29 April 2009

Identity mobilisation - a threat to society

We may be incredulous that Thio Su Mien and her sidekicks would engage in such blatant hyperbole about the threat of homosexuality, including the threat from those who call for a non-judgemental stance, but there is method in the madness. It's called identity mobilisation. Full essay.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Time to organize a
"Secular Coalition".
Open to all who think
that no one religion should
dictate the social agenda.

Where do I sign up?

DC said...

"the solution is ... To move faster. To blur the distinction and value differential between gay and straight..."

and may I add, let the parents or Christians who are also supporters of the old guard stand up and speak up. I think that will blur the distinction craftily drawn and placed by Thio and gang.

Jeremy said...

This is one of the best pieces I've read. And I wholehearted agree that we have to most faster in the direction of gay equality so that there can be further mutual understanding. The straight population need not worry endlessly about gays trying to 'convert' society into something unimaginable.

Everis said...

I think you missed out the elephant in the room - religion.

Religion makes otherwise rational, intelligent people believe in ignorant, backward nonsense. Fundamentalist strains of religion train people to abdicate reason when it comes to religious and moral matters and trust everything to religious authority.

This is why highly intelligent women like Thio Su Mien (the first female dean of NUS Law, no less) nonetheless fall prey to bigotry and irrationality when it comes to homosexual issues.

The reason is not because they did not mix with gay people before. Surely they have interacted with all sorts of gay people, and know many well-adjusted homosexuals leading successful lives. But no amount of facts and logic will change their minds once they are under the thrall of religious dogma.

Unfortunately, in Singapore, where religious matters are touchy, we cannot directly attack Christianity. The playing field is fundamentally unfair - theists are allowed to express intolerant views based on their religion, yet secularists are not allowed to rebut these views by disputing the truth of the religion itself. Any assertion that Christian or Islamic beliefs are false and/or backward will surely be censored by the mainstream media, and might even invite legal repercussions under the Sedition or Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act.

As such, we can only effectively counter identity mobilisation if religion were brought down from the pedestal it currently occupies in Singapore.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Everis,

To an extent I can understand your comment about what religious dogmatism does to otherwise supple minds, but the empirical evidence, I am afraid would not quite support a sweeping generalisation. Most people whose lives are guided in some way by faith (therefore: religious people) remain compassionate, intelligent, thoughtful and questioning.

It's usually the extremists or fundamentalists who display the characteristics that make them dangerous.

But then we should still ponder the question of cause and effect. Are they dogmatic because they are religious, or do they gravitate to fundamentalism because they have dogmatic personalities?

Fargoal said...

Dear Mr Yawning Bread

I am afraid I cannot agree with your conclusion that society must move faster on these issues. As a stakeholder of our country (like you and others), I take this whole exercise very seriously. Change on such a sensitive issue should go at a pace comfortable to the majority of our citizens. It cannot be a case of "agree now to repeal 377A and the details will come later". For this can only create confusion and mistrust.

On LGBT rights, I have no strong feelings about retaining 377A. If a clear majority wishes to repeal it, then I will not oppose them. But I wonder if you can see some of the concerns that people on the other side have. Acceptance of LGBT will take time. Many have concerns about the "slippery slope" argument, i.e. repealing 377A will open the floodgates to other issues like same-sex marriage. As you have pointed out in your post, reason doesn't quite work so well. What we perhaps need is a political compromise that appeals to the center. In other words, any solution should also take into account the views and concerns of the majority. Otherwise, I fear we will see very little progress and provoke the worst sort of reactions, the AWARE saga being a case in point.

Just my personal view.

Regards

Jianyue said...

Great post, and I agree with you on the dangers of identity mobilisation, which is a well-tested tactic used by ideological groups from time to time, not just religious people, but also communists in the past, and so we must always be cautious.

However, I think Everis has a certain point. Although we can argue that most religious people are moderate and that only the fundamentalists are the ones that are dangerous, how do we determine what are "fundamentalist" beliefs and what are "extreme" beliefs?

In many Islamic states around world, apostasy will still be met with death penalty. In some conservative towns in the US, being an atheist is considered an "extreme" and "dangerous" deviation. Some places still consider the age of the Earth as 6000 years old, and its perfectly mainstream. Evolution is the one that is dangerous to their faith.

Fundamentalists draw strength and potential supporters from the pool of believers who were once previously moderates too. As long as religion has a special, unquestionable place here, fundamentalists can hide behind the blanket of special religious status when things become unfavourable to them.

Not to say religion is all bad of course, for they did organise alot of charities and do alot of social work. My point is, to really help the religious moderates counter fundamentalism, religion has be openly questioned and be on equal terms with any other ideology, such as non-religious ones like humanism, rationalism, etc. It cannot be awarded special status.

In a market of ideas, its akin to the NEP policy like Malaysia where some "market stalls" get special rights because of their racial identity.

Anonymous said...

Hitler Defended Christian Morality & Family ValuesFebruary 1, 1933 by Adolf Hitler during his first radio address after coming to power. These quotes that follow are also from Hitler, the same year.

It is the purpose of the Government “to fill our whole culture once more with a Christian spirit, and that not only in politics. We want to burn out the harmful features in our theater and our literature.”

Anonymous said...

Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous DemocraciesConclusion

[20] The United States’ deep social problems are all the more disturbing because the nation enjoys exceptional per capita wealth among the major western nations (Barro and McCleary; Kasman; PEW; UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004). Spending on health care is much higher as a portion of the GDP and per capita, by a factor of a third to two or more, than in any other developed democracy (UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004). The U.S. is therefore the least efficient western nation in terms of converting wealth into cultural and physical health. Understanding the reasons for this failure is urgent, and doing so requires considering the degree to which cause versus effect is responsible for the observed correlations between social conditions and religiosity versus secularism. It is therefore hoped that this initial look at a subject of pressing importance will inspire more extensive research on the subject. Pressing questions include the reasons, whether theistic or non-theistic, that the exceptionally wealthy U.S. is so inefficient that it is experiencing a much higher degree of societal distress than are less religious, less wealthy prosperous democracies. Conversely, how do the latter achieve superior societal health while having little in the way of the religious values or institutions? There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002). It is the responsibility of the research community to address controversial issues and provide the information that the citizens of democracies need to chart their future courses.

Raymond said...

Thoughtful and well articulated as always, Alex

Anonymous said...

The psychology textbooks has been teaching our university students that there is nothing really abnormal about homosexuality.

If homosexuals are indeed such frightening creatures and a threat to society at large as the Church makes out it to be, should it not be the Church's first line of defence to have those psychology textbooks re-written in the first place.

Why is it that they have not petitioned our universities that it is wrong to teach that there is nothing abnormal about homosexuality ?

Could it be because they do not have the hard facts to do so especially when they rely on an ancient book to spread their teachings ?

Could it be that there is really nothing holy about this ancient book !

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Do read Jeff's blog:
AWARE and Obama's National Academy of Sciences speech

Anonymous said...

What is it about people like
Fargoal?

Majority or not, no one group should decide what another group of people do in the privacy
of their own bedrooms.

Maybe Fargoal needs to be a victim
of his own logic for him to
understand the silliness of
his position.

Fargoal said...

As someone seeking a middle ground, I am somewhat disappointed by the comment that my position is silly. How so? At least I am making an effort to move forward. Perhaps the sensible thing for me to do would be to return back to my apathetic shell.

Frankly, I am sympathetic towards LGBT rights, to the extent that I would be against discrimination and stigmatization. But that's just me. The reality, it is said, is that there is little support from the center. If people at both ends keep insisting on getting everything they want, then we will never get anywhere. LGBT will need to engage the center if they want to make progress.

Anonymous said...

To further illustrate YB's point on how most religious people remain compassionate and sensible, read this letter of appeal by a sensible Christian:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/note.php?note_id=74852826540&id=573881201&ref=mf

Anonymous said...

What middle ground is there?

There is something a group
of adults want to do in the
privacy of their own bedrooms.

Another group wants to dictate
what cannot be allowed in that
same bedroom (not theirs).
They claim this right to dictate
by virtue of their majority.

How is this not outright silly?

Jem said...

Dear Fargoal,

What 'details' are you referring to specifically? I believe most of the relevant details have already been put on the table. If you're referring to what will happen after repeal, just look at all the other countries which do not criminalise.

You are right that both sides will not give in. That is why we use scientific evidence, logic and facts to determine our decisions, bearing in mind that we are a secular country. In this regard, the anti-repeal group simply has no ground at all. All the arguments against repeal generally fall into

1) My religion tells me so.
2) I don't like it.

Also, you mentioned that we should look for a middle ground. What kind of middle ground are you looking at, for decriminalisation? I don't see any ; you either criminalise it or don't.

Anonymous said...

The Inquiring Human Mind I do not know if there is a personal God. I do not see how I can know; and I do not see how my knowing can matter. What does matter, I believe, is how I deal with myself and how I deal with my fellows. I feel that I can practise a conduct toward myself and toward my fellows that will constitute a basis for an adequate religion, a religion that may comprehend spirituality, beauty and serene happiness. — James Weldon Johnson

Anonymous said...

" Many have concerns about the "slippery slope" argument, i.e. repealing 377A will open the floodgates to other issues like same-sex marriage."

In another time, in another place,
the destination of the slippery slope was toward inter-racial marriage.

I hope this makes you realize what
you sound like.

KiWeTO said...

To Fargoal:

is it possible to engage the undecided(apathetic) middle if you are denied the ability to form a coherent, legal advocacy group?

See www.plu.sg for the history of their fight to become a formally registered society.

BTW, as far as I know, we're one of the few countries in the world (probably with the rest of those autocrat-ish nations) that require social groups to REGISTER.)

From what I have been able to find out, the only registration an advocacy group needs in the UK is for a bank to be willing to let you set up a bank account!

So, how can there be 'fair lobbying' of the middle if only the anti-GLBT lobby is allowed to speak through the protective cover of belief?

And the second thought you might want to keep in mind is - if you do not fight for the right to equality for a group now - what makes you think you should in turn deserve in future to have another group fight to protect your future equality in a society? (be it as part of a professional group, or skin color, or accent, or hair color, or whatever non-majority that you may happen to belong to in that future?)

INEQUALITY is the issue here. LGBT, black, brown, yellow, WOTever, they are all distractions or examples of inequality.

Are we all humans, or are we just line-in-the-sand drawers that love conflict?

Ronald Lim said...

Fascinating topic. Reminds me of the social movement paper I had to write for my introductory sociology class back in college.

Despite the worrisome events that led to the leadership coup, I have to say that I am quite surprised at how gay/societal discourse has progressed in Singapore. To the point that the Church of Our Saviour feels pressured to issue a statement to claim that they are not "anti-homosexual" (did I read that correctly?), to the point where the new-exco is automatically put on the defensive... Even the Ministry of Education seems to be cautious about not sprouting the conventional "gay is wrong" ideas in its statement on Aware's sexuality programme.

That said, I am concerned about the implications of a growing religious right. Everyone knows the difference between the personal practice of faith versus the self-righteous proselytising based on an arbitrary standard of right and wrong. The former is faith as should be respectfully practised in multi-religious singapore. The latter panders to those who desire to exercise some kind of power over those branded as immoral

Whereas fundamental islamists in singapore are detained through ISA and put through some government-mandated rehabilitation program with a religious Imam, (not that i believe it's the right thing to do), the christian right collectively have much more power (i.e. they belong to the professional classes, have clout, know how to make their voice unduly heard) . This makes them unusually loud in Singapore society (i.e. in parliament against 377A, in the newspaper, etc)

As an observer, I wonder if the government (known for orchestrating swift behind-the-scenes move) will swiftly introduce new legislation/ boundary-markers that tie the hands of religious hotheads against future events like this ....or whether they will just trust it to be an isolated incident and do nothing about it. (which I doubt)

The sad thing is, I realise that segments of the society will always want to have something to rail against. Today, their enemies are homosexuals. It may well have been people who go for abortions, or (legalised) prostitutes who earn a living, or any number of things. [In the 1980s, Prince Charles railed against contemporary architecture for its bad taste and promoted historical pastiches... to the consternation of many accomplished self-respecting architects]

Despite Singapore's professed "conservatism", I think the religious right are fighting an increasingly difficult battle. Whereas 20 years ago one could easily claim that Singapore was founded on the bedrock of conservative values, I think Singapore's openness a global city means that progressive liberal ideas have steadily found their way into many members Singapore's educated/professional class.

Anonymous said...

One in 10 persons are born homosexual.

There's no need for the Old AWARE to talk openly about "lesbianism amongst our young girls" in schools.

We know how teenaage girls are an impressionable lot. Those who are not BORN lesbians also become lesbians.

Robox said...

Many people all over the blogosphere have been irresponsibly tossing sround the question over whether “MOE has allowed homosexuality to be taught in schools”.

First of all, I don’t know how anyone can “teach” homosexuality. What the hell does that mean?

1) Does it mean to teach you how to become a homosexual?

How can that happen if you are not gay to start with?

2) Does it mean acknowledging the existence of same-sex attractions and remaining non-judgemental about it?

The second would be FACTUAL, would it not?

Those people need to grow up: when you provide instruction on sex and sexuality, the question of same sex attractions ALWAYS crops up. And those questions COME FROM THE STUDENTS, and not initiated by instructors. (Here’s where I feel that the old AWARE has not been representing themselves effectively.)

These questions crop up because same sex attractions are a REALITY.

Isn’t it far better that the instructors are prepared well in advance to answer those questions instead of condemning gays and lesbians listening into a state of frequently irreparable guilt?

Do these people have any idea how deep seated gay and lesbian guilt can be due to the homophoibia they are subjected to, and how far reaching the damage it can cause is?

Then there’s the follow up question to #2: “Are we encouraging gays by being non-judgmental?”

Yes, indeed!

We would be encouraging gays and lesbians to affirm their identity and provide that much needed boost to start living life as normal, well adjusted gays and lesbians.

And what’s wrong with that?

Is the alternative better? And for whom?

The bloodthirsty Christian Taliban hounds want nothing short of an outright condemnation and severe judgement. What they want is for gays and lesbians to grow up emotionally and psychologically impaired.

Maybe they also think that it is a good business strategy: get despairing gays and lesbians into their reparative therapy programs, convert them to Christianity and get them to pay the notorious tithes that help to enrich their mullahs’ bank accounts.

I suggest that we should be far more concerned whether MOE allows Focus on the Family to disseminate NON-FACTUAL information on sexuality in general, including gay and lesbian sexuality.

Robox said...

I her first public satetment, Josie Lau quoted as saying Josie Lau:

"What about the interests of lesbians or what some call 'sexual orientation' or 'sexuality' rights? It depends on what interest is at stake. For example, we do not think lesbians should be discriminated against in the workplace, either in terms of promotion or pay; like every woman, they deserve equality of opportunity. The only relevant consideration is merit.

There is a world of difference between fair employment rights and claims to 'same-sex marriage'."

Translation:

Lesbians - and I suppose gay men as well - shouldn't be discriminated in those areas that count towards the Gross Domestic Product. (How very Singaporean and hoe very PAP to view people as mere econmic digits!)

However, they deserve to continue being discriminated against in all other areas, says the Feminist Impostor-trained women's rights advocate.

I wonder about a possible future scenario in which a lesbian is being discriminated against at the workplace for denial of spousal benefits.

What would Singapore's leading women's rights advocate have to say then?

Fargoal said...

To: Anon 30 April, 2009 16:38

" Many have concerns about the "slippery slope" argument, i.e. repealing 377A will open the floodgates to other issues like same-sex marriage."

In another time, in another place,
the destination of the slippery slope was toward inter-racial marriage.

I hope this makes you realize what
you sound like.

_____________________

Again, it is very odd that I get criticised for merely making an observation.

If you have been reading the ST Forum pages, folks have indeed expressed concerns about the "slippery slope" argument, i.e. that repealing 377A will lead to same-sex marriage and other things that they cannot accept. Now, whether those concerns are justified or not is an entirely separate matter. But surely you can acknowledge that there are people out there that have such concerns?

Fargoal said...

To Anon 30 April, 2009 15:05, Jem and KiWeTO

I thank you all for the opportunity to engage on this issue. I would like to say that I am speaking as a dispassionate observer and this is my concrete suggestion on how to move forward.

My solution would be to repeal 377A, but build in some concrete and visible measures to reassure the anti-repeal majority that the slippery-slope argument does not come to pass, i.e. ban same-sex marriages, some accommodation on what is acceptable advocacy, etc. And to revisit this whole basket of issues only after 20-30 years. I think this is perhaps a good compromise for both sides. First, the "pro"-repeal group can claim a symbolic victory. Hopefully discrimination and stigmatisation of LGBTs will lessen over time once 377A is repealed. Second, the "anti" group can claim that they have reaffirmed their pro-family values. Both sides get less than what they want and walk home equally unhappy. And we leave the second round to the next generation.

In short, I am hoping that a compromise solution that strikes a balance between both extremes will appeal to the center. Of course, there will be fringe elements who will never show flexibility, but they will be isolated if a sufficiently large majority manages to reach an accommodation on this issue.

Separately, I am fully aware of the scientific and medical arguments that LGBT is normal. But unfortunately, we cannot simply ignore the perceptions of people who feel otherwise. As long as those perceptions do not change, it will be difficult to force progress without provoking strong reactions.

As I said, this is just a suggestion and you are more than welcome to agree or disagree.

Anonymous said...

YB, thanks for the comic relief
provided by
Anon 01 May, 2009 00:05.

I enjoy watching public displays
of ignorance and stupidity.

Anonymous said...

About
Anon's 01 May, 2009 00:05 post,
my experience with fellow Singaporean tells me that it
is entirely possible that it is
his sincere opinion and he is not
parodying anyone.

ahtong said...

Dr. Gwee Li Sui of NUS wrote an excellent article on facebook addressing the AWARE saga which deserves to be quoted in full.

CHRISTIANS AGAINST AWARE TAKEOVER!

Christians in Singapore, listen! You should not be this conflicted about the AWARE debacle. It appears that a few churches have already taken the opportunity to preach on the issue of homosexuality from the pulpit. Some Christians have also been rattling on about it being time to make a stand and be counted for what one truly believes.

So this is me making a stand right here. I have been a Bible-believing Christian for 25 years now. I want first to acknowledge fellow believers who, like me, are shocked, angered, and saddened by the takeover and feel that their faith has been hijacked and their views ignored. I know that a lot of such affected Christians are out there. There is also another group which may not agree with the new team's tactics but admires its fervour or sympathises with it for the heat it has been getting.

But, most of all, I want to address a crucial third party: Christian women who have been encouraged to stand up and be counted for their beliefs. I wish to appeal to their good sense in these last hours. You may be one of these and have even joined, or are planning to join, AWARE to help swing the votes in favour of the new ex-co on Saturday. Especially if I am describing you, please read on!

Yes, there are times when a Christian needs to make a courageous stand – but, in every event, always ask yourself: For what cause is this? What context does it serve? The current scenario is not one where we are being asked what our beliefs on certain issues are or whether Christianity and homosexuality are compatible or we are being mocked or discriminated against. It is a simple context where a group of well-meaning Christians infiltrated a secular organisation in order to be in a position to dictate their own values in its daily running. In this light, what a Christian may feel about issues like homosexuality is besides the point!

As a secular body, AWARE rightly cannot have a vision that treats women from different backgrounds through the outlook of just one religious system. Indeed, I dare say that an appropriate Christian response is to resist the actions of these Christians. Just as God gave every person free choice and the opportunity to believe, we ought to support the sanctity of this right for others to make up their own minds and live their own lives. Just as we do not force the Christian faith down someone's throat against his or her will, we should not take over a non-religious organisation for the single purpose of making others unlike us behave as we believe. To do this would be a gross misapplication of the message of Jesus.

If you support the new ex-co's actions, be aware that you are sending a string of possibly irreversible wrong signals to every Singaporean. Consider carefully whether you are willing to shoulder the responsibility of damages that would affect the longstanding good work of Christians in Singapore. Since the government has chosen not to be involved in the matter so far, whatever happens will be seen clearly by all as the response of particular sectors of society.

Here is my short list of obvious implications:

[1] Support the new ex-co, and you are effectively saying that you condone its quasi-corporate act of infiltration, with related strategies of secrecy, disinformation, moral coercion, and fear-mongering. You are saying that you support its less-than-Christian covert moves more than traditionally Christian ones like dialogue, open engagement, honesty, and clarity.

[2] Support the new ex-co, and we will go down a slippery road with wide-ranging repercussions for all. Don’t believe for a moment that the manoeuvring will stop here. What this invites others to see is that infiltration is the most effective way for small groups of like-minded individuals to seize power quickly -- and where will this end? What is to stop any religious or ideological group from doing the same to any social institution at every level? In the long run, who do you think loses?

[3] Support the new ex-co, and you potentially make light of the freedom that is God’s gift to every human being. Against your best intentions, you may send out instead the message that we Christians think that we know better than everyone else and that we are willing to outflank, overpower, and overwhelm if we do not get our way.

[4] Support the new ex-co, and, if they stay and behave as predicted, you will be directly responsible for undoing the trust that many Christians have taken years to build with their non-Christian friends. This is a trust built on mutual respect. You will have made the Gospel of Christ more difficult to hear for years to come because people will think that they know what it is about. You will have created a new generation of Christ-haters.

This matter, in short, is not to be treated lightly. Jesus tells us all to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves". There are times to be passionate and helpful in a gungho way, but this is not the time. Christians can be wrong about many things too. So please, by all means, pray for the AWARE debacle to be resolved amicably and for Christians in AWARE, but do not, in the name of our common faith, go in blind support of other Christians because you are Christian!

Yours Truly,

Gwee Li Sui

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on an extremely well thought-through and well written piece. You’ve hit the nail squarely on the head. It also explains why the Christian fundamentalists see tolerance and neutrality as such a threat. Given their obsession with homosexuality, it’s ironic that Christ himself didn’t seem to be bothered it – he was totally silent on the subject. His modern day followers would do well to follow his example.

The Mark of Cain/ The Curse of Canaan said...

To Fargoal,

There are millions of people
today who are beneficiaries
of abolitionists never taking
your approach in their struggle.

For them, it was a simple matter
between justice and injustice.

This struggle is no different.

BTW, the Bible was also used
by antagonists in the abolitionists' struggle.

Anonymous said...

To Fargoal

"repealing 377A will lead to same-sex marriage and other things that they cannot accept. Now, whether those concerns are justified or not is an entirely separate matter. But surely you can acknowledge that there are people out there that have such concerns?"

150 years ago, there were people
who kept slaves. They were concerned that other people wanted to free them. Your point?

Anonymous said...

To Fargoal,

Here is the trajectory of
another slippery slope.

Free slaves. On no! What next?

They get to vote. Oh no! What next?

Their descendants get to socialize and marry the descendants of their former masters. Oh no! What next?

One them becomes President.
AAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!

The only people who call this a
slippery slope are universally
acknowledged as bigots.

So, are the advances made against
gay discrimination another slippery slope? Oh...never mind...I see you were the one who introduced the phrase in this context...

Anonymous said...

Thanks in part to the scaremongering and misinformation put out by TSM and colleagues, some parents may be so ill-informed that they really think that young people can “turn gay” by merely discussing the issue in a neutral, factual and scientific way.

The best way to reassure these people may be for they themselves to be better educated on the nature of sexuality, in a neutral and factual way, through TV and other media. Their ignorance is what is causing the alarm; they are not equipped to brush off the propaganda of the religious extremists.

Fargoal said...

If agreeing with the slippery slope argument is bigotry, then I am saddened say that a sizable proportion of Singaporeans might indeed be guilty of bigotry. That is the reality which we have to deal with.

And again, it is odd that I get criticised for simply making an observation that the slippery slope argument exists, even though I don't make any personal value judgement towards it. But I suppose people will read whatever that they want to read out of what I write.

Speaking personally, I am not a religious person and I have no fundamental objections towards homosexuality. I've put down my concrete proposal above (see my comment of 01 May, 2009 07:57) on how to make incremental progress and which hopefully takes into account the concerns of both sides.

I hope that our society can come to an accommodation on this issue soon. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I feel Fargoal has a point: that if you try to push for everything, you might invoke a reaction that ends up with winning nothing. I think his opinion is that of dealing with things one issue at a time. After all, in spite of all the efforts of feminists everywhere, women continue to be subject to ill-treatment and discrimination in many places. Even homosexuality is still an issue in many parts of what we consider forward and progressive countries.

The ultimate objective is to gain acceptance and recognition and to stop discrimination from groups that do not share the same interests, who also happen to be a rather large majority. So I think what Fargoal said has validity in that things should be taken a step at a time.

Things can change very rapidly within a generation, and by taking the first step and making the first compromise, we can put in place a movement and help it gain momentum.

*

That said, it does not mean that once a compromise has been reached, then work can stop. It simply means that the first step has been taken, and the second step should soon follow.


It's like driving a car: it has to start in gear one, and speed has to build up before the gear can be shifted up. There might be red lights along the way that require the gear to be shifted back down, but eventually (hopefully) the car will reach its destination.

Anonymous said...

This is a Call to TAKE A VERY SERIOUS NOTICE.

We have to be AWARE and CAREFUL of the recent rise the Christian Rights Groups, which may have been influenced or have affiliation with those American Evangelist Churches.

The American Evangelist Movements in recent years has managed to politicized the Gay-Marriage and Abortion issues in the US, to the extent that the entire US population is deeply divided politically during those Bush years. As we all know, the US economy is in dire state and they have much more pressing ssues than this kinda divisive issue.

To be fair, many Christians are Decent and Moderate People.

But they too, have to be careful, not to buy in to these radical ideas of some of the Right-Leaning churches, with are affiliated with those American Evangelist Churches.

During the 2004 American Election, Bush garnered the majority votes, by stirring up the issues of Gay-Marriage and Abortion. He uses his Christian background and Neo-Conservative Republican influence, to garnered these votes, especially amongst the Southern States in US, which are called “the Bible Belt”.

The strategy was devised by his political strategist, Karl Rove. It is very effective because he beat John Kerry, from the State of Massachussets, which legalised Gay-Marriage.

After winning the election, Bush and his Republican cronies find it appropriate, as Christian Rights, to launch an attack, on Iraq, using flimsy excuses such as “Weapons of Mass Destructions”.

We should be very very careful of the those American Evangelical Movements, because they are INFLUENCING MANY MANY CHURCHES WORLDWIDE. And they are extremist who will not hesitate to bulldoze their way to get rid of all elements not consistent with their beliefs, weather its gays, abortions or muslims, etc.

It is very obvious that some leaders of our local churches are already subcribed to the ideologies of these American Evangelist Movements, CALLING ALL CHRISTIANS TO DRAW A LINE.(with The Society?)

History has taught us well, The Crusades War bring untold suffering to millions of Europeans. That’s why the Europeans are much more sensitve and wary of the Fundamentalist Christian’s Movement, unlike the Americans, whom did not go through the same suffering experiences and did not learn the lessons.

Prejudices and hatred will only bring more trouble and extremism to the world, with the proliferation of more terrorist group.

We should all strive to be Moderate, Balanced and Free of Prejudices, regardless of whichever religion we have.

May God Bless Us All, regardless of Race, Religion, Sex, Sexual Preferences or any other superficial differences. Beneath our skin, we are all human.

Anonymous said...

"If agreeing with the slippery slope argument is bigotry, then I am saddened say that a sizable proportion of Singaporeans might indeed be guilty of bigotry."

If they are, then they are.

The bigots who opposed equal
rights in the sixties (violently
sometimes) are still alive today.
They still are bigots, the only
difference is that they are too
emabrassed to show it.

The point is not to change a bigot.
It is to embarass him. The first
is not achievable. The second is.

Anonymous said...

"I feel Fargoal has a point: that if you try to push for everything, you might invoke a reaction that ends up with winning nothing."

I disagree. The reaction will
provoke favorable (to those
who support equality) reactions
to fence sitters and the members the younger generation who
have not formed their prejudices yet.

Those who watched from the
sidelines the struggle in the 60's
for racial equality in the US
very quicky decided who the bad guys were.

Thank you Josie Lau. And a bigger
one to Thio Su Mien.

Anonymous said...

"Even homosexuality is still an issue in many parts of what we consider forward and progressive countries. "

LOL! Only a Singaporean can come
up with this gem.

Homosexual acts between consenting adults is legal in Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Communist China(!).

We are country (bumpkin) cousins
in this case.

There is a lesson to draw from here from another struggle with Christian fundamentalists.

In the US, while the majority of the legislators and voters in the
reddest of the red states support
the teaching of creationism in schools, what is holding them back
is that no state wants to be the first (and risk being the only
state teaching it). Because the red
states are very sensitive to being
labelled as backward and stupid.
That is a very powerful disincentive.

So, when in the company of Singaporean fundamentalists and
foreigners together, always drag discussions on 377A for as long as possible (and always make sure to mention fellow ASEAN states). Not only is it quite an
enjoyable experience, it helps the
cause. Keep reminding Singaporeans
that for all the sophistication
that we believe we have - we are still country bumpkins - compared to
our ASEAN cousins to boot!!!

Anonymous said...

Want to know what will work
with Singaporeans?

Play with their insecurities.

Play up what Western Europe
(the origin of their beloved
"branded" goods) has in common
with countries they look down
on (Thailand, Indonesia,
Philippines). They have all
decriminalized adult gay sex.

There nothing more intolerable
to a Singaporean than to appear
as backward bumpkins when compared
to their ASEAN cousins!!!

BTW, this resistance has nothing
to do with principles. How much
effort have they put into opposing
legalized prostitution and the casinos? Bullies only get into fights when they think they can't get hurt.

Anonymous said...

Hi it's me the anonymous who said fargoal had a point, and that homosexuality is still an issue in many other countries.

You're right, in saying that many of our neighbours do not criminalise homosexuality. Even China, for all its reputation as a pretty authoritarian regime, does not criminalise homosexuality. and I agree: the law discriminates homosexuals. And not just homosexuals, but specifically homosexual men.

But my point is that there's more than just the law at stake - it's about changing whole generations of mindsets, and when it comes issues that people would rather not deal with, push too hard and those people will just bury their heads. I may be wrong here, of course. I certainly hope I am. But that seems to be what I'm seeing around me.

As sidenotes:

Is it ironic that the argument for the preservation of "Asian values" is used by the anti-repeal camp when 377A is not Asian at all, but a remnant of our colonial past - very Western in origin and thought. So is Christianity as is practised today, come to think of it (not too sure about this; can someone confirm or rebuke?)

And there's only one reason I can think of why some parents fear having homosexual teachers or the portrayal of homosexuality as neutral in school - precisely because there is nothing to fear: that their children will realise that they're parents are wrong, that there's really nothing to be afraid of.

Anonymous said...

WRITING AS I FOLLOW THE EGM.

THEY HAVE DONE THEMSELVES IN
THIS TIME!!!!!

WIN OR LOSE, THEY HAVE LOST
BIG TIME!!!

I DARE SAY IT IS BETTER THEY
WIN!!!!!

MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT
THE BUSLOADS OF UNTHINKING
RED-SHIRTED DRONES THEY CONTROL.

THEY CAN TAKE OVER ANYTHING!!!!!!!

SPREAD THE WORD!!!!!!!!

TELL YOUR MUSLIM/HINDU/BUDDHIST/
TAOIST/MODERATE CHRISTIAN FRIENDS
ABOUT THEIR POWER!!!!!!!!!

EXPOSE THEM NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

From the AWARE EGM:

“You are ultra-vires to constitution by spending more than $20,000″, old guard member who pioneered the Aware legal clinic.

I am enjoying myself so much - it
should be made a sin...

The new Exco is all form and no
substance.

In the name of God, go!

Anonymous said...

YESSSS!!!!!!!!!YESSSSS!!!!!!

I am going to name my
next two daughters
Margaret and Constance!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!!

The fundies have shown
their hand and LOST!!!

Those involved are
seriously damaged goods
now.

It's hard to feel sympathy
towards people who think others
deserve jail time for doing
things in the privacy of their
rooms.