A group of gay and lesbian students at New York University’s law school sent an email to all students last week drawing attention to Dr Thio Li-ann, a visiting professor from the National University of Singapore. She is slated to teach Human Rights Law in
Asia during the Fall 2009 semester.
Anal sex is like “shoving a straw up your nose to drink," Dr Thio Li-ann said during her parliamentary speech in 2007.
She was quoted in the email: “You cannot make a human wrong a human right,” “Diversity is not a license for perversity,” and that anal sex is like “shoving a straw up your nose to drink.”
The group added: “While respecting Dr Thio’s right to her opinion and without questioning her teaching abilities, OUTLaw believes it is important for LGBT students and allies to be aware of her views in order to make fully informed decisions regarding class registration.”
When contacted for her views, Dr Thio told insidehighered.com that plenty of Americans may agree with her, and those who don't have no right to impose their values on other countries.
She was quoting as saying: "Do some Americans by appropriating the rhetoric of human rights assume they can impose their views on another sovereign state? Is there a human right to sodomy? Is this a core right or a contested one? There are countervailing views that this is the wrong way to characterise the issue - so do students who dislike this view refuse to engage with dissenting views? Or seek to censor views they disagree with? That's hubris. I think certain Americans have to realize the fact that there are a diversity of views on the subject and it is not a settled matter; there is no universal norm and it is nothing short of moral imperialism to suggest there is. Correct me if I am wrong, but there is no consensus on this even within the U.S. Supreme Court and American society at large, even post Lawrence v. Texas." (The court case is the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that barred states from criminalising consenting sexual acts between adults of the same sex.)
In a separate statement, the group said the professor’s “intolerant, reprehensible words raise serious questions about (her) fitness to teach a course on human rights.”
“Further, many of our members, allies in the student body, and alumni are outraged that NYU School of Law - a longtime supporter of LGBT issues – is supporting someone who would jail many of our students simply because of who they are.”
Ethan Park, co-chair of the group told Fridae that it will not “push for rescission of the invitation, but rather we will use this as an opportunity to educate ourselves on various issues including academic freedom and also show the general public that equality triumphs over her hatred through respectful and productive dialogue.”
Dean of the law school Richard Revesz has issued a statement on Jul 9 which highlighted the school’s track record of extending partner benefits to gay couples long before New York law mandated such benefits. The statement also stated that the NYU Law School in 1978 became the first law school in the United States to deny its career services to employers that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
“To be clear, the Law School categorically rejects the point of view expressed in Professor Thio’s speech, as evidenced by our early and longstanding commitment to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Yet we believe academic freedom requires that this disagreement express itself through vigorous, civil debate, rather than an attempt to suppress those views.”
They may not agree with what the Speaker has to say but, academically speaking, they recognise the right and importance of that Speaker's ability to say such things, as it's Very important to foster debate, and even dissent, and permit/create conflicting views on a topic.
So, sure, academically speaking... I wouldn't think the college is 'wrong' to have her speaking at it (even though it would make Me uncomfortable). Certainly, I'm sure that students etc will protest against her, which is their right as well, to counterbalance whatever she says...
I'm sorry but New York is very familiar in calling controversial people to speak at one location or another.
Hugo Chavez at the UN, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN and at a University there, and now....this.
One should allow her to speak her mind. And at the same time take solace in the fact that the students there are already voicing their disagreements with the whole idea of her speaking there.
Not so in Singapore.
I don't think she will "like it there" steveuk, lol, because American students can be a lot more vocal than their polite Singaporean counterparts. I hope there will be video records of all this because it could turn out to be quite fun.
I agree with Vercoda on the fact that people like her should by no means be denied the right to voice whatever outrageous opinions they have because censorship can never be the solution. Replying, arguing, challenging her, that's what must be done (and will be done I bet), but tell her she can't speak and she'll be only too happy to pose as the martyr whose truthful voice was silenced by the sodomite conspiration.
Was it not a European colonial nation that imposed its view on sovereign nations regarding homosexuality that now Ms. Li-Ann has embraced?
Chinese culture has millennia of acceptance and even institutionalized same sex relationships.
It seems she is just a lackey for colonial era values.
Isn't that precisely what she does suggest in relation to sexual orientation?
She argues that homosexuals are not deserving of the category of a minority, because according to her ( questionable) there are such things as ex-gays, and there are no such things as ex-blacks, but later supports religious groups as minorities failing to acknowledge that there are such things as ex-Christians.
She argues against sodomy with bizarre analogies to straws and noses, but later argues that it is appropriate to decriminalize sodomy between heterosexuals.
I do hope will get a follow-up on the details of the challenges that will be given to her blatantly illogical assertions.
But that's what makes NY great. Always a diversity of views, everyone is welcome to speak and opine. TLA cannot resist the call to teach in NY, even if it means a potential public humiliation. Pride.
Someone at NYU please upload videos from her class!
It is beyond my comprehension why NYU has chosen to invite Ms. Thio as a guest professor to teach a course on a topic for which she has an unapologetic bias and political agenda.
It is not a question of silencing her, by all means her opinions fall well within the range of consideration under the syllabus for such a course.
It is understandable to invite her as a guest lecturer, but to invite her to be the instructor flies in the face of common sense.
I suggest it would be equivalent to inviting a Taliban cleric to teach a course in Women's Studies or a Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of political activism in the cause of the Klan to teach a course in African-American Studies.
Or how about an official from Mauritania who lobbied its government not to abolish slavery (which it only did in August 2007) to teach a course in the history of law and slavery or let's have a political activist creationist teach courses in evolution.
Ms Thio formally argued to her government in support of maintaining the policy of imprisoning homosexuals for 2 years for private consensual sexual behavior.
She asserted that homosexuals are sick, but still should be imprisoned if they manifest any symptoms of their sickness behaviorally. She points out that some homosexuals claim to have recovered and found their heterosexual potential.
(Has she read the data about so called "reparative therapy"?
Will she guide her students to seek out the research with a goal of objectivity?)
She claims homosexuals do not deserve the right to legitimate minority status with the reasoning that there are ex-gays but not ex-blacks.
In the next breath, she recognizes religious groups as deserving of minority status recognition by government.
She fails to note that there are ex-Christians or other ex- members of "religious minorities".
Finally, she claims anal sex is like drinking through a straw in your nose, but supports the repeal of her government's criminalization of oral and anal sex for heterosexuals, just not for homosexuals.
I am led to wonder who in power at NYU has an agenda that overrides academic integrity to invite such a bigot as guest professor.
I personally think that it is a very rude statement. That is her opinion. Now this is my opinion," having sex with someone with this kind of mindset and dress sense is like shoving a straw up my nose to drink."
I really hope her children are all str8 when they grow up. I wonder what people like this will tell their children if they find out that their str8 genes didn't produce str8 children at the end of the day... Burn them? Jail them? Well, this irritating life forms like her are the ones that can't accept diversity in the first place.
You can't tolerate us, I won't tolerate you either. Whatever you say or suggest at parliament won't get my vote or nod. I believe that there are many others that will not support your stone age ideas too.
And Girl, grey ain't your colour. Try some thing colourful like the rainbow... Opps, you can't! Its ( the rainbow flag) too gay for you! So you might as well do all of the LGBT community a big favour and stay at home. Keep your month shut and just don't talk.
Or could Fridae send some correspondent (lol) to cover this story. This is better than watching Harry Potter.
"Is there a human right to sodomy?" How dare she equate gay relationships to merely anal sex?
Her response to the student email smacks of irony.
Having said that, the appointment of Dr Thio Li-ann to teach Human Rights in Asia is odd and mind-boggling. I'm sure there are better candidates in Asia to teach about such topics. Still, we should not give Dr Thio Li-ann the opportunity to portray herself as the 'victim' by providing her with a platform to air her vitriols. She's not worth it.
Given her background, I would not be surprised that she will have to revert to religious arguments, which fortunately have lost nothing in a secular state.
Does she understand that not all gay people partake in anal sex, and that anal sex is not synonymous with being gay?
Does she realize that there are multiple other ways gay people have sex?
Does she realize that straight couples partake in anal sex too?
I'm offended that she thinks of homosexuality only as (anal) sex and not about love.
Have you guys actually watched the video where she presents her arguments in parliament ? If you haven't, then watch it by all means, because it's incredibly revealing.
You don't have to be an expert in body language to see the heavy amount of neurosis involved in her "opinions" and in the way she expresses them. She's so tense, so... hysterical in her demeanour that it's actually quite embarassing and most uncomfortable, almost painful to watch.
Which brings up the point that your comment suggests, Bains, ie that some of the "ideas" we call ours are in fact much more than that.
Ideas can be discussed and are open to contradiction.
Principles are not, and if we all look at ourselves with a reasonable degree of honesty, we'll usually find out that most of the concepts we deem intangible, all our deeply rooted "principles" were somehow planted in our brains before puberty. They can also stem from traumatic events in our lives, hence the fact that we can't adress them without getting extremely emotional.
Simple example : how can a person who was sexually abused as a child adress sexual topics later on with an objective, calm, clear and cool mind ? No way, at least not without years and years of work on oneself.
I'm not saying that these "principle/ideas" can't be questioned or even abandonned and replaced with others deliberately acquired later. What I'm saying is that when you are facing someone who is engaged in the process of vehemently supporting one of his/her "principles" there is absolutely no point in trying to oppose them with rational arguments, because he/she is NOT speaking with his/her reason.
As I wrote in some earlier comment on this board, there is no point in trying to teach Latin to a horse. A horse is not stupid or nasty, it's just... a horse therfore Latin is beyond its reach. We ALL have that horse in us, let's not forget it, it may help us understand how to adress the horse in others... :-) Horses don't speak Latin but why don't Latins try to speak some horse ?
So, let her speak. Let her put both her left feet in her mouth whilst all in attendance sip on their drinks through a straw to clear their throats/noses to prepare for nothing less than a vigorous and raw academic battle for true democracy and human rights. Let her representing notoriety be made known clearly. It's really a great thing for NYU.
Bring it on wicked witch of the East! Ding Dong, is she dead yet? :P
Pepsi anyone? Straws sold separately !
See? Money to be made already...LOL. ;P
"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us "universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. (Albert Einstein)"
That behavior, my dear, is what I call...intellectual laziness. :D
I can't help but turn vulgar towards her.
We also know that the Thio Li-Ann-led camp has had no reply to this argument except to make untenable ones like the ones we read in the article above; prior to the gay rights challenge, absolutely NO ONE in Singapore has ever advanced any cause on a constitutional basis because constitutionalism is NOT PRACTISED in Singapore.
But we also know that the Christian Right is not one to give up easily and I have some evidence here that may bolster just that.
In a recent Yawningbread article, a writer contributed the following:
[Quote]I heard a while back that some sort of lawyers’ group had been set up for those particularly interested/specialising in Constitutional law in Singapore. I don’t know if it’s true that this comprised of laywers mainly from the religious right, who may have a particularly selective view about who is entitled to equality under the constitution, but I got the impression that that might possibly be the case. My impression may be completely wrong though.
Can someone clarify whether the field of constitutional law has been “steeplejacked” to any extent in Singapore? If so, it may be difficult to make progress on the legal front so far as reducing discrimination against gay people is concerned.[Endquote]
The same writer then returned with another post, probably after some sleuthing:
[Quote]I found the thing I was referring to – the reported formation of a lawyers committee for Constitutional Law last year, the head of which was said to be none other than the “feminist” mentor herself, Thio Su Mien [Thio Li-Ann's mother].
It would be interesting to know whether this committee has as similar a lack of diversity as did the group that took over AWARE.[Endquote]
From reading other blogs, I wonder if some people related to the above committee may already have begun their campaign to disinform and they have been using Article 12(2), but by referring only to a strategically shortened portion of the subclause, namely, "Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens of Singapore on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law", which would actually contradict Article 12(1) and which is NOT UNTYPICAL of the Singapore Constitution that was written by madmen.
This is my second online encounter with the above disinformation. Read in particular posts #13 and #25, the second of which is from a typical Singaporean lawyer who does not a goddamn thing about the Constitution; the rest of the thread is rather tiresome:
Please note: Article 12(2) IN FULL is:
(2) Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens of Singapore on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law or in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority or in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.
Clearly 12 (2) is additional to, not a qualification of, 12 (1).
Also, the words " ground only" in 12 (2) mean "sole ground". In other words you can't discriminate in the listed ways solely because a person belongs to one of those groups; it doesn't mean that these are the only sorts of discrimination that can be prohibited. So the government can, for example, pass laws banning discrimination against any other group, such as the disabled or elderly people.
But it in no way limits 12 (1), which the Chief Justice and his colleague in this Delhi case and similar cases around the world have held to mean governments must not target gay people with laws like 377A to criminalise them.
Governments have a duty to act in accordance with the Constitution.
This women is just as bad as a hate preacher. I can't believe she's even granted a visiting positions. Hope the yanks will make a huge scandal out of it that will backfire to Singapore.
If India can do it, Singapore can do it too. No more excuses, show some balls and go to the streets. Appeal 377A now!
Are you suggesting some vague similarity to a well-known American extremely anti-gay legal family with their own anti-gay church? Can't see any similarity myself. An outrageous suggestion.
At least that church is forward about it. :P
Now that you explain it as "sole ground", 12(2) becomes more readable. But I would have to ask you some other questions to help with the lay translation of that subclause should the need arise.
"Ground only" is obviously distinct from "only on the grounds of" A, B, C, say, which I am assuming can be written alternatively as "on the grounds of" A, B, C "only". Am I right in assuming that?
My only previous defence was that in some vague memory I have of constitutional design, not that there is strict conformity to it, the leading subclause - 12(1) in this case - is the overarching clause and trumps (or should) all the non-leading subclauses below it. So in that sense, it coincides with your statement that 12(2) is a red herring. Does my memory serve me correct, or do you have another way of explaining that aspect of it?
If nothing else, like what S2 has said, it will be fascinating to see how TLA will roast in that academic pit.
Do we know anyone from NYU, please?
From many similar previous precedents by the Singapore government involving other academics, government appointees - Chan Heng Chee, Kishore Mahbubani and Tommy Koh notably - and one politician in particular, Lee Kuan Yew for what I call the war of attrition against human rights in Asia, I believe that Thio Li-ann will actually be on a political mission for the Singapore government, itself a conduit to the West for China and its quest for global supremacy to replace the US as any superpower at all.
(All such missions have targetted only US liberal venues and there is a reason for this which I eventually hope to make clear.)
Thio's course is after all "Human Rights in Asia" and not "LGBT Rights in Singapore (or Asia)"
Ian Burama who writes for the New York Times and is a critic of human rights abuses in Asia should be encouraged to enrol for this course; I believe that he, and not the other students who don't have the 'prerequiste courses', is one person who would be knowledgeable enough about the Singapore government's disinformation campaign to be an effective check in her class.
Just as with all other missions, Thio's course will be premised on the following "culture argument":
1. The concept of human rights in 'Asia' - a grossly monolithicizing term that I expect Thio would use in the course to mean only China and Singapore - is so unimaginably different from that of the 'US-led' West ("It's not!").
2. The reason that will be attributed to this irreconciliable difference is - that's right! - our culture.
This is a shrewdly calculated move first schemed by Lee Kuan Yew, and now taken up by countries all around the world especially China, to disarm Western critics of human rights abuses perpertrated by their governments. After all, if one criticizes human rights abuses in non-Western countries, then one must be culturally insensitive and therefore RACIST. And here's where the targetting of US liberals makes most sense because far more that US conservatives, it is US liberals who are terrified of the charge - substantiated or otherwise - of racism.
From the insidehighered link above, Thio Li-Ann has indeed fired her first salvo to this effect: "Do some Americans by appropriating the rhetoric of human rights assume they can impose their views on another sovereign state?" and "...there is no universal norm and it is nothing short of moral imperialism to suggest there is."
And she has also claimed her first victim, [frankly speaking], who says, "I regret to say it, but she has a point about the "Cultural Imperialism." American intellectuals regularly tout that we must listen and be willing to learn from other cultures."
Having successfully pre-empted any possibility of criticism by US liberals, Thio is likely to go on to other bases for which human rights must be denied to Asians by their governments. (All these arguments have been exposed as fallacious by the tiny handful of Singaporeans - almost exclusively Indians - who have viewed and understood Singapore politics through the racist lens of the progenitor of official Chinese supremacy in Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, but maintained a resolutely anti-racist stand in spite of it.) Key among these other bases would be the economic imperative which would go something like this.
3. Human rights are the purview of the rich. This used to be a dominant part of the PAP government's anti-human rights discourse except for one minor annoyance that has cropped up: Singapore is now an affluent country but human rights are still not forthcoming – Thio is likely to gloss over this point in her course.
4. Instead these days one is more likely to hear that Asians value economic development - which one is more likely to think of as the expansion of economic opportunities and the corresponding financial opportunities, but will nevertheless be spoken of as economic RIGHTS - over human rights. To this end, it becomes important to deny both the population at large as well as any political parties that may exist rights such as the freedom of speech, assembly and association, as well as the right to a fair trial particularly to the politically dissident. This masks one important reason for the denial of political rights: that irregularities in conduct will be exposed by the dissident in the population such as was the case by the late JB Jeyaratnam and more recently with the Singapore Democratic Party when they blew the whistle on Singapore's banking secrecy laws being devised to harbour tax evaders from all over the world especially Indonesia and China, among others.
Thio will then go on to cite other reasons to justify human rights to Asians and they can basically be summed up as:
5. Singapore’s vulnerability in the security arena - internal and national - justifies the denial of human rights; and finally,
6. Asians value good government over human rights, sometimes couched in language like “Asians want ‘strong’ leaders”, with ‘strong’ understood by Singaporeans to describe ‘he who has the greatest capacity for abuse’.
By the time China is ready to take up its pole position in the world, it would be ready to reap the benefits of Singapore's war of attrition on its behalf to numb Americans to the true situation in Asia. By this time, Americans (and this includes conservatives who would now have been shouted down by the liberal section of American society for their 'racism' towards Asians i.e. the Chinese) would have become resigned to the fact that China can and should be allowed to do as it pleases globally, unimpeded by 'racist' criticism and 'racist' retaliatory action.
It's important to remember two not unrelated constants in Chinese history, a history that is by no means over:
1. That the Chinese believe that they occupy a land called the Middle Kingdom, with the Higher Kingdom being Heaven and the Lower Kingdom being consigned to the rest of the world of beings lesser than themselves; this is the basis of the Chinese traditionalist attitude of overlordship over all other peoples ie. Chinese racism, especially towards all other non-white peoples.
2. Territorial expansionism with the point in #1 above as justification.
It is also no secret that Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew harbours dreams for global Chinese supremacy which explains the highly intensified close relations between the two countries, as well as the training of China administrators in Singapore at the Lee Kuan Yew School for Public Policy; already 16 000 China administrators have graduated from the school.
And that, my friends, is the real push for Thio Li-ann's teaching stint at NYU; I'm afraid that the LGBT reaction tells me that we may have been distracted by the PAP government's more insidious agenda.
Given her notoriety, trust the academia there to drag focus on Singapore's lack of human rights issues even if she tries to rotate around the state of affairs in Asia alone.
Like I said b4, give NYU and their flock some credit to fleece this one. I'll stay off fur if they dun even try..LOL.
Nevertheless, love your ideas but hey, u are teaching the Singapore administration too much. Remember, not every power socket has a light bulb working. As usual there, everything is just for show ya? ..LOL. ;)
From all accounts, she's a very good and knowledgeable instructor. I've read some stuff written by her, and I must say that I've actually been very impressed.
But throw the word "gay" into any discussion, and she goes beserk and becomes a totally different person.
So I wouldn't be too quick to judge her whole person based on her views on gay rights. I've actually met people like her.
But she would need to continue in her plum position on her return from NYC and is doing what every souless Singaporean does, which is to allow herself to be used as a pawn for Lee Kuan Yew's dreams for global Chinese supremacy. I suspect that she's personally not much of a racist, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. Right?
What I say about the US-China relationship can also be extrapolated to the EU-China one.
The non-seperation of powers in Singapore also extends to the non-seperation of roles and responsibilities: an academic is as good as being a government appointee and even leaders of private industry toe the government line with the utmost of obedience. You, and others interested, just have to google the names I listed plus "human rights' and you will see what I mean; they are all peer reviewed and published research studies so credibilty is not a problem.
But my analysis is most definitely from an anti-racism perspective which in my opinion makes it stand out from all other analyses that I have come across. It's come out of my sheer frustration every time I read something on the human rights situation in Asia and feel 'You all still don't get it. do you?"
More to the point, the anti-human rights framework that is being promoted in and beyond Asia, and by the likes of Thio Li-ann, will only make the struggle for LGBT rights even more of a challenge. I think that's why I felt it was relevant to post this here because we need to know EXACTLY what we are up against before taking up the challenge: the bigger picture so to speak.
In Singapore, gay activism is holding the government accountable to Article 12(1) of our Constitution, the legal equality clause.
That's OUR law and not an American law that Americans are imposing on us, so I don't know where Thio Li-ann gets off by claiming, "Do some Americans by appropriating the rhetoric of human rights assume they can impose their views on another sovereign state?"
So to you and all other non-Singaporeans here, especially westerners: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE continue to interfere in our internal affairs.
Many of us get a kick out of it.
Listening to her hate spiel on 377A, one would wished for a smoother and more casual conveyance instead of the chockfull of rhetoric reserved for more bombastic settings. ;)
Sadly, gay activism has no teeth in the tiny red dot city state just as democracy has no place in a dictatorship. It may be disguised for outward appearances but the injustice is implicitly felt.
And by way of western interferences, they all stop when they start working/investing in the red dot. They change into this ugly creature pet called, Enterprise Capitalist. Guess what they feed on...? Yum. :P
Such a pitiful creature. Sigh.
"New York being New York, you may also find a few Yiddish words to be useful. Foremost among these is “chutzpah.” “Chutzpah” is hard to translate directly and its meaning is perhaps best illustrated by example. New Yorkers would say that a former NMP and graduate of Cambridge and Oxford who denounces gays in a rather vulgar manner on the floor of Parliament in a successful bid to enable their imprisonment calling the highlighting of her remarks by a few law students “ugly politicking” based on “their own prejudices, from whatever sources” has a lot of chutzpah.
Read the New York Times, guys. She's canceling her 'tour' to New York.
"...she replied to them [recent emails etc] in a manner that many member of our community—myself included—consider offensive and hurtful"
Regarding her Parliamentary speech: "even if it had decided that the manner in which she defended her position called into question the committee's earlier conclusion regarding her strength as a scholar (which it also did not do), the offer should not have been rescinded. (Of course, such an evaluation would have been relevant to whether a subsequent offer should be extended.)"
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