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Re: DON'T Nuke Singapore Back into the Stone Age

Timothy C. May wrote:

> The point is to make clear to them that the Usenet and similar Web sites
> are global in nature, not subject to censorship without a very high local
> cost. If discussions of Lee Kwan Yew's dynasty are considered illegal, then
> Singaporans will have to choose not to carry the various newsgroups into
> which *I* post such messages!

If the govt. of Singapore wish to keep their people in ignorance of
corruption it is going to be harder than banning a few newsgroups. I
expect the opposition to be scanning USEnet and like fora for email
ending with .sg and spamming appropriately. 

The irony of censorship is that its rarely effective and almost always 
superfluous. The people of singapore are aware that their government is 
corrupt. They vote it back in because they expect the alternative to be 
at least as corrupt. Its much like the US where there is a choice
the rightwing authoritarian Republican Party and the authoritarian, 
rightwing Democrats. 

> (This was done by many of us during the Karla Homulka and Teale trial in
> Canada a couple of years ago: Canada imposed press restrictions on
> discussion of the trial and the grisly evidence...and then was chagrinned
> to find that the global Net did not adhere to their notions of what should
> and could be discussed. They even seized copies of "Wired" at the border,
> very much akin to Singapore's stone age policies.)

There is a big difference between the Canada situation and the Singapore
situation. In Canada the restrictions are temporary and stem from making
the right to a fair trial a higher priority than the right to free
It is a conflict of two competing individual liberties. No observer of
OJ Simpson trial could state that the media coverage did not affect the 
outcome. The arguments that Mill advances for freedom of speech in On
do not apply in the context of a temporary judicial injunction, they are
utilitarian (suprise) and applying his general principle of "interests"
would favour the temporary restriction.

The situation in Sigapore is simply a corrupt government trying to
legitimate democratic discussion. The intention is not to protect an 
individuals right to a fair trial, the intention is to restrict argument

It is important that in an international forum people don't start
that their local customs are universally accepted as superior. The
between Canadian and US law is a minor one and relates to different 
interpretations of a common principle. There is a vast gulf between the
Singapore position and that of either the US or Canada. This is not
a difference of local interpretation.