Much has said about Amos Yee since that video was posted.
Yes, he’s annoying on a molecular scale, and he cusses a lot. Yes, it was in exceptionally poor taste to post that video when a large chunk of the nation was in mourning. Yes, lodging police reports in reaction to his remarks about Christianity was overkill. Calling people who believe in organized religion abject idiots is the favourite pastime of angry atheists everywhere. If you feel the need to file a police report because an angst-ridden teenage atheist calls you a moron for having faith, the teenager’s opinions are really the least of your worries.
Those defending Yee with the rallying cry of free speech as defined by people like Nathan Heller have somewhat missed the point. Freedom of speech does not render you immune to consequences under civil or criminal law. Slander, libel and hate speech are all subject to legal action in Western democracies (the only real democracies, of course). It is very clear that we are not quite ready to contemplate free speech in matters of race or religion. That, however, is a very different conversation. Yee could have made his points without bringing religion into it, but unfortunately, he chose to bring a gun to a knife fight.
As stated by Yee in his post soliciting donations, neither Yee nor his parents can bankroll the legal costs of this debacle, so he’s now asking the public to pay for his ego, amusement, and publicity.
“However in my case, being the highly subversive, iconoclast that I am, these would probably be inevitable. I’ve estimated that I require and aim to raise $30000 to continue indulging in this endeavor adeptly.”
When you’re done giggling at “iconoclast,” Yee would like you to fund his “art.” By “art,” I mean Yee ranting about organized religion and how clever he is because he’s an atheist/ telling the MDA they should hire him for $400 per day as a “visionary” because he’s a creative genius/ advertising his tuition services. Wow! So avant-garde. Much misunderstood.
Yee’s post asking for donations reveals that he is seeking patronage for his rants “art” by inviting the public to donate to his “artistic endeavours” while this spectacle is unfolding. His most recent post rather embarrassingly reveals the extent of his detachment from reality:
“…it’s exhilarating to see copious amounts of money coming in, even trolls and haters managed to put aside their differences, and donate 1 cent. I am truly humbled. The initial ‘wow’ factor when you see that first $1000 donated to your bank account, is quite intoxicating…”
By coincidence or otherwise, Yee is using similar tactics to Ngerng’s in his appeal for donations, like the “I’m so poor thing, I don’t have money for food” line.
“Right now, my budget for food has always ran out, I’m currently living off the $70 left in my bank account, and the food that people graciously provided to me free-of-charge, because they are fans.”
One of the conditions of Yee’s bail was that he would not post any new content or comment online, but I guess you don’t have to worry about minor details like violating your bail conditions – twice – when you’re sitting on the Iron Throne of Westeros (in your mind). Well, until you do have to worry about those minor details, because delusions of self-importance can only get you so far in the real world. I find it interesting that Ngerng chose to publicize Yee’s post appealing for donations instead of mentioning, even in passing, to his new padawan/BFF that this post violates the terms of his bail and is probably not a great idea.
Speaking of everyone’s favourite gorblok…
Hey, look! It’s Roy “The Bar Graph Ninja” Ngerng, Singapore’s Number 1 Gorblok to the rescue! We missed you, gorblok! (Not really.)
Predictably, Ngerng has leaped at this chance to cast himself as The Ownself Appointed Supreme Saviour of Singapore once again, exhorting the public to donate to Amos Yee’s legal cost fund, using his tried and true MO of emotion-laden rhetoric and half-truths to distort the story. Eh, gorblok! Did you really just say that the PAP locked Amos Yee up? Are you very sure about that? Did they all take turns to put him in cuffs? That sounds like a logistical nightmare! It also sounds like it just might be contempt of court, but I guess the public can foot the bill for your mistake (again) if it is. And why did you delete the comment and ban the user who made the comment on your page? What happened to speaking up and free speech? Or is free speech only enjoyed by those who agree with you?
Oh, gorblok. When will you learn?
Speaking of those who never learn, let’s get back to Amos. Or rather, let’s not, because Amos Yee is irrelevant. Once someone refers to legal action taken against them and the ensuing circus as their “game of thrones,” you know you are dealing with a loose cannon who craves attention.
He is simply a narcissistic teenager with vastly inflated opinions of his own intelligence, parroting things that have been said by others ad nauseam. No-one is going to forget his name or his face in a hurry, and when Yee meets the real world and has to work for a living, he is going to learn the hard way that fame and infamy are two very different things. He is going to regret this video at some point, probably when he starts National Service. That’s going to be so much fun for him! I’m sure his future bunk mates will provide thoughtful philosophical education about why posting the video was a terrible life choice. He will be paying for this mistake for the rest of his life, unless he slinks off to a bonafide Western democracy the mythical kingdom of Westeros.
What is relevant, however, is the recent disturbing trend of self-martyrdom, highly public spectacle, and soliciting donations from the public for subsequent legal action. It’s a lot more relevant than a motormouth teenager, because this trend – left unaddressed – is going to spell trouble for the already underdeveloped political ecosystem here. Why?
It has everything to do with the myth of opposing for its own sake.
There is a dangerous myth in place about opposing voices – political or otherwise – being troublemakers and rabble-rousers, opposing simply for the sake of opposing. This is true of some, but for every prominent dilettante in it for selfish reasons, there are hardworking patriots toiling behind the scenes because they truly love this country and believe that checks on the ruling party are a good thing and varying opinions from different parties in Parliament can lead to vibrant, healthy policymaking.
Now, a new thread of very real narrative is being woven into this myth: the recent trend of self-appointed martyrs carrying the activist flag who court controversy and attention for themselves and expect the public to not only foot the bill, but to be grateful for the privilege of donating to the cause – positioned, of course, as the people’s cause, whether through dissembling or delusion.