Listen to this audio (only 1 minute 41 secs). A pastor tells this flock that when they see a limp wrist in their sons, they should “crack that wrist”.
“Give him a good punch,” he adds.
Called “a horrific anti-gay tirade”, it was featured on the Huffington Post, 1 May 2012. The recording was originally publicised (provided?) by Jeremy Hooper of the blog Good as You. The voice in it is said to be that of Sean Harris (pic at right), a pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, in North Carolina.
Harris is heard endorsing the use of physical force on boys if they show any sign of effeminate behaviour.
Continue reading ‘Pastor heard telling dads to strike sons’
It was a strange choice of a word, and it jumped out at me. People’s Action Party member of parliament Vikram Nair (right) said he found it “hurtful” that Chen Show Mao (Workers’ Party) had implied that the PAP government had not done enough for vulnerable groups.
In my mind’s eye, I instantly saw a picture of a grown man running to a corner to cry. His feelings had been hurt.
What never-never-land does the ruling party live in? Do PAP members of parliament seriously expect opposition members to concede that the government had done ENOUGH for whatever section of the population they happen to be discussing at that moment? Is that the opposition’s role in politics?
Continue reading ‘My eyebrows rose thrice, part 3: Hurtful’
Within a space of slightly over two hours Friday night, two friends of mine mentioned Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s ‘pay one dollar, get four dollars’ sales pitch. “What do you think of that?” asked the latter of the two.
I knew Singapore had become one of the gambling capitals of Asia, but it was still depressing to see our politics adopt the same mindset: If you pay taxes, you win!
Clearly, that was not the point the finance minister was trying to make. I believe he was trying to show that the help lower- and middle-income Singaporeans were getting from the government exceeded what they paid in taxes, over a lifetime. But from the twinkle in my friends’ eyes as they repeated Tharman’s soundbite to me, I had the awful feeling it was received quite the wrong way. My eyebrows rose.
Continue reading ‘My eyebrows rose thrice, part 2: Low-income tax-payers hit jackpot’
With a larger opposition presence in parliament, ministers and People’s Action Party (PAP) backbenchers have become more aggressive in making the case that government policies do indeed help the more disadvantaged in society. This became particularly notable during the recent parliamentary sittings when the first budget post-general election 2011 was debated. In defending their “virtue”, I see the PAP side resorting to soundbites several times. Have they been coached by public relations people?
The trouble with soundbites is that in achieving their effect by reducing an issue to a memorable phrase, they must necessarily over-simplify. And someone like me will react by saying: Hold on a minute, what does that oversimplification gloss over or conceal?
Continue reading ‘My eyebrows rose thrice, part 1: Earn $1,000, buy a flat’
Edge.org has an article in which Mark Pagel (right) presents a fresh and intriguing view of human evolution. Like all scientific work, he also speculates, if not quite predicts, that humans have reached a point beyond which we are possibly going to get more stupid — thus the title Infinite Stupidity.
Readers are advised to first read it or view the video before returning here.
In a nutshell, Pagel argues that with the emergence of homo sapiens on this planet, a process of evolution through cultural selection of ideas has become the main driver of change, taking over from the antecedent evolution through natural selection of genes. He also argues that the former has many of the same characteristics as the latter.
Continue reading ‘Homo imitato’
A short distance from our lunch table, a publicity event was going on. There was a stand with posters and several volunteers handing out flyers. Not many passers-by showed interest, but if a family had a toddler in tow, they would be compelled to stop, for one volunteer was holding a bunch of balloons and the kid would invariably want one, two or better yet, three.
What is it about balloons that small children find irresistible? I figured it was gravity.
Continue reading ‘Along came balloons’
The best moves in brand building and public relations are those where the audience is not even aware that they are being manipulated. It is the role of critical journalism to call it like it is, and draw people’s attention to it.
I suspect something like the former is going on with the sudden spurt of news stories about foreign workers and gambling. In this essay I am going to attempt to dissect the anatomy of it.
The issue burst into the headlines on Friday, 4 November 2011, when the Straits Times reported that some employers of foreign workers sent their employees to bet in casinos on their behalf.
Continue reading ‘Stew the canard, cook the migrant worker’
Some people wear too much make-up. Unlike Mr Clown at left, who must have done it for effect, others earnestly want the rest of the world to believe that the heavily made-up face is the real person.
Ditto with government publications. The recently-released Singaporeans in the Workforce, issued jointly by the Manpower Ministry and the Statistics Department, had the facsimile of an honest statistical appraisal, but with every fourth sentence sounding highly defensive, it ended up looking like a meretricious rag.
Continue reading ‘Jimmying Gini for political sell’
Part 1 discussed a survey by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) just after the May 2011 general election and how it failed to find any direct impact from alternative online media on it. Part 2 here discusses the possibility of indirect effects, with special reference to the two-step flow model and agenda-setting, angles that were touched upon at the conference held on 4 October 2011.
Continue reading ‘Internet politics myth-busting, part 2′
Every research exercise proceeds from a conceptual model. The data collected is then analysed to see if they validate or invalidate the model. And so it was with the Institute of Policy Studies’ (IPS) study, Impact of new media on general election 2011.
The question IPS said they went out to answer was whether the May 2011 general election was an “internet election”. But what would constitute an internet election? Implicit within that is a certain model of political opinion-making.
This model is at least partly borne out of People’s Action Party (PAP) propaganda – that Singapore’s deferential mainstream (i.e. pro-establishment) media are “trustworthy” while the internet, by contrast, is a dangerous source of half-truths, irresponsible allegations and moral depravity. The shrill peaks this propaganda reached over the last ten to fifteen years belied a view that the average Singaporean is little more than a sponge, passively absorbing whatever he sees in the media. As more and more of his media consumption switches to the internet, there is a palpable fear that the PAP will lose its influence over voters’ minds, unable to “set the agenda” – a determinant of success that the PAP has long considered of critical importance.
Continue reading ‘Internet politics myth-busting, part 1′