’t even lay her egg in the nest box we provided. She squatted and pooped it out as if it were, well, poop. And left it on the floor with the rest of the poop. When I retrieved it and put it in the nest, she picked it up and threw it away! This is child abuse and child abandonment! It might even count as abortion!! What a horrible example a bird like that would set for a young, impressionable owner!!!

Male and female budgies can’t always be told apart. Lutino males are particularly hard to distinguish from females, especially when young.  Their cere isn’t the same colour as a normal male budgie’s – it can be easily mistaken for a female’s. It’s a disgusting deception! It teaches children that it’s ok for a boy to look like a girl!!

Budgies follow abnormal child-rearing practices. The female might throw the male out of the nest and raise the chicks all by herself. It’s a terrible example of one-sided parenting! What’s worse, sometimes two males cram themselves into the nest together to hatch the eggs and raise the chicks!! This is absolutely against family norms!!!

In view of how these birds do not represent pro-family values, I urge the AVA to ban their sale at pet shops and possibly ban local bird farms from breeding them. We must protect our helpless young children from absorbing the wrong lessons.

Come to think of that, my Congo African Grey is (almost certainly) male and seems to be desperately in love with my father. The bird must be homosexual. And you can’t tell male and female CAGs apart either. Ban them too!

[And now, we get serious. Because if ANYONE actually tries to take this seriously and tries to get MY birds banned, I will take it as a personal attack. And I will hunt that person down and give him, her, it or them so much shit that maybe they'll have to run right away out of Singapore like one of the founders of the anti-Pink Dot page, who apparently had to run away overseas at one point because he was under investigation for spreading hate speech.]

Getting Those Books Withdrawn Was A Bad Idea

[Edit: Someone kindly pointed out to me that I was confusing the right to take action with the action itself and possibly the reasoning behind the action. Fixed, thank you.]

I think the local anti-LGBT faction has shot itself in its own foot with its latest move. For those not up to date with the news, an individual who identifies himself as anti-LGBT petitioned the National Library Board to withdraw three children’s books – “And Tango Makes Three”, “The White Swan Express” and “Who’s In My Family” from the shelves on the grounds that he felt these books did not depict a pro-family stand. The library subsequently withdrew the books, and the person behind the first petition has apparently called for others to follow his example. (It’s not clear whether the original complaint was made by him alone or whether others supported it.)

For the record, I respect the anti-LGBT faction’s right to take action as part of a robust civil society debate. I equally respect pro-LGBT movements like Pink Dot as part of the same debate, and I’m very happy that people are discussing such previously taboo topics openly, without fear or repercussion for the most part. But as a political move, this action casts the anti-LGBT faction in a very negative light. Here’s why:

1. People don’t like censorship.

The truth is, most normal people don’t even think about LGBT issues. It just doesn’t enter their frame of reference. I’ve even seen people commenting that anyone who looks at a same-sex couple and thinks only of them having sex is a pervert, and I have to agree with that – it’s no different from looking at a heterosexual couple and obsessing about them having sex and giving birth to a baby. BUT, people do think about censorship, because it enters their frame of reference all the time. Quite a lot of us will remember the fuss about Kate Winslet’s nipples and the two different ratings given to “Titanic” based on whether that scene was cut or not!

And what’s happening now is that people are looking at the anti-LGBT faction celebrating their ability to pressurise a statutory board into exercising censorship, and their exhortations for others to repeat the move, and people are thinking: bunch of book-burners. It doesn’t help that NLB revealed the books would be destroyed in accordance with policy.

2. People are now aware of the books.

Remember “Once A Jolly Hangman”, by Alan Shadrake? No one gave a hoot about the book until he got arrested and it got banned, and then suddenly everyone was driving up to Malaysia to get a copy! Well, now a lot of people who didn’t even know those three children’s books existed are now asking around trying to find out what the books are about, and wondering where they can get a copy of their own. If the anti-LGBT faction’s intention was to suppress information, it’s backfired.

3. People aren’t fond of aggressors.

I have seen a common argument used within the anti-LGBT faction that they are defending their values against the aggressive advocacy of the pro-LGBT faction. This is a fair argument, whichever way it goes, and it works on an emotive level because no one likes a bully. However, this petition by the anti-LGBT faction is indisputably an aggressive move. Why? Because no one petitioned for those three books to be made mandatorily accessible in the first place, but the anti-LGBT group petitioned for the books to be made mandatorily non-accessible. Simply put, Group A did not demand X to be done, but Group B demanded X be undone and blamed it on Group A. Even more simply put, this time, the anti-LGBT faction started it, and in doing so, they have invalidated their own argument that they are acting in self-defense.

4. People view libraries as special.

For a lot of people, public libraries are a sacrosanct space, one that celebrates freedom of thought and opinion, diversity, tolerance, width and depth and breadth of knowledge. Even people who don’t read much have a certain understated reverence for libraries. It might be the Internet age and ebooks might be the rage, but pulp and paper books still hold a special space in people’s hearts. It’s an emotive thing, every bit as emotive as sex and sexuality and religion, and with none of the baggage that the latter three carry. And it is well worth noting that through history, libraries have never been aggressors: only victims.

Now, the anti-LGBT faction may very well have the same view of libraries. That might be why they wanted to “clean up” the precious space by removing things they saw as inappropriate. But in doing so, they walked all over other people’s love for that space. What they see as “cleaning up”, other people see as “dirtying with personal bias”. Because the actions of the few, however well intentioned, spring ultimately from personal bias – personal values – personal views. It is one thing to dictate that your home bookshelf should be free of books that do not reflect your own values. It is another thing entirely to dictate that everyone else’s bookshelves – which the library ultimately is, in the hearts of the public – should be free of books that do not reflect your values. It comes down to “your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”. And it just happens that the fist in this case belongs to the anti-LGBT group.

Too late?

It’s almost certainly too late, at this point, to change anything. The books have been pulled and are scheduled for destruction – painful for any book lover to contemplate, no matter how bad the book may be (I threw “Eragon” across the room after reading two pages, but I still can’t bring myself to trash it). The actions of the anti-LGBT faction are known and discussed internationally by now. People have become aware of things they would otherwise ignore, and formed their own opinions.

And now, I’ll add my own opinion, in as objective a way as I can. I think the anti-LGBT faction had every right to write in to the library, because I believe in the value of robust civil society debate. I also think that others have just as much right to rebut the anti-LGBTs, as is happening now. I do not agree with the library’s response, because it is not transparent, there is doubt about how well regulated the withdrawal decision-making process is, and it appears to run counter to other decisions regarding what is allowable on the shelves and what is not. However, I acknowledge that the library was put in a difficult position and could only fall back on existing policy.

Warning: End of objective viewpoint here.

Most of all, however, I think that what the anti-LGBT faction has done here is remarkably narrow-minded and that the person behind it is a pervert – you look at two males or two females coming together to carefully and lovingly raise a child, with all the sacrifices that parents must make and all the pains they must go to as a household, and ALL you can think of is that they’re having sex? ALL you can think of is what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom? That’s filthy. That’s disgusting. That’s like the rape fraternities in America where the boys look at women and all they can think of is having sex with them. I hope that person never lays eyes on me. I don’t want a pervert like that looking at me and thinking about what I do when I’m in my bedroom.

Well, that definitely wasn’t very objective. But people who obsess about sex gross me out, and honestly all I see with the anti-LGBT faction these days is sex, sex, sex, who is allowed to have sex with whom and what kind. And this book-pulling move of theirs hasn’t helped at all, because if you read their argument carefully, it’s down to sex AGAIN.

In any case, this issue has been educational for me so far. I now know a true story about penguins.


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