05 June 2006

The propaganda of lies, the propaganda of spin

The 17th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, the dismissal of the 'Bak Chor Mee' podcast and George W Bush's latest campaign all draw our attention to different kinds of government propaganda, and why we should be alert to them. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

you have accurately described the minister ... DENSE ... or just from another planet??

looking at how pap responded post election on numerous occasion, its easy to see how disconnected they are from the people and the norm in the society.

Anonymous said...

the guy who stood before the tanks is believed to be in taiwan

lee boon yang was putting on a brave face about the gomez matter, because someone more important than he had taken a stand and he must follow; it is a sad comment on singapore that no one could comment seriously on the matter

"equally" means equal to SPH/mediacorp; obviously, if you are unbiased and logical, you can only come to the same conclusions as SPH/mediacorp; if you come to different conclusions, then you are not unbised/logical

Anonymous said...

Good Post! Here's something that might be relevant to what you said;

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny 'failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.' In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."

Anonymous said...

The man in the picture was executed and his family billed for the bullet that killed him.

This is the account given by Tom Clancy in his book The Bear and the Dragon.

Tom Clancy usually do his research carefully before writing his books.

Fact or fiction, you decide.

Anonymous said...

A Chinese teenager in Singapore on a scholarship -– there are thousands of them here -– was shocked to discover soon after coming here, the Tiananmen story. He had not heard of it before. It was only after getting access to the internet in Singapore that he could read all about it. Not only was he traumatised by the story, he also felt traumatised by the fact that he had been denied the story in his own country.
One can understand that the teenager was traumatised as he was denied access to the story and only learned about it much later. If he had known about the incident as it took place, he might have reacted, and his reaction might have produced results that could have changed history.

But how about the rest of us, those of us who are aware of injustice as it is being dished out but sit on the side-lines and watch, only making comments with the keyboard? Why are we shocked long after a crime has become history but do nothing as other shocking crimes take place right before our eyes?

Will we have to wait another twenty years before being shocked about the heinous crimes against humanity are being perpetrated in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo?

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you say about singapore, but disagree totally with your view of the GWB admin.

To me, it is the news reports from CNN and TIME and the biased leftwing press that are the "elephant dung mountain".

The nonsense and inaccuracies, prejudice and anti-military reporting in the leftwing US media like CNN, WP and TIME, Newsweek, reminds me of the type of media reporting we have in singapore.

If we want to fight against islamic extremism, the only people who are doing that job properly is the GWB admin. If we let the DNC do it, they'll only produce another vietnam, which they did before.

Let us remember that it was the DNC under Kennedy that started vietnam, then Johnson(dem) made it worse, and finally it was a republican Nixon who ended it. And why did it end so badly? Because the DNC prevented Nixon from bombing the north when the north broke its treaty.

When vietnam first started under Kennedy, the NYT called sending troops there "Brilliant".

Please do not let your anger over the gay marriage issue(which I support--I support gay marriage) blind you to the good work the GWB admin is doing in the war against islamic jihadism.

Remember, the GOP may ban gay marriage, but the jihadists will kill you for being gay.

Know who your true enemy is.


Anonymous said...

it is a sad comment on singapore politics that the only comment on the gomez affair people spend time on was a joke - the comment from the MPs and the press was predictable, while other comments were invisible

as for "responsible comment", the PAP side obviously thinks that any responsible press would always come to the same conclusions as SPH/mediacorp; all others must be working for opposition/foreign power

Anonymous said...

The man in front of the tanks was not crushed. He was subsequently arrested, and I suspect, executed.


recruit ong said...

"Government control of information is not just an academic question about where lies "truth". It often has real victims, from the mild, e.g. people whose free speech and equality rights are trampled upon, to the serious, i.e. those who disappear into prisons, or who lose their lives in a crackdown. And then years later, whose sacrifice can't even be consecrated.... because we do not know."

The military has a term for it - Collateral damage. Suggesting it is acceptable, justifiable. The powers to be will always do what it takes to preserve itself, instead of doing good for the larger community.

The Legal Janitor said...

an additional point about the position of the Bush Administration on the issue of gay marriage:


I quote the most important parts.

“Two years ago, in this place, I announced my support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I strongly believe that’s what marriage is and should be. If I were a state legislator or a governor, I’d oppose defining marriage in any other way. I supported the amendment because, at the time, I feared that uncontrollable judges and local officials were recklessly and lawlessly playing with the foundation of the American family.

“But I was wrong. Like others, I overreacted to what seemed like an emergency. I did not have sufficient faith in the historic processes of American government. The local officials who were defying state law in 2004 have been brought into line. DOMA is still good law. The states have begun amending their own constitutions to define marriage. I have appointed many federal judges in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas, including two to the Supreme Court, who will not tamper with marriage. And while I still fear that some state courts will attempt to redefine marriage in years to come, I am confident that the people in those states can deal with their own courts if that is what they choose to do. After all, that is what we have always trusted them to do.

“We may not like the choices some states make about these matters, but if our nation’s historic commitment to federalism means anything, it means that the states should, within constitutional limits, be allowed to go their own way on important matters of criminal law, property law, and even family law. That, at any rate, has been the dominant practice and theory of our federal design for more than two centuries.

“Never before in the history of the country have we amended the Constitution in response to a threatened (or actual) state court decision. Never before have we amended the Constitution to preempt an anticipated federal court ruling. Never before have we adopted a constitutional amendment to limit the states’ ability to control their own family law. Never before have we dictated to states what their own state laws and state constitutions mean. Never before have we amended the Constitution to restrict the ability of the democratic process to expand individual rights. This is no time to start.

“I know this decision will not be popular with many members of my own party. But it is a president’s responsibility to lead, not to follow, especially when it comes to matters of important principle. As on so many other decisions I’ve made, I will not bow to political pressure when I know better. Two years ago, I should have known better. Now I do.”

Standing by his side at the news conference will be Vice President Dick Cheney, who said in 2004 that he opposes an amendment because states should be allowed to decide the issue for themselves and that “freedom means freedom for everybody”; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008; former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), the main House author of DOMA; conservative commentator George Will, who announced on ABC’s “This Week” that he opposes an amendment because state experiments with gay marriage may produce valuable information about whether the reform is worthwhile; conservative policy analyst James Q. Wilson, who likened a federal marriage amendment to that conservative bete noire, Roe v. Wade, in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal; and numerous other life-long conservatives who have consistently championed federalism.

I stress that there are many conservatives in the USA, particularly those of federalist or libertarian leanings, and especially those who are outright libertarians, oppose the idea of using the law to dictate private consensual behaviours among adults.

The Legal Janitor said...

I would add that even in the USA, where right-wing social conservatives hold great influence on social policy, the fact remains that they are still bound by the rule of law. Jihadi fundamentalists face no such constraints, and would have no compunction on slaughtering gays.

Anonymous said...

I feel like I just fell through a rip in the fabric of space/time and the first thing I saw in that alternate reality was Flosduellatorum''s comment.

I have 2 questions for you.

1. Where is the "war against islamic jihadism" as you call it being fought?

2. How is it being fought?

3. Could you also cite some instances of the Bush administration's good work in this putative war? I'm having trouble thinking of any.

Please don't tell me Iraq. The war and justifications for the war have been spun so many times, I bet most people don't even remember the initial reason given. I'll give a hint, the phrase "islamic jihadism" doesn't feature in it.


Anonymous said...

To anonymous 03 :22

The GWB Administration is doing « good work? » Wow! Killing innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan and torturing others in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib is “good work?” I suppose Truman too did “good work” when he dropped those bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Jesus! With people like these, who needs Hitler?

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Shianux -

That's a hoax. All major news agencies reported Monday (5 June) that Bush did come out to push for a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage.

For example, Associated Press reported on 5 June that:


Cheered by conservative supporters, President Bush gave a push Monday to a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage as the Senate opened debate on an emotional, election-year measure that has little chance of passing.

"Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them," Bush said in a speech. "And changing the definition of marriage would undermine the family structure."


Bush said a constitutional amendment is needed because laws that state legislatures have passed defining marriage as being between a man and a woman are being overturned by a few judges.

"When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution — the only law a court cannot overturn," the president said.


As AP noted, the amendment has little chance of passing in the immediate future... which is why in my essay, I called it the politics of distraction.

The Legal Janitor said...


Thanks for the correction. I apologise for posting the information without confirmation. Perhaps I had let my optimism get the better of me.

That aside, I would like to stress again, particularly to those commenters here who possess a hatred for the war in Iraq. Whatever your political beliefs or affiliation, the fact that gays face life-threatening oppression in Muslim countries means that one should not let one's anger blind one to the facts.

A random search for information on the net will clearly display the treatment that Islamic countries inflict upon homosexuals.

Anonymous said...

Shianux, I wish to make a few points.

Firstly, I object to the characterisation of my position on the Iraq war as "hatred". I dislike it, certainly.

Secondly, I object to the implication that my objectivity has been compromised by an excessively emotional reaction. I don't think I've evinced any signs of such a loss of objectivity yet.

I dislike the war mostly because I think it is an unjust war fought under false pretences. And to detract from that by talking about how, you know, they are mean to gay people is just morally repugnant. So, justice is reserved for good, upright people? If that's the case, none of us deserve justice ever.

Wasn't Iraq a secular country under Saddam Hussein anyway? What does it take for a country to be termed "muslim"? And "Muslim countries" certainly do not have a monopoly on the oppression of gays. Granted there is wide variation in terms of the degree/nature of oppression. But The States has had its Matthew Shepards too.

As a general point, I don't think one should ever let ones anger, or optimism for that matter, to blind one to the facts.

Lastly, your point on the oppression of gays gives me an icky feeling, feels like an appeal to special interests to me.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with Anonymous 02:54. And, Shianux, while you are at it, why don’t you mention the rampant paedophilia in the Catholic Church? Or is that something that we should close our eyes to?

Anonymous said...

Zao Ziyang was then the Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese PM then was Li Peng, who ordered the crackdown, though it is widely believed that the decision was taken by Deng Xiaoping.

Anonymous said...

In your brainwashing by the left-wing media and your demonification of all people you preceive to be anti-gay "rights"(or interests), you have sadly lost sight of the reasons for fighting against terrorism and being in iraq.

Repeat: The jiahdist and islamic fundamentalists will execute you for being gay.

Going into iraq is correct because:

1)it got rid of the terrorist supporting Saddam regime, that would have built nukes if it could
2)It creates a modern democracy in the ME, where there is none.
3)the true end of islamic terrorism will come when all countries in the ME become modern democracies that respect women's rights, YOUR GAY RIGHTS and general human rights.
RIGHT NOW most countries in the ME don't.
4)It gives a base to invade iran if needed.
5)It secures the oil in iraq for the free market, not under control of a crazed dictator
6)Even if the sunnis are killing the shiites and vice-versa, at least they are not spending their time thinking how to bomb other countries.
7)It secures the position of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency, thus strengthening american power

Your precious gay rights won't mean squat in a region controlled by islamic extremists, so please wake up and see things properly.