Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Inciting Violence

The Associated Press photo of Brigadier General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, then Chief of the Republic of Vietnam National Police, putting a bullet through the head of prisoner Nguyễn Văn Lém (referred to as Captain Bảy Lốp) during the Tet uprising of 1968 helped galvanize American public opinion against the war in Vietnam. It was later ascertained that Lem was suspected of having murdered one of Gen. Loan's senior officers, and his entire family, during the carnage in Saigon. The death of a single Viet Cong would hardly have seemed noteworthy, especially in a week when thousands of his communist comrades were killed mounting an abortive offensive that included Vietcong death squads targeting South Vietnamese National Police officers, or in their stead, the police officers' families.

Four years after the picture by Eddie Adams, another indelible image of the war created an equally emotive impact of revulsion, the sight of a screaming 9-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc as she ran naked along a road after having been burned in a South Vietnamese napalm attack. Such is the power of the photographic image in the hands of the print media. Adams told Time magazine, “The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation.”

For doctoring the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the impromptu summary execution, a former employee of Singapore Technologies was fined $8,500 for inciting violence. Instead of the Vietcong, the face superimposed was that of the former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister. The only similarity was that both were unpopular figures of the time. The Deputy Public Prosecutor had urged the court for a 9-month jail term, arguing it was in line with the criminal intimidation sentencing benchmark. The defendant's lawyer said that the posting was "a grandiose statement, hyperbolic, surreal" and the exclamation marks at the end of the comment underlined those facts. We've heard quite a bit of those grandiose statements in the press recently, hyperbolic and surreal, such as $850 a month can afford a $100,000 HDB flat.


  1. This is a reminder to all that freedom comes with responsibility. There are boundaries that we should avoid for the common good.

  2. The actual photo is misleading, but the doctored photo is not misleading, just a way of venting some frustration and unhappiness. Anyway, even without this doctored photo, people will still hate him, except those running dogs.

    Not Worthwhile To Mess Up With Those Political Gangsters!

  3. The judge ruled that posting electronic documents that contained incitement to violence is criminal, so all reports of the Syrian uprising are taboo. This has to be surreal.

  4. So he was slapped with a fine for posting materials that contain incitement to violence.
    And the earlier case where a YPAP member slapped a headline on a bus of young kids as future terrorists? Was that a harmless entertainment?
    Or what about any movie video that contains incitement to violence that are being played in theaters or home dvd everyday?

  5. For the Prosecutor to argue in court that a doctored picture can incite violence in Singapore, it makes one wonder whether he was simply following orders without using his brains ?

    If the learned judge is that stupid to accept that sort of argument, just imagine how many innocent people can just be prosecuted out of a Prosecutor's own imagination that something unlawful will happen from a mere photo.

    What do they really take for someone to become a prosecutor in Singapore ?

  6. If you are angry, please use your anger creatively.

    Use the energy to convert a PAP supporter into a die hard Opposition voter.

    Identify a youngster who will be eligible to vote in GE 2016. Convince him to vote Opposition.

    Every vote counts.
    Hit them where it hurts.
    At the ballot box in GE 2016.

    Avoid legal trouble.
    Very few lawyers are likely to find the time to defend you.

  7. Wonder when Sun Xu posted, "I'll be waiting with a knife," it was in line with the criminal intimidation sentencing benchmark. Apparently NUS thinks not, they are letting the PRC scholar off with a warning only.

  8. If a PRC chinese said "Singaporeans are dogs" and then somebody beat the person to a bloody pulp, I am sure the application of the notion of 'incitement to violence' would blame the 'assaulter' and excuse the "blasphemer".

    If a Singaporean said 'Lets do an re-enactment' and then a politician bring him to court for criminal intimidation (despite no actual harm was carried out), the notion of 'incitement to violence' actually blame the 'blasphemer' and excuse the 'insulted'.

    "Everybody is equal under the law " ahem

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