ARE bloggers quiet about the conviction of the seditionists because the wind has been knocked out of their sails? Or is it simply a case of “life goes on”?
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Despite last week’s sentencing of two bloggers to prison terms of one month and one day plus a fine respectively, shockwaves weren’t exactly felt in the blogosphere â€” or as reporter Tor Ching Li called it, the Blogopolis.
In fact, there was some confusion even at local blog aggregator Tomorrow.sg, where a grand total of three blog posts were submitted when news about the sentencing broke.
Some editors thought it was old news, given that the convicted seditionists were charged almost a month ago.
Is it really inconsequential news? Or, as commentator Koh Buck Song puts it, “just the latest development to knock the wind out of the sails of the blogging euphoria”?
Some of those who normally watch out for perceived curtailment of bloggers’ rights, like The Committee to Protect Bloggers (committeetoprotectbloggers.civiblog.org), haven’t commented on the sentencing.
International observers like ‘Carl Parkes’ (www.carlparkes.com), who took excerpts from the blogs that did speak about the sentencing, remarked that while the viewpoints seemed confusing, at least they were honest.
I can see why he’d be confused, with quotes that went like this: “In every egg, there is york (sic). If we break an egg to achieve the york, we kill a chick. Poor chick, isn’t it? Same as free speech …”.
‘Mr Wang’ of ‘But Why Did Mr Wang Say So?'(commentarysingapore.blogspot.com) â€” a blog about local policies and issuesâ€“ writes that “these two cases will produce some unnecessary “chilling effect” on bloggers erring grossly on the side of caution.”
The “chilling effect”, presumably, being that of the realisation that the arm of the law is as wide as it is long, as ‘Wings of Pain’ (spaces.msn.com/members/wingsofpain) points out after looking at the provisions of the Sedition Act
He notes: “Since anyone who came in contact with that blog can be considered as ‘having in his possession that publication’ if it was saved on his computer, … hmmm … better watch your backs, people.”
‘Tofukungfu’ (oasisbasis.blogspot.com) also notes that the judgement does not address the problem of racism: “This legal precedent is very unclear on what the crime of sedition in Singapore is. Also â€¦ does not talking about something help make it disappear? Sorry for being so oblique, i can’t say the foul four letter word â€“ r**e!”
Current affairs and policies website New Sintercom (newsintercom.org) did, however, earlier observe: “While many feel it is right for the Government to send out a zero-tolerance message, it is, however, worrying when they agree that the judiciary should apply the full force of the Sedition Act to individuals who make racially-insensitive remarks.”
But other than these exceptions, the silence has been almost deafening.
Could it be that bloggers are busy following the trial judge’s recommendation that “similar offending remarks” be “removed immediately”?
Or is it just life as normal in the Blogopolis â€” since news of the sentencing on Tomorrow.sg has already been relegated to the archive pages?
Indeed, there seem to be other fish to fry, other things to quibble over — as a post submitted to that aggregator shows.
“Gremlin” (gremspot.blogspot.com) had his doubts about one newspaper’s glowing review of a particular computer game, as most other publications had given it only a “fair rating”.
“Maybe because the game was provided for review, there’s sense to want to please the company.
“Otherwise, it’s that the reviewer does not have enough experience with bad games to give an honest review,” he speculated.
The great thing about this is that on Tomorrow.sg’s comments section, Christopher Huang, the writer who reviewed that game, had a fair go at justifying his review.
“All I have to say is that reviews are subjective in nature and one man’s meat may be another man’s poison,” he wrote â€” though his comment was sandwiched between 17 others slamming the accuracy of game reviews.
So, there is still wind in our sails after all â€” though perhaps not blowing in quite the direction we might expect or with as much hot air.
What would you expect, in this climate of uncertainty in the Blogopolis?
Mr Miyagi aka Benjamin Lee has been entertaining readers at miyagi.sg for over a year, and believes the ‘next crackdown’ will be on bloggers who have music on their site that cannot be stoppedunless you close the window.