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TOC: The Overkill Censor?

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We are an open platform… We do this because we’re concerned Singaporeans who believe that it is better to ask questions and raise issues, than shut up, sit down, and never be heard at all.

– Chief Editor Joshua Chiang, Former Chief Editors Andrew Loh & Choo Zheng Xi in a statement to its readers.

we are a website that provides regular Singaporeans with a platform to share their opinions about all aspects of life in Singapore…

In short, we are a place where Singaporeans can come and talk about what is foremost on their minds. We do not engage in partisan politics, and we have no interest in engaging in partisan politics.

– Chief Editor Joshua Chiang, Former Chief Editors Andrew Loh & Choo Zheng Xi in their initial reply to PMO appealing the decision to gazette.

So wrote the admins of The Online Citizen when they were gazetted by the PMO to be designated as a political association. Yet in many ways TOC’s actions fall far short of what they proclaim to be. TOC has come a long way since they were founded in late 2006. Seen by many as the “voice of moderation” in the generally rambunctious Singapore blogosphere, TOC has lived up to that reputation… literally. There’s much to like about The Online Citizen, it’s occasional breaking scoop stories such as the press releases by RP insiders on the recent break-up of the party which cannot be found elsewhere, the clear-writing style of its contributors and certainly the articles of Leong Sze Hian whom every now and then dissect and question rosy statistics released in the often biased mainstream media. In contrast to another major blog Temasek Review, where insults are regularly hurled at other commenters and readers, comments on TOC’s articles are generally seen as less vitriolic and more moderate.

But one major flaw of TOC is their practice of extreme censorship, where not only personal attacks are censored, but reasonable dissenting opinion as well.  The Online Citizen has long been accused by its detractors of overly promoting liberal Western ideals such as gay rights, migrant workers’ rights, anti-mandatory death penalty campaigns at the expense of local concerns such as the cost of living. Concerns such as the cost of living do feature prominently on the front page of TOC, especially when written by Leong Sze Hian. But things often take an ugly turn when TOC turns to Western style social issues, where they are often out of touch with the socially conservative Singaporeans.

Take a recent case for example. gemami, a long time commenter on TOC recently posted a dissenting comment on a TOC article written by Joshua Chiang, TOC’s Chief Editor criticising MDA’s decision to limit the screening of lesbian parenting film The Kids are All Right to a single copy to be shown in cinemas in Singapore. Unfortuntately, gemami’s comment violated a gratuitous 500-word limit TOC imposed on all comments (How does anyone reasonably expect others to respond to long pieces with a comment limit of 500 words?) and it was not approved. Chief Editor Joshua Chiang subsequently posted it as a separate piece on TOC here, and a heated discussion ensued.

Reading through the comments posted on the article, one gets the impression that gemami was outnumbered by his critics and almost certain to lose. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that commenters have actually sided with his position, but these comments were censored by Joshua Chiang, in an apparent bid to silence dissenters. Here are some comments, one by myself which was censored:

Take a good look at the comment. It was nothing more than a call for civility. Yet for some inexplicable reason TOC decided not to approve it. Two other comments, the latter by a friend of mine were also censored or deleted by TOC:

yag’s comment which highlighted the general nature of the discussion, that of a majority of commenters bashing gemami without any support has been deleted. As was my friend’s (Unfair) which made much the same point:

Meanwhile TOC openly tolerated insulting comments (which have nothing to do with the article) such as the following:

Agents Provocateur 21 February 2011

Oh, those terrible gays, oppressing you by breathing.

Gemami.

How wonderful to have unsubstantiated belief that cannot be questioned.

Awfully convenient too.

This is a total waste of time and space to even publish such brain damaging comments from Gemami. I do not want to insult my intelligence to say anything further. He needs to help himself, nobody can guide him further.

tryathlete 21 February 2011

What is this I don’t even

Ridiculous ideas deserve ridicule, and this article is breathtakingly stupid. Help, help, the religious are being repressed? By teh ghey?

Please let this be a poe.

However, it was not until I was contacted by gemami over email and sent an explanation (with accompanying screenshots) that I really learned what was going on with the discussion. It turns out that TOC denied gemami his right of reply to his critics by withholding his comments to make his position appear untenable. His email is reproduced in its entirety below:

gemami’s account

My comment to TOC Chief Editor, Joshua Chiang, went under instant moderation (screenshot 1) after he was cornered in the argument; refusing to clarify whether a person who has undergone sex-change is as normal as one who shaves or cut his nails. This was mentioned by one of the gays (Will) who argued that sex change is as normal as described. It supported my argument, live and on air, that the gay community cannot find it in itself to chide its wayward members even when their perception of who they really are is clearly wrong, and this is one of the reasons why mainstream people are pessimistic and apprehensive in their outlook on the gay community. It also supports my other reason that such an outlook is partly due to the gay community’s own fault.

Immediately after it went under moderation, it disappeared completely(screenshot 2), sending a clear message that TOC Chief Editor must have the final say. So be it and truth be told.

Screenshot 1

Screenshot 1 (click to enlarge)

Screenshot 2

Screenshot 2 (gemami's comment vanishes, click to enlarge)

As if having the last say wasn’t enough, TOC Chief Editor saw it appropriate to censor my reply to another reader, Lobo76 (screenshot 3), putting it under moderation for goodness knows how long more. In it, I corrected Lobo’s error by pointing out the fact that the pedophile subject was first broached by Joshua and supported by him; both using it to symbolize abnormality in their separate arguments. By so doing, I wanted to know from them what had driven them to such a conclusion and whether the faculty that made them came to such a conclusion is no different from the faculty that others have used to conclude their views and opinions of the gay as abnormal. It too went under moderation while other readers are now having a field day bashing the hell out of the Christian religion with non-Christian self-professed Christianity Scholars entering the fray and making quotes from the Bible as if they are the know all and be all.

I urge sane readers to read my posts and conclude for themselves whether I had at any point derided the gay and its community? Did I resort to name-calling etc? Did I even pretend to say what the gay should or shouldn’t be? No, all I did was to present my standpoint and why I am compelled to do some of things I had to do in my understanding and my love for my God – very much like what the gay is compelled to do based on his understanding of who he is and his love for his own. Can he not see how he has been slapping himself in the face? It is now 7.42am on Wednesday morning, 23/02/2011. Case is rested.

Screenshot 3
Screenshot 3

In addition gemami posted two other explanatory comments on Solo Bear‘s blog detailing what had happened:

Not sure if you have been following events at TOC but just two days ago it’s Chief Editor, Joshua Chiang, published an article he had written, titled: ‘MDA; Abnormalising the normal?’, another one of those regular posts championing the gay cause as the title clearly suggests.

Amid the first few pat-on-the-backs comments by its gay members, there was nothing else of interest to crow about; not until I gave my two cents worth; taking the editor to task for using the ‘normal’ folks of the gay community in its push for equal treatment of the gay community as a whole and deeming the entire bunch as normal folks, cleverly evading that little corner of its community where, for example, bodily mutilation is accepted as the norm of society.

Not wanting to taint his article, perhaps knowing that the anti-gay folks would quickly descend there, the editor immediately placed my comment under moderation (what else) and published it as an article of its own in a new tread. No permission was sought and there wasn’t even the courtesy of a note to inform me. So the anti-Christian bash begun, headed by the very chief editor himself.

By the second day, the gay lobbyists and activists were back-tracking and retreating because I stuck to my guns, asking a simple question: “Whether attaching fake penis, carving fake vaginas, inserting silicon to bloat up artificial breasts, and slicing off fats to flatten chests were all acts which could be considered normal. With no clear cut answers forthcoming, the Christian bashing intensified. The chief editor attempted to switch the argument to 377A and Christian love, but I did not yield, insisting that he provide me the answer I was seeking because his article was about being either normal or abnormal. The answer to my question will put all arguments to rest once and for all. Yet of the 48 commenters who posted their two cents worth against mine, none could provide the answer I was seeking.

It felt very strange that there were no one on my side and everyone on their side. Not until I understand from Defennder that his posts and that of his friends never saw the light of day.

By the end of the day, Lobo76 joined the fray and we were happily exchanging notes when suddenly my post went into perpetual moderation…till this afternoon, before it was taken off air. The chief editor, perhaps knew he was cornered and with no way out, also moderated my comment to his last post, and a few minutes later it too went off air. (I have e-mailed the screenshots Defennder, the owner of The Furry Brown Dog).

This afternoon, I tested a post by writing: “Yoohoo! The author cannot comment anymore?” It went online before it was moderated and taken off within minutes. I then posted a reply to two readers, V and Richard, the former of which supports the gay cause and the latter neutral, and it went under the knife as well.

Minutes later, the chief editor made his message known by publishing a post directed at me. He accused me of imposing my Christian views on others and for slandering fellow posters.

I recommend that your readers take a look see at my posts and tell me if I am guilty as charged. I will happily subject myself to their verdict. In all my argument, all I did was to repeat that I have a religious conviction to decide things the way I do based on this conviction. I ask readers to go count the number of names I have been called. I never once used a name on anyone. His final word was that I should consider not participating in future and that my non-participation will not be missed. Is he speaking for himself or for the Community of Singaporeans. As I write here, there are two readers awaiting my reply, encouraging me to hang in there, and complimenting my courage to stand alone and provide answers to all 48 gay lobbyists and activists there. The chief editor claimed that the volunteers in TOC are traumatized by my writings and would consider them slanderous. I ask your readers to be the judge and I will happily stand before their judgment.

What the chief editor wrote was quickly taken down as soon as he received my reply after knowing that I have read what he had posted. This way, no one else would know what he had done, to force those who do not conform to its kind of community to leave.

He accused me of never having participated in any of TOC’s activities and events and have never shook hands with any of TOC volunteer staff. How strange this is. Is shaking their hands so important? Do they think they are celebrities, already? It tells on his thinking does it not?

Finally, I told him very clearly that I had participated in some of its activities without him realizing it. I told him I was even invited by Andrew to join him but I had turned it down because I felt it was better for some of us to remain on the outside so as not to be influenced by the inside in order that TOC can truly be balanced in its dealings and reporting. I told him I had to keep my identity anonymous because I did not want the former owner of TOC, Andrew, to know that his elder brother was working for his and TOC’s interest from the outside. I told him that from today on, gemami no longer exists because Andrew is no longer the owner of the blog and that TOC is now run by gay activists.

By gemami’s account and the evidence provided by the screenshots there is conclusive evidence that not only did TOC actively block and censor comments which were obviously neither spam nor personal attacks, it deliberately orchestrated such censorship in order to actively steer the discussion to gemami’s disadvantage and in favour of commenters championing LGBT causes. To underscore this point gemami, in an email, highlighted how TOC’s unreasonable and partisan censorship resulted in a lopsided ratio of pro-LGBT comments to anti/neutral ones:

When I left the forum yesterday there were 117 comments from 53 readers. Of these, 48 were pro-gay, 1 neutral (Richard), and 4 on this side.

How exactly is such a shocking practice different from that of the mainstream press, which often rejects or censors forum letters which it deems too critical of the government or which casts it in a bad light? I can find no discernible difference.

Feedback comment censorship

Even feedback in the form of comments telling TOC in a civil manner to cut down on unreasonable moderation are not approved (despite the fact that Ganga, a TOC moderator had replied to the comment):

 

As far back as 2009, TOC’s previous Chief Editor Andrew Loh had declared that comments questioning the focus or TOC’s coverage would not be allowed such as in this article:

Yet much of this egregious moderation is not new. In fact, Solo Bear has documented past experiences whereby TOC not only censors comments but also deleted all the articles by previous contributor Farquhar here. And for what reason? It is not known. Yet hypocritically, TOC finds within itself the cheek to chastise YPAP Facebook for moderating out opposing opinions whey they carry out much the same practice themselves. There’s an entire blog here, for those interested, dedicated to criticising TOC though it has not been updated recently.

Does power corrupt? It’s worth taking a minute of digression to see if TOC’s immense popularity in Singapore’s new media landscape has made it more aloof and arrogant towards its readers and commenters which they are now increasingly taking for granted. There was a time when TOC genuinely treasured and featured reader comments such as this article from 2008:

This website is about your voice, not ours. It would be ironic to talk about human rights and democracy without highlighting your involvement in shaping the discussion.

The beginning of Your Voice underscores the advantage of new media over the old. The internet is unique in its ability to generate organic intellectual discussion, and is a good microcosm of healthy participative democracies. You, our readers, have proven this by taking the debate to ever higher levels.

In the spirit of free speech and democratic dialogue, keep the comments coming!

Fast-forward to 2011, when it is now much more well-known, it’s not quite surprising that former Chief Editor Choo Zheng Xi was quoted by a mainstream media reporter as saying TOC had aspirations to become a “kingmaker” of the opposition in Singapore, and that he hopes TOC would be “the de facto online platform for all political parties to engage netizens”.

As one of the leading blogs in the Singapore’s new media, TOC practices a brand of moderation chillingly similar to the government controlled mainstream media. On what grounds can it claim, by its own words, that it may serve as a platform for all Singaporeans to share their views on issues that matter to them? Why does it deserve its current perch as one of the leading and credible socio-political blogs on the Singapore political scene? How can netizens trust TOC to adequately represent public opinion on the Internet when it has shown itself all too willing to censor and delete comments which reflect sentiments, especially on Western social issues, contrary to its preferred stand? Especially when those sentiments are well-articulated and not expressed in the in the form of insults and personal attacks?

Is it really surprising that TOC was gazetted as a political association by PMO, given its apparant activist slant towards Western liberal activism and views, as I previously wrote here? As I had asked earlier on, of all the activism which TOC engaged in for 2010, how many of them were on issues which weigh heavily on the mind of ordinary working-class Singaporeans? How many petition letter campaigns did TOC conduct on the behalf on Singaporeans on rising HDB prices? How many rallies did it hold in Speakers’ Corner protesting the rising cost of living for ordinary Singaporeans? How many public statements did it issue to the Singapore Government to cease-and-desist importing foreign labour which drives down wages while pushing up the cost of living?

Each and every one of those questions above link to an event TOC held over the past year. Click on them to read and ask yourself why didn’t they do likewise for the concerns of Singaporeans? Is TOC as they claim, really “a community of Singaporeans”? Or are they a special-interest group intolerant of opposing opinion (much like the mainstream media), and all too eager to promote their liberal Western agenda in Singapore which are out of step with socially conservative Singaporeans?

For many of us, TOC still remains a good read apart from its disagreeable moderation practice and out-of-step focus on liberal Western social issues. One can only hope that they will over time come to the understanding that being the “voice of moderation” doesn’t mean one has to practice so literally. I certainly hope that they would do so. The ball is in your court now, TOC. What will you do next?

Update: TOC has issued a reply here.

Written by defennder

February 26, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Posted in Singapore affairs

59 Responses

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  1. […] Discourse – Furry Brown Dog: TOC: The Overkill Censor? – TOC: TOC – selective censorship? – Senang Diri: Libya in crisis – Use of mercenaries to […]

  2. The reaction at TR is a more accurate display of those who are for or against the gay agenda. Heck, even the reaction at TOC’s current article about the political parties’ stands on the issue tells us how skewed the argument was with the thread meant to denigrate my views. And all it takes is for the hand of moderation to be lighter for the rest of us to see the true picture of who is for or against the gay agenda. It tells quite a story when there were 48 against 1.

    Take note also that the chief editor is personally countering all anti-gay views. He must and will certainly have the last say. Note also Andrew’s ridiculous comment. And oh yes; SARs epidemic was in 2003. TOC was still swimming in someone’s backside. What a lie!

    Gemami

    February 28, 2011 at 7:51 PM

  3. Hi gemami

    Sorry for the late reply. Have been busy today. Yes now it’s getting more apparent that quite a number of readers on TOC’s article disagree with their non-transparent moderation policy (probably there are more since we can’t read censored comments). True some people are satisfied only if they have the last say probably because they never want to leave the impression on readers that they are unable to rebut dissenting arguments. Andrew apparently misremembered the date, it should be Avian flu back in 2007, or more likely the H1N1 swine flu scare in 2009 when he took over the position of chief editor. Either that or he’s flat out lying.

    I’ve seen TOC’s reply and my first impression is that they didn’t even bother addressing the specific allegations detailed in the article. It’s like confronting a public official with evidence that they accepted bribes, and the official reacts by pointing you to other instances where he didn’t take any bribes and discharged his duties fairly. Apparently they can’t deny the charges and are guilty as charged.

    As usual they parroted their usual “lets[sic] readers be the judge” sentence, almost the exact same line used in their hypocritical article accusing YPAP of censorship and “hearing only the good stuff“.

    We’ll let our readers decide.

    Somehow this reminds me of the 24/7 right-wing propaganda news network Fox News whose tagline is “We report, you decide”.

    I also came across this old early 2009 blog post by soo jenn.

    From the few comments posted, it’s apparent netizens already knew back then that TOC was censoring reasonable comments. Solo Bear already has quite a few old posts from 2009, and I just learned from his blog today that he’s not able to even post a comment on TOC because he has been banned. A truly shocking discovery.

    I agree with Kelvin Teo’s comments. TOC and TR (then-Wayang Party) went separate paths right from the start. It’s ironic to see that TR behaving much more like a platform for all Singaporeans as compared to TOC, which overtly professed the latter but chose to go the Big-C approach instead and ended up behaving just like the mainstream media as Kelvin predicted it might.

    Lastly I’m planning a final reply on TR to TOC (subject to TR’s approval of course). I’ll be re-iterating some of those points above in as best a polite manner as I can. Can’t afford to drag this out longer than that because some folks are already starting to accuse me of stirring up conflict between TOC and TR when both should be working together for the upcoming GE. In that post I’ll also be addressing some reader comments on the TR article. If you’ve got something to say please email me and I’ll include your response in that final post. Any subsequent correspondence with TOC will then take place solely on this blog, if they choose to respond to that piece.

    Again I can’t emphasise how invaluable your help has been to all of this. None of it would have been possible if you did not provide me the evidence which form the bulk of the article.

    I thank you once again.

    Yours sincerely,
    Defennder

    defennder

    March 1, 2011 at 1:44 AM

  4. Hi Defennder,

    I am agreed that we ought to focus on the coming GE and get this issue over and done with. I believe we are vindicated and even as we pick up the pieces of this very damaging episode to TOC, we must keep in mind that there are good things that it is doing as well.

    My wish for TOC and it’s chief editor to take this as a lesson and seek to improve his understanding of what constitute free speech. He has to consider all reactions even as he pushes for certain agenda and respect dissenting views and opinions. Skewing them to his advantage is a definite NO NO. Singaporeans are not dumb, not when they have been battling the MSM for the longest time. Singaporeans are well trained to know in an instant when opinions are manipulated to fit a preset agenda. It is most foolish for anyone to think he can get away with it when telling a blatant lie.

    Personally, I hope the chief editor wakes up in time for the GE. He needs to show Singaporeans that he can tolerate opposing views and is mature enough to allow FairPlay even when the reaction goes against his intended objective. He must keep his hands away from public discourse and allow the voice of readers to come through and not just that if his own and his TOC inner circle.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to contribute my perspective and for allowing me to be of help to you. I look forward to your piece.

    Thank you.
    Philip

    Gemami

    March 1, 2011 at 9:30 PM

  5. Dear Defennder,

    Good morning to you and sorry for taking a little longer to give you a proper reply.

    This is what Singaporedaddy of the Brotherhood Press had said about TOC championing against the Mandatory Death Penalty in July 2010 here in TR.

    “…..TOC has deleted these comments (opposing comments) in order to engineer consent on this subject. So let us be very clear here. The picture TOC presents to the world does not in any way represent an accurate appraisal of what most readers feel about this subject – it is designed to reflect ONLY the views of the owner of TOC and their inner circle.”

    “They refuse to even have an all inclusive debate on this subject – the search for lasting truth is the furthest thing from their minds. Otherwise why even bother deleting post on those who choose to speak intelligently and informatively about the need to keep the MDP? – so that you can make an informed decision concerning this subject – so pray tell, how can you even buy into TOC’s idea if what they are really showing you is only one side of the coin?”

    http://www.temasekreview.com/2010/07/29/the-brotherhood-accuses-toc-of-astroturfing-to-support-yong-vui-kongs-case/

    For the record, I am against the MDP but would have like to listen to opposing views for a better understanding of them.

    Here are some comments from TR readers responding to Singaporedaddy’s article:

    • andrew leung: TOC is pro-gay, anti-christian, anti-death penalty, anti-TR and many others. It likes to censor views that do not agree with them.

    • Incred: I have lost count the number of times my posts in TOC have been deleted just because my views are not in line with TOC’s.

    • Qin Hui: TOC is managed by a bunch of double standards and freakish gays and lesbians…what can you expect from them? Try posting opposing views from their stand and you will get deleted almost immediately…the way they censored and silenced opposition is much worse than ST Discussion Forum.

    • Forecaster Extraordinarie II: At least one point raised by Singaporedaddy is TRUE, which is at TR, you get to see PUBLISHED 2 sides of a story while at TOC, its always the side that TOC ‘believes’ in.

    • carebare: TOC regularly deletes comments. If not delete, they put you on moderation so you will be lost in the thread forever. Most people dunno this. So if you go to their website. It looks like everyone in Singapore is supporting Vui Kong.

    • Singaporedaddy: What I did say concerning TOC is far more serious – that they are engaged in “engineering consent,” and that is very different from astroturfing. If the former is pulling the wool over your eyes; the latter is treating you like a sheep. And we all know what happens to sheep. But how are we to even reasonably make sense of information – to understand it – and put it into fruitful relationship with other information. IF all the counters argument are missing from the discussion? How is any reasonable man supposed to grasp the meaning of something as philosophically, jurisprudentially and ethically vexing if the narrative is bracketed by mindless deletion and censorship? As it is, all we have from TOC is ONLY one side of the rusty coin. And even then it is so encrusted with the personal agenda of the owner of TOC and his erudite inner circle that it cannot possibly reflect reality accurately.

    • “engineering consent”: “engineering consent” indeed. My experience in TOC is that if you argue with them too strongly, you posts are conveniently “moderated ” out.

    • Straight: Ever since TOC became the de-facto support site for the freakish LGBT, they can no longer think straight… And YES, they will have no hesitation in deleting any posts that challenge their deformed thoughts or mentality!

    • Lee Juat Soon: “The Engineer of Consent” right you are Sergei.

    Now, this is what the founder and former owner of TOC, Choo Zhengxi, had to say in response to a letter of complaint sent to TODAY’s paper by Lionel De Souza in 2009:

    “The Online Citizen (TOC) consistently practices a policy of community moderation, which relies on a process of reader feedback and moderator responsibility…..we rely on reader feedback to identify and remove such comments. This form of moderation on the basis of community feedback was most recently practiced during the Aware issue”.

    Apparently, the ‘community’ that Mr Choo spoke of refers to the community INSIDE TOC.

    He further added:

    “Maturity in public discourse can only arise with a willingness to engage parties with whom you disagree. In choosing instead to appeal to the heavy hand of the regulatory authority, Mr De Souza has chosen to bypass a far more effective solution to the problems he is alleging: community moderation.”

    I now ask the current chief editor where is the ‘community’ part of moderation that Mr Choo has spoken of? I ask because many of us had placed our trust in Mr Choo, and have come to expect that he adheres to the kind of moderation he believed is the best way forward in public discussion and discourses; which is COMMUNITY Moderation.

    This was what I wrote to Mr Choo in support of Community Moderation:

    “I thank you helping us understand TOC’s rationale for community moderation even when – to correct you a bit – one does not shout ‘fire’ in a crowded cinema when there is a real fire – unless you want a mass pandemonium to occur.

    If this isn’t TOC, I would be questioning the facilitation methodology being used to balance ‘free and lawful speeches’. How do moderators derive at the minimum or maximum sum of tolerance…?

    Having said that, I am thankful that TOC, although bias at times, has been doing a great job so far. I would like very much to see TOC taking forward steps to push the boundaries a bit. This is why I am against an overly-cautious approach to letters such as the one by LDS. To hell with him I would say.

    It is against this backdrop that I questioned whether it is wise to overly self-moderate, like some are calling here, even before we ascertain if there is any value in LDS’s comments.”

    And here is proof of how influential the TOC Inner Circle is. Gilbert Goh had called for the banishment of the Brotherhood representative from TOC and shortly after we hardly get to hear from Singaporedaddy. The special thread for readers to engage the Brotherhood also disappeared.

    Gilbert Goh:

    “I am also a bit surprised that TOC previously has allowed the postings of Darkness and the light. Though they are purely irrelevant postings to the subject matter, TOC continued to allow such postings sometimes on a very widespread basis. I hope that such postings can be moderated as they are not in the least associated to any articles posted.”

    And this was Singaporedaddy’s reply to Gilbert:

    “Good Morning Gilbert, Pls don’t get personal with us. Why was this comment not moderated? You go figure that out. Thank You”: SD (Internet Liaison officer of the brotherhood).

    This reader, Green Rover, encapsulated the situation best when he commented:

    “Gilbert, they(The Brotherhood) are very different market segments. I don’t believe u know what you r talking abt. If you print out a typical BHP article, it runs 3 to sometimes 3.5 A4 pages. That is really quiet long. Now if you print out any article in TOC< it is maybe 30% of that. So this suggest, there may be more than one type of readership in the net and I feel each readership segment deserves equal representation. I don’t believe it is possible to seggregate both of them into neat pigeon holes. They will mix and when they do, just bc you don’t like it Gilbert, doesn’t mean others agree with you. Look at how many people are supporting you? None. Ask yourself why? “

    Indeed, what TOC had failed and continue to be blind to is the fact that society is made up of all kinds of readership, one that is too wide to have a complete stranglehold on. Denying them their right to express themselves is the last thing anyone should do.

    Finally, I would like to point readers to this thread in TOC where I engaged Andrew on the topic of moderation and predicted what it will do to TOC if not kept in checked.

    http://theonlinecitizen.com/2009/01/a-note-about-moderation-on-toc/comment-page-1/#comments

    The rest is up to readers to decide. There are just too many comments against TOC’s moderation policy in the blogging world to put them all in one bin. It is up to TOC whether it wants to think hard about this and decide for itself whether it wants to continue doing what it is doing or make the necessary changes. For the rest of us, it has come to a point that we cannot be bothered any longer. It is your blog to run as you please anyway.

    gemami

    March 2, 2011 at 8:54 AM

  6. I agree that TOC’s censorship often goes too far, but I disagree that there is any sinister pattern of suppressing opposing views.

    I myself am a supporter of gay rights, but some of my (pro-gay) comments got placed in moderation for days or deleted. They did not contain any offensive language or scripture. When I asked TOC why, they claimed that they had overlooked my comment and it got lost in the moderation queue. They subsequently reinstated my comment.

    So I think it is more an issue of incompetent or careless moderators. They really need to come up with a proper system of screening comments. I don’t know what system they have currently, it seems like an ad-hoc thing whereby any moderator who is online just randomly approves a few comments at his leisure. That is why some innocuous comments sit in the moderation queue for days.

    Dash

    March 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM

  7. I would like to think so too and I believe, in general, you may be right. Having said that, I too believe there is a targeted group whose comments are consistently placed under moderation.

    It makes no sense for TOC to call on readers to drop them an email should a reader feels that his post is placed under unwarranted and unfair moderation. Which is easier; to look at the moderation bin bag, or look into your email bag and then into your moderation bin bag?

    Anyway, like I said; if TOC is serious about being a place where Singaporeans can come together to discuss issues which matter to them, then the first issue is to tackle it’s moderation policy. Far too many readers are making themselves heard outside of TOC and this is one statistic it cannot be proud of or ignore.

    Everyone should have a voice and his voice must be allowed to be heard if he takes the trouble to speak up. It no longer can be seen as THEIR blog. The moment it opened itself to the public, it must be seen as the public’s blog, else it will be very much like our MSM.

    Regards,
    Gemami.

    Gemami

    March 4, 2011 at 6:36 AM

  8. nobody likes it when a comment which he/she has spent valuable time writing is being censored, but we should accept that fact that any website/blog/forum has the discretion to decide their own censorship policy.

    absolute free speech has never ever been present, not even in the most liberal societies, absolute free speech only results in chaos.

    nothing is perfect, n despite their imperfections, TOC does have it’s attractions, for instance, generally the level of intellectual engagement among commentators are of higher quality as compared to TR.

    personally some of my comments were censored by TOC as well, some are in a way Pro-Gay, so i cannot find any discernible pattern in attempting to engineer consent.

    i think the attempt to debate on whether gay is normal/abnormal is missing the point, abnormal/normal being subjective in nature, there is hardly any mileage to be gained by any party regardless whether they are pro/anti gay.

    it’s just a straw-man premise designed to undermine the debate on Section 377A.

    moderators participating in a ‘debate’ in the forum they are moderating is not a good idea either.

    sisyphus's watermelon

    March 4, 2011 at 11:54 PM

  9. being a volunteer moderator in a now defunct online forum, i can understand how difficult it is to maintain consistent moderating on a whole, basically anyone who happen to be on duty will interpret & apply the general guidelines, but there is no guarantee there is no variation in interpretation.

    additionally, grey areas not covered by general guidelines will be moderated even more inconsistently due to different moderators exercising their own discretion.

    it is easy to put use ‘christian bashing’ & ‘extreme censorship’ as an excuse, extreme is a subjective adjective, bashing is often perceived interpretation.

    sisyphus's watermelon

    March 5, 2011 at 12:37 AM

  10. Thank you all for commenting. Let me address some of these comments as follows.

    Dash

    I don’t know personally if TOC is largely trying to engineer discussions whose comments are largely in support of their agenda or one where the only allowed comments are those which are thoroughly trashed by others without allowing the original commenter to rebut criticism.

    But much of this article take pains to highlight, with evidence in the form of screenshots, that TOC was indeed trying to do so for the case of gemami’s article. It’s ridiculous to see them allow an article to be published and yet deny its author the right of reply to his critics. What other reason does TOC have for not approving his comments? And in this specific case gemami’s comment wasn’t just waiting in the moderation queue, it was deleted. Why? It didn’t even contain a single ad hominem insult against anyone, and there was certainly no criticism of TOC involved.

    This is one of those cases where TOC was itself caught in the act of censoring and deleting legitimate comments. There are screenshots provided to prove that. Note that TOC in their reply did not even dispute any of the specific accusations against it, but rather pointed out (in a somewhat irrelevant manner) that other insulting remarks had been disallowed. That’s like a corrupt policeman (as I’ve told gemami) pointing out other instances in front of a judge where he did not take bribes and discharged his duties fairly without denying the main charges against him. You might want to read through the post above again. It’s lengthy but everything is there to prove both gemami’s case and mine.

    With respect to the Brotherhood’s article, I did not contact them to ask for evidence of their claims. But given that TOC is already proven guilty of censoring legitimate arguments from gemami (caught red-handed so to speak), it’s not that far-fetched to think that they were probably doing so all along. Not everyone has the patience to collect all the evidence in the form of screenshots, write a lengthy explanatory article and post it on their own blog. I myself might not have done so if I had felt TR isn’t likely to publish it so that it may reach a much wider audience. My blog has limited readership.

    To sum it up, your offered explanation of careless moderators, while I believe is probably likely true for some cases of moderation at TOC, cannot explain why gemami was repeatedly censored in his replies to his critics. There’s clearly much more at work here than just careless moderation. With this in mind, the theory that they are trying to engineer consent might not be that far-fetched. Proving that would be hard though. One would need to have access to a hell lot of screenshots in order to do so.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    The problem is not that TOC censors or that it has a moderation policy. Gemami explains this point so well I’m going to quote him verbatim on this:

    Anyway, like I said; if TOC is serious about being a place where Singaporeans can come together to discuss issues which matter to them, then the first issue is to tackle it’s moderation policy. Far too many readers are making themselves heard outside of TOC and this is one statistic it cannot be proud of or ignore.

    Everyone should have a voice and his voice must be allowed to be heard if he takes the trouble to speak up. It no longer can be seen as THEIR blog. The moment it opened itself to the public, it must be seen as the public’s blog, else it will be very much like our MSM.

    TOC cannot claim to be a platform or community of Singaporeans where ordinary citizens can come together to discuss what’s on their minds if they repeatedly censor reasonable comments, as well as allow insulting comments on their preferred side whilst silencing insults on the other side.

    I agree with you that TOC has its attractions. Generally its contributors write better articles than TR, but that’s mostly because TR publishes far more reader contributions than TOC and not every contributor may be good at expressing themselves or debating the issues. Some people just want to make themselves heard and that’s acceptable if TR aspires to be a platform for all Singaporeans.

    The other problem you’ve pointed out is more serious. Whether it’s fair to allow moderators to exercise their own bias in inconsistently moderating comments. The purpose of this article was to prove that TOC took partisan sides in the debate and moderated the exchange to put gemami (the author of the article) on the losing side by denying his right of reply repeatedly. This act can hardly be explained away by “no guarantee there is no variation in interpretation”.

    If TOC openly aspires to be a platform for all Singaporeans to converse on political issues, it must adhere to consistent guidelines as they have stated themselves.

    If they have failed to be consistent because of one errant moderator who happened to be online at the time, then they should have admitted their mistake and apologised to gemami. The fact that they have not done so and have reiterated their moderation policy shows that they do not even believe they are wrong in the first place.

    And that’s the most troubling thing of all. If it does not count as a mistake (since they have not admitted any wrongdoing or disputed the actual claims made on this article), then isn’t it a deliberate act? And if so what does that tell you about them?

    P.S. gemami’s claim that certain people are altogether banned from posting comments is true. I know of at least one such person. Solo Bear says he’s been banned by TOC from posting comments. He actually tried posting, but it won’t even get through. See his post here. gemami also says that Singaporedaddy has been banned. I don’t know who exactly he is, or why he has been banned (or how to contact him for that matter). Perhaps the best person to ask whether TOC has a list of banned commenters would be TOC themselves. Their own page on moderation says nothing about banning at all.

    defennder

    March 6, 2011 at 12:53 AM

  11. suffice to say, we can criticize & put forth our opinions on what we perceive to be inadequacies at TOC.

    but we should also recognized that we do not possess any right to make demands on others on how their blogs/forums should be ran.

    collectively the readers themselves will decide what that want.

    the market forces will work themselves out, if a blog/forum is bad enough, it will naturally be ‘eliminated’ by the competition & falling readership.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 6, 2011 at 1:24 PM

  12. sisyphus’s watermelon

    In the marketplace of ideas there are big and small actors. Every one has a right to exert their own influence in the form of market forces. I have a friend who liked TOC but never commented on their articles. As a result he did not know that they were actively censoring legitimate comments. That’s the problem with censorship. You don’t see things which are not approved. I would go one step further and say this. Just as citizens have a civic duty to keep their governments transparent and accountable to themselves, politically inclined netizens have a similar right (I don’t want to say duty because there’s no obligation to do so) to make sure that the giants which dominate the blogosphere are similarly held accountable.

    Consider this article as part of the free market forces. My only intention is to just to inform everyone of what actually happened. I do not claim any right to force any blog to change their guidelines. You can think of it as a whistleblower’s account.

    This is entirely legitimate and reasonable, no?

    P.S. TOC posted this last year. Would you consider their post (not authored by them) a legitimate form of criticism? This post itself falls into the same category.

    defennder

    March 6, 2011 at 3:12 PM

  13. Hi sisyphus’s watermelon,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate the trouble. If you would allow me a reply.

    That may be true but it also is a very simplistic way of looking at it. Fundamentally, the key point of contention is whether such a blog site like TOC actually ‘belongs’ to it’s owner. 

    IMHO, I do not think so, not when it’s purpose is to be a public square for opinions and views. If for example, it’s slogan reads like this: A Community of Singaporean against Discrimination; then our complaints will have no value whatsoever, because it is clear that they have taken a stand and one would expect it’s activities will be slanted toward that stand. However, the ball game is completely different when it prides itself as a Community of Singaporeans. In this regard, it has a duty towards ALL Singaporeans, of whatsoever opinions and views, to have their voices presented as they are so that the general view can be derived at without any sort of manipulative actions toward a predetermined agenda. 

    If you are to take another look at the article it had transplanted for general discussion, and keeping in mind that the author of the article was not informed; you would have noticed that as if transplanting the article was not enough, the chief editor of TOC had actually placed a reply of his own among the early comments. This was, clearly, to direct the eventual flow of opinions toward his direction; and true enough, that was the case. By the time I stumbled across my own article, it was already heading toward an irreversible route. And to further control that route by means of unfair moderation and preventing me the right of reply is only too clear what the intention really is. 

    To claim that it’s volunteers felt slandered and traumatized by my comments was just a convenient way to end the thread. Mind you,  there were three commenters asking me to stick around as they felt they had something to discuss further. Even this was denied them as much as me. Do you not see that their voices were silenced too just because it cannot find an answer to my challenge?

    Gemami

    March 6, 2011 at 3:20 PM

  14. Dear Gemami,

    I find it hypocritical of you to whine about being silenced by TOC when you yourself are demanding the silencing of all gay people. The fact that you were harassed by a few homosexuals when you were younger doesn’t justify your stance. Why should an entire community suffer because of your personal experiences?

    You say TOC should belong to ALL Singaporeans. Clearly, the owners of the blog disagree. They’ve made their position very clear.

    It’s not your site. You’re not even a volunteer. You don’t get to decide how things are run. Just stop visiting TOC. Take your bigotry somewhere else. You’ll feel happier that way. Really.

    Sunny

    March 6, 2011 at 11:40 PM

  15. Sunny

    I don’t see where gemami has demanded that gays be silenced. And there’s no need to hurl unfounded accusations that somehow gemami would like the LGBT community to “suffer” in light of his (or any one else’s) position. Are they suffering because MDA decided to limit the screening of the lesbian parenting film to only one print here? How exactly are they suffering? And what exactly does this have to do with what gemami has said?

    It’s not gemami’s position that TOC should belong to all Singaporeans. TOC themselves said they wanted it be a platform for all regular Singaporeans. Please see the quotes in the article above.

    Of course we don’t get to decide how things are run. But at the same time that doesn’t mean that as a netizen we don’t have the right to express our opinions elsewhere. This is exactly what I’ve done. There’s no expectation on my part that they should conform to my preference. It’s just that when what they say they do differs from what they actually do; well you get the idea.

    Lastly, the issue behind this entire post and subsequent discussions is really about censorship and free speech. I see that you’ve completely avoided addressing this in your comment. If you’re happy with TOC’s brand of moderation and censorship even of reasonable and relevant comments, just say so. There’s no need to hurl baseless accusations at other parties.

    defennder

    March 7, 2011 at 12:10 AM

  16. Defennder,

    thanks for the clarification, my comments are not a criticism of you, rather, i am just trying to share how i feel abt certain aspects of the so call ‘rights’ of commentator/participants in an internet forum based on my former experience as a moderator in another internet forum.

    of which one of the things i learnt in those days is that moderators/site admins should not participate in debates as ‘players’, it’s not a good idea, and it never will be, thats one of the things i hope TOC can look into as well.

    as far as i am concerned, generally i agree that a whistleblower’s account on what had transpired & criticism based on evidence is perfectly legitimate.

    having said that, i do disagree with u on the following:

    i quote u ” Just as citizens have a civic duty to keep their governments transparent and accountable to themselves, politically inclined netizens have a similar right (I don’t want to say duty because there’s no obligation to do so)..”

    i hope u take this in good humour,

    i suppose the attempted ‘transfiguration’ of [civic duty] in to a [right] is a rather ambitious project to undertake.

    well, maybe u could not think of a better word to use, but i don’t agree that we have this ‘right’, there is no reason we can manage to acquire some phantom ‘right’ to hold a blog accountable for transparency by simply talking abt it.

    if u state that u possess a right, u would have to justify how u came to acquire it, on what merits & reasons.

    to me a blog is basically still a private entity, it is not comparable to a government, in other words its a apple-orange comparison.

    we democratically elect a government, but did we to elect the admin of TOC?

    the answer is no.

    the TOC admin is not elected by the internet participants like u and me, hence, they are not accountable to us.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 7, 2011 at 12:26 AM

  17. i am not going to comment any further on TOC’s moderation regarding Gemami becos i am not privy to all the information involved.

    to be blunt, Gemami’s ‘challenge’ will only result in semantical squabbles with each party refusing to accept the definition of terms defined by the opposing party.

    the attempt to debate on whether gay is normal/abnormal is a straw-man premise, the whole exercise is not meaningful & a waste of time, becos the conservatives will always find something abnormal & the liberals will find the same thing normal.

    is LHL’s shirt pink enough? we can argue till the cows come home.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 7, 2011 at 1:13 AM

  18. Hi Defennder,

    Thanks for replying on my behalf. I truly appreciate it and there is really nothing else for me to add to what you have shared. However, I think it is only fair that I accord Sunny the respect of a personal reply since he has addressed his comment to me.

    Hi Sunny,

    I thank you and welcome you to the discussion. I am sure Defennder welcomes you too. I respect the opinion you have expressed about me and I won’t seek to make you conclude otherwise. The prerogative is yours.

    However, I must point out that when one makes an accusation, he must substantiate it otherwise the dis-credibility he tries to label his opponent with will only fall back on himself and raises questions about his own credibility.

    As I have explained, and as some readers have fully understood; not only here but elsewhere in Cyberland, and which friends like Defennder has taken the trouble to put them or linked them in one place for readers’ convenience, the first and foremost issue begins with what TOC has envisioned itself to be – a gathering place for what it calls – A Community of Singaporeans. This is the primary understanding you must keep in mind when you determine whether people like me are ‘whining’ with or without reasons.

    By taking on an activist approach, as it admits to doing and which it’s chief editor had so boldly proclaimed to me in a post during the heated debate, which he was quick to delete, that he will push the gay agenda until it is nationally accepted and that my opinions were not welcomed as they were in direct conflict to his agenda; does it not seem to you that he has completely forgotten a segment of the larger society by so doing, and thus completely destroyed the objective set out by TOC? Of course, that’s very good news for the gay and there is no doubt and no denying that the gay would rightly jump for joy but that is not my concern here. My concern is over the proclamation of being a forum for ‘a community of Singaporeans’. Is it? Dare you to imagine if it is pushing the conservative agenda instead of the gay one, and the censorship is on all gay opinions? You get the drift don’t you?

    Next, you call me a bigot, like so many have done likewise. I have read and re-read my own posts over and over again to try to understand why the gay thought me so. Yet, I can’t seem to see where I have written anything against the gay which could deem me one. If you want to be objective in your criticism of your opponent, then may I suggest you do yourself a favour and go count the names I have been called and the number of times I have been called by those names; just because I am a conservative. And then, if you care to point it out to me which part of my comments I have behave like a bigot I will be truly appreciative.

    I have used some strong language, I admit, but these were due to the manner in which the challenge was put across to me. Mind you, its 48 to 1. All I did in my argument was to keep to the issue highlighted in the article; and; asked some very simple questions, for example, of the chief editor, that in his fight for gay freedom, giving voice to the gay community; where does the conservative voice lay; or of the gay community, whether the opinion of one of its gay can be deemed ‘normal’? Apparently, his reply is such that the gay community’s right to be free supersede that of the conservative or anyone who opposes such liberalization. Does this make any sense to you – keeping in mind its aim to be a gathering place for ‘a Community of Singaporeans’? Where is the bigotry in adopting the stand which I have adopted, for being who I am? Who is pushing the bigotry boundary instead? Who is making the attempt to silence the other?

    So, first of all you would do well to get your facts right. The Community of Singaporean is TOC’s proud claim of what it aspires to be. Not mine. I just took their word for it. Should I or anyone be faulted for believing them?

    Knowing the gay community was getting agitated by its own inability to answer my questions, TOC then took it upon itself to try and twist the argument out of context. Go see how the chief editor alternate between speaking for himself and for TOC by sometimes using his name and sometimes using the TOC banner. How would I know when he is speaking for himself and when he is speaking for TOC and the gays? ‘Sneaky’ is my opinion of him.

    I knew he was too emotionally caught up himself, I knew long ago he is one very sore loser; so I had offered him and the gay arguing me, a route to escape. One of them challenged me by claiming that undergoing sex change is as normal as shaving and cutting one’s hair. I asked the gays whether they agreed with this assessment and if they did I would happily shut up and sit down and forever hold my peace. All they needed to do to get rid of me was to answer ‘Yes’. But no, they got too emotional and mind you, that’s not my fault. I was just following up on what the gay corner has presented for itself as an argument to what is classified normal. Why didn’t any gay chide him, I don’t know. Perhaps you might want to help out with an answer since you have taken the trouble to bring your argument here?

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Hi sisyphus’s watermelon,

    Just to tackle one point you made about a blog being a private entity. Generally, that’s the case. However, we must not forget that TOC has openly proclaimed itself to be an alternative to the MSM. Unless it endeavours to be as ‘private’ as the Straits Times, it should not be proclaiming to be a gathering place for public discourse and opinions. Once it does this, the ‘private’ part (no pun intended) becomes a public domain. That’s my humble opinion.

    gemami

    March 7, 2011 at 7:55 AM

  19. sisyphus’s watermelon

    What you’ve presented is an actually a very good argument. Too effective in fact. I would say it falls under the category of arguments which prove too much.

    What do I mean? It’s true that blogs are privately owned and neither TOC admins nor their moderation policy are elected by the people. But this argument can be applied almost anywhere.

    Why do TOC, TR and the countless other blogs and netizens decry partisan bias of the mainstream media? Why do people espouse the idea of the media acting as a watchdog on political hegemony when they neither elect nor own the media? Take a good look at CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, The New York Times and other news companies. There’s no reason why American citizens should expect their mainstream media to be fair and balanced. Did they elect the journalists, news anchors and head of these organisations? Of course not.

    Even if a news corporation is a public company such as Fox’s News Corp, it is not obligated to be unbiased. It only needs to please its shareholders (more specifically a mere majority of them) and generate favourable earnings reports (and dividends). Thus far, I don’t see critics of Fox News pointing out that News Corp shareholders would like Fox News Channel to be less partisan in their reporting. So does this mean that all that decrying, hullabaloo that the mainstream media in Singapore is biased in favour of the ruling party most of the time is unjustified? Unlike TOC, neither Mediacorp nor SPH claim to be a community of Singaporeans. They don’t even make any claims to be fair and balanced or unbiased. And yet Singaporeans expect them to be neutral and balanced in their reporting. Why?

    If we take your argument to its conclusion, then all these critics are dead wrong. They shouldn’t have any say in how the mainstream media is run. All those media freedom surveys and rankings are thus pointless and flawed. SPH only needs to satisfy its major shareholders which are Citibank, DBS, HSBC, DBSN Services etc.

    Mediacorp would only need to please Temasek Holdings, which owns all of it. Temasek Holdings in turn is 100% owned by the Ministry of Finance, which is the government and going by the last election where the PAP won all but two seats, there’s really no need to give fair and equal coverage to the Opposition. It is hence not unjustified in giving one-sided coverage at all. If you argue that being owned by the government means that it has to be accountable, what if Mediacorp were bought out by an extremely pro-PAP businessman and becomes entirely privately owned? Is their bias still unjustified? Where do you draw the line?

    Is that really your ideal of how the media should work? Why do we even believe that the media has an obligation to be neutral and unbiased, if all that matters is whether their owners gets a say?

    P.S. Incidentally the fallacy of arguments proving too much was exactly what both gemami and I encountered on TOC’s discussion page. I pointed out that if we make provisions for homosexual behaviour to be openly exhibited in public, then we should consider likewise for other wayward behaviour such as BDSM acts, streaking, bigamy, incest and the like.

    To my surprise, none of my critics argued that any meaningful line should be drawn. Let them all take place, they would say. It only goes to show how far disconnected those participating in that thread are from the reality on the ground. Are Singaporeans really that socially liberal? Head over to uncensored TR and you find that these people are actually outnumbered. There were of course dissenting remarks on our side, but TOC ensured virtually none of them (only 4 commenters were allowed through vs. 48 against our side) had their voices heard.

    P.P.S. Additionally I would add that I’m not even sure if TOC themselves would defend themselves the way you have done. Having openly declared that they are a community of Singaporeans with aspirations to become a platform for all regular Singaporeans, it’s only right that they actually live up to that promise and declaration. Sure as you might point out, they have a right to be hypocritical, but I doubt they themselves would openly admit to that. More likely they would have defended themselves by saying they were being consistent and not hypocritical.

    defennder

    March 7, 2011 at 11:37 AM

  20. Dear sisyphus’s watermelon,

    I have to set the records straight before anyone attempts to discuss anything out of context to the main article, which is about TOC’s moderation policy. If you want to discuss about the gay, I can host you or anyone in a separate blog. I can open up my old blog which I have not actively maintained for a while for this purpose. I guarantee no comments will be censored.

    For now, this is the picture (for the sake of those who may have missed it):

    1. Joshua wrote an article attempting to discredit the MDA for ‘abnormalizing the normal’. That’s the header for the original thread that started all this; and his intent is quite clear.

    2. I wrote a comment to question him on what he regards as ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, as his header suggested. Do not forget that I did not start the discussion on this meaningless topic. If there’s anyone guilty of creating ‘semantical squabbles’ it is him, not me.

    3. Joshua would have done well if he had either let readers reply to my comments; or; to reply himself by keeping to the thread and by stating clearly what he meant when he suggested that the gays were being ‘abnormalized’.

    4. Instead, he extracted a portion of my comments and re-published it as an article of its own (and an even smaller portion of it on Facebook – where at least the comments there were more leveled with opinions from both sides – even though I heard from two friends there that some of their comments were also disallowed).

    5. He then kept it from me and even posted a reply on both platforms to set the flow of the argument, turning it into a battle between gay lifestyle and the religious rigidity.

    6. Again, it was a sinister move to extract a portion of my comment to stand apart from the context it was written in, so as bring about ridicule to both the comments and the commentator.

    7. He further manipulated readers’ comments, as already proven here and which was also acknowledged by TOC itself when it pretended to do so to protect my interest, while giving the impression that I was the lone voice against a sea of like-minded people ready for an open gay society. Sneaky too, I would add.

    8. He then demanded that I consider leaving the debate as my comments were not in line with what TOC is championing for, giving reason that the volunteers in TOC felt slandered by my comments and were traumatized. (remember, its 48 to 1 + 2 comments each for another 3 commentators against it).

    With such solid facts staring at you in the face, the only reason I see anyone denying these facts can only be that they are all too scared to say TOC is wrong, perhaps because that would also mean the gay cause will suffer a setback for such blatant lies being engineered to present a picture that is against actual public sentiments on the subject.

    gemami

    March 7, 2011 at 1:48 PM

  21. i quote Gemami:
    “I have to set the records straight before anyone attempts to discuss anything out of context to the main article, which is about TOC’s moderation policy. If you want to discuss about the gay, I can host you or anyone in a separate blog. I can open up my old blog which I have not actively maintained for a while for this purpose. I guarantee no comments will be censored.”

    i think it means i cannot say anything outside what Gemami has decreed, n if i wish to, i will be kicked out to another blog?

    unless Gemami & Defennder are the same person, i do not see why Gemami being neither the author of the article nor the blog owner can demand that my comments are to be restricted to what he/she sees fit.

    if Gemami & Defennder are not the same person, sorry Gemami, u cannot speak on behalf of the blog owner, and pls have some respect for the owner of the blog, u can’t go to another country and make your own rules on how the citizens there should live.

    Defennder, if u the blog owner agrees with Gemami’s position, thanks for all the big words u guys have on free speech & wat nots,

    for, u guys have fulfill all the that accusations u guys have made on TOC, & even outperformed them in terms of comment moderation.

    but i not to worry i am not going to another internet platform and complain abt u, well, this blog is a private entity and u are entitled to make the rules.

    just say, no, i cannot speak abt anything else & i had overstayed by welcome,

    i will gladly take my leave.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 7, 2011 at 8:17 PM

  22. sisyphus’s watermelon

    Gemami and I are two separate individuals. Only I have the right to post in this blog. No other WordPress accounts are granted posting rights. I have granted him no administrative rights over this blog.

    If you haven’t noticed, I do not have a moderation policy for this blog. All comments posted will appear immediately unless they contain 10 links or more (the usual WordPress limit is 2 but I increased it to 10 fearing that legitimate comments would be blocked). I have checked the moderation queue and there isn’t any comment pending save for a spam comment caught by the automatic Akismet filter. That comment is clearly not yours.

    I do not know why you are claiming that I am censoring you in any way. I have not moderated or deleted any comment since I started this blog. All comments including personal attacks, ad hominem insults have been approved. The only comments which are not approved are spam caught by Akismet and so far none of those comments are non-spam remarks.

    You are free to say or post what you want here. I’m not sure why you’re making a big fuss over what gemami has said given that he has no admin rights or control over how comments are approved here.

    Please kindly address my arguments and his as we have put forward here. You are not censored in any way. If you are, kindly take a screenshot to prove your case. You are free to upload that to TOC or any blog or any Internet platform of your desire.

    Regards,
    Defennder

    P.S. If you can’t or won’t address the arguments you only need say so or stop commenting altogether. There’s no need to kick up a big fuss over another individuals’ comments when that individual has no admin rights or control over what you can say.

    defennder

    March 7, 2011 at 8:46 PM

  23. Defennder,

    I welcome your clarifications, i am not saying my comment were moderated, they were not, but demands were made on me,i had to seek a clarification, especially when the relationship between u and Gemami seems intriguing (before your clarification).

    i think if u find someone who has never visited this blog b4 and show him this article and the comments, theres i high chance, he’d think this is a team blog co-chaired by Defennder & Gemami.

    Gemami tried to set an arbitrary limit on the scope of discussion, speaking in a style as if he is the blog owner or some big shot with special authority.

    now it has been settled, we can proceed, to be honest, i am here becos i generally like your style of intellectual engagement & i reckon this place is probably worth my time. (else why should i be here? lets admit it, posting comments do consume time & time is valuable)

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 7, 2011 at 9:34 PM

  24. Hi sisyphus’s watermelon,

    I do not mean to be offensive in any way. All I did was to pick up what Defennder has asked of his guests, that we keep to the points of his article. It is out if respect to his call that I suggested we take our discussion away from this thread and site if your intention is to discuss the gay issue. I am sure you will agree thar this is a respectful suggestion on my part, in order that I do not impose myself here in Defennder’s private blog while at the same time give you the opportunity to discuss a non-related issue in my own private site.

    I do hope you stick around to discuss your points with Defennder and at the same time take up my invite for a discussion as well.

    Of course I will respect your decision, whatever it may be. Finally, I will not hesitate to offer my apologies if I have given the impression of being disrespectful to you. I cannot speak for Defennder but I do hope he allows us to stay on to discuss our opinions.

    Thanks.
    Gemami

    Gemami

    March 7, 2011 at 9:40 PM

  25. i think that u r right to say that TOC will not defend themselves in this manner, in fact few organizations will.

    even though they do have the absolute discretion to do as they please, it is simply rude and immodest for any person/organization to state so in a blunt manner.

    i quote u: “generally Singaporeans expect the mainstream media to be neutral and balanced in their reporting”

    i cannot speak on behalf of singaporeans, but i would like to add that the concept of Press Freedom only guarantees freedom of communication free from interference from the state/any other parties.

    ‘neutral and balanced’ is not necessarily guaranteed within the concept of press freedom.

    the mainstream media we have is an extension of the government, & therefore it is accountable, since the government is elected.

    within the regulatory framework,

    if Mediacorp were bought out by an extremely pro-PAP businessman and becomes entirely privately owned, then they can do watever they please, for they are a private entity. that is where i draw the line.

    if Mediacorp were bought out by an extremely pro-WP businessman and becomes entirely privately owned, then they can do watever they please as well.

    once again the market forces will come in and decide, if a media agency does one sided reporting it can only corner one part of the market, if they are comfortable with that, so be it.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 7, 2011 at 10:47 PM

  26. perhaps u did not realize it, i think at least 1 commentator suggest where the line should be drawn in the form of John Stuart Mill’s principle of harm.

    if i remembered correctly, u said on the record that “I don’t even support 377A.” in TOC on 24 02 2011.

    so i guess u had already drawn the line in your heart, though i am curious it’s based on what justifications?

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 7, 2011 at 11:27 PM

  27. the 2 comments above are for Defennder,

    the second comment is made in regard to drawing the line between, pedophilia, homosexuality, incest & etc.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 8, 2011 at 10:23 AM

  28. Gemami,

    I cannot say i am offended, but perhaps mildly perplexed, it seems that your position on free speech is more liberal than me, and yet your proposed controls on the scope of discussion here runs contrary to your position.

    ,

    if u don’t mind, i will side track a little more, having read all the comments in that controversial article at TOC, one commentator brought up a novel argument of free will.

    lest we offend the religious folks in other faith systems, say, we do a thought experiment:

    1. assuming that the monotheistic deity of your faith exists,

    2. this deity has granted free will to all human beings

    conclusion: the free will granted is equal to all beings, no individual is MORE equal than others, therefore demands made on their preferred choice of living (in this case homosexuality) is trespassing on their free will which is granted by your deity.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 8, 2011 at 10:43 AM

  29. sisyphus’s watermelon,

    I am happy to hear that you are not offended. I am now asking for Defennder’s blessing to allow me to reply to your comment. We do have different opinions. An example is the MDA, so we are most certainly different from each other and I wouldn’t dare impose myself on his private turf.

    Perhaps I should start with your perplexity? It does not surprise me actually. Many have commented about me thinking they know me well enough to do so. I am grateful that you have at least taken the trouble to discern for yourself, and whatever view or opinion you now have of me, I can and will only respect them.

    You are right that I am more liberal than most people would give me credit for. I was once a very strong opponent of the gay, unyielding and rigid. In my past arguments, I never once touched on ‘religion’. To me, that was a very private domain between me and my God. Joshua had on many occasions attempted to draw me in to it but he never quite succeeded. Anyway, I digressed. Point is, after having argued numerous times in cyberspace, and listening to some very objective arguments from some of the gays, my position and views about them have changed somewhat along the way. So, I am not as monstrously devilish and rigid as some see me.

    Let me now try to follow your argument on ‘free will’. I do agree that it is a novel argument; one in which I might compare to allowing a kid to do as he wishes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the gay is immature or childish. It is just a statement to show you how ‘novel’ the argument is.

    Furthermore, different people perceive ‘free will’ differently. Rebellious children very often use it against their parents, the authorities and against society when they behave anti-socially and with disregard for others.

    Sure, you may argue ‘free will’ is ‘free will’ per se. But surely you must keep in mind that ‘free will’ is a religious context, and in the religious context by which it was defined; it has to be tied in with the rules and regulations that binds the religious package together as one. In Christianity, we have the Commandments and religious statutes. With this understanding, you will see that it no longer is a question of equality.

    Now, just to add to the point on ‘free will’, and to give you an idea what it means to the Christian: the free will of a Christian is given to him to decide whether he is for or against his God. It is NOT a free will for him to give leverage to what he decides for himself, although such a decision will ultimately be used to judge whether he has chosen for or against his God. I hope you see the difference here and if you need further clarification I will gladly be of service.

    Since you have read all my comments, would you allow me one question? My argument in the last thread in TOC has been this: If I, while deciding what is best for myself, is being seen as an offence to another; whose fault is it? This was the only question I had sought an answer to. The other questions were all relative to this.

    You see, sometimes it is not that the Christian (or even the traditionalist) is against the gay, as can be attested by TOC’s claim of heterosexual support for the gay, it is plainly because of either the individual or the collective decision they make for themselves. This has been misconstrued by the gay community as a sinister ploy to prevent the community from societal integration and discrimination.

    It does no one any good to trivialize such a complicated issue by writing articles which show disdain for the other. The only good which can come out of this is when all parties understand where each is coming from, and based on that knowledge, to sit down and identify the little pockets of space where all can congregate together as one and without acrimony.

    Now that you understand more clearly, do you still think of me as the monstrous demon I am made out to be? I am nice when people are nice, and I am a little bit not nice when people are arguing for a fight. Many of us are the same aren’t we?

    Have a nice day.
    gemami

    gemami

    March 8, 2011 at 1:55 PM

  30. Hi gemami and sisyphus’s watermelon

    Sorry I haven’t replied. Have been getting busy these few days. If any queries are directed at me please note that I won’t be able to reply until a few days later. You are free to continue your discussion here. As per the the non-existent moderation policy, nothing will be disallowed. I have complete trust in both of you to converse in good faith.

    I will reply to both of you at length (if necessary) when I have the time.

    Apologies for this.

    P.S. I’m somewhat flattered that you have chosen to continue this discussion here rather than elsewhere. There’s not much traffic here, so be mindful that much of what you write will only be seen by a few people. Not saying you shouldn’t spend time to think before typing though.

    defennder

    March 8, 2011 at 6:54 PM

  31. i quote u: If I, while deciding what is best for myself, is being seen as an offence to another; whose fault is it?

    regarding your question,

    as far as i am concerned, there is nothing wrong with deciding what is best for oneself as long as whatever that has been decided is not forced upon others and does not cause any harm to others.

    on being “offence”,

    it works both ways, if u say, some of the homosexuals are offended by your life choices & u take issue with that.

    in the same way the reverse is also true.

    were u not also offended by their choices? if not, why write that TOC article?

    on free will,

    first of all, the way u frame your argument, all the non-christians are not affected by your defence, i thank you on their behalf with regards to your generosity.

    secondly, i find your argument to be unsatisfactory, on the same provision of assuming that the monotheistic deity of your faith exists,

    u said they will be judged eventually, but surely not by u (i think), it only reinforces my point that u are not in a position to judge them or make demands to curb the free will they possess. (by trespassing on their free will)

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 10, 2011 at 8:01 PM

  32. further on free will,

    on children, children are minors, it’s not a good comparison when homosexuals who are capable of fighting for gay rights are predictably – adults.

    although i choose to believe we have free will, u do not have to, i don’t wish to mislead u.

    depending on which christian denomination u are from, the church’s stand on free will varies, some do not believe in free will at all, so in case u might be misrepresenting your faith, i suggest your check with the church leaders.

    i just don’t want a case when i set the mental barrier of a discussion like: how many apples are we eating today?

    when we can legitimately argue not just how many apples but also how many grapes & bananas.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 10, 2011 at 8:27 PM

  33. 1. sisyphus’s watermelon

    Great. There are a couple of conflicting opinions we can try to address and align.

    This is how I see the whole situation and I hope you can help me identify where I have gone wrong. This is the first conflict:

    “as far as i am concerned, there is nothing wrong with deciding what is best for oneself as long as whatever that has been decided is not forced upon others and does not cause any harm to others.” : sisyphus’s watermelon.

    It looks like we are agreed that there is nothing wrong in deciding what’s best for oneself. I am sure the gay community is deciding what’s best for itself too. However, the problem is when that particular decision is seen as being ‘forcefully’ imposed on the other. We do have a problem don’t we, and that problem lies quite clearly with ‘perception’.

    The general perception among the gays has always been about the unwavering and unyielding position of the ‘conservatives’; particularly those steeped in religious and traditional values which see no place for gay habits and practices (or loosely classified as gay lifestyle). Most have pointed a sharp finger at the Christians, or as they often like to call them, the Fundies. But is this assessment true and accurate? Does it really reflect the larger sentiments of society, even among the liberals?

    To get to the bottom of this, we need to consider a few main points. Firstly, what is the ratio composition between the conservatives and the liberals? Is the Singapore society more liberal or conservative? Who is in control, the liberals or the conservatives?

    Honestly, I do not have the actual numbers of both camps. What I do know is that the Christian makes up only about 10 to 15 percent of the entire Singapore population. Maybe less now, with the ever flowing influx of foreigners to our shores. Of this small percentage, there are many who lend support to the gay cause. So, what are we left with – 5 percent, 10 percent?

    Who else is conservative among the other religions? As I have been made to believe in TOC, the Hindu is not, the Buddhist is not, the Atheist is not, the Agnostic is not. So who are we left with? The Muslims? They too are divided aren’t they? So how many percent of the population can be classified ‘conservatives’? Twenty, thirty, forty? Let’s say it’s forty. Wow! You have enough liberals on your side to push your cause successfully across. Why didn’t it happened? Something else must be at play isn’t it?

    Is it not fair then for me to think out loud and suggest that it could possibly be the ‘ingrained’ values and characteristics of what each individual is, when these individuals decided collectively that some laws which can be deemed discriminatory are kept over that which are not deemed discriminatory? It has to be. If this is the case, then what are we fighting over at ground level?

    That’s why I challenged Joshua to state why he has to resort to using terms like Normal and Abnormal to make himself look bad in order to look good to others?

    No one is forcing anything on anyone. It always has been in the interest of the larger society that rules of law are enacted. Some are fair, some are not. We fight the unfair ones where the fight ought to be fought, not by blaming another segment of society for who they have always been, or who they are.

    Am I offended by the gay’s life choices? Honestly? Yes, in some ways. Am I offended by the heterosexual’s life choices? Yes, in some ways too? So why call me bias? I am against an overly sexually promiscuous society, never mind the sexual orientation. I am against ‘R’ rated movies being screened in heartland cinemas. So why am I seen as an offence when I speak up against the gay for pushing toward gay promiscuity; and it is not an offence to speak against the liberal society for being similarly sexually promiscuous too?

    You see, there will be no end when we pick fights against each other. Go ahead and join forces with the gay community, on their gay platforms, their gay programs and their gay outreach activities. You don’t see anyone making noises there against them. I have visited many of their websites and blogs and I would just ‘take it all in’.

    But when you cross over to the main and ‘generic’ platforms, the game changes. For example; I know I will be asking for trouble if I go onto a public forum to push my Christian values. It is one reason why I never discussed religion. Even at TOC, you could see I was just presenting who I am and not Christianity. I just happened to be a Christian and therefore became an ‘easy’ target to many.

    The second conflict is over ‘free will’. I do not have to check with any Christian authority over what this means. It is clearly stated in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Adam and Eve were given the free will to choose between good and evil. It’s as simple as that. It’s either they choose good (God) or they choose evil (Devil). They were never told to choose camel leather over crocodile leather for clothes were they? Any other Christian who tells it otherwise does not have such an understanding and their idea of free will is therefore wrong and has nothing to do with one’s religious predilection.

    gemami

    March 11, 2011 at 2:31 PM

  34. sisyphus’s watermelon

    It appears that we are talking past each other. Let me try to put this in another way. The issue was never whether TOC had a right to moderate comments as they did. It’s about whether their actions have gone against what they openly declare themselves to be and aspire to be; a platform for all Singaporeans. I maintain the stand your argument proves too much because it can be applied anywhere else.

    Let’s take an example. In the wake of 2006 General elections, did the Singapore government have a right to raise GST and let in countless foreign workers? Of course they did! They won an overwhelming victory at the polls, some 66% of the vote while winning all but two seats in the 84-seat Parliament. They had the votes, the legal, constitutional and political rights to do as they did. With this in mind, isn’t it absurd to believe that all those blogs criticising the government’s decision to open the floodgates to foreigners and raise GST might actually be disputing whether the ruling party had a right to do so? That was never the criticism to begin with. To assert otherwise would be a strawman argument fallacy. Critics are instead arguing that those policies worsen inequality which the PAP had pledged to reduce. Similarly critics of TOC are arguing that its excessive moderation goes against the spirit of its declaration to be a platform for all Singaporeans. They are not disputing that TOC has a right to moderate.

    Take note that your argument can be used to justify virtually anything TOC is able to do. Suppose one day TOC decides to approve only comments which praise them or attack the PAP. Everything else is deleted. Do they have a right to do so? Of course, it’s their blog after all. According to your argument, they have every right to do so and I fully agree with that. But isn’t this contrary to what they stand for? This is exactly the point the article and TOC’s critics have tried to make. I don’t see you actually addressing the argument.

    As I’ve said before you are defending TOC from an angle which they themselves are not willing to take. TOC’s reply did not assert they they have a right to moderate as they please. That was never disputed at all by its critics and myself. They only re-iterated that their actions are consistent with their aspirations and moderation policy while ignoring all the main arguments in this article which proved otherwise.

    This comment posted on TOC’s reply sums up what critics are really saying. It was never about whether TOC had the right to do as they please.

    The fact of the matter is, TOC did censored and deleted many opposing posts that differ or oppose their thoughts or values that they are championing…like trying to “influence” readers that homosexuality is normal.

    This is well and good, but they cannot on the other hand, criticise the mainstream media for stiffening freedom of expression, when they are are doing exactly the same thing…this only makes the editors a bunch of hypocrites, and has no credibility in what it is fighting for all this while!

    Perhaps, TOC can stop their hypocritical and double standard stand on championing freedom of speech, and no one will have any issue with them!

    Secondly this is with reference to your later comment. I don’t understand why you’re bringing up my beliefs on 377A here. I don’t see how that’s relevant to the discussion. I don’t wish to sidetrack this discussion on TOC’s censorship and moderation with another on gay rights. Perhaps this is best addressed in a future post.

    On another note, I’m not sure exactly what you’re arguing. Are you defending TOC’s actions with regards to their moderation policy and stated aims? Or just defending them with whatever you can come up with while ignoring the main issue? You have defended them with arguments which has been refuted in the comments; ie. errant moderator which happened to be online at that point in time, that they have a right as they own the blog etc. I hope you are here because you have a genuine point to make. It’s fine to defend TOC, but I would of course prefer if you did so while also considering what they have openly declared themselves to be.

    Bringing up an unrelated point (like my own beliefs on 377A) only makes me wonder if you’re resorting to the tactic of throwing mud at the wall, and see what sticks. It doesn’t help that you also spuriously took offence at gemami’s (someone who has no control over how this blog is administered) comment that I’m restricting your comments. Claiming that I’ve “outperformed them in terms of comment moderation” is a totally bizarre remark given that absolutely zero comments have been censored here to date.

    defennder

    March 12, 2011 at 5:28 PM

  35. Defennder,

    some quick clarifications first,

    firstly, i quoted your belief on 377A simple becos U boldly claim that no commentator had suggested “where the line should be drawn” (i note that this is your pet phrase)

    u said “To my surprise, none of my critics argued that any meaningful line should be drawn.”

    in response(to prove your claim wrong), i said one commentator actually suggested one, which is the principle of harm, while at the same time i noted that u had also drawn a line but did not divulge upon what justifications it was based on.

    i cannot see why am i faulted when u r the one who (started it by) made a claim regarding that controversial TOC article.

    on this note, i wish to say that

    1. any person has to accept being quoted ad verbatim when they made a comment on the record.

    2. how different are u from Gemami when u say “I don’t wish to sidetrack this discussion on TOC’s censorship and moderation with another on gay rights. Perhaps this is best addressed in a future post.”

    with this statement, does it mean that my comments will get moderated if i persist on talking abt 377A?

    please remember that comments on 377A is neither vulgarity, spam, nor personal attack.

    are u in a dilemma whether to censor me or not IF i persist on talking abt it?

    i hope not.

    i also hope that u do not selectively fail to read the word [IF] whenever i write them.

    ;

    secondly,

    i quote myself: “Defennder, if u the blog owner agrees with Gemami’s position, thanks for all the big words u guys have on free speech & wat nots,

    for, u guys have fulfill all the that accusations u guys have made on TOC, & even outperformed them in terms of comment moderation.”

    i said IF. this statement does not suggest that my comments were moderated,

    and i subsequently reiterated that none of my comments were moderated.

    i requested for a clarification and i got one, and i gladly accepted it, so why are we moving backwards now by taking the skeleton out of the closet and whipping it all over again?

    perhaps u had ran out of valid points to make in order for us to move ahead and prefers to go in reverse direction?

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 14, 2011 at 6:47 PM

  36. Defennder,

    i quote u:
    “According to your argument, they have every right to do so and I fully agree with that. But isn’t this contrary to what they stand for? This is exactly the point the article and TOC’s critics have tried to make. I don’t see you actually addressing the argument.”

    we both agree that we can criticize but we don’t have the right to overrule TOC’s moderation policy.

    this part is settled.

    u think their moderation practices vs their aspirations are not consistent, while i do not think the case presented is strong enough, so, what else do u want me to say?

    next

    i had already made the case that governement-TOC comparison is a apple and orange comparison, so why are u repeating this argument again?

    if u disagree, u have to prove my argument wrong, if u subscribe to the old debate tactic,

    whereby if u cannot dispute an argument, u do:

    step 1: u ignore it & pretend not it see it. (selective blindness)

    step 2: continue repeating your own point until it becomes “accepted”. (droning on n on until the opponent gives up, fails/forgets to dispute or simply could not be bothered to challenge it in such a repetitive manner)

    then, there no point discussing this further.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 14, 2011 at 7:34 PM

  37. Gemami,

    the main point i was making is that u were not entitled to judge the homosexuals , and since u did not dispute it, i take it that u accepted it.

    i quote u:

    “That’s why I challenged Joshua to state why he has to resort to using terms like Normal and Abnormal to make himself look bad in order to look good to others? ”

    all the paragraphs above this line was a generously devoted to guesstimated numbers and percentages where none of us here can prove or agree on.

    moreover since we are not settling act 377A via a constitutional referendum, it is pointless.

    the 4 paragraphs after that is tells us more abt yourself, i appreciate that, & i don’t find any need to address any of that, thanks for sharing.

    on free will,

    i quote u: “It is clearly stated in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Adam and Eve were given the free will to choose between good and evil. It’s as simple as that. ”

    i request that u quote scripture evidence to back up your claim.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 14, 2011 at 8:05 PM

  38. sisyphus’s watermelon

    “…we both agree that we can criticize but we don’t have the right to overrule TOC’s moderation policy…” sisyphus’s watermelon.

    I don’t know if you are for real or you are just arguing for the sake of argument. Who in his right mind would think he can overrule any blog owner’s moderation policy? ‘The Overkill Censor’ is an article criticizing TOC for its extreme use of moderation and censorship to put good effect on the cause it sets for itself. That was the argument of the article and it has nothing to do with demanding ‘an overrule’ of what it thinks best for itself. Go ahead to chop and paste for all I care but please don’t call yourself a Community of Singaporeans because when you do that I will do what I can to show you up for who you really are.

    Similarly, (as you tend to have a habit of misinterpreting what you read), the argument over judgment is one which you are arguing with yourself. I have taken so much pain to explain why I have avoided religion so as not to come across as one who judges, yet, very much like Joshua, you are attempting to go where you don’t even know.

    Instead of arguing the point, you are now asking for Scriptural quotes to support my argument. Pray tell me then, where in the Secular world does the support for Free Will can be found? Is there a quote somewhere you can provide?

    And, what do you think the gay person would do once I provide the quote you seek? Do you think he will he go: “Oh! There’s a quote from Scripture. I now accept Gemami’s argument because he has proven that Free Will is as he has explained?” (I shall keep the comment that flows here to myself).

    I took pains to go slow with you because I felt you were sincere in wanting to know why I said the things I said but apparently, by brushing off my views when they were meant to provide you the background to the reason why I have argued that religion, tradition, culture and moral values are some areas that govern the thinking faculty of many of us, whatever persuasions notwithstanding; you have shown yourself devoid of any credible opposing opinion. You failed to appreciate the point and attempted to evade the argument without so much as providing a counter viewpoint.

    Sorry to say, I cannot proceed further from here until you either agree or disagree with my views, and if you disagree, to provide your point of view. If you’re lost, here is the crux of it:

    You have enough liberals in Singapore to win the argument hands down, as portrayed by TOC.
    1. Why hasn’t that translate to the kind of liberal society the gay is seeking after?
    2. Are the conservatives and religious responsible for the gay’s predicament?

    I think these are simple enough questions.

    gemami

    March 15, 2011 at 11:52 AM

  39. i suggest that u can stop trying to perform your overly used rhetorical gymnastics here, i am not as gullible or unsuspecting as TOC commentators who answered your loaded questions.

    Are the homosexuals responsible for the religious/conservatives’s predicament?

    If there are enough religious/conservatives in Singapore to win the argument hands down, why hasn’t that translate to the kind of society the religious is seeking?

    i don’t intend to repeat myself, on occasions where i think u have a point worth responding to, i had already expressed my point of view, perhaps u chose to pretend not to see them or u r not sharp enough to pick it up, well, either way, i am not bothered.

    i quote u: “I cannot proceed further from here until you either agree or disagree with my views, and if you disagree, to provide your point of view.”

    if u cannot proceed further, then don’t.

    i think this is a simple enough answer.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 15, 2011 at 10:18 PM

  40. Sisyphus’s watermelon,

    And what has your last rant got to do with the argument? Working too hard aren’t you. Woah! That’s sharp!

    It’s ok for me how you think. One thing’s for sure. You have just proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the gay behavior is as typical as some of us have made it out to be, especially when debating in a forum. When devoid of reasonable counter pov, criticize the opponent to seek a way out. How disrespectful can this be?

    It is also proven, again beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is not only ‘selective censorship’ but also selective reading.

    Gemami

    March 16, 2011 at 6:18 AM

  41. Hi Defennder,

    Thanks for hosting our arguments and for allowing us to go off-topic. I guess this will be the end of this conversation in this thread. Although the outcome wasn’t what I had hoped it would be, it nevertheless confirmed some, if not all, of the claims we have made about TOC, it’s gay readers and the selective censorship they are guilty of, whether by the lead taken by article writers or the reader himself – to choose and pick what he wants to read and disregard the rest.

    SW has shown by his last comment that he was arguing for the sake of arguIng, very much like the free willy comments and accusations he had made in TOC under a different nick. His style of writing, sinebod the phrases he used and the manner in which he argued here are very similar and it dies not take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    Gemami

    March 16, 2011 at 6:40 AM

  42. sisyphus’s watermelon

    I’m currently getting overwhelmed with work. Will reply at a later date. Other commenters deserve a reply from myself too. You’ve made a number of points that I feel I should address even if you’ve decided not to comment any more. For the 3rd and umpteenth time, let me stress that there is no comment moderation on this blog. How many times would you have me repeat this before you’re willing to accept it? Is it necessary to take out a full page ad on the Straits Times before you’re convinced? Don’t I have a right as a commenter to request that we discuss something else? Or do you do the same thing to your friends? Start screaming “Censorship!” if they request that you speak about something else?

    Gemami
    It looks like this discussion with SW is going nowhere and downhill. I shall use what limited time I have to address other commenters on this blog. Any reply to him will be deferred after I’ve replied to others. Yes I’m beginning to see a similarity of pattern as you’ve said as to what TOC commenters did on that TOC article and what I’m witnessing here. But in the interest of fairness, it’s best if SW explains himself, if he’s still willing to do so that is. To be fair, I admit I wasn’t quite following your conversation with him.

    defennder

    March 17, 2011 at 12:57 PM

  43. addressed to all readers in general,

    i find it most unfortunate that Gemami seems to be permanently engulfed in red mist ever since the TOC episode, it seems to have impaired his judgment so much so that he/she would prefer to treat me(& perhaps any other person who came along which did not agree with him) like a proxy or apologist for the TOC,

    it’s like i am a convenient surrogate punching bag, perhaps Gemami thinks that by establishing me as a straw-man representation of the editor of TOC & subsequently proceeding to ‘demolish’ this ‘imagined substitute’, it might be a way of solving the psychological imbalances he/she acquired from the TOC episode?

    i find it rather amusing, but i am not a picky person, else i would have ignored Gemami since day 1.

    for the record, i don’t even believe in free will in christian context, first of all, it’s not well supported by the scriptures in an explicit manner, secondly, ppl like the calvinists don’t even believe in free will, since the concept is not wholly accepted by the christian community, it’s not really an argument-proper,

    but as an useful thought experiment, and a test for Gemami, of which i am quite happy to play the devil’s advocate & reasonably happy with the test results.

    any Christian who declares another Christian’s position of free will be to wrong without any proof simply underlines a lack of depth in the understanding of the subject matter.

    i see Defennder as more of a Gemami sympathizer, but prefers not to comment any more in case it looks like a 2 vs 1 bullying match & also perhaps Defenner is also getting disillusioned with Gemami style of debating which is not compatible with his.

    after such a lengthy exchange with Gemami, honestly i have to admit, i already cannot tell whether the issue is really with TOC’s moderation policy or is it more of a personal crusade against a particular person.

    on an ending note, for those who think this last paragraph is the usual victory proclamation exercise coupled with some cheap potshots aimed at Gemami, i am afraid i would have to disappoint u, i just don’t think it’s meaningful, i am sure u the reader can decide the merits of each side for yourselves.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 17, 2011 at 7:26 PM

  44. Out of respect for the blog owner, Defennder, I shall not stoop so low as my opponent and resort to attacking the person rather than the points discussed. Neither will I continue with this argument which has gone off-tangent and is in fact very disrespectful to the owner and author of the article in this thread especially when the argument descends to name-callIng and mindless criticism. My case is definitely rested and so does the author of the article above.

    Gemami

    March 17, 2011 at 8:14 PM

  45. Defennder,

    please take your time, i will try to respond to u if possible.

    a fellow commentator can make a request to another commentator regarding the scope of comments, but i hope u understand that i am not trying to be immodest or rude, but as a matter of principle the request will be ignored,

    i practice this in any forum, not just here.

    in relation to me, a fellow commentator is an equal player in the market place of ideas,

    hence, i can see no reason why their preference should enjoy a privileged status over mine.

    but if u make a request as a blog owner, i can accept it if the justifications are reasonable enough.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 17, 2011 at 8:50 PM

  46. i quote u: “Or do you do the same thing to your friends?”

    no i don’t🙂

    in the real world there are often other dynamics at play, hence we can never quite be as authentic as we would like to be.

    i suppose this is the attractiveness & beauty of relative anonymity of the internet.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 17, 2011 at 8:55 PM

  47. kindly allow me the right of reply,

    i quote Gemami:
    “For now, this is the picture (for the sake of those who may have missed it):

    1. Joshua wrote an article attempting to discredit the MDA for ‘abnormalizing the normal’. That’s the header for the original thread that started all this; and his intent is quite clear.

    2. I wrote a comment to question him on what he regards as ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, as his header suggested. Do not forget that I did not start the discussion on this meaningless topic. If there’s anyone guilty of creating ‘semantical squabbles’ it is him, not me.

    3. Joshua would have done well if he had either let readers reply to my comments; or; to reply himself by keeping to the thread and by stating clearly what he meant when he suggested that the gays were being ‘abnormalized’.

    4. Instead, he extracted a portion of my comments and re-published it as an article of its own (and an even smaller portion of it on Facebook – where at least the comments there were more leveled with opinions from both sides – even though I heard from two friends there that some of their comments were also disallowed).

    5. He then kept it from me and even posted a reply on both platforms to set the flow of the argument, turning it into a battle between gay lifestyle and the religious rigidity.

    6. Again, it was a sinister move to extract a portion of my comment to stand apart from the context it was written in, so as bring about ridicule to both the comments and the commentator.

    7. He further manipulated readers’ comments, as already proven here and which was also acknowledged by TOC itself when it pretended to do so to protect my interest, while giving the impression that I was the lone voice against a sea of like-minded people ready for an open gay society. Sneaky too, I would add.

    8. He then demanded that I consider leaving the debate as my comments were not in line with what TOC is championing for, giving reason that the volunteers in TOC felt slandered by my comments and were traumatized. (remember, its 48 to 1 + 2 comments each for another 3 commentators against it).”

    sinister?

    manipulated?

    is this a better example of attacking the person rather than the points?

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 17, 2011 at 10:59 PM

  48. Nice try SW but your latest comment just reinforced my point that you are either lost in your own argument or you are simply too emotional to make any sense. Every single point I mentioned about Joshua was unashamedly acknowledged by Joshua himself. There was no need for me to attack the person that he is. In fact, he even said that he will continue to behave the way he did to push the gay agenda. Why do you think I am spending so much time and effort to reveal the person that he is? If you still cannot follow the argument then there is really no way for
    me to help you at all.

    Over here in Defennder’s blog, I have been very respectful when arguing with you but you have shown, time and time again that you are more interested to criticize both myself and the blog owner.

    You are only now attempting to argue your point but sorry, you’re too late for me. I now have better things to do than to listen to your rhetorics.

    Good night and all the best to you. We’ll surely meet again in cyberspace – if you use the same nick of course.

    Gemami

    March 17, 2011 at 11:26 PM

  49. sisyphus’s watermelon

    Your unrivalled pedantry in provoking and starting arguments within other arguments is becoming increasingly irritating especially when coupled with your selective tendency in addressing certain comments and ignoring others. There is no “preference” or bias on my part with regards to gemami’s request. He has requested (and I have granted) permission that a tangentially related topic be allowed to for discussion within the comments of an article whose main focus is elsewhere. Even that request itself is unnecessary because there’s no moderation on this blog. What would it take to drill this simple idea into your cranium?

    I made that request of you because I was conversing with you and not gemami. Would it make sense if I were to request a friend who’s talking to another friend that they talk about something else when I’m not even party to their conversation? What inconsistency do you detect on my part when I request that you do not bring up certain topics in our discussion because I would rather not discuss them? That I’m being inconsistent for not requesting that gemami do likewise? You’re free to say whatever the heck you want in your conversation with him. It’s just that I would rather talk to you about something more related to the article purely in the role of a commenter.

    Is that wrong or inconsistent or just plain stupid on my part? For someone who keeps insisting TOC has every right to moderate as they please you seem to be demanding justification to just about every request I make. A glaring hypocritical inconsistency, I might add.

    And for the last time, gemami and I are separate individuals. I am sympathetic to the ideal of freedom of speech, not to anti-gay rants or anti-TOC diatribes. Those are secondary concerns. If gemami tells me to censor anyone, I will gladly ignore him.

    It appears that right from the start you were not even willing to converse or discuss this in good faith. Your “request for a clarification” was not so much a request rather than an unjustifiable and ludicrous attack on myself which prompted me to respond as I did. l should have stopped conversing right at that point because it was really nothing more than the attack of a troll. I ignored it initially because I mistakenly believed you were willing to discuss in good faith. But when you started provoking arguments within arguments it becomes all too clear that your intentions are becoming troll-like in nature.

    The entire issue of debunking the notion that TOC is not like the government is fallacious. I brought up the comparison because I mistakenly believed that you subscribed to the ideal that the mainstream media should report fairly and in a neutral manner regardless of ownership. It turns out that you later claim not to subscribe to that ideal at all. You were simply arguing for the sake of arguing much like a troll would.

    It’s like when a person tries to convince another by likening software pirating to shoplifting only to be surprised that the other party does not even believe shoplifting is theft or wrong. His stand is hardly debunked. It was a test just so I know where exactly you stood on the matter so that I know how to respond. The same applies for the TOC reply on JS Mill’s principle of no-harm. It shocks and surprises me that commenters there were unwilling to draw any reasonable lines based on cultural or societal norms but rather strictly on not harming others.

    It appears to me that your ultimate goal in this discussion is to provoke a response from myself which you would then seize upon to portray as inconsistent or hypocritical with regards to the criticism of TOC contained in this article. Nice try, but I’m not falling for that. I have the option of ignoring you which I will now exercise.

    Your latest comment only confirms what I have suspected all along. Your trollish character is starting to show its true colours. I see little reason why my conversation with you should go any further. I will not engage trolls. I would much rather spend that time addressing other commenters.

    Good day.

    P.S. It’s good to see your explicit confession as a troll here:

    i quote u: “Or do you do the same thing to your friends?”

    no i don’t🙂

    in the real world there are often other dynamics at play, hence we can never quite be as authentic as we would like to be.

    i suppose this is the attractiveness & beauty of relative anonymity of the internet.

    defennder

    March 18, 2011 at 12:10 AM

  50. the “troll red alert” position is not uncommon, if that is the way u prefer to exit a conversation i can accept that.

    now i am just waiting for some troll to come along to post a comment and declare that sisyphus’s watermelon was pwned.

    keke, thats what usually happens isn’t it?

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 18, 2011 at 9:54 AM

  51. Sisyphus’s watermelon was pwned!

    **But I am not troll**…

    And that is usually not what happens…I thought it was a more of a self-fulfilling prophecy that you wanted.

    Tosh

    March 20, 2011 at 1:27 AM

  52. Nice one Tosh,

    It is remarkable how Def & Gem could be so patient to argue with a Sissy who keeps deflecting every point they raised. From about moderation, to double-teaming, to free-will to being pwned. It’s simply the most astonishing display of trying to put intelligence into a stupid head I have ever come across from both sides of the causeway.

    Malaysian

    March 20, 2011 at 7:17 AM

  53. Tosh & Malaysian,

    thank you for taking the bait and participating in the my final test for the blog owner.

    thanks & have a nice day.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 21, 2011 at 5:38 PM

  54. Wah…you bait other people and test the blog owner….really is troll…we of course will have a nice day lah..cos we sussed out the troll on the blog…

    Tosh

    March 22, 2011 at 11:40 AM

  55. Tosh & Malaysian

    Thanks for your comments. I think you guys get the idea why this conversation turned out the way it did. At the same time I always find that the best course of action would be to simply disengage firmly and politely and comment no more. To the troll’s credit, he has not turned into a full-fledged resident troll the likes of whom plague some other blogs such as Solo Bear’s here

    Or for someone who’s much better known, Paul Krugman. Sean of Florida is his perennial critic for everything he says no matter how indisputable or irrelevant the post is to his rants:

    Sometimes I wonder what really drives such individuals? Does it give them an sense of satisfaction to score points whenever possible? I don’t know. I can understand if someone resorts to criticising another needlessly if he has been wronged, insulted or had his comments repeatedly censored, but in this case I don’t think I’ve committed either act.

    So I wish you well, and remember the best defence against a troll, short of moderating would be to simply ignore or not feed them.

    defennder

    March 22, 2011 at 11:23 PM

  56. no problem, i always take it in good humour.

    as i was saying, having been a moderator in an internet forum, it is not difficult to figure out that faceless 临时演员 like tosh & malaysian almost always pop up at the end of a conversation.

    this phenomenon had been well researched, who these ppl really are & their function is rather apparent.

    i think they had yet to realize that i already took profit from exploiting an inevitable event which i had anticipated even before they type the first word.

    troll defense is basically a reactive defense mechanism commonly used as a distraction, i agree the best way to deal with a troll is to ignore it, there is a difference between actually doing it, and doing a “cry wolf” procedure first followed by repeated prescription to do the former.

    when that happens, we know what you really think.

    if u really think i am a troll, put your money where your mouth is.

    i would gladly accept an unsubstantiated troll defense, since i stand to lose nothing as it is invalid but in return, i gained the entitlement to have the last word, which i find it to be a rather profitable bargain.

    it’s like betting with banana currency but the pay out is in gold coins. lol.

    unlike some ppl, i don’t believe in the process of ‘manufacturing high ground’ therefore i will not be attempting any here, if u follow all the exchanges, i think i had already demonstrated what i wanted to.

    “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

    – the last paragraph of Animal Farm.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 23, 2011 at 11:44 PM

  57. typical troll, always obsessed with getting the last word. i predict SW will respond after this just so he’ll get the last word. either that or he’ll just post under a different nick name. petty petty person he really is, no?

    sisyphus's banana

    March 24, 2011 at 4:19 PM

  58. in my 5 years as a moderator, i had never seen a ‘profitable’ troll defense, so i guess u can imagine the gleeful look on my face when i see one attempted on me. rofl : )

    sisyphus’s banana’s freudian slip basically highlighted the fundamental problem of ‘troll defense’ as a loser’s bargain.

    ppl who employ the ‘troll defence’ basically paint themselves into a corner of which they are left with no option other than to live vicariously via speaking through another nickname.

    that is why faceless ‘临时演员’ like sisyphus banana, tosh & the like always appear at the end of a conversation of this nature, well, it’s a natural by-product.

    although almost always seen in action after a troll-cry wolf, it’s a poor remedy action, because these ppl who pop out from no where have little ‘legitimacy’ since they did not participate in the prior debate-proper.

    it’s like a first term MP who went into parliament via a walkover, who make a wild criticism of a opposition MP who had already served in parliament for 25 years, what value does his criticism carry?

    last word or not doesn’t matter, that little pseudo-dilemma isn’t really gonnna stop me.

    i don’t see it as a bad thing, if u present me the “last word” as a gift, i see no reason not to accept it.

    i think some ppl don’t really understand the basics of internet discourse, u can only have the last word against a particular nickname because they shoot themselves in the foot by conceding the legitimacy to reply.

    apart from the blog owner, no participant will ever actually have the LAST WORD-literally.

    sisyphus’s watermelon

    March 25, 2011 at 9:24 PM

  59. WAH..You are really siao troll!!…(@_@)

    Tosh

    March 25, 2011 at 11:07 PM


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