Two questions, 15 pages and 16-year-old is ruled guilty

Two questions, 15 pages and 16-year-old is ruled guilty

To decide whether the image that Amos Yee had posted on his blog was obscene, District Judge Jasvender Kaur had asked herself two questions.

"Would any right-thinking parents approve of their teenage (children)... (viewing) such an image?" was the first.

The other was whether any teacher would approve of a student doing the same in the school library.

The answer would be an "emphatic no" to both. "It would meet with their strongest possible disapproval and condemnation," said the judge.

That was why she ruled the image that the 16-year-old posted on March 28 was obscene.

Yee had superimposed the faces of Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and former British premier Margaret Thatcher onto an outline of two people engaging in a sex act.

The judge pointed out that the defence itself had acknowledged that such an image could encourage young people towards sexual experimentation.

In her 15-page judgment, the judge also found that Yee, in the YouTube video that he uploaded on March 27, did not just make "clearly derogatory" comments about Jesus Christ that were offensive to Christians, but he did so deliberately as well.

The video was titled Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead.

The judge said: "By making an analogy between the two different subjects, the accused was pointing to the same alleged denigrating similarities between Mr Lee and his followers, and Jesus and Christians."

She highlighted that Yee admitted being "fully aware" that the comparison would be offensive to the religion and he even looked up the Sedition Act.

She rejected the defence's argument that the offence needed proof that Christians had complained about being insulted.

Besides, Yee himself admitted receiving about 20 negative comments to his video, "mostly from people practising Christianity".

The video, the judge pointed out, was "not made by someone who is learned or of special influence".

"It is by a 16-year-old teenager who plainly has a lot of growing up to do," she said. "It is unsurprising, therefore, that the negative reaction was limited to the comments that the accused received on social media."

amirh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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