Secular fundamentalists are oppressive, says Thio Li-Ann

Her recent speech in Parliament appears to be an attempt to redefine secularism in a way that basically gets the state to defer to religious views so long as these are expressed by lay people, not clerics. Full essay.

94 Responses to “Secular fundamentalists are oppressive, says Thio Li-Ann”


  1. 1 YCK 5 June 2009 at 11:52

    In case you find it relevant, you may want to monitor the situation in teh more religious US. According to Jon Meacham, the American Religious Identification Survey reported, “the percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 percentage points since 1990, from 86 to 76 percent.” See this link for the Newsweek article:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/192583

  2. 2 Z 5 June 2009 at 15:12

    YB, some thoughts (counter-points) for you:

    1) “I don’t know where Thio Li-Ann got her 80% figure from”

    > I don’t know either, but there is evidence suggesting that she might be close:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Europe#Gallup_poll_2007-2008

    2) “In practice, this is a recipe for deadlock. One group can sincerely hold that women should be discriminated against and men privileged. Another group can sincerely hold that men should be discriminated against and women privileged”

    > This example you’ve provided could very possibly arise between two secular-minded groups of people, it is not necessarily religious. The “deadlock” you raised is simply not the result of the nation not embracing your mold of secular humanism, rather it is the inevitable consequence and price of democracy. If you do not agree, then you are assuming that all secular humanists would agree on all political or social matters.

    3) “Following Thio’s line of reasoning, we may well have this argument put to the Ministry of Education…Therefore, in recognition of our beliefs, the secular state must amend our school syllabus…”

    > Allowing religious people to voice their religiously-motivated opinion is different from necessarily heeding their opinion. I think Thio argued for the former, not the latter. Moreover, there is a big difference between allowing a religious person to argue her representative, religiously-motivated view in Parliament VS allowing a religious group to teach psuedo-science to children.

    4) “How different is this from the argument that many people, driven by their religious beliefs, feel that gay people should be second class, never mind that all empirical evidence available show that there is nothing chosen or wrong with homosexual orientation”

    > How does “empirical evidence” show whether there is anything right/wrong about homosexuality, or for that matter, whether they should be equally treated?? Could you kindly define these words – ‘objective’, ‘rational’, ’empirical evidence’?

    5) “Forget principles of social and legal justice. Forget scientific evidence. Forget objectivity. Belief is everything”

    > Herein lies our difference: I think it should be the people/democratic representatives of the people judging what views should or should not be heeded; wheareas you seem to posit that you should decide what views should or should not even be proferred. Whatever happened to liberalism?

    • 3 Maidservant's Firstborn in the Land of Egypt 6 June 2009 at 00:05

      “How does “empirical evidence” show whether there is anything right/wrong about homosexuality, or for that matter, whether they should be equally treated?? Could you kindly define these words – ‘objective’, ‘rational’, ‘empirical evidence’?”

      Ditto for the Roman policy of feeding Christians to lions. Homosexuals were not on the menu. Your point?

    • 4 Kangaroo on Noah's Ark 6 June 2009 at 00:13

      “Allowing religious people to voice their religiously-motivated opinion is different from necessarily heeding their opinion. I think Thio argued for the former, not the latter. Moreover, there is a big difference between allowing a religious person to argue her representative, religiously-motivated view in Parliament VS allowing a religious group to teach psuedo-science to children. ”

      Thio wants to keep a law that controls what homosexuals do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

      YB is proposing no law to shut Thio up.

      Pointing out that something should not be done is not the same as disallowing it. YB is doing the former, Thio defends a law that enforces the latter.

    • 5 Deuteronomist 6 June 2009 at 00:20

      “Herein lies our difference: I think it should be the people/democratic representatives of the people judging what views should or should not be heeded; wheareas you seem to posit that you should decide what views should or should not even be proferred. Whatever happened to liberalism?”

      The “you” addressed here is the classic strawman. Nice try.

    • 6 Robox 6 June 2009 at 02:57

      To Z:

      Re: “Whatever happened to liberalism?”

      Your mocking tone doesn’t escape me.

      If by “liberalism” you mean a free-for-all, then you obviously don’t know the first thing about liberalism.

    • 7 yj 7 June 2009 at 22:54

      There’s nothing wrong at all with allowing people to voice their religiously-motivated opinion. No one is denying them of the right to do so.

      But I have the right to critique the irrationaliy of their arguments as well – especially when arguments from belief are brought up to justify policies.

  3. 8 Anonymous 5 June 2009 at 18:09

    I’m not clear what she means by European secularism. In Europe there are official state religions, as in England and Scotland, and there are political parties created based on an (interpretation of) a religion, such as the (tiny) Christian Party in the UK and the more mainstream Christian Democrats in Europe. So far as I know there is no bar on discussing religion as a basis for policy making in the way that there is in Singapore, perhaps because religion is not such an explosive issue there generally as it is perceived to be in Singapore.

    I’m not seriously suggesting it, but in theory maybe it would encourage more transparency if people were able to form a fundamentalist party that was up front about their beliefs and reasons for espousing or opposing certain policies, rather than resorting to covert tactics? Then people could see clearly what they really stand for?

  4. 9 Vic 5 June 2009 at 20:13

    Dear Alex,

    I am interested to know what your views are on the infamous Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. I am asking because I am curious to know if there are limits to sexual diversity and tolerance that the LGBT community suscribe to or if it really is no-holds-barred.

    1) Is the Folsom Street Fair what you would call a progressive movement of sexual liberation?

    2) There is a lot of nudity, sex in public, gay porn on sale, sex toys on sale and public mockery of the church (dildos depicting Christ on a crucifix) etc.

    For a visual, please see some of the pictures in http://www.zombietime.com/folsom_sf_2007_part_1/index.php (Caution: may be graphic for some).

    Do you feel that the above mentioned examples are desirable trends for Singapore?

    Thank you Alex. I seek to understand because I do think that a line is crossed somewhere with the Folsom Street Fair in terms of respecting others. I certainly would not want any children witnessing all that to be honest.

    • 10 Mark 16:9–20 5 June 2009 at 23:59

      Why should there be a single view? Some gays have adopted children. Some others are promiscuous. What do you think?

      This question is as innocent as one asking Christians if they support the oppression of blacks (justified on Biblical grounds by some Afrikaners and some White American Southerners).

      • 11 Vic 6 June 2009 at 10:49

        Dear Mark 16:9-20,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I agree that there should not be a single view. Yes, people can choose to live their lives as promiscuous or as conservative as they wish. This applies not only to gays but straight people as well of course.

        My questions arose because of recent reports in the news on the need to keep our secular space secular for all Singaporeans. What we are seeing here at the Folsom Street Fair is the leather community coming into the secular space to display a certain promiscuous lifestyle and it appears that many of them are gays. Children may not understand why spanking is going on in public between adults for pleasure. Will they exhibit similar behaviour in pre-school?

        I am curious to know if Alex feels that there are certain practices that have crossed the line in terms of disrespect for others and what is the extent of tolerance for the LGBT community. These are important questions because if Singapore should have 377A repealed and allow same-sex marriages in future, would we all have a Folsom Street Fair on Orchard Road in the name of tolerance? The LGBT cause would move forward if they are addressed.

        I write to Alex because he is one of the more prominent gay activists in Singapore and I enjoy his articles. But I also acknowledge that his views may not reflect the general view.

        Thank you.

    • 12 yawningbread 6 June 2009 at 12:25

      The Folsom Street fair — from the link you provided; I have never been interested in it to attend any — is as “gay” as a nudist beach is heterosexual. By that I mean it is a completely separate issue altogether.

      I am interested in equal rights for gay people. This is a separate question from that of public nudity and public exhibitionism.

      If anyone is going to argue that full rights for gay people must necessarily lead to public events like the Folsom Street fair, then I’d say it is a slippery-slope scare tactic. I would ask why full rights for heterosexual people does not always lead to nudist beaches, let alone nudist scenes down Orchard Road, with dominatrixes whipping straight men.

    • 13 Redactor 8 June 2009 at 00:13

      What is it about people like Vic. We already have the consequences of legalized prostitution on our shores – the spillover from red-light districts for all to see and he hunts for possible consequences of gay rights thousands of miles away.
      I leave to others to draw conclusions about people like that.

      • 14 Vic 13 June 2009 at 21:00

        Dear Alex,

        Thank you for your reply and for posting my comments. You have a point.

        Dear Redactor,

        ‘People like that’ need some patience from people like you to explain things in a non-dismissive attitude. No wonder there are apprehensions among ‘People like that’ towards people like you. No wonder there seems to be more smoke and heat than civilised discussions everytime someone asks a question that People like you don’t feel like answering or are offended or throw labels out.

        If gay people want to beat their breasts on the need for tolerance, then ‘people like that’ would need to see that right?

        But yes, let us leave this to others for conclusions.

    • 15 hugewhaleshark 14 June 2009 at 10:11

      I found the pictures quite refreshing to be honest. Humankind is as diversified as what you see at the fair, and to be accepted openly for what you are, or like is really quite nice.

      I’d find scenes from Patpong (mainly featuring straight sex) my more oppressive and exploitative in comparison.

  5. 16 hugewhaleshark 5 June 2009 at 21:52

    It’s so tiring to follow her arguments. She obviously loves being oh so high-brow.

  6. 17 Robox 6 June 2009 at 02:54

    Hi Alex,

    Everything that Thio Li-ann states as the elements of secularism that she wishes to see pactised in Singapore, is already being practised. As I have said previously in your blog, the ground reality that is religious conviction is already being taken into account into all policy formulation.

    However, Thio also skillfully avoids THE most contentious aspect of her pet topic and raison d’etre for any speech she (and her mother) makes on the topic of secularism: gay rights and how best to scuttle it, which is also the raison d’etre for her NMP-hip.

    We should refuse to allow her to hijack the focus of the topic; she of course means to equip her Christian constituency with yet another falsification of the facts.

    Here is what I believe the focus ought to be:

    1. What objection does she have to the morality expressed in Article 12 of the Constitution, “”All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.”?

    2. How should secularism play itself out in the event that the ground reality that is religious conviction is irreconciliable with the Constitutional guarantee of equality under the law? (This question is in fact an already settled one given that constitutional supremacy over any ground reality that has the befalling of harm on another section of Singapore society is also the law.)

  7. 18 Z 6 June 2009 at 03:05

    Maidservant’s Firstborn in the Land of Egypt,

    My point is that ’empirical evidence’ – which I understand as scientifically verifiable facts – does not tell us whether homosexuality is right or wrong, or whether Christians should be fed to the lions. Your point?

    Kangaroo on Noah’s Ark,

    The discussion was on whether religious views should be proferred in the public square. I share your disagreement towards Thio wrt 377A; but placing all the blame on ‘religion’/’religious views’, I think, is slightly wrong-footed. Take this blog for example: http://wherebearsroamfree.blogspot.com/ –> It is secular, and anti-gay.

    Deuteronomist,

    Really? Did YB not suggest what views should or should not be proferred? Pray tell the fallacy.

    • 19 Daughter of Jephthah (and we thought Shylock was bad) 7 June 2009 at 15:29

      “Really? Did YB not suggest what views should or should not be proferred? Pray tell the fallacy.”

      You said:

      “wheareas you seem to posit that **YOU SHOULD DECIDE** what views should or should not even be proferred.”

      I leave as an exercise for you what category of fallacy this falls under.

    • 20 Young-Earth Relativistic Cosmologist 7 June 2009 at 15:34

      “but placing ALL THE BLAME on ‘religion’/’religious views’, ”

      What is this? Strawman-fest?

    • 21 Midianite Virgin 7 June 2009 at 15:39

      “My point is that ‘empirical evidence’ – which I understand as scientifically verifiable facts – does not tell us whether homosexuality is right or wrong, or whether Christians should be fed to the lions. Your point? ”

      That they don’t need to be cured. And those who don’t seek to be cured are not ignorant or evil. Brush up on blond hair and blue eyes.

      • 22 Z 7 June 2009 at 19:00

        Midianite Virgin,

        Ok, you’re entitled to your opinion that homosexuality ‘don’t need to be cured and those who don’t seek to be cured are not ignorant or evil’; but this opinion is certainly NOT backed by any ’empirical evidence’ whatsoever. Empirical evidence can decide whether homosexuality, based on current medical knowledge, can or cannot be ‘cured’ (and on this, I take the view that it cannot); but it doesn’t decide the issue of whether it SHOULD or should not be cured, let alone whether objectors are ignorant or evil.

      • 23 Firstborn of David and Bethsheba 7 June 2009 at 23:58

        “but it doesn’t decide the issue of whether it SHOULD or should not be cured, let alone whether objectors are ignorant or evil.”

        What if the question is whether to allow someone to kneel in front of a religious statue? Should it be decided by the people who want to kneel and no others because it is nobody else’s business? Or should people who believe in a book which has strong opinions about that sort of thing have a say?

  8. 24 yawningbread 6 June 2009 at 11:58

    To z, 5 June 2009, 15:12 –

    You wrote: “This example you’ve provided could very possibly arise between two secular-minded groups of people, it is not necessarily religious. The “deadlock” you raised is simply not the result of the nation not embracing your mold of secular humanism, rather it is the inevitable consequence and price of democracy.”

    If secular humanism is the guiding principle of a secular state, it would be extremely hard for anyone, whatever his motives, to advance the idea that one sex should be treated as inferior to the other. Secular humanism requires empirical evidence of that inferiority; and there is none.

    You wrote: “Allowing religious people to voice their religiously-motivated opinion is different from necessarily heeding their opinion. I think Thio argued for the former, not the latter. Moreover, there is a big difference between allowing a religious person to argue her representative, religiously-motivated view in Parliament VS allowing a religious group to teach psuedo-science to children.”

    Agree with your first two sentences. What I am concerned with is that Singaporeans and the Singapore govt cannot see the distinction that you have made. This is evidenced from the way the Education Ministry crumbled to the rightwing’s demands (and have been crumbling for a long time) to treat homosexuality as a negative in sex ed. The defence against teaching religiously-motivated creationism is the same defence against teaching religiously-motivated hate. What I see is evidence that the govt does not understand the defence at all.

    You wrote: “How does “empirical evidence” show whether there is anything right/wrong about homosexuality, or for that matter, whether they should be equally treated?? Could you kindly define these words – ‘objective’, ‘rational’, ‘empirical evidence’?”

    You fail to understand how the religious attack works, in fact, I sense you are adopting exactly the same tactic to press your argument. It first begins by positing something as wrong, and then demands that its thesis be proven incorrect by empirical evidence, and — very important here –in the absence of such proof, then demands that its views be given weight.

    The religious attack has slyly reversed the burden of proof. The correct locus of this burden in secular humanism would be on those that would discriminate. Where is the evidence that a human trait is “wrong”? What is meant by “wrong” in the first place? That itself is a sly wrongly-worded question. Liberalism and secular humanism would ask what objective harm to others is posed by this group that you seek to discriminate against?

    Very often the only answer proffered is pseudo-science (e.g. “the human race would die out of gays are allowed to convert our children” – note the unsubstantiated paranoia inherent in that statement), or entirely subjective (e.g. “it is offensive to the majority”).

    In the absence of empirical proof, we should treat everybody else as we would want to be treated – as equals, and with respect.

    I reject attempts to reverse the burden of proof. I reject attempts to rephrase the question of harm into a question of “right/wrong”. The latter is a moral question and it is not the business of the state to enforce disputed morality.

    • 25 Z 7 June 2009 at 02:16

      YB,

      Thanks for your thought-provoking replies.

      Firstly, the idea that secular humanism necessarily guarantees consensus on issues of equality is questionable. Even with secular humanism as the guiding principle, I think it naive to suppose that:(1) any argument phrased in the rhetoric of ‘equality’ will resolve the disagreement, or that (2) a person would enter Parliament screaming for a certain sex/group to be discriminated because “they are inferior”. The reality is more complex – The State is constrained by its limited resources and this factor heavily influences the granting of ‘equal status’ (a counter to (1)). On top of that, there exists competing public goods in Society such that X’s advocacy for his belief in a certain common good might appear discriminatory to Y even without thinking that Y is ‘inferior'(a counter to (2)). These are very secular factors – limitation of state resources, the common good argument – that can cause massive disagreement even secular humanists, and the issue of gender equality is no exception.

      Secondly, I am still unclear and uncomfortable of your use of the phrase ’empricial evidence’. I’ve asked you to substantiate your claim that ‘all empirical evidence available show that there is nothing chosen or wrong with homosexual orientation’, yet you went on about the burden of proof. The simple answer, I think, should be – No, empricial evidence does not give us answers to moral questions as these. I stand by your objection to the examples of psuedo-science you’ve provided as strongly as I object to the flawed claim you’ve made above. The philosophically flawed stretch of the conclusions of the scientific methodology IS as much pseudo-science as that of creationism.

      Thirdly, you can disagree with a religious person’s concept of right and wrong, but I don’t think it’s fair for you to chide him/her for employing the concept of ‘wrong’ in public debate. This is because your following sentence – ‘Liberalism and secular humanism would ask what objective harm to others is posed by this group that you seek to discriminate against?’ declares YOUR concept of ‘wrong’ – which is that of ‘objective harm (whatever that means) to others’. This is as much a moral position, and a hotly disputed one in fact, as any religious person’s concept of right and wrong. One way or another the State “enforces morality”, and the very code of conduct you are advocating – that religiously motivated arguments be silenced – is, surely, and by any common sense understanding of the phrase, a form of ‘enforced morality’ too.

      • 26 Amalekite Infant 7 June 2009 at 23:11

        “Thirdly, you can disagree with a religious person’s concept of right and wrong, but I don’t think it’s fair for you to chide him/her for employing the concept of ‘wrong’ in public debate. This is because your following sentence – ‘Liberalism and secular humanism would ask what objective harm to others is posed by this group that you seek to discriminate against?’ declares YOUR concept of ‘wrong’ – which is that of ‘objective harm (whatever that means) to others’. This is as much a moral position, and a hotly disputed one in fact, as any religious person’s concept of right and wrong. One way or another the State “enforces morality”, and the very code of conduct you are advocating – that religiously motivated arguments be silenced – is, surely, and by any common sense understanding of the phrase, a form of ‘enforced morality’ too.”

        You really should sit through the whole class…

        A Nazi can justify his ideology using exactly your arguments. This is a juvenile display of “perfect solution fallacy”. Look it up.

      • 27 Jahwist 7 June 2009 at 23:16

        “Firstly, the idea that secular humanism necessarily guarantees consensus on issues of equality is questionable. Even with secular humanism as the guiding principle, I think it naive to suppose that:(1) any argument phrased in the rhetoric of ‘equality’ will resolve the disagreement, or that (2) a person would enter Parliament screaming for a certain sex/group to be discriminated because “they are inferior”. The reality is more complex – The State is constrained by its limited resources and this factor heavily influences the granting of ‘equal status’ (a counter to (1)). On top of that, there exists competing public goods in Society such that X’s advocacy for his belief in a certain common good might appear discriminatory to Y even without thinking that Y is ‘inferior’(a counter to (2)). These are very secular factors – limitation of state resources, the common good argument – that can cause massive disagreement even secular humanists, and the issue of gender equality is no exception.”

        Which part of your argument *cannot* be used in the defense of
        1) Slavery
        2) Prohibition of inter-racial marriage
        3) Denial of equal rights to racial minorities.

      • 28 Elohist 7 June 2009 at 23:26

        “Secondly, I am still unclear and uncomfortable of your use of the phrase ‘empricial evidence’. I’ve asked you to substantiate your claim that ‘all empirical evidence available show that there is nothing chosen or wrong with homosexual orientation’, yet you went on about the burden of proof. The simple answer, I think, should be – No, empricial evidence does not give us answers to moral questions as these. I stand by your objection to the examples of psuedo-science you’ve provided as strongly as I object to the flawed claim you’ve made above. The philosophically flawed stretch of the conclusions of the scientific methodology IS as much pseudo-science as that of creationism. ”

        What can be clearer than evidence that discriminating on the basis sexual preference is as silly as discriminating on the basis of hair colour.

        So, science says that if you think it is OK to discriminate on the basis of sexual preference, it is just as OK to discriminate on the basis of hair colour.

        It cannot tell us what is moral. But it can tell us when we are *SELECTIVE*.

      • 29 yj 7 June 2009 at 23:33

        Z:

        In response to your 3rd pt,

        That’s because religiously-motivated people who assert that a particular act is morally wrong tend to do just that. They go round and round in circles repeating their assertion without ever defining ‘wrong’, or explaining why it is wrong.

        If you ever pin them down, the explanation you will get is that it goes against their beliefs/ traditions. That’s a very non-universal concept of wrong, and that is why religious concepts of ‘wrong’ should be kept private, for using arguments based on the myths of one bronze age tribe or other to push for a policy would be unfair to all the others who don’t share their particular superstition.

      • 30 yawningbread 8 June 2009 at 00:58

        To Z –

        On your first point: I accept that even among secular-minded arguments, there may be great differences of opinion. But as secular people, they are more likely to accept that questions should be resolved through the principles of secular humanism, which I discussed in my essay What ‘secular state’ should mean. These principles include the application of testing, critical reasoning, observation, scientific inquiry, a search for objective truth, and a common goal of enhancing human well-being.

        Religiously-based arguments are not resolvable because they are ultimately traceable to doctrine. People either accept the doctrine or do not.

        This distinction is critical. In the first case, the views may differ, but there is greater consensus on how to resolve differences. With religious arguments, even the method of resolution is in dispute. Therefore a society in which religious beliefs are regularly proffered for policy is not only more contentious, but harder to reconcile.

        On your second point, “Empirical evidence” – evidence acquired through practical observation, experience and experimentation; opposite to theoretical construction and theory-based assumptions.

        I should have used the word “harmful” instead of “wrong”. My sentence should read “All empirical evidence available show that there is nothing chosen or harmful with homosexual orientation.” And I stand by that statement. Go research it. Start with the clear statements by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

        Even in the original wording of my sentence, I don’t agree that “empirical evidence does not give us answers to moral questions as these”.

        Let me start with the example of adultery. Experience and observation quite clearly tells us that typically, one or more parties are hurt by such behaviour; that it is damaging to trust between a couple. I think one can draw moral conclusions from there. However, I’d be digressing to talk more about adultery.

        Unlike adultery, with sexual orientation, whether hetero, bi or homosexual, empirical evidence does not tell us it is wrong. In fact, it does tell us that it is NOT wrong, because it is really hard to make out a case that any sexual orientation is wrong just from empirical evidence alone. It does point therefore to the conclusion that sexual orientation is probably amoral, meaning it has no moral value. Hetero is not morally right, or morally wrong, anymore than being tall is morally right or morally wrong. Ditto short, ditto homosexual.

        Your third point, as I understand it, is that applying the “harm test” is as much a moral assertion as a religious believer’s right/wrong test. I disagree. The harm test is amenable to resolution through empirical, objective evidence; it is therefore a practical solution to questions of society. Answers are accessible to all regardless of religion, including the non-religious. The religiously-motivated right/wrong test is, as I have argued in the first para above, ultimately irresolvable.

      • 31 Z 10 June 2009 at 21:57

        To Amalekite Infant,

        I haven’t sat through any philosophy class so I’m honoured to have you enlighten me.🙂

        Please explain – what ‘perfect solution’ have I assumed/proferred such that the fallacy can kick in? And how does my belief and advocating of equal democratic participation among individuals of differing moral/theological ideals equate to the necessary justification of the Nazi ideology?

        ____

        To Jahwist,

        You have overlooked the distinction between the justifying of substantive moral positions (which I have not done); and the justifying of a political process upon which we decide which substantive moral position should be adopted. All the while I’ve been arguing for the latter – that religiously motivated opinions (whether or not they are right or wrong) should continue to be allowed in the public square. Not one instance have I argued that religiously motivated moral positions are good/worthy to be adopted. Therefore, for the very simple reason I’m NOT defending substantive moral positions (‘slavery/inter-racial marriage is good/bad’), your question is a meaningless one.

        ____

        To Elohist,

        “So, science says that if you think it is OK to discriminate on the basis of sexual preference, it is just as OK to discriminate on the basis of hair colour”

        >> No, science does not tell us that at all. You have invoked a (higher) moral law/principle to advance your analogy. To charge someone as being ‘selective’, you need to first assume that the other party has accepted your basis of classification. Moreoever, there is nothing inherently wrong with non-scientific selectivity/classification – take acquired traits for example. Even if science has proven that child paedophilia is an ‘acquired trait’, as much as perhaps being kind to one’s neighbour is, it doesn’t mean that we’re being inconsistent to discriminate against perpetators of child paedophilia as opposed to kind neighbours.

        ___

        To yj, and YB:

        I draw a distinction between religiously motivated opinions and religious arguments. If it might surprise you, I hold to John Rawl’s idea of ‘public reason’, which eliminates the latter in the public sphere, but not necessarily the former.

        This is for the simple reason that a religiously motivated opinion can be argued based on reasons that are accessible to all. X may, fundamentally, believe that murder is wrong because it goes against the Ten Commandments; but if he is able to present an argument that is intellectually and morally accessible to the population on why murder should be punished, why does it matter if his opinion is religiously motivated or not? It is for this reason that I disagree with YB, in that I think YB’s proposition (that a secular state necessarily excludes religious beliefs in the public sphere) veers towards the overkill. There is too much ’empirical evidence’ of religiously motivated politicians/writers arguing a case which people of differing religions or even the non-religious can agree with, that I simply cannot assent to the stereotypical statement – “If you ever pin them down, the explanation you will get is that it goes against their beliefs/traditions”.

        The next question is – even if one is scrutinized to the extent that he concedes that his fundamental premise for his political position is his ‘belief/tradition’, is it thus wrong? I do not believe so. A deeper philosophical reflection, will, I think, lead one to the realization that each of us argue our stance on inevitably non-rational axioms – and by that I mean we have certain moral propositions/beliefs which we accept by faith, and not only that, but that of these propositions we persuade/expect the agreement of others. The Golden Rule of ethics which YB/secular humanists love to quote, (and which interestingly, originated during or even prior to the ‘bronze age’ yj – read Karen Armstrong’s “The Great Transformation”) is one of these axioms – in that it cannot be further ‘rationalized’, or be deduced from any “empirical evidence”, and neither is it ‘resolvable’ if a person appears and says ‘I disagree. I don’t believe in the Golden Rule’. If your reponse to that is that, well, the right-thinking majoirty will shut this person up, then I say you play fair and allow whatever majority there is in our democratic society to shut up what you think are non-objective, non-empirical ‘myths’. In short, you can disagree with the majority, something I find myself doing often, but I will fight to death their right to say it.

        YB, on your bringing in the example of adultery, I just want to point out that your evaluation of empirical evidence is shaped by your non-empirical beliefs/values, not the other way round. It is your moral belief that something is ‘wrong’ when ‘a person is hurt (by your definition)’ or ‘when trust between 2 persons are broken’ that leads you to conclude that adultery is wrong, while homosexuality isn’t. One needs only to tweak how one defines ‘hurt’ or ‘trust’ in your moral statement to argue that both adultery and homosexuality are wrong based on ’empirical evidence’.

        ___

      • 32 Midianite Virgin 11 June 2009 at 23:26

        Z,

        You are missing the point.

        To illustrate. Solipsism is an unassailable philosophical position. But it is a subject of interest only for academic study – no one takes it seriously – its defeat serves as one of the holy grails (or exercises) of philosophy.

        Similarly, the ***form*** of your arguments are such that they are unassailable. But they can be used to justify ***anything***. If they can justify anything, then you are saying nothing.

      • 33 Z 13 June 2009 at 11:16

        Midianite Virgin,

        Your point is a cogent one if and only if I have framed my arguments to argue for X, but in the process justify Y and Z, despite the fact (and here is the important caveat you’ve missed) that I had earlier recognized (or Reason would identify) X, Y, Z as mutually contradictory stances.

        But here, my arguing for X (that all views, whether secular or religious, as long as it is guided by the principle of public reason, should be admissible in the public square) is not in essence contradictory to the Y you proposed (whether slavery is good/bad). And I readily admit that. My argument is a formal one and for that reason it can’t prevent the substantive evils you’ve mentioned; for the simple reason that it is not meant to. The X and Y here are not even sui generis. It’s a 2-stage process is it not, whether a view can be heard; and whether it should be heeded? If you refuse to recognize the distinction, that’s akin to saying that any bad policies passed by Parliament is the fault of The Speaker for allowing the proposal to be heard.

        That aside, my arguments might very well be unassailable because we have all assumed the context of a liberal democracy and the exclusivist brand of secular humanism propounded here betrays the very context it is supposed to operate.

    • 34 Midianite Virgin 13 June 2009 at 18:19

      So, if you reread carefully what you have just written, you really have said nothing.

      The style of most debates consists of each side saying the other side should not be saying what they are saying. This is especially so if they are arguing over the criteria of what counts as valid argument (a meta-debate within the debate if you will). This is the thrust of the article – not what can or cannot be said.

      • 35 Z 14 June 2009 at 02:02

        “So, if you reread carefully what you have just written, you really have said nothing”

        > What I’ve been arguing for is this: that religiously motivated opinions should not be excluded from the public sphere. Reason: There’s no logical/practical basis in doing so. How’s that ‘nothing’? If that’s ‘saying nothing’, how is it that the converse – which is the thrust of YB’s article, that religiously motivated opinions should be excluded – is ‘something’??

        “This is especially so if they are arguing over the criteria of what counts as valid argument (a meta-debate within the debate if you will)”

        > Agreed. But when these criteria are arbitrarily and inconsistently adopted against certain arguments/positions, using rhetoric like ’empirical evidence’, then there is clearly room for disagreement. Disagree with me by pointing out what premises have I mistated or what conclusions have I drawn wrongly; simply harping that I’m ‘saying nothing’ without explainging how and where exactly doesn’t make you right. It’s called argument by repetition.

  9. 36 Russel 6 June 2009 at 14:30

    I have a view regarding Vic’s concerns. As gays live in societies as straight people, there is also a certain amount of internalisation by gay people of how society looks at them. Society looks as gays as oversexed individuals, so many gays also come to believe that way of themselves. A similar situation can also be drawn to the example of women before they were given the chance to education. Many women come to believe that they are indeed inferior to men intellectually. They have internalizrd society’s values even though these values are untrue.

    • 37 Robox 15 June 2009 at 02:26

      To Z on 14 June 2009 at 02:02

      You said:

      Re: “There’s no logical/practical basis in [excluding religiously motivated opinions from the public sphere.]”

      I’m just going to cut to the chase here by asking you 3 questions, assuming from yours posts that you advocate for religiously motivated opinions in the public sphere as well as assuming that you are really only arguing for this for the issue of gay rights only and no other legally similar issue?

      I will confine myself to the Singapore context.

      1. Which Singaporean LGB person, or which Singapore legislator does not know that there are Christianity and Islam-based objections against same sex attractions and relations? (I exclude trans persons here because most trans people have a heterosexual orientation.)

      I can confidently tell you that the answer is none.

      2. What ‘logical’ or ‘practical’ reason then exists to continue to drum a message that is already well known?

      The only ‘logical’ or ‘practical’ reasons that I can think of is from the standpoint of the ruling party, which as I will explain is a dishonest one.

      Allowing religiously motivated opinions – I note that you did not say, facts or fact-based opinion – to influence public debate is important to a ruling political party that has a large enough faith based constituency, typically occurs when the party fears that not doing so could translate into electoral losses. This is typical in political systems that are strongly two party dominant. Is that the situation in a one party dominant state like Singapore where there is no hope in hell that another political party can win any elections, especially with laws stacked up against them? To ask the same question bluntly: Will the PAP lose an election by decriminalizing gay sex and advancing full equality under the law for LGBTs?

      3. I now ask another question: How many Singaporean LGBTs, Singapore legislators, and Singaporeans opposed to legal equality for LGBTs know the precedent that has already been set for dealing exactly with such a situation as this where a religious based objection is irreconciliable with a fundamental tenet enshrined in the Constitution, which I might remind you, is the supreme law of the land? Even though I’ve raised this point many times before, I’ll tell you the answer to this in another way: the precedent set in such cases mimics official atheism, such as the official atheism that existed in former Communist countries and continues to do so in China today. This is in fact a rewording of YB’s point of excluding religiously motivated opinions from the public sphere and it only applies when religion is irreconciliable with the Constitution.

      I can illustrate with several similar cases:

      a) the practise of satti (widow burning) is irreconciliable with the “right to life” as well as “legal equality” clauses in the Indian Constitution. (The Indian system is similar to Singapore’s, and a little known fact is that many of Singapore’s laws to do with religious sensitivities are modelled after India’s.)

      b) to accomodate polygamy for Muslims – one example of legislation that is modelled after India’s – which if applied across the board is irreconciliable with the “equality of religions” and “legal equality” clauses of the Constitution; Syariah Law that does not prohibit polygamy for Muslims was adopted tp accomodate them.

      c) Christianity and Islam both have injunctions against apostasy; while this is disregarded by Christians in the main, many Islamic countries continue to impose penalties, most notably the death penalty, for apostasy. But this is contary to the “freedom of religion” and in the case of death being imposed, the ‘right to life” clauses in the Constitution. As such, there are no laws against apostasy in Singapore.

      I repeat a question that I’ve asked earlier in this post: How many Singaporean LGBTs, Singapore legislators, and Singaporeans opposed to legal equality for LGBTs KNOW the precedent that has already been set for dealing exactly with such a situation as this where a religious based objection is irreconciliable with a fundamental tenet enshrined in the Constitution, which I might remind you, is the supreme law of the land?

      Given that everyone already knows that there are religious injunctions against same sex attractions and relations, but very few know what I wrote about above, don’t you think that advocating for even more religious input into this debate is unlevelling even further the already unlevel playing field for LGBTs?

      • 38 Z 15 June 2009 at 22:44

        Dear Robox,

        Do not hesitate to correct me if I misunderstand your arguments. Essentially, you are saying that SOME religiously motivated opinions are fundamentally irreconcilable with the Constitution of our land; and that when such situations arise, the clash will always be resolved to the political advantage of the ruling party. For that reason, and because of the injustice you perceive, you are in favour of the compulsory exclusion of religiously motivated opinions from the public square when such a clash is foreseeable.

        If my above understanding is accurate, here’s my reply:

        (1) I have not advocated for *MORE* religious input, as you inaccurately claimed. My stance here, in defending the status quo, has been very consistent and simple: our secular space has room for religiously motivated opinions, as long as these opinions are advocated via the principle of public reason. This view of mine does not ask for ‘more’ or ‘less’ religious voices; it merely responds to the theoretical, absolutist objections raised against the *existence* of religiously motivated opinions in the public square.

        (2) In the context of parliamentary debate, the “logical or practical reason to continue to drum a message that is already well known” (and I interpret your ‘drum a message’ to mean being voiced by a MP/Minister) is simply that the message exists, and is indeed held by a significant percentage of Singaporeans. Once again, I am not making a judgment as to whether any view is right or wrong, good or bad. I am objecting to the unlawful (positively) and unjustified (normatively) proposition that just because a view is ‘already well known’, it should not be voiced.

        (3) I share your skepticism towards the adjudication of controversial issues by the ruling party. Like you, I’m also not convinced that whatever stance taken in Parliament is that which the voting MPs actually believe in, individually or collectively. For the following reasons, however, I disagree with your solution:

        a. The skepticism you carry has the potential to cut both ways. ANY losing side of a public debate can turn around and accuse the government of being vote-hungry. I posit that this is not a sufficient basis at all for silencing the winning side from being heard in the public square.

        b. There is nothing inherently wrong for the ruling party to pander to the wishes of the majority. That is the very essence of democracy, which is why I had pointed out earlier that many of the arguments raised in YB’s article are ‘problems’ of the democratic mechanism itself, and in no way pertain only to religiously motivated opinions. This danger faced by minority groups in such a system is real, and is sought to be addressed by the principle of constitutionalism, which you had rightly raised and I will address below.

        (4) I’m not sure what to make of your claim that religion is ‘irreconcilable’ to our Constitution; for the very reason, as your recognize, that freedom of religion is expressly guaranteed in our Constitution. Article 15 specifically provides that “every person has the right to profess and practise his religion”, and if this provision is to be interpreted generously, as the spirit of constitutionalism demands, then it is the calling for religiously motivated opinions to be excluded from being heard that is categorically unconstitutional. I readily admit however, that there must be limits to ‘religious freedom’, which is provided for under Art 15(4). Unless you can frame an argument as to how allowing the religious their right of expression is ‘contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality’, your constitutional objection fails.

        (5) What is this ‘precedent’ that you mention? Your 3 examples have differing results – 2 of them deny the full extent of rights which some religious people might have desired; and 1 has managed to accommodate the religious. I fail to identify any precedence – can you elaborate?

        (6) May I know which ‘fundamental tenet’ (i.e. which constitutional provision exactly) has being violated wrt the treatment of LGBTs in Singapore? If there is indeed one, you must be aware that the place to raise a constitutional argument is the courts. And even then, constitutional judgments apply to the decisions made by Parliament, they hardly or rarely have any jurisdiction over what views can/should be raised in Parliament.

      • 39 Robox 17 June 2009 at 12:36

        To Z on 15 June 2009 at 22:44:

        1) Re: “Essentially, you are saying that SOME religiously motivated opinions are fundamentally irreconcilable with the Constitution of our land; and that when such situations arise, the clash will always be resolved to the political advantage of the ruling party.”

        No. I am saying that when those religiously motivated opinions are fundamentally irreconciliable with the Constitution, then the Constitution overrules all else because of Article 4 of the Constitution that guarantees it:

        [Begin]

        Supremacy of Constitution
        4. This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Singapore and any law enacted by the Legislature after the commencement of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

        [End]

        2) Your point in #1 has already been agreed upon, but it is still subject to my point above.

        3) By “drum a message” I meant, to repeat it ad nauseum. Don’t you think that we understand the message “Gay is wrong” even if there are a thousand variations of it?

        4) Re: “ANY losing side of a public debate can turn around and accuse the government of being vote-hungry.”

        No. The winning side is the one with the law on its side. Period.

        5) Re: “There is nothing inherently wrong for the ruling party to pander to the wishes of the majority. That is the very essence of democracy…”

        That’s nonsense. If what you are really falling back on is the “majority wins’ argument, the you should know this: “majority wins” is used in the first-past-the-post system in which the party that wins the majority vote gets to form the government. But after the government is formed, all the laws of the land continue to apply equally to all groups; the relative sizes of the groups do not matter. The “majority wins’ argument is a shabby excuse to justify the tyranny of the majority.

        6) Re: “Your 3 examples have differing results – 2 of them deny the full extent of rights which some religious people might have desired; and 1 has managed to accommodate the religious. I fail to identify any precedence – can you elaborate?”

        The common thread that I had tried to elucidate here is that in the event of a clash between a religious practise/tenet and the Constitution, the Constitution is ALWAYS upheld, accomodations for religion – usually to alleviate a security risk – notwithstanding.

        There are examples of this even with non-relgious clashes with the Constitution.

        7) Re: “May I know which ‘fundamental tenet’ (i.e. which constitutional provision exactly) has being violated wrt the treatment of LGBTs in Singapore?”

        [Begin]

        Equal protection
        12. —(1) All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

        [End]

        8) Re: “If there is indeed one, you must be aware that the place to raise a constitutional argument is the courts.”

        You must be a newcomer to my country. We don’t have real courts in my country; we only have kangaroo courts.

      • 40 Z 17 June 2009 at 21:49

        Robox,

        Your whole argument is based on the premise that the laws of our land contravene Art 12 wrt the treatment of LGBTs. Before I explain why this premise is questionable, I’d like to highlight that this is a completely different issue altogether; it has nothing to do with the original one – whether religiously motivated opinions should be allowed in the public square. Again I repeat that the unconstitutionality of laws is legally tackled by reversing the impugned act of Parliament, not by restricting what can be heard in Parliament or not. You’ve conveniently ignored my point that the restrictions you (and YB) are calling for is unconstitutional – Art 15(1), so if I must expressly spell it out: It strikes me as ironic that the solution to an alleged infringement of the Constitution is to infringe it further.

        Also, I think you have unfairly caricaturized your opponents. There were/are legitimate concerns and substantial arguments that the pro-377A camp raised, which while you can disagree with (and I personally disagree with many), deserve better than to be simplistically lumped together and labelled as ‘gay is wrong’ rhetoric. Having read what you have written, any neutral observer would be entitled to wonder whether your call/support for the religious to be silenced is truly because what they say is so heinous, or because you just do not like what they have to say. It is remarkable that you’re attempting to justify the silencing of views just because they’re repetitive. Imagine if NMP Siew attempts to advocate for gay-rights (in another ‘variation’) again in Parliament; and the Speaker tells him to shut up because he is ‘drumming the same message’, what would your reaction be? I would think it is an infringement of Art 14 – The Freedom of Speech.

        On Article 12, I wonder if the legal complexity of this provision is sufficiently appreciated. It is simply NOT the case that any ‘group’ who feels less advantaged/more disadvantaged by a law can argue that it is therefore unconstitutional. No one puts it better than Lord Diplock in Ong Ah Chuan v PP (one of the leading cases wrt Art 12), so I’ll quote him substantially:

        “Art 12(1)…does not forbid discrimination in punitive treatment between one class of individuals and another class in relation to which there is some difference in the circumstances of the offence that has been committed… The questions whether the dissimilarity in circumstances justifies any differentiation in the punishment is…a question of social policy which under the constitution, based on the separation of powers, is the *FUNCTION OF THE LEGISLATURE* to decide. Provided that the factor the legislature adopts as constituting the dissimilarity in circumstances is not purely arbitrary but bears a reasonable relation to the social object of the law, there is no inconsistency with art 12(1).”

        So, no, you can’t just *state* Art 12 to argue that there is unconstitutional inequality. The burden is on you (or any aggrieved party) to put forth the case that the classification in the impugned law has no intelligible differentia OR the basis of classification has NO rational nexus to the object of the law. This is what lawyers call the ‘rational nexus’ test which the courts use to decide whether Art 12 has indeed been infringed. It is a difficult test to meet because the Singapore Court of Appeal has pronounced that as long as the impugned law has ‘gone some way’ in meeting the legislative objective, there would be sufficient nexus. I am not sure which law you have in mind, but I can tell you that s 377A passes the rational nexus test, and your Art 12 argument will most probably fail.

        If you ask me personally, I dislike the rational nexus test. However, that does not change the fact that (1) In order to prevent Art 12 from being abused by any ‘group’, inequality must be legally proved, not casually asserted; (2) You have not shown how Art 12 has been infringed; (3) If 1 and 2 remain true, then your premise – that the treatment of LGBTs in Singapore infringe Art 12 – collapses, and your whole argument vanishes in a puff of logic. But of course, you can always sing to the ‘Kangaroo Court’ tune – it’s the easiest way out even amongst the legally-trained.

      • 41 Robox 17 June 2009 at 23:31

        To Z on 17 June 2009 at 21:49:

        Re: “Your whole argument is based on the premise that the laws of our land contravene Art 12 wrt the treatment of LGBTs.”

        Yes.

      • 42 Robox 18 June 2009 at 00:47

        I experienced a glitch in my computer while sending my comment, so I don’t know if the previous post did go through. But in case it didn’t, I’m re-posting it.

        To

        Re: “No one puts it better than Lord Diplock in Ong Ah Chuan v PP (one of the leading cases wrt Art 12), so I’ll quote him substantially:”

        Oh really? I’ll show you someone who DID put it better, with special attention to the final statement in #62.

        http://www.singaporelaw.sg/rss/judg/46431.html

        62 Firstly, the appellant submitted that Ong Ah Chuan was either wrongly decided at the time, or alternatively, that the Privy Council would have decided the case differently today. The appellant cited a good number of very recent Privy Council decisions in support of the latter contention. They are: (a) Watson v The Queen ([59] supra); (b) Boyce v The Queen [2004] UKPC 32; (c) Matthew v The State [2004] UKPC 33; and (d) Reyes v The Queen [2002] 2 AC 235. The first three decisions were rendered on 7 July 2004 and only Reyes v The Queen was before the trial judge when he gave judgment in the High Court on 20 March 2004. Broadly, the significance of the first three decisions is in the Privy Council’s reconsideration of Ong Ah Chuan, and its opinion that Ong Ah Chuan is now no longer good law.

        While the appellant cited British cases, and after the abolishment by Singapore of the Privy Council as the final court of appeal, Singapore courts continue to take legal precedent from the UK as was revealed in a case involving the SDP just earlier this year; the Privy Council overruling of Lord Diplock stands.

        Note to others: Both the cases against Ong Ah Chuan and Nguyen Tuong Van were of drug trafficking with mandatory death penalty; Z obviously is of the belief that the crime of drug trafficking is of the same severity as the ‘crime’ of consensual same sex sexual activity – a crime with no victims – and therefore merits the same legal arguments.

        And back to you, Z:

        Re: “It is a difficult test to meet because the Singapore Court of Appeal has pronounced that as long as the impugned law has ‘gone some way’ in meeting the legislative objective, there would be sufficient nexus.”

        And what would that ‘legislative objective’ be given you “can tell you that s 377A passes the rational nexus test, and [my] Art 12 argument will most probably fail.”

        (You might also want to check on why this ‘rational’ nexus test failed in another Westminster jurisdiction, Canada.)

        Re: “In order to prevent Art 12 from being abused by any ‘group’, inequality must be legally proved, not casually asserted.”

        Do you mean as casually asserted as when then NMP Simon Tay said, correctly, that Parliament’s stand of discriminating against Singaporeans overseas by not giving them the right to vote was a contavention of Article 12?

        By the way, Parliament capitulated to Tay’s argument.

      • 43 Z 19 June 2009 at 00:26

        Robox,

        I’m really indulging you here because you’re going on and on about this legal issue without addressing my foremost counter-argument that the constitutionality of 377A has nothing to do with whether religious people who support 377A should have a right to be heard. If the latter is not the position you’re defending it puzzles me as to the purpose of your intervention. I indulge you because I’m academically inclined to disagree with your stating of your belief of the unconstitutionality of 377A as if it were a clear, positive legal fact. It is not – 377A has been/can be argued to have passed the rational nexus test (as it is understood in Singapore) because all that is required is for the classification to ‘go some way’ towards achieving the legislative purpose. So, IF…

        Legislative purpose = Prevention of the undesirable transmission of sexual diseases through unnatural sex;

        Classification = Male persons who commit acts of indecency with another male purpose;

        Is the classification perfect? No. But does it ‘go some way’ towards achieving the legislative purpose? Certainly.

        If you’re unhappy with this result it is because Art 12(1) guarantees only formal equality and not substantive equality. Is this approach adopted by the courts intellectually defensible, if not, appreciable? Reluctantly, I say yes, because the fear of judicial activism, the flip-side of judicial deferrence, is a real and considerable one. I have personally argued against the ‘rational nexus’ test, but until I am able to suggest a better one, and have given full consideration to its possible ramifications (i.e. would it lead to judges who are not democratically elected usurping the role of Parliament?), I make it a point not to pick laws I do not like and claim them unconstitutional via Art 12(1) without having properly laid out my case.

        As far as I’m aware, the path to gay equality in Canada came about not by arguing that there is no rational nexus, but by the judicial expansion of the meaning of ‘groups’ which are entitled to the express non-discrimination provision (similar to our Art 12(2)) in which the rational nexus test does not apply.

        Additionally, I couldn’t help but point out these errors of yours:

        “Oh really? I’ll show you someone who DID put it better, with special attention to the final statement in #62”

        >> You should really have read on till paragraphs 82 to 88. The overruling of Ong Ah Chuan in recent Privy Council cases pertains to the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty specifically, not to Lord Diplock’s general approach to Art 12(1) jurisprudence.

        “Both the cases against Ong Ah Chuan and Nguyen Tuong Van were of drug trafficking with mandatory death penalty; Z obviously is of the belief that the crime of drug trafficking is of the same severity as the ‘crime’ of consensual same sex sexual activity – a crime with no victims – and therefore merits the same legal arguments”

        >> Considering how lucid you write (and I assume, think), this is most unbecoming. Never mind that you’re accusing me of something absolutely untrue; or the fact that it was YOU who introduced Nguyen, and if your logic applies then you are equally guilty of what you’re accusing me of. But the cardinal sin you’ve committed is to make the atrocious assumption that similar legal tests can only be applied to cases involving similar legal guilt. ONE scenario will suffice to highlight the resultant absurdity of such an assumption:

        Judge to DPP: You have not proven to me beyond reasonable doubt that Mr X committed the crime of theft.

        DPP: What! Why do you require me to prove it beyond reasonable doubt? Isn’t that the same standard required before the crime of murder can be found? Then you’re “obviously of the belief that the crime of murder is of the same severity as the crime of theft”.

        Lastly,

        “Do you mean as casually asserted as when then NMP Simon Tay said, correctly, that Parliament’s stand of discriminating against Singaporeans overseas by not giving them the right to vote was a contavention of Article 12?”

        Yes. If there had been disagreement in Parliament, NMP Simon Tay could have been rightfully called to run through the legal tests required to show that Art 12 (1) has been infringed. The point I was making is that Art 12(1) can be easily abused by any ‘group’, and thus the legal technicalities involved cannot be bypassed in the event of controversy. There is a difference between forsaking legal technicalities to prove a point everyone is convinced of, and forsaking them when there is clear disagreement present.

      • 44 Robox 19 June 2009 at 00:57

        Sorry, in my post above immediately before this one, the following statement:

        “You might also want to check on why this ‘rational’ nexus test failed in another Westminster jurisdiction, Canada.”

        Shoul read:

        “You might also want to check on why this ‘rational’ nexus test DID NOT FAIL in another Westminster jurisdiction, Canada.”

        For all who remain interested, another worthy Commonwealth jurisdiction to watch is India where a constituional challenge against S 377 and 377a has been submitted to the Delhi Supreme Court.

      • 45 Robox 19 June 2009 at 23:10

        To Z on 19 June 2009 at 00:26:

        Re: “I’m really indulging you here because you’re going on and on about this legal issue without addressing my foremost counter-argument that the constitutionality of 377A has nothing to do with whether religious people who support 377A should have a right to be heard.”

        Thank you for your kind condescension in ‘indulging’ me; it’s a typical coverup mechanism for the embarassment of having inconsistencies caught out.

        I have not avoided the argument about “whether religious people who support 377A should have a right to be heard”; I have, but you are not reading/listening.

        Go back and read what I wrote about it beginning with my very first post in this thread. Or you could just listen now: the freedom of speech for religious people who heed the ephemeral ‘goodness’ of their religion by supporting the brutalization of one class of their fellow citizens HAS ALREADY BEEN EXERCISED.

        I further continued by asking what practical purpose – to use the words of your reversal tactic – can be served by:

        1. drumming countless variants of the SAME argument ad nauseum; and,

        2. doing so to a population that is ALREADY aware of their religious convictions, no matter how fraudulently argued.

        Have I answered the question or are you now going to misinterpret this strategically as a strictly ‘no voice for the wolves masked as good, religious people’ stand?

        Re: “You should really have read on till paragraphs 82 to 88. The overruling of Ong Ah Chuan in recent Privy Council cases pertains to the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty specifically, not to Lord Diplock’s general approach to Art 12(1) jurisprudence.”

        Okay, so now you ACCEPT that the ruling in Ong Ah Chuam vs PP is null and void. That’s a dramatic turnaround from your initial arrogant stand in which ‘[no] one puts it better than Lord Diplock in Ong Ah Chuan v PP (one of the leading cases wrt Art 12), so I’ll quote him substantially’.

        Which you proceded to. Except you were making refernce to an UNLIKE case with UNLIKE circumstances. I’ll have you know that the phrase ‘on a case to case basis’ has its origins in jurisprudence, the significance of which is that like rulings on cases:

        1. are either decided on its own merits; and/or,

        2. take precedent from cases of LIKE CIRCUMSTANCES, and YOU may wish to know that there has been NO OTHER LIKE CASES in Singapore’s legal history; LGBTs are starting out on a fresh slate should this go to kangaroo court that is.

        It is precisely why I took the pains to point out to the readers here that you cited a case of drug trafficking for which the death penalty is mandatory. YES, I AND NOT YOU did that to imply exactly what you are now claiming as YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.

        Next,

        Re: “The point I was making is that Art 12(1) can be easily abused by any ‘group’, and thus the legal technicalities involved cannot be bypassed in the event of controversy.”

        It’s for THE COURT to decide if there is an abuse of Article 12 and its provisions should LGBT Singaporeans decide to take it to the kangaroo courts that are clearly not free of the Executive interference. It’s not for YOU to prejudge the case; instead you should just carry on cowering in your fear that this is as bona fide a case as any.

        Re: “Legislative purpose = Prevention of the undesirable transmission of sexual diseases through unnatural sex.”

        You mean HIV infection, don’t you?

        Was that ORIGINAL legislative purpose in 1867 when 377 and 377a were enacted when HIV/AIDS was unheard of?

        That’s it for me. I don’t wish to dignify any more of your drivel and the gross dishonesty that is typical of you Christians.

        Yes, I DO know you are a Christian, and not only from your tack of shifting the goal post whenever you see that I can score goal. And for that reason alone I’m washing my hands off toxic contaminants like you, lion’s food!

      • 46 Z 20 June 2009 at 21:24

        Robox,

        I will not give you the pleasure of seeing me reduce to the level of barbarism you’ve so disappointingly shown.🙂

        The “practical purpose” point you’re making is not an answer at all to the question of whether religiously motivated opinions should continue to be allowed in the public square. Firstly, your point cuts both ways (any way, really) – a religious person can also accuse gay-rights activists of ‘drumming the same argument’ and ‘doing so to a population already aware of your convictions’. Is that sufficient basis to silence people in the public square? Certainly not. Secondly, the practical purpose HAS in fact been served by halting the advances of the gay-rights movement. If you disagree with/don’t like the ‘purpose’ it only shows how subjective this word means to disagreeing parties; and therefore why it isn’t a good objective measure at all in deciding what opinions should be allowed.

        On the point of free speech, we all acknowledge that the religious freedom of expression HAS been exercised in Singapore. No one is denying that. What Thio/YB has provoked is the issue of whether religiously motivated opinions should continue to be allowed; and by saying “no”, you have to first deal with the problem of Art 14 and Art 15 as I raised earlier, which you have not, and the fact that this freedom ‘has already been exercised’ is not a counter-argument at all. Go think about it.

        On Ong Ah Chuan, nope, I did not accept that its ruling is ‘null and void’. I have been very clear on this – the overruling of this case in the PC applies only to the mandatory death penalty in PARTICULAR, and therefore, the quote by Lord Diplock is still very relevant guiding judges as to how to resolve an Art 12(1) case.

        On the relevance of Ong Ah Chuan, despite it being a drug-trafficking case, you have still not appreciated the fact that the rational nexus test is one that is applicable to ALL laws. The essence of the test is formal in nature. Whether the classification goes some way to serve the legislative purpose is a test that can be applied to laws pertaining to drug-trafficking (Ong Ah Chuan v PP), laws pertaining to corruption (Taw Cheng Kong v PP), laws pertaining to criminal procedure (Datuk Haji v PP), laws pertaining to miscellaneous offences (Ng Chye Huay v PP), laws pertianing to acquisition of land (Eng Foong Ho v AG). ALL these cases (and even Nguyen Tuong Van actually) adopted the rational nexus test as laid down by Lord Diplock in Ong Ah Chuan – there was sufficient “like circumstances” for the very reason that Art 12(1) was pleaded. Does that mean the judges in all these cases believed that the crimes before them were as serious as drug-trafficking? Did they commit the error of treating unlike circumstances alike? In Robox-land Jurisprudence, maybe.

        On 377A, please enlighten me to the rule that legislative purposes CANNOT evolve and change. Did you even follow the 377A debate, or did you only read the speeches of those MPs whose conclusion paralleled yours?🙂

        So eventually, despite your bad temper, you have not provided a sufficient reason as to why religiously motivated opinions should be EXCLUDED from the public square, and you’ve clearly not appreciated the fact that to exclude the views from a constitutionally protected category (religion), the burden is on you to put forth a logically overwhelming case as to why this is in fact necessary. Neither have you succeeded (or attempted, really) to prove the unconstitutionality of 377A, let alone other laws that affect LGBTs. But thanks for the whine, and the hilarious psychic ability of yours to presume my religious affiliation.🙂

        Love from the Lion’s Den,
        Z

  10. 47 Russel 6 June 2009 at 15:02

    There are many terminologies used by the anti-gay activists to arouse the emotions of people in order to influence their opinions.
    The first term is leading an alternative lifestyle. When this term is being used, it alienates the reader from emphatising with this group of people because they are being treated as a completely alien people. The fact is only one aspect of their lifestyle is different from the mainstream society. All the other important aspects are the same. The reality is that gay people also go to schools. They also enjoy shopping, a favourite past time foe Singaporeans. They also have to work hard to earn a living. And they are also as hardworking and as civic-minded as the rest of Singaporeans.
    The second term, they like to use is that gay people have no family values. This again alienates the average reader from having empathy with the gay person because the family unit is very dear to the heart of Singaporeans. The reality is that gay people are also born into families where they have parents who love them, siblings who love them and they also love their parents and siblings. If they define having family values as having a man-woman sort of marriage relationship, are they not also caricaturing straights who choose to remain single as not having family values.

  11. 48 Anonymous 6 June 2009 at 19:39

    I was very surprised to read that this woman was nominated with a view to representing the educational sphere. All I’ve heard about is religion, and what has the appearance of a personal vendetta against gay people.

    She was remarkably quiet during the AWARE saga. Has she been nominated for another term?

  12. 49 Solo Bear 7 June 2009 at 09:01

    Yawning Bread

    Hi, I refer to Vic’s post to you regarding Folsom Street and your subsequent reply. Part of your reply was, “If anyone is going to argue that full rights for gay people must necessarily lead to public events like the Folsom Street fair, then I’d say it is a slippery-slope scare tactic. I would ask why full rights for heterosexual people does not always lead to nudist beaches, let alone nudist scenes down Orchard Road..”

    But that is EXACTLY what the majority straight society is worried about. Would the laxing of rules lead to such an event? Gays keep saying they should have equal rights and be allowed to have space. As far as the majority of non-gays is concerned, there is no discrimination and gays are allowed their private space.

    So exactly what are gays pushing for? Isn’t there an implied intention they want MORE? And what is that “more” they want? Doesn’t the likes of Folsom Street come to mind?

    Alex, I hope you answer that question. If you really want to advance gay issues in Singapore you MUST allay the fears of the majority that you won’t go down the slippery slope of the likes of Folsom Street.

    So, what is your stand on the likes of Folsom Street? Do you support it, are against it, or in between? Since you are the only gay who appears to be willing to talk (and reason), I feel that your views are representative of the gay community.

    PS – Please note that to me (and many other straights) this issue of going down the slippery slope towards a full gay society (like Folsom Street) is real. I really hope you would publish this post so that it can be discussed in your site, where you have control what is being posted.

    Please also note that if you choose not to publish it, I will respect your right. However, since this issue is important to the majority of the straight community, I would divert this topic to my sight, citing Vic’s post and your reply and hope other gays would comment.

    I hope you understand my stance. Just as gay issues is important to you, keeping a moral society and the prevention of “immorals” of Folsom Street is also important to me.

    • 50 Accursed Children of Canaan 7 June 2009 at 23:02

      “I hope you understand my stance. Just as gay issues is important to you, keeping a moral society and the prevention of “immorals” of Folsom Street is also important to me.”

      Only in Singappore…

      What do you call the selective application of a logical fallacy?

      Let’s see

      1) Legalization of heterosexual anal and oral sex
      2) Legality of prostitution
      3) Legality of bride sale

      don’t lead to widespread concerns over them leading to Folsom Street but

      a) Legalization of homosexual anal and oral sex
      b) Gay marriage

      do.

      2 and 3 legalize forms of exploitation and 3 is an assault on human dignity. a and b are simply about treating everyone fairly.

      I leave it to others to judge the sort of people who hold this “moral” position.

    • 51 yawningbread 8 June 2009 at 01:12

      To Solobear –

      Your post is essentially one of reiteration and insistence. I said earlier that public nudity and exhibitionism is a separate issue from equality for LGBTs.

      And you say, “But that is EXACTLY what the majority straight society is worried about” insisting that I should prove that this fear is unfounded. If they are not related, no proof one way or the other is possible. You might as well ask people to prove that equal rights for heteorsexuals will not make trees stunted… please prove so we can sleep easy at night, because that is exactly what people are worried about.

      The constant asking for proof needs also to be addressed. You are taking the view that people must prove themselves to be deserving of equal rights. You are seriously mistaken.

      If we want to imprison anyone, the burden of proof lies on the person who accuses another of guilt. Likewise, if anyone wants to deny another group their equal rights, the burden of proof lies with the former, not the target group.

      So the burden of proof lies with you. It’s for you to show why gay people shouldn’t have equal rights, not for gay people to prove (or assure, or whatever word you use) that they deserve so.

      • 52 Anonymous Annie 8 June 2009 at 02:57

        I really did not want to dignify Solo Bear’s drivel with a reply, especially since you have written a very good post to him already. But I will do so anyway, as an ex-Singaporean who now lives in Canada – you probably already know that we have full equality for LGBTs here.

        What many of us have LGBTs here have observed is that in the era of equality that we lve in here, LGBT life particularly as it is evidenced in the gay villages, have become the utterly boring places that they never used to be and it’s all been attributed to equal rights.

        People are getting married and moving to the suburbs further afield from the downtown gay villages. Even those who are not married do the same since the social environment in the suburbs is no longer as hostle to LGBTs living their lives as openly LGBT people. This has had an inpact on the number of activities that can be organized serve as draw to the gay villages. It’s become more conservative if you will. The closest thing that we have here to Folsom doesn’t even attract many people – I’ve never been to it myself – though Pride continues to do so.

        I agree with your anonymous contributor below that “…the average gay Singaporean is more conservative than the average gay San Franciscan.”. Indeed the character of gay communities everywhere takes on the character of the larger cultural context it operates within.

        The difference between between Sydney’s and Melbourne’s gay villages are instructive though we can think of any number of other examples.

        However, I would stick to my guns the way you did and insist that *fear* is not evidence of *fact*, and that the burden of proof that Singaporean LGBTs are planning for a Singaporean Folsom correctly lies with people with like Solo Bear; he’s the accuser after all.

        Or they could just cross the Folsom brdge when they come to it

  13. 53 Jack Rabbit 7 June 2009 at 15:34

    So much talk about Morality? Nothing more then attempt to impost one morality standard to another! Maybe one should partition Singapore government to close down all the red light district around Singapore?

    Straight is just as sex craze as gay. Otherwise, why are all the Singapore old man got hedge with all the Pei-Do Ma-Ma? How about those go over to Bintan looking for “Virgin”?

    So PLEASE! Keep your morality talk to yourself! It’s a “REAL WORLD”! Certainly not according to Bible! Like it or not, the world is moving forward, not matter you like it or not! Conflict is also unavoidable!

    Sex – legal or illegal, will go on! It’s just part and parcel of social structure, Biblical or not!

  14. 54 Anonymous 7 June 2009 at 19:13

    This discussion seems to have diverted considerably from the topic of the article, but I’ll briefly touch on the points raised by solobear, though they have already been answered in full Alex Au:

    I’m gay and I never heard of this fair in San Francisco till these posts. What is acceptable in public in SF, gay or straight, is different from other American cities or European or Asian cities. Why choose SF as an example? An example closer to home might be Hong Kong or Taipai. I believe the average gay Singaporean is more conservative than the average gay San Franciscan.

    Furthermore, Singapore is highly likely to allow fetish parades generally, gay or straight, so fears along these lines are clearly misplaced. If it was going to happen we would perhaps have already seen straight versions, like the outrageous (or fun, depending on your point of view) straight carnivals in New Orleans or Rio.

    I believe the Pink Dot was more an example of the sort of thing that Singapore can produce: a friendly, happy gathering that all can attend with their families.

    But back to topic: can anyone say if this woman has strayed too far from her supposed brief of being representative of the educational community? Is she using her position to pursue a vendetta against gay people? And is she being re-nominated?

    • 55 Daughter of Jephthah (and we thought Shylock was bad) 8 June 2009 at 12:54

      “But back to topic: can anyone say if this woman has strayed too far from her supposed brief of being representative of the educational community? Is she using her position to pursue a vendetta against gay people? And is she being re-nominated?”

      Let’s just say she changed her constituency. “Beep beep beep” need representation too.

  15. 56 Anonymous 8 June 2009 at 07:36

    Kindly forgive the following typing errors in my above post:

    “furthermore, Singapore is highly likely to allow…”, should read “unlikely to allow…”

    “Taipai” should read “Taipei”.

  16. 57 Solo Bear 8 June 2009 at 10:51

    Yawning Bread and others,

    You are asking for proof. That is not the point. The point is that for so long as gays do not assure the majority that they are not heading towards Folsom Street, the fear will always be there.

    As it is, when S377A was asked to be repealed, one of the questions was, what next? After observing how vehement the gay community was, there was fear amongst many that gays are pushing their agenda too far. Whether gays are really pushing too far is besides the point. The point is that the perception is already there.

    Next, comes Aware and its CSE. This time, the clash was even more fiery. Once again, the majority straight society saw how vehement the gay community is.

    Now if you still want to deny that there is a fear or there is a gay agenda, then that is your choice. I am telling you that this fear exists, and if it is not addressed, you can expect very, very strong resistance against any gay agenda in future.

    The point is not whether I have proof. The point is that if this fear is not addressed, you will always face opposition to any gay agenda.

    So it is either you address that fear, or you just have to face a big brick wall each time you try to advance gay issues. That is the crux of my point I am putting up. Proof or no proof is not a consideration.

    • 58 yawningbread 8 June 2009 at 15:49

      Solobear said: “so long as gays do not assure the majority…. the fear will always be there.”

      Rubbish. Nobody knows about Folsom Street. The fear is not there, whether of Folsom Street or public nudity generally. It is you and people like you who are trying to drum up the false association in order to bolster your slippery slope argument.

    • 59 Limbo for Children 8 June 2009 at 15:59

      This class of argument is so kooky (this is the kinder adjective) it doesn’t even make it as a fallacy.

    • 60 jem 9 June 2009 at 10:01

      “You are asking for proof. That is not the point.”

      “The point is not whether I have proof”

      “Proof or no proof is not a consideration.”

      Fantastic.

      • 61 Mark 16:9–20 9 June 2009 at 11:46

        I hope jem’s wicked😉 comeback persuades YB to let Solo Bear continue as long as he wants. Sort of like a mini-TSM – convinces the fence-sitters on which side the people who can think straight (pun intended) are.

      • 62 Mark 16:9–20 9 June 2009 at 11:51

        Not often that you can rebut someone just by quoting him😉
        YB you really got to keep this Solo Bear guy commenting on your blog for as long as possible.

  17. 63 Solo Bear 8 June 2009 at 16:17

    Yawning Bread
    >> Rubbish. Nobody knows about Folsom Street. The fear is not there, whether of Folsom Street or public nudity generally. It is you and people like you who are trying to drum up the association in order to bolster your slippery slope argument.
    >>

    All right, not everyone knows about Folsom Street. But there is a general fear amongst parents especially, that we are going down the slippery slope of gay agenda. After all, there were 7000+ signatories that was petitioned to MOE to look at AWARE’s CSE. Isn’t that an indication that the fear is real?

    Are you not going to address that fear? Or are you going to bash through like what you did for S377A and AWARE’s EGM, then when you hit a brick wall, you complain that the fundamentalists are at it?

    Isn’t it better to look at the REAL stumbling block to your intended gay advancement in society – ie fear of gay agenda amongst parents and others – rather than denying it is there and hope that you could wish it away?

    PS – Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that you allow this discussion. Other than your site, all gay and pro-gay sites don’t even allow discussion when they are stuck. By doing that, they only harden non-gays stance against gays, no?

    • 64 Redactor 8 June 2009 at 23:04

      Non-gay stance against gays? What does “non-gay” mean in your unique vocabulary.

      I hope YB continues to allow this guy’s comments. Shows up the intellectual level of the other side…

    • 65 Elohist 8 June 2009 at 23:10

      What exactly is a “stance against gays”?

    • 66 Robox 9 June 2009 at 00:25

      To Solo Bear:

      Re: “The point is that if this fear is not addressed, you will always face opposition to any gay agenda.”

      I tell you what: let’s make a deal.

      YOU DO THE GROUNDWORK for that addressing of fear.

      YOU go into the minds of each and every single member of this claim of society’s majority, rearrange their mental wiring so that they can be appealed to LEGALITIES, REASON, EVIDENCE, LOGICAL ARGUMENTATION, RATIONALITY, FACT, etc.

      I don’t know about Alex, but I will be happy to address this group of people for whom irrationality has thus far been their only defining trait.

    • 67 YCK 9 June 2009 at 00:31

      “After all, there were 7000+ signatories that was petitioned to MOE to look at AWARE’s CSE. Isn’t that an indication that the fear is real?”

      How do you know that that is representative of Singapore?

    • 68 Deuteronomist 9 June 2009 at 00:36

      Which part of the “gay agenda” do you fear?

      A) Repeal of 377A

      B) Gay marriage

      C) Eventually turning everyone gay. Or at least convert as many as possible.

      D) Including penguins.

    • 69 Young-Earth Relativistic Cosmologist 9 June 2009 at 00:55

      This guy’s argument is basically:

      I am afraid! You have to make me unafraid before I condescend to bestow equality upon you. If not, too bad – shut up and sit down.

      You can’t persuade people who reason like this. But you want to let him continue here because many young people read this blog. He helps😉

    • 70 Memory of George Carlin 9 June 2009 at 21:44

      “Are you not going to address that fear?”

      Nothing **rational argument** can do anything about. That’s what **therapy** is for.

  18. 71 Robox 8 June 2009 at 23:07

    To Solo Bear:

    Re: “Now if you still want to deny that there is a fear or there is a gay agenda, then that is your choice.”

    If you haven’t been reading this blog with your eyes wide shut, you would have noticed that there IS indeed a gay agenda; it has been openly stated a billion times now, yet you and others like you continue to insinuate that that agenda is a hidden one.

    Let me re-state that Gay Agenda: it’s full equality under the law as well as working towards social rights.

    Now was that too difficult for you to have not been able to decipher it on your own?

  19. 72 Jahwist 8 June 2009 at 23:20

    “By doing that, they only harden non-gays stance against gays, no?”

    Let’s see if there is any concrete substance to your special worldview.
    Take Dick Cheney (I am assuming you read newspapers and know who he is). Is he non-gay, gay or something else? If something else, what is it? If non-gay does he have a stance against gays? I will assume you know he is not gay😉

  20. 73 yawningbread 9 June 2009 at 00:12

    I suspect Jahwist picked Cheney as example for a particular reason, but I think it would help readers if I explained the point better, rather than leave it unsaid.

    Dick Cheney, former Vice President of the US, is most unlikely to be gay (or else he would never have been picked to be the Republican Vice President). So in that sense he is a “non-gay” using solobear’s very unconventional language.

    But he supports full equality for gay people, including marriage.

    The article Cheney backs gay marriage, calls it a state issue dated 2 June 2009, reports him saying:

    “I think, you know, freedom means freedom for everyone,” Cheney said in a speech at the National Press Club. “I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish.”

    So is that not a “non-gay stance”?

  21. 74 Solo Bear 9 June 2009 at 00:35

    To everyone,

    I am talking from the Singapore context. Let me put it simply in point form.

    1. There is a concern among non-gays in Singapore, especially parents, that gays in Singapore will not stop at asking for the repealing of S377A.

    2. In the eyes of parents, if the AWARE saga is anything to go by, gays are boorish, uncouth and won’t reason. At the same time, Dana is unrepentant that the CSE has infringed into parents’ rights. To parents, this is an indication that the gay pride will still try to force their agenda upon their children.

    3. Now what are gays going to do to repair the image it has imprinted on parents?

    4. No use being defensive, saying that parents teach their children to be homophobic. That won’t soothe parents’ fears.

    5. No use attacking Christians, because from parents’ viewpoint, that is a non-issue.

    6. No use attacking me personally, that won’t allay parents’ fears too.

    So? Is the gay community going to reach out to these parents to allay their fear? Or do you still feel you are on high moral ground and you care no hoot what parents feel?

    That is the issue parents are concerned about.

    You can drop the Cheney stuff. He’s just a dick.

    • 75 Limbo for Children 9 June 2009 at 09:33

      “You can drop the Cheney stuff. He’s just a dick.”

      Thank you for letting readers know what in your intellectual universe constitutes a rebuttal.

    • 76 Limbo for Children 9 June 2009 at 09:49

      “6. No use attacking me personally, that won’t allay parents’ fears too.”

      I am a parent. The statutory recognition of gay marriage in many communities would not have been possible without the majority of parents consenting.

      So logically the label you apply to the people you seem to claim to represent should not be “parents”. It should be qualified by an adjective. Like in the US during the civil rights movement there were parents who opposed equality for blacks. You can’t say “parents oppose equal rights for blacks”. You have to qualify with an adjective.

      I leave it to the fair-mindedness readers if in these 2 cases we can use the same adjective.

    • 77 Mark 16:9–20 9 June 2009 at 12:12

      Are you claiming

      1) All Singaporean parents have this fear

      or

      2) A majority of Singaporean parents have this fear

      or

      3) Some Singaporean parents have this fear but you have no idea if they form the majority.

      In any case, why does your argument not work for inter-racial friendships leading to inter-racial marriage (which we know is opposed by at least some Singaporean parents)?

      Better, why does it not work for any kind of prejudice.

      Or is examining the form of an argument and testing it against other contexts is beyond your comfort zone (“comfort zone” is the politer version of what I wanted to say.).

  22. 78 Robox 9 June 2009 at 05:01

    Solo Bear, has anyone ever told you that you are a high maintenance individual?

  23. 79 Robox 9 June 2009 at 05:04

    And another thing.

    Re: “You can drop the Cheney stuff.”

    And you can drop the concerned parent ruse; NO heterosexual parent’s rights, either as heterosexuals or as parents, are being denied in the advancement of gay rights.

    You can drop the pretense of a zero-sum game.

  24. 80 Solo Bear 9 June 2009 at 07:35

    Alex, is there a bug in your website? I am getting replies in my email to this thread but I do not see them in your site. I have about 3 or 4 replies which shows 1.21 am (9 Jun) at time of posting.

  25. 81 Limbo for Children 9 June 2009 at 09:41

    “In the eyes of parents, if the AWARE saga is anything to go by, gays are boorish, uncouth and won’t reason. At the same time, Dana is unrepentant that the CSE has infringed into parents’ rights. To parents, this is an indication that the gay pride will still try to force their agenda upon their children.”

    Leaving aside for the moment how they know from TV, videos and third hand reports of who is or is not gay, what are we allowed to generalize about Christians after their cloak and dagger method of taking over an organization.

    I hope your intelllectual capacity for making distinctions is functional enough to notice that I am not generalizing about Christians but making use of a argumentative device.

  26. 82 jem 9 June 2009 at 10:15

    When you say “parents”, you really are referring to yourself, aren’t you?

    Do explain what these “parents’ rights” are, and how exactly the CSE has infringed into them. Hint : saying ‘proof is not the point’ isn’t going to help you here.

  27. 83 Mark 16:9–20 9 June 2009 at 12:23

    A suggestion to those engaging this Solo Bear guy. The point is not to persuade him. It is to use him as a foil for your arguments and also to show that the resistance to gay equality is founded on the same logic as that for the many defeated prejudices of the past. My favourite is jem just quoting him.

    YB, please please please please please let him continue as long as he wants😉

    • 84 Mark 16:9–20 9 June 2009 at 16:44

      My God! I had a look at his site especially the comments section. It’s like a super-concentrated episode of Archie Bunker or The Colbert Report or the Right Wing version of Homer Simpson. You wouldn’t believe what he says there! I had a hard time believing it wasn’t all a parody!

      You can’t debate this guy. You can’t treat him as a debating opponent. You have to treat him as subject matter!

  28. 85 Solo Bear 9 June 2009 at 12:48

    To everyone,

    Your replies are not unexpected. I just wanted to give one last try at the only gay/pro-gay site that has enough volume of followers that allows opposing views to be aired.

    I repeat. I speak only in Singapore context. I am addressing the issue, as seen with the last AWARE saga, that there are parents (7000+ signatories not enough to convince you that there is a concern meh?) who feel that their rights have been breached.

    Whether gays feel that they have overstepped their turf or not, is a different matter. The point is that parents feel that way, and hence, any further advancement by the gay pride to further the cause of gay issues in future, will be met with resistance from this group – the parents.

    That is the point I am trying to make. Well, the answer I got is expected. Gays don’t care about it.

    So I leave it at there. Parents and gays will just have to slug it out in future with much grit should the next gay agenda be put up.

    It’s OK. Like I said, I just wanted to have a last try at a place where opposing views are allowed. Note that all other gay and pro-gay sites with high traffic volume have locked out views that are not complementing gay agenda.

    Of course they are other gay and pro-gay sites, but the volume generated there is not large enough to see a representative view.

    I thank Alex for his hospitality here. I take my leave.

    • 86 Memory of George Carlin 9 June 2009 at 23:05

      “Whether gays feel that they have overstepped their turf or not, is a different matter. ”

      You mean what they do in their own bedrooms?

    • 87 Amalekite Infant 9 June 2009 at 23:20

      Gays. Parents.

      Is it just me or he suffers from an inability to make finer distinctions.

      I wonder if it registered that the better known “protaganists” (or “gay” in his special vocabulary) have biological children.

      Too bad he is not continuing. A fine representative specimen of a certain mindset indeed.

    • 88 Edgardo Mortara 10 June 2009 at 09:39

      “I am addressing the issue, as seen with the last AWARE saga, that there are parents (7000+ signatories not enough to convince you that there is a concern meh?) who *****FEEL***** that their rights have been breached.”

      “But there is a general *****FEAR***** amongst parents ”

      Do my eyes deceive me? A position is being defended with justifications that do not require the use of any of the higher faculties?

  29. 89 Anon123 9 June 2009 at 19:11

    What does any of this have to do with the article?

    What about Saintly Anne’s mirroring technique?

  30. 90 Midianite Virgin 9 June 2009 at 23:51

    “Your replies are not unexpected. I just wanted to give one last try at the only gay/pro-gay site that has enough volume of followers that allows opposing views to be aired. ”

    So what was he hoping for? Gays to turn straight? Or to learn how to like girls? Or to just stick with masturbation (but tough luck for the Catholics even on this). Or keep a low profile and be humble like what whites used to expect from everyone else?

  31. 91 Saint Splattergut 10 June 2009 at 05:20

    I saw this really cute icon somewhere, it said:

    Gay Agenda
    1. Get treated equally
    2. Spend time with family
    3. Buy Milk

    Maybe it’ll give some of you a good idea of what the “agenda” is all about…

  32. 92 YCK 10 June 2009 at 14:07

    Someone needs to get a reality check…

    Some interesting results from an article published by NTU A/P Benjamin H. Detenber et al. (2007), “Singaporeans’ Attitudes toward Lesbians and Gay Men and their Tolerance of Media Portrayals of Homosexuality”:

    1. Attitude towards homosexuals is more positive with higher education level.
    2. Attitude towards homosexuals more negative with age.
    3. Followers of different religions differ in tolerance towards homosexuals: Christians and Muslims (accounting for about 30% of the population, according to the census in 2000) have significantly more negative attitude toward the group, while Buddhists and free-thinkers are less so.

    Though we can never know for sure, we can make an educated guess of what kind of people makes up the 7000+ signatories. Could one honestly believe without proof that they are a fair representation of the majority view? In a warped sense maybe.

    The most glaring flaw implicit in the reasoning here is that somehow the “majority” rights need protection. In a democracy, are not the rights of minorities equally entitled to the same?

  33. 93 Anon8613 11 June 2009 at 07:15

    So far as religious fundamentalists arguing they are entitled to encroach on the secular space, by disguising their arguments in secular clothes is concerned (though this rather reminds me of the hijack of AWARE – they “went through the front door” but they were “in disguise” like all steeplejackers), I think this is a dangerous path to go down.

    Taking part in a rational discussion in the secular space presupposes one is open to reason, scientific fact and research, and is prepared to moderate one’s position in the light of the evidence. Whilst secular conservatives are capable of this, religious fundamentalsts are not. All they are interested in is in finding a way of imposing their beliefs about how people should behave on everyone. This is not debating, it is an attempt at steeplejacking the secular space.

  34. 94 Married female hoping to be a parent soon 19 June 2009 at 02:22

    To Solar Bear,

    what exactly are your and your “parents” fears?

    That equal rights for gays like gay marriage would turn your children gay?

    That your child will turn gay suddenly having chanced upon a gay pride parade?

    If you are really sincere, please define your fears as clearly as what the Gay Agenda stands for.


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