Not for love of money, but of Humanity. "Greater is he who works for the good of all, then he who works for the good of himself only" ~ Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"- (NIV). I live in Singapore where the Emperor must not be disturbed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Online racism: Self-help instead of relying on police

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Online racism: Self-help instead of relying on police
THE recent vandalism of Tampines Junior College's Wikipedia page was designed to offend, and offend it did. However, reactions should be proportionate.
 Your report ('JC students branded 'dogs' on Wikipedia', last Friday) quoted me correctly as saying that people should take a public stand against offensive speech. However, it may have given readers the wrong impression that I was one of those for whom the incident 'sparked concern', in the words of the report, about the Internet as a vehicle for hate speech.

The Web has been used for ill as well as good for more than a decade, so this incident does not break new ground. Rather, the main concern that I expressed to your reporter, which unfortunately was not conveyed, was that Singaporeans seem to be turning to the police as an automatic response to offensive speech.

While this is their right, the cumulative effect is surely unsustainable. Better to rely on the police only against hate speech that instigates imminent violence. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, so netizens who spot offensive or inaccurate content should simply clean it up themselves.

Indeed, the junior college's entry was corrected by users even before The Straits Times report appeared. Netizens can also speak out to marginalise offensive speech.

Thus, instead of going into a moral panic, we should promote media literacy and community response when dealing with offensive speech. Constantly relying on police action is a sign of helplessness, not strength. If we believe in Singapore's core values, we should be ready to defend them ourselves.

Associate Professor Cherian George

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14June2010: Topics on religion raise the red flag

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