Sunday, April 16, 2006

Response to "Rein in displays of passion in public"

Let me just post some random thoughts to something I have recently read.

"Rein in displays of passion in public" writes that "there is no reason why some of our youngsters should not behave decently when they are with their partners in public." Above all, "they should not forget that their action may offend the sensitivities of the people around them." Finally, the writer proclaims "What has happened to the Asian values of modesty and decency ?"

The first point that I wish to make is the definition of decent. One definition of decent is "socially or conventionally correct" . In other words, society defines what is decent. However, as I have previously mentioned, only society can define what is decent. History cannot dictate (although it often influences) what is right or wrong today. Hence, the traditional systems of Asian thought are about as useful as that of 'modern' Western systems in judging what is decent (ie, not at all useful). Let us leave the judging to society.

Secondly, while I agree that we should be considerate of others sensitivities, again I think we must consider how many are offended before making any laws to impose on others. Surely, someone somewhere will be offended by anything that is doable. Just because someone finds the entire 6 billion population offensive is not a sufficent reason for a law to be passed to put everyone under house arrest.

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