Wednesday, 22 April 2015

[Today] Ideological conformity cannot exist in a truly inclusive society

I refer to the criticism levelled at IKEA Singapore due to its tie-up with pastor Lawrence Khong’s magic show, Vision (“Flak from gay groups sees IKEA relook tie-up with pastor”, April 21)
The fundamental freedoms of speech and conscience are the lifeblood of a healthy democracy and the cornerstones of true tolerance and viewpoint diversity.
Though individuals may hold that their own views are true and those of their opponents are mistaken, they should still respect their opponents as persons and their corresponding right to express their views. True tolerance is summed up in the saying: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
While gay rights advocates have called for tolerance, imposing conformity of thought on others is a hegemonic inversion of true tolerance.
IKEA Singapore has also offered discounted rates for its loyalty programme members for Public Enemy, a production by W!ld Rice. The play’s synopsis states that it raises “thought-provoking questions about democracy and the freedom of expression” and what it means “to hold firmly to an unpopular opinion in a world where it’s easier to conform”.
Efforts to mark Mr Khong as a “public enemy” on account of his views on homosexuality are the opposite of what it means to live harmoniously in a pluralistic society.
To build a truly inclusive, tolerant and diverse Singapore, Singaporeans of all creeds and stripes should take a firm stand against such calls for ideological conformity.