Friday, October 12, 2012

Defending The Offending

With all the hoopla with RA 10175, I am inclined to share my views here.
Disclaimer: I am not a political person but this are just my thoughts.

Cyber-crime bill

There were a lot of things in this bill that seemed debatable to me and that's fine. I'll leave the debates as to what is lawful and unlawful to the politicians who are supposed to be doing this for us (let's assume for a moment that they actually do this). However, the libel section to me seems undebatable and just plain wrong. Offense is not something that should be criminally punishable because offense or the perception of malice or defamation of character is a characteristic that has nothing to do with objectivity and everything to do with subjectivity.

One might think that I'm confusing libel with being offensive but to me, it's just a hair's width to cross that line. Freedom of expression entails that even the most vile of statements should not be silenced because in it is the hope that all the other voices shall drown out the offensive to most people.

The Case Of Ms. Cheong

Take the case of Ms. Cheong here. Last Sunday, she posted this on her Facebook wall.

By Monday, the post went viral and by Monday afternoon, just over 24 hours after posting, she has lost her job (purportedly not because of the public clamor for it but because of the post itself). Is it offensive? Of course. Without a doubt, it's a portrayal of how ugly human behavior can be. But did she really deserve to lose her job over it? That's questionable to me. She has since apologized and has left the country

It also is apparently a crime in this country to incite enmity through spreading racially or religiously offensive materials. It is yet to be concluded whether or not this constitutes this.  

On the Defense Of The Offensive (People)

It's not about that. The thing about communication is that it's potentially empowering and hurtful at the same time. Like a good knife, when used correctly, it allows you to slice up a nice piece of meat. When used incorrectly, it allows some people to treat other people like pieces of meat. But unlike a knife, you don't need to be stitched up when hurtful words are directed at you. 

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