anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

A Fawkesian Challenge

This is cool.

I don't know the whole story about the States Straits Times hack (but I do note that the website is not loading - HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHA) and I don't know if that video is real or not. Regardless, the message is pretty awesome. Its basic rallying call - that the government should not censor - is also as obvious to me as my own name and I simply do not understand how it's even remotely refutable. Of course, not everyone will agree with the proposed tactic; I personally don't see what the big deal is because it's not like people will die as a result of the MOE website being hacked, for instance. Possibly questionable means aside, however, the intention is certainly laudable.

What is not laudable is the kind of predictably stupid comments that have been posted in response to the video. Someone referenced the Maria Hertog "race riots" in the 60's as an example of why we shouldn't have more freedom; another person said that Anonymous is "only" championing the anti-censorship cause and ignoring other things like Muslims' right to whatever, rising COE prices, rising housing prices, the right of Singaporean males to not serve NS, etc.; and some completely stupid and ignorant person was seemingly genuine in questioning why some Singaporeans do not appreciate our great nation because, to paraphrase, Singapore is so amazing compared to other countries, and why do poor people blame the government when it's their fault for not having an education?

The three comments that I just described are depressingly illustrative of the 3 kinds of "arguments" that will be made by some Singaporeans whenever a legitimate concern against the government is raised. First, the "dooms day scenario", slippery slope argument that uses a grand total of one negative example to demonstrate why a proposed change is bad and the status quo is good; this argument usually, but mostly always, blocks out other examples to the contrary.

Second, the "laundry list of complaints" argument that goes off on an irrelevant tangent by bringing in other grievances, hence resulting in the comment becoming off point, such that the original issue becomes nothing more than a springboard for the commentator to complain about the things that he is more interested in, and used to, complaining about. The comment that I cited goes the extra mile of diminishing the original grievance to prop up her chosen social causes.

Third, the "I really don't understand anything; I am so stupid but too stupid to see that I'm stupid; I really don't know why Singaporeans are so ungrateful; I want to express my opinion cannot meh?" argument that simultaneously demonstrates the shocking fact that people so ignorant actually exist, and a rather convincing argument for restricting freedom of speech. Namely: maybe stupid people shouldn't be allowed to speak, for harm is caused to those on whom such people's opinions are inflicted when the receipt of such opinions, coupled with the attempt to try to make sense of them (if one gets that far), leads to the death of a few brain cells. If that is not harm under Mill's harm principle, then I don't know what is.

(For the avoidance of doubt, I am of course being facetious about censoring stupid people; but oh, I will definitely give pause before I fight against it.)

The "dooms day scenario" guy also made this amazing statement: What censorship have we really suffered in Singapore? I think he meant to say, "I don't feel like I have sufferd any censorship so I don't know why people are complaining." In other words, "I'm not affected so I don't give a fuck." At least he gets points for being nationalistic to the point of fitting negative Singaporean stereotypes to a T. Clearly he does not work in the Arts or have an interest in the Arts where works are regulated or banned just in case they offend "sensitive issues relating to race". Just to cite a trite example, what kind of self-proclaimed modern, "democratic" society bans books? Singapore, of course. This person would probably reply that Rushdie isn't Singaporean and is therefore not censored when The Satanic Verses was banned, but this person would also miss the point - that censorship affects production as much as consumption; and because it affects consumption, it is, to borrow his style of argument, a very effective form of mind control. I, for one, do not want my government, the people to whom I pay my hard-earned money in the form of taxtes, to dictate what I can and cannot read. I will read whatever the fuck I want, thank you very much.

In Singapore, too, the effects of censorship do not have to be direct and to result in the form of actual, official censorship to be censorship. He thinks that the ordinary Singaporean has not suffered censorship? Either his parents proudly vote for the opposition, or he is just a tool. The ruling party has succeeded in creating such a formidable atmosphere of fear that many people from my parents' generation don't even dare to vote for the oppoisition in General Elections for fear of "reprisal". What kind of government does this to its people? The PAP government, of course. In which democratic country are citizens actually afraid to vote for their preferred candidates just in case something bad happened to them? We don't even have to visit the General Elections to see this disturbing form of self-censorship, which is for sure a result of the PAP's official censorship (though mostly in bygone years), at play. My mom tells me not to write anything anti-government on Facebook just in case I get arrested. She tells me not to black out my Facebook profile on 5 November just in case the Singapore Police Force knocks on my door in Edgware Road, London, United Kingdom, and arrests me. The sad part is, her fears are not completely irrational or unwarranted; even if I don't get arrested, I may be sued for defamation for saying something negative about the government.

Yeah, Singaporeans don't suffer censorship at all.

I desperately do not want to go back to that place.


I was reading Yawning Bread's article on the hack on ST's website and some idiot posted a stupid comment about why bus drivers should not be allowed to go on strike. Essentially, if they go on strike, very disastrous things will happen, such as a kid missing his PSLE exams or someone from a starving family missing a very important job interview or someone missing an important business deal. Then he opined that this hacking business is bad because what if they hacked PUB/Singapore Power or whatever it's called now and disrupted our water and electricity supply and your loved one died on the operating table because there's no electricity or water?

I wish I was making this shit up, but alas, I am not. My only hope is that the person was a troll and posting that crap to get a rise out of people. See what I mean about slippery slope, dooms day scenario arguments?

And this as well, from here:

I actually find the reactions of the (younger) TRS readers who applauded the hacking of ST’s website rather disturbing — there’s a crime committed here, in case people forgot. Hiding behind a virtual Guy Fawkes mask does not veil an act of cyber-terrorism when it happens: and in this case, with the very long and targeted messaging, it’s clear the intentions of Anonymous are beyond an act of mischief or a practical joke — it’s a challenge issued, and it’s not a challenge against everyday Johns and Janes like you and I, but it’s an open blatant challenge against authority, against a sovereign government, against even the FBI.

Putting aside the ambiguity of the phrase 'cyber-terrorism' (because I am too tired to go there), I fail to be alarmed by the alarming threat that Anonymous poses which the writer clearly intends for me to be alarmed by. Am I supposed to be alarmed by a group posing, gasp, a challenge to authority? Wow. This challenge is supposed to be more alarming to a direct challenge to myself when I am a lone individual with no means of fending off such alarming challenges, unlike the government with tons of resources at its disposal.

If you want to make an argument against something, make sure it makes sense. Why the hell should authority not be challenged? Only people who are too used to living in a place like Singapore with that kind of political climate would say something so fucking communist.

But I digress - the point of this section is to talk about strikes and the supposedly horrible inconveniences that they cause to others and HOW DARE BUS DRIVERS NOT SUFFER INJUSTICES IN SILENCE? I remember receiving an email from Transport for London around the Christmas period last year, alerting me to a planned strike that would cause disruptions to the Tube. This was what it said:

Dear [anotherlongshot],

Further to my message of last Friday, I am writing to remind you that the ASLEF union have called a Tube strike on Boxing Day, Wednesday 26 December. There is likely to be significant disruption to Tube services throughout the day.

We will be running as many trains as possible but some lines may only have a very limited service and some sections will be closed. Buses will be running across London throughout the day with extra services heading to the West End and Westfield Stratford and White City shopping centres. The Congestion Charge will not be in operation.

Please check travel reports before you travel and visit

To plan your journey using other services that will be operating, please visit

Yours sincerely,

Mike Brown
Managing Director
London Underground

This reminder was sent to me on 24/12/12. I wasn't in London then, but I imagine that no lives were ruined because of the strike. And because of the advance warning, I imagine, too, that no one went down to a Tube station expecting to take the Tube just to find out it was closed because some Tube drivers had the gall not to suffer in silence, therefore causing a starving family to continue starving, a kid to miss his exams, or an important business deal not to be sealed. It is the government's job to deal with things when workers exercise their right to strike and that was exactly what TFL did. Is it inconvenient when buses and Tubes don't work because the dirvers are on strike? Obviously. Is the inconvenience caused to you and me enough to outweigh their exercising their right to strike? Obviously not.

I'm going to continue singing TFL's praises (a rare thing for me) and mention their impeccable customer service. A few days ago I wanted to take the Tube from Edgware Road to Kings Cross so that I could get to school to attend a PhD briefing thing. I was running late and I got on the Tube just in time to be five minutes late for the talk. Three minutes later, Customer Service Update informed everyne that the east-bound Hammersmith and Circle line was delayed due to a person unconscious on the tracks. Seeing as the Tube was not going to move anytime soon, I got out of there as fast as I could without using the service - and I was charged GBP2.10 to tap in and tap out. Obviously that wasn't right, so I made a mental note to get a refund from TFL.

As expected, I totally forgot to do so. It turned out, however, that I don't even need to do so, because TFL automatically refunded me: I got an email saying as much yesterday.

If TFL is not a world-class provider of transportation, even after taking into account weekend Tube closures and whatnot, then I don't know what is. The London Underground beats the Rome Metro, the Paris Metro, the Berlin whatever and the Amsterdam whatever, AND the Singapore MRT, by ten million miles. Sure, it's expensive, and sure, it stinks, and sure, half of it doesn't work on weekends; but the customer service is fantastic (I get emails informing me that a bus that I take regularly will take a different route on a certain day, so I can't complain when I get on such a bus, find out that it's not going to where I thought it would take me because of raod closuers and whatnot, because it's my fault for not reading the email); there are so many lines that you can get to places easily; there are replacement bus services for when the Tube doesn't work on weekends; and it's normally fast and efficient. TFL is amazing. I love TFL.


On another note, I am SO watching Roger live again. He's playing Tuesday evening and I have a ticket. I bought the wrong session at first because the website sucks, but thanks to Nadal, I sold my ticket within two hours after I listed it on viagogo and I made a GBP1 profit.

The downside is that I'm paying 32 quid to watch him lose to Djokovic, but hey, Federer live is Federer live. You can't beat that, even if he ends up losing.


Had a screaming sad sobbing emotional day. I don't know what is wrong with my hormones. I have unresolved issues. It's so much easier to not care, or feel, but it's too late for that.

It's startling how one event can destroy me, almost completely. Sometimes I really don't know what I'm doing at all.
Tags: arnaud, human rights, london, love, politics, relationships, roger federer, singapore, stupid people

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