Thursday, December 07, 2006

Freedom Deserved?

The warden looks at the prisoner and unlocks his chains. The prisoner remains motionless. He makes no attempt to remove his chains.

"Your chains are unlocked". He says.

"I know". he says.

"You can move freely without the chains." He says.

"I am afraid of myself. My capacity for evil. My capacity for wrong-doing. The chains have to remain on me. It is self regulation." he says.

"No. Self regulation is for you to move freely with invisible chains around you. You have to always imagine these chains. They need not be there. Your imagination that they are there is enough. That acts as self regulation. Thats why I unlock the chains. You do not value your freedom? You do not want to be able to determine your movement? Your right to move?" He says.

"I have forgotten what is freedom. I do not know what it means anymore. What I know is that I am irresponsible. I am a wrong-doer. And thats why the chains are clapped on me. It is for my own good. What is freedom if I remain evil? Removing these chains will not absolve the evil in me. The presence of the chains reminds me that I am not perfect, I am not good yet. In your eyes. That is the point. Even if the chains are imagined, it is imagined on the presumption that I am still not good. Evil. Irresponsible." he says.

"Without the physical presence of the chains, it represents progress in you. Self enlightenment. It represents that you are on the path of good. It demonstrates that you can self-regulate. It demonstrates restraint, your capacity to battle against the evil tendencies in your heart. It is an improvement in you." He says.

"By transferring the chains into my mind. By imagining the chains on myself voluntarily, is it not a more insidious imprisonment? Is it not worse? With the weight of these physical chains on me, it symbolises my evil nature, reminds me that I am bad. There is no worse that can happen. If I imagine the chains, how can I know that I will not misjudge the weight of the imaginary chains? If misjudged, I live then in perennial fear that the real chains will clap down on my shoulders again. I have been dangled freedom. In truth, the removal of the chains into an illusory form will weigh me down two times heavier than the real chains ... Don't you understand?" he says.

"You are far from rehabilitated." He says.

"In your eyes, I am evil." he says.

"You don't deserve freedom." He says.

"Freedom is not something to be deserved." he says.

And the warden locks the chains again. And the prisoner goes on dreaming.

Quotes of the Day --

"To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law - a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security"

"Due process, they call it ... Due process of mass, state sponsored suicide. With all of society's blessings." ... Well, it's certainly better than letting them die horribly, by degrees ... It is? Better for whom? The street cleaners? Better to have your living corpses walk to a central disposal station while they can still walk? Less public spectacle? Less horror lying around? Less disorder? A few million corpses lying around might start a rebellion against those responsible. That's what you and the government mean by better, isn't it?"

A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

so sad but so tru :(

1:23 AM  
Blogger Mykel said...

Such is the beauty of the technology of the self.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like how elephants are taught to be controlled by the rope by the mahut through having been chained to a tree when young.

The MIW wants singaporeans to also be constantly looking over our shoulder, to "self-regulate" or save them the hassle of locking up every blogger that incites feelings of hatred against the MIW (policies) who destabilised our happy shiny world that is Singapore Inc.

Why bother to throw people into prisons when the prisons of the mind are the most cost-effective ones. Remember the MIW are good at cutting costs...for themselves.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is this a conversation with God?

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God also can't do much with Singapore. It's an island gone to the other world already ...

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like this one a lot
it also applies to many other things in life.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this thing is unrelated, but i just felt like sharing this.
i honestly think all this idea of democracy and freedom is fake, it is an illusion. The government gives people an illusion that they are in power.But the fact is that countries that preach democracy and freedom end up doing things behind people's backs. They cheat the people. In democracy the focus is not on what is good for the country but the focus is on what will attract the average voter.
many political parties in India give people free whisk bottles and television sets and this atracts votes.
lets look at USA...the symbol of freedom and democracy.
American soldiers are dying everyday in iraq, people are protesting, there are protests all over but Mr Bush seems to be doing what he wants, not the people.
Why were the prioners flown to Europe so they could be torchered?
Why does the american media always paint a positive picture of iraq?
having all the freedom and rights why dont they use it?
people who use their rights, did they make a difference? i would say not really.
look around the world ....they all lie. Excellent liars.
the real fact is the people only have the power for 1 week (elections), when the government comes to power they do whatever they want to do. They are in power then.
Singapore is no diferent.
U guys who post things on blogs are no different from mediacorp or ST. They say everything is rosy, u guys say everything sucks. no balance, no sense.
If everything sucked u guys probably wont be here. THINK!!

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:48pm,

Would you like to tell us the impeachment processes for politicans in the United States and Singapore? Next, any guesses on the probability of impeachment occurring in the United States and Singapore?

I doubt every blogger says Singapore sucks. In fact, a noted blogger heaped praise on the Singapore government recently.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11.48 u are incredibly myopic with typical tunnel vision. u are the type that will flock to whoever is in power and worship their feet. Stop pretending to be some hard-ass cynic. u are obviously not.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous bko said...

enough with the backlash on the poor guy.

anyway the reason why i lke this post so much is that it concerns the implication of mindplay.tortured, dismantled and then sculpted by the pupeteers.

the paragon of singaporean ruling.

on a pretence, good and bad are just conditional cirsumstances judged by society's values.
the complexity of the concept of good and bad arises because neither is a subset of the other.

for instance there is no such thing as cold but only the absence of heat just as there is no such thing as darkness but only the absence of light.

but evil cannot be defined as the absence of good, vice versa because even in the presence of good, abject evil is plenty and ubiquitous. Thus,"in you eyes i am evil."

such preconceived notions cannot be simply altered because it has been moulded by generations and generations and by governments and governments.they fucked with our heads till we're frozen numb. incapacitated. asphyxiated. unable to decipher and distinguish the dichotomy between what's good for us or otherwise. indeed sad but true.

In their eyes we are evil.

P.s dun take the hypocrisy castigation to heart. as of right now we're all in a political limbo, teetering on the edge with illusions of freedom and the like.people get agitated. so just keep up the good work and add a little extra once in a while. vending machines have always been good to me =D

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said Xeno Boy!

Self-regulation is the first step to surrending your freedom. For fear of the repercussions of insufficient self-control is ironically the most effective means of self censorship (SC).

There's so much SC going on in our lives right now. Why erect another shackle? I so wonder ...

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

remarkable ... while others argue the merits and demerits of regulation, you just pierced into the heart of all this false discourse with one simple phrase

in your eyes i am evil

in your eyes i am evil

and whatever regulation, by self, by state, by community, will solve nothing. nothing

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Rowen said...

Laws, principles, ideals, these define people and also limits a person on his thoughts ideas.

Regulation and order are the bane to creativity.

A writer who thinks of regulations, of limits in his ability to express himself is like the prisoner. The MSM are regulated. look at their programs. There is no invention on their parts and no new substances. All have been done by peer media overseas and copied to singapore to give a local flavour.

Project superstar, the dance floor, are all spin offs of the popular "idol" syndrome.
If not for William Gibson breaking new grounds, there will be no Matrix.

A scientist being regulated being controlled. could he come up with his new theories. If Ray Tomlinson, Tim Berners-Lee, Tim Berners-Lee, James Gosling. followed regulations, we would not be able to use the blog at all.

We should not chain ourselves.

remember our pledge.
We, the citizens of Singapore
Pledge ourselves as one united people
Regardless of race, language or religion
To build a democratic society
Based on justice and equality
So as to achieve happiness, prosperity & progress for our nation

The basis of democracy is choice and freedom which most singaporeans forget.

Just a 2 cent reminder.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we tie ourselves up
So easy for the ruler...teach the subjects how to self rule and self restrict.
it will be more cost effective...:D
excellent piece xenoboy
u make me think like i have never thought before
keep it up

12:39 AM  
Anonymous ted said...

See the last two panels of this page:

and the first panel of this:

1:09 AM  
Anonymous rocketer said...

I dont think it is that easy to chain people up. They will just work their way around the restrictions.

If you really take the trouble to look at the most hunted group in blogosphere such as the brotherhood.

They have come up with many ways of not only surviving but also thriving in a hostile environment.

As soon as you close down one of their channels, they will switch over to another site and the speed at which they are able to accomplish this suggest to me they have done this many times.

So coming back to my point, people will always find a way to get around the system. Hence any attempt to control them would just be futile.

Thanks this is a very nice site and I find it very educational. Reg Jose

6:52 PM  
Anonymous zyberzitizen said...

Everyone practises self-regulation to a certain extent, everyday.

Bloggers do too.

Self-regulation may be a 'dirty word' to purists but in fact, it is something that we do all the time - depending on time and place.

Freedom comes with responsibility. Yes, you've heard it before. But it's still true. Especially on a platform which is accessible to the public.

Who decides what is responsible? Everyone, individually and collectively.

In the blogosphere, I do find that it is self-regulating already. (Wee Shu Min, remember?)

So the question is: How much more self-regulation do we need?

Or do we need more at all?

I would say we do not - as long as we take responsibility for what we say.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To zyberzitizen: But it's not about taking responsibility. Everyone knows as self-evident truth that as bloggers we should have the freedom to write whatver we like anytime we like, and nobody should have the freedom to criticise anyone else. Except us.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Xeno Boy,

I came across your blog after I had an interview with ringisei from I'm an honours student from NUS and is currently writing up a thesis on new media and politics. I hope you can spare me some time for an interview. Please drop me a mail at Thanks!

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Casino Slots said...

Very amusing idea

4:30 AM  

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