"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Politeness, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy." - Ambrose Bierce


On the Pastor only being called up by the ISD, but 3 kids being criminally investigated:

A: Well, Pastor Rony has a much larger following compared to the 2 teenagers. He has 12,000 devoted fellowers. The numbers mean larger voting power.

B: In point of principle, there is a great diversity of beliefs among humans. We can never be sure that what we say will not offend someone or other. If we are therefore not allowed to say anything that amounts to the criticism of another's beliefs, then we would not be able to say anything much at all.

C: Just want to add my 2 cents worth to this.

I think there is a problem here with how "respect" in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society is understood. While we should respect the RIGHT of everyone to believe whatever he/she wants, it does not follow that we should then automatically respected what they believe. A good analogy is smoking. I respect that a person has a right to smoke (in his or her own personal space) - although I think it is a harmful act (to himself and others). Is this naunce lost on the authorities?

Another problem is it makes a hypocrite out of everyone. Most religions, especially the Abrahamic ones, tend to be exclusive in their claims of truth. So we find in their sacred scriptures denouncing other religions. This is part of their beliefs. To force these people to say they 'respect" the beliefs (not the right of others to believe) of others makes everyone a hypocrite.

Finally as humanists, we are commited to a critical examination of all beliefs (including our own). Such criticism could easily be labelled as "insulting."


"Taking offence" - my personal opinion (and experience) is that the level of offence someone takes from criticism is almost always inversely proportion to his/her own knowledge in that field or belief. (How many physicists "take offence" when some ignoramus questions the validity of quantum mechanics?) In other words, the more ignorant the person, the deeper is the offence felt when his "beliefs" are criticised ("insulted"?! "trivilised"?). This (persons taking offence) should NOT be the yardstick by which other people are to be hauled up by the authorities.
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