anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

I am in the library now forcing myself to finish writing about the Amos Yee case, and I am stuck trying to separate some concepts relating to freedom of speech in my head, and I am absolutely dying as a result. I took a short nap that was the duration of two Lana Del Rey songs (Cola and Burning Desire) but it didn't really help with my sleepiness.

I am trying to pinpoint exactly what is so objectionable about the fact that Amos Yee was convicted of (among others) deliberately wounding the feelings of Christians with his LKY is Finally Dead! video. I realise that it is almost impossible to divorce myself from my liberal point of view and write something that isn't already steeped in a particular philosophy (i.e. liberalism). It seems to me rather self-indulgent to judge the verdict from a liberal point of view, because Singapore plainly does not subscribe to liberalism. But how else can I criticise the verdict? It is plainly an affront to free speech, but it is debatable whether free speech is valuable in and of itself. It is quite unlike values like autonomy and liberty, which can be justified on some almost idea of human dignity (e.g. Dworkin's two dimensions of human dignity - equal concern and respect, etc.; I forgot the exact formulation); but the philosophical justifications for free speech are not really founded in any similar intuitively appealing concept. There is of course one arguable conception of free speech as an aspect of self-fulfillment, but it's a little bit complicated and I don't want to go into it because my paper is already too long as it stands.

I suppose the crux of it is that convicting a teenager for uploading a YouTube video is rather disproportionate. It seems to me that he was sacrificed in service of a larger agenda, such as to protect the religious feelings of Christians. Maybe it's justifiable under some form of utilitarianism or communitarianism, but to me, the fact of his youth and the relative harmlessness of his action point to the disproportionate nature of the response. It seems to me that sacrificing him on a flimsy basis shows a failure to treat him with equal concern and respect (per Ronald Dworkin), which is inherently questionable in itself.

But this isn't related to free speech. It is essentially a different point. I don't know what to say about free speech and it is driving me crazy. I think I may have to take a break from this and come back to it tomorrow or something...but fucking hell, it's not like I'm not already a week behind my self-imposed deadline.

I wish G was around now so that I could talk this out with him. I'm sure he'd have something intelligent and helpful to say. He read a bit of my draft last night when he arrived and I was still trying to polish a point; he sat next to me and looked at my screen, and read enough to discern that I was writing about Amos Yee. Later on, he tried to convince me to turn on my laptop and let him read my draft, but of course, I refused. It's a draft and therefore it is not at all ready to be read by another. To satisfy his curiosity about what I found interesting, I let him read my Salman Rushdie/Jurgen Habermas LSE paper instead.

I was tasked to review some CVs for a new position. I went through them all a couple of days ago, got annoyed because half of them were crappy, and this morning, I was told to go through them with the boss tomorrow morning. I don't know if I should spend the rest of the day looking through them again or try to work on the paper...but I'm out of ideas so I guess it makes more sense to look through the CVs one more time.

It's probably really horribly judgmental of me, but the second I read an awkward sentence in a covering email (not even the cover letter itself) or see a grammatical mistake, it makes me not want to look at the CV. It makes me feel like dismissing the person. I am obviously way too much of a grammar Nazi.
Tags: g, human rights, work

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