Brave New World (The Star Online)
19 May 2011
The irresponsible, unfounded and silly abound on the Net. It is up to responsible news organisations to verify the truth of the matter before picking up the story.
HEY! Guess what? The other day I was wandering around Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur and I saw a group of Hindus discussing something in their temple compound.
You know what? I think they want to make Malaysia a Hindu state!
They are somehow going to get two-thirds of both the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara along with the Council of Rulers to change the Constitution and make us a Hindu state.
No, don’t laugh. I recognised a politician in there among them, so it must be true.
How can you tell this story is true? Well, you are reading it in a newspaper aren’t you? And to make sure this story is truly credible, I’m going to make the same assertions on my blog.
Does this sound stupid to you? It does? Well, that is because it is.
Now in the world we live in today, anyone with a computer can say any old thing, no matter how obtuse, and then get it out for the whole planet to see.
For example, the “scoop” that a bunch of priests and politicians are going to turn this country into some sort of Christian state.
It’s a wild accusation – irresponsible, unfounded and silly.
However, on the information super highway, you get a lot of silliness and this is to be expected.
In my view, this freedom to be as dumb as you can be is a price worth paying for the freedom of expression the Net gives us.
However, I find it is surprising that this “scoop” would be carried by a newspaper. Aren’t newspapers supposed to work within this strange thing called “journalistic principles”?
Shouldn’t a newspaper check out a story first by doing a spot of investigating? I don’t know, perhaps by calling the organisers of this “insidious” meeting of Christians and asking them.
The conversation could sound something like this: “Hello Padre, are you going to convince Parliament and the Council of Rulers to make this a Christian state? You aren’t? Are you sure, because a blogger said you are.
“What’s his name? I don’t know because he uses a pseudonym. Perhaps there is some other way you want to do it, maybe by force?
“What did you say? Oh, yes, Christians make up only 7% of the population and there is no Christian Army to call upon.
“I see, so it’s just a silly accusation then? Right, well, thanks for your time Padre.”
There you go, simple. No need to do a Woodward and Bernstein with midnight visits to underground car parks to meet informers named “Deep Throat”.
A simple phone call is all it takes.
Speaking of simple, it came as no surprise at all to me to hear Ibrahim Ali jumping on this story and then proceeding to rave and rant.
He promises to lead a crusade against Christians, and that he and his jolly Perkasa pals will be the first to lay down their lives.
What a brave man he is because I would have thought that such language would definitely bring the law down on your head.
I mean what if some Buddhist said he wanted to wage war on Muslims, he would have been locked away under the ISA or the Sedition Act before he can say “bad karma”.
But then it doesn’t take much bravery to say such things where Ibrahim Ali is concerned. Especially if the de facto Law Minister has given you the freedom to make such comments.
He said we have to live with such comments and he won’t use the Sedition Act.
This is because people say such things on the Net anyway and to single out Ibrahim Ali would not be right.
Hey, that’s good to know. So if lots of people say the same thing on the Net, then the Government won’t take action against any single person? This is a fascinating new policy.
Does this mean that if, say, a thousand of us put on our blogs, tweets and Facebook that we want an armed rebellion, no action will be taken?