Originally published on Sayoni.
“Fridae has been told that a total of 85 people including filmmakers Sun Koh and Royston Tan have lodged police reports over the long Chinese New Year weekend about pastor Rony Tan’s offensive comments concerning gay men and lesbians in an online video.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Freedom of religion is a tricky thing. Take it too far and you can justify theocracy, give it too little and you have oppression. When freedom of religion and freedom of speech attempts to go together, it becomes even more of an unnavigable thicket.
Did Pastor Rony Tan make a mistake? Of course he did. He said things that were both ignorant and arrogant, as well as extremely bigoted. He acted in a way that no religious leader should have, in openly disparaging another religion, especially without much basis. Very few people would say that what he said was completely acceptable. And he has been reprimanded for it, by the ISD no less. The implications on this being considered a national security issue are for another author to debate thoroughly, but this author believes the use of the ISD to be heavy-handed and to send a chilling effect on political discourse and legitimate criticism of religion.
The ground gets more slippery when one considers his remarks against the queer community. I watched the video and found myself rolling my eyes at his ignorance. But what’s new? He is only echoing what every other pastor says, when they might choose to speak on the issue. I am not sure he has had the opportunity to know better, and even if he hasn’t, whether he even realises the damage he is doing. After all, he is doing what a lot of religious leaders do: latch on to one issue of moral significance and use it to gain popularity and following.
My nervous system suffered a big shock yesterday – it turns out my darling sweetie honey baby pie Zixian is a Natural Law Theorist. (To those who don’t under legalspeak, that means she believes there law and morality are inseparable, and that there is a higher, divinely ordained law). Me? I am firmly in the camp of Legal Positivism (law and morality are separate), or rather Critical Legal Theory (law is indeterminate). Really, how do I go on after this.. *heart breaks into a million pieces* Okay, not really. Read more »
[Warning: If you have not read the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which, I have no idea why you have not yet, read no further!]
I’ve always felt there was a queer reading to the magical world in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, not in the least because Dumbledore was gay. It is the way the community stays hidden, has their own culture and history, always afraid of being found out about their abilities. There is a reason why X-Men is so popular with the gay community, as they are along the same lines. But the seventh book introduced a new queer reading, with the take-over of the Ministry by Voldemort, which I shall explain in due course. Read more »
On a boring bus-ride home, I was just musing that last week was the week to die.
I am not being morbid, really – at that time on TVMobile, the un-switch-off-able source of entertainment that subjects you to the terrible soap operas whether you want it or not, they were splashing news about Suharto’s death. Not that no one saw it coming, because I’ll bet you they were working on the eulogy and the news-report the minute Suharto was committed to the hospital.
And of course, a week ago, Heath Ledger was found dead on the floor of his SoHo of a drug overdose. Heath Ledger, as we all know, was the handsome hunk who played the gay cowboy on Brokeback Mountain, and did a wonderful job of it. While his young and sudden death is tragic, it is not something I particularly cared about, Brokeback or no Brokeback, until this. Read more »
In today’s news, the Bishop thinks that it is our fault that as children, we get felt up our skirt by a smiling uncle who always brings you some sweets during reunions, or when we are brutally raped by a drunk father.
Yes, it is possible that in some cases, the children consent to, and may even enjoy sexual activity – but as adults, your task is to not take advantage of that consent. Your task is to know that the child is not in a place to make a decision like that, and step away. You don’t get to blame the children. And you certainly don’t get to say things like that in a pulpit and get away with it.
Seriously – you think the death threats are going to do wonders for your PR? First Salman Rushdie, and a poor defenceless woman? You get offended – you complain to the authorities or speak to the artist in a civilised manner about how her art is destroying your religion. You don’t issue death threats, or kill people.
It isn’t going to help all those moderate Muslims in the world live their life normally, when you abuse the Holy Qu’ran for your own purposes. Or impress heathens like me with your civility and love of peace.
I am fast becoming a big fan of J Michael Kirby, judge of the High Court of Australia. In his long article about religious freedom related to the Lina Joy issue [in Malaysia], he makes a passing comment about Ms Thio’s remarks in parliament related to the 377A issue. [I am not posting the relevant except here, go read it yourself. Here's a clue, Ctrl-F "Dr Thio"]
Actually it is more than passing – he quotes her speech quite a bit, and makes a remark so acid that I have to wonder whether there isn’t a hole burned into the paper.
*bows to His Honour* Thank you, thank you, thank you.
When I posted Intelligent Design aka Christian Chauvinism, I expected to be slammed by Christians, not pseudo-scientists [who quote from books, but don't make a point]. I am no scientist. My belief in Evolution is in same class as my belief in Big Bang, the existence of extra-terrestrial life, and Global Warming. All are so-far unproven theories, but with overwhelming scientific evidence, or simply rational thought [in the case of extra-terrestrial life] pointing to it. And of course, I don’t ignore that there is evidence pointing the other way too – but isn’t that the great thing about science?
It is not my job to research any of these theories I believe in – that’s for other people to do. Neither is it my job to convince other people of it – again, that’s for scientists to do. My belief rests not on blind faith, but well-reasoned logic in looking at both sides, and coming to a conclusion on which side I consider to have more merit. If tomorrow a respected scientist comes up with a paper that has absolutely (ideally) undeniable evidence that permanently debunks any of these theories, then the said belief will be destroyed without further notice. I put faith in evidence and proof, not rhetoric [which is what the proponents of ID rely on. All I've ever heard them say is "Look at all the things around us! There is no way this was a product of chance!"]
When I posted that entry, I was genuinely outraged not because I felt my scientific belief system was under attack, but because of the political ramifications of the said event taking place at a respected university. I consider it an embarrassment and an affront to have a speaker [rev Dr Dave Geisler] whose qualification is not even a basic degree in science, but a Doctor of Ministry in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary try and discredit Evolution as valid science.
Really – what is at stake here is not science, but politics. Politics of science, maybe, but politics nonetheless. What is under siege is not the theory of evolution, but the secular values society is built on.
Otherwise, really… I don’t give a damn about whether you believe the world was created by a mushroom.
I have been seeing this poster around the campus lately: it is advertising this talk on “Intelligent Design”, or rather as it says, “Christian Perspective of Evolution”. It purports to explain away Evolution as a scientific theory, replacing it with the only thing that could possibly make sense… Intelligent Design.
It makes me really ashamed to have such an event on campus, really. Intelligent Design is not science. It is at the best, a pseudo-science. The only things backing up Intelligent Design are speculations, theological arguments and “Evolution doesn’t cut it” logic.
Intelligent Design is essentially Genesis repackaged – it is an extremely Christian ideology, and only Christians have been fighting to teach this theory to our kids. They still can’t seem to accept that we have descended from monkeys, it seems. I know there are Christian readers of this blog, and you probably do believe in Genesis – which is your choice. But why are your people trying to force this theology down the throats of everyone, even non-Christians? If you don’t believe in Evolution, then take it to the church. Let the priests talk all they want about how the Lord made the world in 6 days. Stop trying to masquerade it as a credible scientific theory.
What is ironic is that in the poster, the learned speaker is trying to convince us that Evolution is simply a scientific postulation, and does not have enough evidence to back it up. If that is the case, Intelligent Design has much less proof than Evolution. It may or may not be true – I personally believe in evolution, but I do acknowledge it is not completely scientifically proven. But it is the most credible, most well-researched one around. The fact that we can’t conclusively prove Evolution is an indicator of our own short lifespans, not the invalidity of the theory. We haven’t been here long enough, been researching this long enough to prove it either way – but it makes sense. The only reason people have been systematically opposing this has nothing to do with science – and has got everything to do with religion.
I am not going to bother systematically rebutting Intelligent Design as a theory, because that’s for more informed people to do. But I have this to say – if you insist that evolution and intelligent design be taught side by side, I insist that you teach every other genesis-like theory in the world as well, from every religion. I am not the only to come to this conclusion, as the satirical The Flying Spaghetti Monster was formulated on similar grounds.
I’ve really had enough of Christian chauvinism. For a change, do consider people from other faiths.