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Sunday, April 26, 2009

"I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." - Mary Chase


Why you should not cancel your DBS cards because of Josie Lau

Led by Mr Wang, it seems quite a few people are cancelling their DBS cards and services.

I actually think that this move is neither justified nor prudent.

It is not justified because DBS is not in any way involved with Josie Lau's private life. Over last year's Focus on the Family brouhaha, a case could be made for boycotting DBS, because it was a corporate decision (even if it was silly to assume that everything a religious group did would be religiously-tainted), but what Josie Lau does in her free time should not concern DBS.

Furthering the logic of endangering the jobs of people whose actions you disagree with, one could do the same to people whose opinions you disagreed with (e.g. racists, misogynists, homophobes and the whole shebang) and in so doing, effectively criminalise thoughtcrime (in contrast, Operation Leper has the lesser aim of ensuring the group of 9 are not "appointed to future leadership posts in politics, voluntary/social welfare groups, and NGOs"). Ironically one could imagine, not so long ago, that it was those who were seen as gay or gay-friendly who would have their jobs threatened, but the moral here seems to be that it's okay as long as you're the one doing it - and not the one it's being done to.

Furthermore, a boycott is a very blunt tool indeed. If I oppose Israel's colonization of the West Bank, is a boycott of Israeli products the best way for me to express my displeasure, especially considering the wonky Israeli political system which gives minority parties a lot of political power (i.e. a majority of Israelis might be in favour of dismantling settlements)? In the urge to make a political point, lots of innocent people are affected; this puts me in mind of the old file sharing site Putfile (which seems to have been taken over by ebaumsworld) which, in protest of hanging, blocked Singaporean IP addresses from accessing it until "any positive move from the government of Singapore towards abolition of hanging as an execution method".

Meanwhile, it is not prudent because it just makes gays and gay-supporters look bad - spiteful and angry, and plays into the hands of the anti-gay lobby.

Even worse, the attempt to force a clash between work and personal life is a spectacular own goal for the cause of civil society since, if enough people cancel their DBS cards and services, DBS and other organizations are going to enact even stricter policies about their staff serving various causes outside the organization, even in their personal capacities.

The end result?

Gays and gay-supporters look bad and the pool of individuals active in civil society shrinks (as if it wasn't already small enough)
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