Monday, July 14, 2014

Censorship is bad. Discrimination is bad. Penguins are innocent.

Recently, the National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore yanked three children’s book titles off its shelves after complaints from a member of the public that the books did not promote family values. The book "And Tango Makes Three" about the real story of two male penguins hatching an egg and raising a little penguin is considered offensive. The other book "The White Swan Express" talks about families of single mom and lesbian couple is also considered offensive. And the last book "Who is in my Family?" talks about different families, including families of single parent and same-sex couple again, and is considered offensive.

So what will happen to these books after they're removed from the shelf? Ah... NLB has promised that they will be destroyed. Maybe shredded to pieces, maybe burnt, maybe disintegrated by a laser gun. Just KABOOMZ and these books shalt not exist anymore. Of course and apparently, the idea of DESTROYING A BOOK does not sit well with local writers. DUH. Because (1) One does not simply destroy a book if one IS A LIBRARY. unless one is a garang guni, fine. (2) Any writer/artist will tell you it takes LOTS of sweat and blood and money to publish a book. So to us, IT IS A SIN to destroy a book. Hell it is a taboo to even TALK about destroying a book among us! (3) So now NLB is doing censorship too? Did some Media Destroy... (oops I meant Development) Authority (MDA) officers went undercover in NLB? and lastly (4) What's wrong with these books? Are there violent or nudity in these books? Ok the penguins are in nude. But I believe that was not the concern of those concerned parents who supported the ban.

Really. So what's wrong with these books? Well, according to the Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, NLB's decision to ban three children's story books deemed "not pro-family" was in line with community norms. Like... Dude... Seriously? He forgot that the alternative, non-traditional families who are the minority in Singapore are also Singaporeans who pay tax and indirectly, pay for his salary? These minority also sing the Singapore anthem during National Day Parade, they also pick a side during General Elections leh! So because they're not the traditional one-many-one(or many)-woman family, they're not pro-family now?

So KABOOMZ! A rage of unhappiness and protests exploded on the internet. Basically people who support the Pink Dot (and NOT ALL who support the Pink Dot are LGBT mind you! I support the protection of animals from abuse but I assure you I don't look like a cat!) and believes in equality and coexistence felt that the country should not just pretend the LGBT community does not exist and treat them like glass-people. And these books is a good way to explain to kids that there are different types of families in this world, and love in the family is more important than anything else. Hell, a gay couple who loves each other and their kid is better than Andy's father who gamble away all the family's savings in World Cup and maybe his mother is considering divorce! And then there're those people, like a particular pastor, who thinks that the LGBT community is causing the country's moral to decline and like cancer, should be treated ASAP. These people feel that such books will poison the kids' minds and turn them into gays/lesbians like a magic wand.

Now what? These two groups of people will continue to fight. When one fight for freedom of knowledge and freedom to love, there's always another one that fight to keep the tradition, maybe in accordance to one's religion teaching. Just like when Abraham Lincoln wanted to free the slaves, half the country protested. But whatever the fight, and whoever are in the fight, I believe we should leave these books alone.

Look, these are children books, there to teach about family and LOVE. There are no indication of right or wrong type of families in the books. They are merely there to let the kids know that there're different types of families around them, like there're different types of nonya kuehs. A kid won't suddenly grow to like ondeh ondeh just because he/she sees it on a shelf. But at least now he/she knows there is such a kueh know as ondeh ondeh.

Anyway, if a parent is really not ready to expose his/her kid to these books, it is the parent's job to keep the books 400m away from the kid right? DON'T tell me that stupid excuse about WHAT IF your kid got hold of the book when he/she was unattended because THOU SHALT NOT LET YOUR KID RUN AROUND IN THE LIBRARY UNATTENDED in the first place! Bodoh!

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