Going The Distance (Selangor Times)
2 March 2012
We are on the brink of becoming a nation of idiots.
An argument is made, and if one disagrees with it, one makes a counter argument. This is the rational way. The intelligent way.
The idiot’s way is to scream, shout, honk motorcycle horns, let off firecrackers, hurl racial abuse and physically attack the person who is saying things you disagree with.
Sometimes the idiot’s way is loud and obnoxious as in the example above; other times it can be more measured, for example by countering an opponent’s point not with reasoning but with that lowest form of wit: sarcasm.
Whichever method is chosen, the idiot’s way does seem to be on the rise.
The people of this country deserve to be able to listen to different points of view. They have a right to listen to different points of view.
It is bad enough that they have to turn to the Internet and alternative media to obtain some semblance of balance, but when mobs can break up peaceful gatherings then we know that any thin facade of a civilised nation that we may have worn is slipping away.
What makes things worse is that there appears to be no sense of outrage from those who hold the reins of power. The people who froth at the mouth about how public gatherings can degenerate into chaos say nothing when those who commit such acts wear their shirts and are their minions.
Developed country by 2020? At this rate we should be lucky if we are not a failed state by then. Forget elections, forget human rights. Whichever group can yell the loudest and threaten the most harm, they will rule. They will determine the fate of the nation.
If you don’t like something, don’t bother coming up with a coherent argument against it, just say you will create violence and the powers that be will skitter and scamper to do your bidding.
Which raises the question, are the powers that be truly the powers that be? Or are they now mere playthings of the loutish, the crass and the crude? I have to wonder.
If one believes in freedom and human rights, one must believe it holds true for everyone. And as hard as it may be to swallow, nobody must be stopped from saying what they think, no matter how disgusted you may feel at what they have to say.
It is the burden of those who truly cherish and understand freedom to not allow personal or intellectual distaste from infringing upon the rights of others. Unfortunately such noble aspirations are not shared by the thuggish.
Yet, not for one second must we be tempted to retaliate and stop others from expressing themselves for that means we are lowering ourselves to the guttural level within which they lurk.
There is a limit to freedom however, and that is when you use your freedom to infringe upon the freedom of others.
In the past few weeks we have seen this happening many times as the boundaries of freedom are breached again and again by the mob. If this trend continues, it does not bode well for the future of Malaysia.
I said at the beginning of this article that we are on the brink of being a nation of idiots. I stopped myself from saying that we already are because I want to believe, I want to have hope, that there are enough of us who will not let it happen.
That there are enough of us who will stand up and say that we have no time for those who seek to suppress others by brute force and we have no time for those who through inaction and political cowardice let them have their way.