Wednesday, April 27, 2005

We Were Soldiers Elephants

The first time I rode on a real horse was when I visited my cousin in Indonesia 10 years ago. They lived in the countryside where it's possible to call up the neighbours to bring their horses and they would give us a ride around the surrounding areas for around $5. I was astonished when I got up the saddle. It's one horsepower, but there's just so much power and grace combined in an elegant unit. And as I was riding on it, it felt like two storeys up, and I thought to myself, "Why doesn't this thing just kill me?" One slight twist of those gigantic muscles and I'd have flown and landed very many metres away. But it doesn't do that, it just followed the leash of its keeper and gave us a very nice tour. A horse Two months ago, I visited the zoo. The elephants exhibit is so good. There's a small enclosure beside the main viewing gallery that plays a repeating documentary about the lives of elephants. One can see the majesty of these animals and then the video describes how the animals need to be tamed, and 'broken' first, before they were of use to their human handlers. Broken, in spirit. Luckily, the horses have it better than the elephants in this regard. A few elephants I have often wondered how we do the same thing with people. How do governments and superiors 'tame' and 'break the wills' of people? You can't physically beat them up, you can't force them to listen to heavy metal for 24 hours, and other related 'physical abuse' methods. So I figure if I were in charge, I'd probably use social segregation methods, labelling a segment as poor and another rich, a section of the students clever, and another section 'less clever'. With enough labels and roles, you're able to do very good product differentiation, and everyone 'knows their place' in society. And they know what to do, and what not to do. I have another unproven and unknown hypothesis to achieve such aims, especially in the context of Singapore. You litigate. Which was what happened with AcidFlask, having the dubious honour of the first Singaporean blogger to close down his site due to a threat of litigation of defamation from a division of the establisment called A*STAR. A few hours later, another LJer, nilsinelabore, decided to follow suit. I have no facts about this matter. I don't personally know the participants involved nor the circumstances which led to this. I only know that probably one side has the funds to carry out legal proceedings, and the other do not have the same resources (nor the time or will) to respond appropriately. Even though this isn't strictly 'government' bringing forth charges, precedents of government legal action against rival political opponents in Singapore, are, should we say, interesting, to say the least. I'd just like to talk about why I think suing another guy's pants off is not a good thing, especially when there's a huge disparity in the ability to respond. My main complaint for these sorts of things, even if there really is a reasonable case for it, is that it's a little like taming elephants. One doesn't reason with an elephant, one beats it until it breaks, and that, I fear, might be what's happening. But we're humans, not elephants. Humans are open to reasoning, to debate, to rational argument. And humans shouldn't hit another human. In legal cases like this, there isn't even a debate to speak off. It's ended before it's begun. Fair enough, bringing charges against someone doesn't involving actual physical harm. But I can't imagine the psychological and morale damage to a person in that situation, with the whole weight of Authority bearing down. And not only that, I think people will be cowed. And it's this sort of insidious way of controlling and taming people that worries me. How can this society progress if it's continually put down? Again, I'm not saying that my taming hypothesis is true or correct, I'm merely suggesting that this is one possibility. And it is a frightening possibility. Maybe we should be horses instead... More from SingaporeAngle. Update: Say it ain't so! It's so, unfortunately. Gilbert, ex Deputy Public Prosecutor, closes his excellent Singapore law for the laymen blog. But he'll be back, in another identity. So that he becomes untraceable. Which is bizarre. And funny! RegrabMoor is right, the satire continues, even in disclaimers and anonymity!

4 comments:

Huichieh said...

Trackback: From a Singapore Angle, "A Sad Day for the Singapore Blogosphere"

KnightofPentacles said...

Trackback:
Singapore Serf - E Pur Si Muove.

Any more rampaging elephants resulting in the loss of more blogs is going to leave me nothing but the ground to be worshipping on.

Joan said...

Read George Orwell's 1984? Its scary to live under a government, elephants under keepers whom we fear because they control our environment.

jeffyen said...

Hey thanks for the tip! I shall look it up...