Hornbill Unleashed

September 4, 2016

Shall we leave bigots alone?

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 9:01 PM

When the name ‘Ridhuan Tee Abdullah’ is mentioned, it is a given that it would be associated to any of one these: insensitive remarks, racist diatribes, downright foolish statements and controversial comments.

The ‘academician’ is often found in his natural element in the media, spewing all sorts of nonsense which, to most sensible-thinking Malaysians, would be the equivalent of the Donald Trump of Malaysia.

So, when MCA Youth decided to lodge a police report against Ridhuan recently, is it simply a pointless move, not even worth the paper the report is printed on?

MCA Youth secretary-general Datuk Leong Kim Soon and several members of the wing lodged the report at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters on Sept 2, and one can’t help but wonder: What will the police report achieve?

The report was purportedly on Ridhuan’s comments that Chinese Olympians only played for the money and not the glory of the nation. Considering Ridhuan himself is ethnically Chinese, this comment is clearly a mark of a mind not accustomed to intelligent thought.

In addition, although numerous police reports have been lodged against Ridhuan, the police seem unusually reluctant to take any action on him.

If so, why create more paperwork for the Royal Malaysian Police?

The habit of lodging police reports every time someone says something offensive is, frankly, superfluous. It serves no purpose save to bring attention to the hate speech in the first place, and it is more damaging to lodge a police report than to simply ignore these provocateurs.

Allow me to explain.

An article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-mcelwee/hate-speech-online_b_3620270.html) observing the censorship of hate speech noted that hate speech aims at two goals: the first, it is to tell bigots they are not alone in their bigoted views, and the second, to intimidate a targeted minority and make the minority question their dignity and status.

Ridhuan’s comments (before the ones on our Olympians) have often been aimed at women (he once blamed a rape victim for being raped), ethnic minorities (he ‘questioned’ the Thaipusam celebrations) and even against his own ‘race’ (he calls the Chinese community ultra-kiasu, which is a derogatory term meaning egotistical and unwilling to lose).

What is worse than his remarks is that he is allowed to send them out into the public sphere in the form of his columns and media coverage.

Whenever Ridhuan makes one of his ridiculous comments, someone inevitably gets outraged and lodges a police report. Media organisations then report on said report, and everyone seeks out the offending article— before you know it, everyone is equally outraged. More police reports are lodged, people take to Facebook and Twitter to express their anger, and everyone gets pretty riled up.

Meanwhile, the police do not take any action, and all it serves is to create tension among Malaysians.

So who has the last laugh? It is Ridhuan, and his ilk — Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali, Isma’s Abdullah Zaik, and any number of the racist, misogynist and extremist in Malaysia.

Their hate speech is out there, circulating the Internet, telling bigots that they are not alone, and telling minorities that they are worthless.

Recall when Ibrahim Ali threatened to burn Bibles at the height of The Herald (and the use of the word ‘Allah’ in their Bahasa Malaysia section) controversy. He dominated news headlines the next day, offending the Christian community and at the same time, saying what some of the most extremist right-wing Muslims probably thought, representing their ‘voice’ and giving them credence.

Bigots say bigoted things when they know they are part of a larger group, a sort of ‘safety in numbers’ of the worst kind.

Police reports or news reports — both of these achieve nothing more than to give validity to these hateful comments.

It is far wiser, and much more effective to ignore them instead, and mind not the provocateurs; because if you feed them, all they will do is grow.

May Wan Wong

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