SGD 3500. The fine Singaporean Bryan Lim is ordered to pay after a bout of unthinking babbling in an anti-gay Facebook group.

SGD 3,500. The Price of a Rant

A friend messaged today with BIG news.

Bryan Lim got fined 3.5 K.

Exclamation mark(s) not input, but drenched between the words.

Who the f? Bryan who? I don’t know anyone with that name. Oh wait. Some housing agent active around my estate goes by that name. But why was he fined and what does it have to do with me? Who … … Oh wait. Yes. I remember now. Bryan Lim is the name of one of Singapore’s fleeting internet sensations. The one who earned fame overnight after offering services in shooting homosexuals, in a Facebook post.

Yeah. That dude.

Out of curiosity, and because it’s a Friday, I searched online and found this coverage. Yup. 3.5 K for one mindless, irresponsible, agonisingly childish rant. On Facebook.

Out of further curiosity, I also visited the Facebook group he posted his rant on. Well, what would you know? The incident educated! Sort of. I expected to see all sorts of indignant comments about the sentencing. Instead, all I found was one lengthy warning cum re-account cum lament by someone with the surname of Chiew. In short, the post didn’t challenge the Court’s decision. It mostly just insisted BL never had any real intention of harming anyone.

I read the post. I read the baffling comments to that post, one of which involved Hilary’s soon-to-come nefarious global conspiracy. Then I read the news article again.

And I thought, 3.5 K for a thoughtless rant. Hmm.

The man and his supporters ought to thanks their stars or whatever that no jail sentence was imposed. Why on earth are these supporters still lamenting persecution?

Foolish

That’s the gentlest way I could describe the man. Foolish. Someone who for a moment of glory and attention, spewed an alarming declaration without the slightest thought.

I also completely agree that he never had any intention to go around shooting gays. Why would he broadcast that in Facebook had he really wanted to? Should he did intend to go about gunning homosexuals, and inaugurated that with a Facebook declaration, then he is a violent, deranged loonie. The last I heard, Singapore doesn’t fine violent, deranged loonies. They get locked up.

One other thing. I mostly agree with defender Chiew’s insistence that pro-gay groups pounced on Bryan Lim. In fact, I feel they overdid it in some ways, such as by hounding Bryan Lim’s employer. But hey, what if the situation was reversed? What if dear Bryan is, ahem, of another persuasion, and he offers to shoot members of the anti-gay factions? Would the anti… I mean pro-family coalition immediately demand police action?

I’m sure they would. Because, while no one seriously thinks Bryan is going to go Call-of-Duty-ish anytime soon, it’s the repercussion of his words that distresses. That, by the way, was what he was fined for.

The Facebook group Bryan Lim belonged to is no top-secret, Illuminati-like organisation. It is that easy for anyone, anywhere to join. The posts on that group are also available to most people to read. What if an actual loonie gets positively orgasmic from those words, and starts planning something actual?

Maybe not a shooting, given Singapore’s strict anti-gun laws. But a knifing? An assault? Some semi-violent bullying at school or work?

When one’s words inspire mindless aggression, could one be said to be blameless? Especially when the speaker isn’t exactly, erm, knifed into making such comments. When one possesses the mental faculty to know the implication and repercussions of his words, should he be divorced from all potential outcomes?

In this age of information, one in which terrorists are recruited over social media, millions are poured into political communication campaigns, and teenagers driven to suicide by Facebook flaming, isn’t it acknowledged that words have profound effects? Actually, the group Bryan Lim belonged to. In a way, aren’t they also harnessing the power of words to further their cause?

Isn’t defender Chiew himself harnessing the power of words to draw sympathy for Bryan Lim?

Frankly, I think anyone who feels that one is entitled to go about spewing violent rubbish, and not be accountable, is a downright hypocrite and scoundrel.

As for the excuses Bryan clung onto since day one. That he was taken out of context. That he was targeting foreign entities meddling with Singaporean society, blah blah and blah. From one (ex) NS-man to another, what lan sai excuse you giving lah, bro! You think people stoopit, is it? You think you what, MP, defence minister, Singapore your lao bei’s country is it?

Please, you are none of this.

To his defenders, freedom of speech and belief do not equate freedom from responsibility. Please stop propagating otherwise. If only for your own children’s sake.

You guys got off with bad publicity and a four-figure fine. The rest of us, straights and gays and even pets, live on with the repercussion of those words. Right now, it’s still too early to know for sure whether any loonie took those words way too seriously.

About Scribbling Geek

The geek is a lover of everything birthed by imagination. He constantly dreams about faraway lands and distant realms, and through writing, envisions himself as a product of these places.

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