Monday, April 18, 2005

Racist comments by scholar provokes witch hunt 

The event of the past week in the Singapore blogosphere must be the racist comments by a PSC scholar that was given prominence mainly through a post by Han at Wannabe Lawyer and has now made its way into the mainstream media. AcidFlask and Huichieh provide summaries of the discussions throughout cyberspace.

My own thoughts on the incident:

The racist views expressed by the scholar on his blog are repugnant. There is little argument over that. But at the moment, they are merely expressions of his thoughts. As some of the more thoughtful bloggers have pointed out, the reaction against him seems excessive, being tantamount to a witch hunt, with the people involved acting like a lynch mob.

I think there is some justification in considering the reaction excessive. People should be punished for their actions, not for their thoughts. Han put it well: The emphasis should have been on vigilance, not vigilantism.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to draw the line between mere expression of one’s thoughts and incitement, especially over an issue that is coloured by strong emotions, as issues involving race and religion tend to be. And when coupled with the bloodlust that naturally exists in many people, the reaction by many isn’t too surprising.

And as an aside, AcidFlask is correct in using this incident to highlight the power of blogdom. The pen is mightier than the sword. So, potentially, is the blog.


Trackback: From a Singapore Angle, "Anatomy of a blogospheric event"

What have we learned? What ought we have done better? What does it portent for the Singapore Blogosphere? While chewing on these questions, I made a list of all the bloggers who posted on the event...

PSC has officially reprimanded the scholar.

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