There are several troubling things about the way our local mainstream media is reporting the Amos Yee case.
First, there was the false impression given by a Straits Times report that Amos Yee’s mother had made a police report against her son.
“A teenager who is in police custody for posting a video online that insulted Christianity and attacked Mr Lee Kuan Yew has been declared by his mother to be beyond her control.
“A reliable source told The Straits Times Amos Yee’s mother has made a police report to that effect.”
But as Amos’ mother told The Online Citizen (TOC), the report gave the wrong impression that somehow she was not getting along with her son, or that she wanted the police to do something to her son.
“I did not file a police report to have my son arrested,” Amos’ mother told TOC plainly.
By the way, Amos’ mother has been with her son at every court appearance, even visiting him when he was in remand.
Notice how it was the so-called alternative media (TOC) which clarified the truth of the matter.
And then there is the utter silence in the mainstream media of the vicious and vulgar threats made against Amos Yee, including one by a grassroots leader and a pro-PAP Facebook page.
There is absolutely nothing about these threats in the mainstream media.
It is, again, the alternative media which have been raising this problem – grown adults making sexual and physical threats and intimidation against a teenager.
This clearly contravenes several provisions in our laws.
Yet nothing. Nothing in the mainstream media.
Grassroots leader who wants to “cut off his dick and stuff in his mouth”, a vulgar and disturbing threat against a minor, and the mainstream media feels it is…. not newsworthy?
It is as if they are all turning a blind eye, even as a young boy is being lynched by the hysterical and unrestrained mob.
Now, it is the alternative media which is reporting that a police report has been made against one of those who had threatened Amos Yee. (Read it here.)
Will the mainstream media report this?
And now, a third issue has emerged – the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) itself has said a local newspaper has refused to publish or report its statement on Amos Yee.
Here was what SKM posted on the Facebook page of a member of the public:
Dr Wan is William Wan, the General Secretary of the movement.
He had apparently sent a letter to the media saying that “the reaction of many has been far worse than the original offense/offender.”
“It is particularly ungracious and even offensive that many are baying for Amos’ blood without consideration both for the normal wheels of justice to turn as well as the fact that he is a minor.”
Those are probably the strongest words against the lynch mob to have come from any official organisation on the Amos’ case.
When I first read about how a newspaper had declined to publish Dr Wan’s letter, I emailed SKM to ask for a copy of it.
Happily, SKM issued a formal statement on 23 April, reiterating – in even stronger words – its abhorrence of the “offensive, vulgar & threatening” abuse heaped on the 16-year old teenager.
“Some of us have gone well beyond the bounds of decency, in many cases being more offensive – vulgar and threatening even – than the original post we objected to.
“It is neither a proportionate response, nor the mark of a civilised society.”
Indeed. The threats made against Amos Yee are deplorable, unacceptable and utterly shameful.
So, will the mainstream media report this statement by the SKM?
We’ll wait and see.
In the meantime, do pay very close attention to what you read, or not read, in the mainstream media, and ask: what agenda does it have in its skewed reporting of what is happening to a young boy?
Here is SKM’s statement in full:
Within the last month, Amos Yee has become the latest in a string of individuals who have exhibited insensitivity and poor judgement with their social media postings.
Let’s review what has transpired: a 16-year-old boy posted a series of insensitive, even disturbing commentaries to the chagrin of a wider community. Instead of addressing the gravity of his actions, what ensued was an escalating raising of pitchforks, people across different ages and backgrounds baying for blood, some literally.
When emotions get the better of us, we lose the sensibility to know where to draw the line. Some of us have gone well beyond the bounds of decency, in many cases being more offensive – vulgar and threatening even – than the original post we objected to.
It is neither a proportionate response, nor the mark of a civilised society.
Tasteless videos and posts are no excuse for responding with vindictive attacks and threats of unspeakable violence. There is a difference between objecting, however strongly, to something that offends us, and meting out an eye for an eye, or worse.
Vengeance is not justice. The way we respond to offence can reflect more poorly on ourselves than the original offender.
We don’t have to be this way.
We can disagree and still remain civil. We can register our objection to an offence, and still do so graciously. We must, if we want to live as a society that is mature in dealing with things we don’t like or agree with.