Open, tolerant and respectful

I am guessing that most Singaporeans should have noticed that when it comes to racial or religious harmony, our government always reiterates the same points with the same rhetoric all the time. Don't get me wrong; I do agree that we should maintain racial/religious harmony -- that's not the issue here.

What gets on my nerves is how vague they are every single time that I've seen it. It's always the same vague language, imploring that we should be open, tolerant and respectful of other beliefs. Okay, good. What does that mean?

What is being open?

To be open is to be ready to entertain new ideas. And here in Singapore, I never really thought that this was an issue at all (so far).

What about being tolerant?

To be tolerant something is to permit and endure its existence. Again, I, for one, have no issue with this. I am not, and I hope nobody else is, going to prohibit religion or irreligion in general.

Then what about being respectful?

To show deference to a right. Sure, people have the right to have or not have religious beliefs -- that's fine.

What then is the issue here?

Wait, there's another commonly used meaning for respect I'm forgetting -- to hold in esteem or honor. That? HELL, NO.

Now, think of the common thread that holds this 3 terms together. For non-believers on the internet, I'm pretty sure you might have guessed it -- Criticism of religious doctrines and practices.

In the eyes of (some of) the religious and squishy liberals, simply criticizing religious doctrines and practices is equated to being close-minded, intolerant and disrespectful. Guess what? They're wrong. One can be open, tolerant and respectful of religious beliefs without silencing all opposing ideas (ie, criticism).

I will entertain your beliefs, respect your right to hold them, tolerate your practices AND tell you what I find disagreeable. But the last part is what seems to get their goat. And that appears to me, what they wish to achieve with the usual rhetoric.

When tensions between religions (and the irreligious) mount around the globe, the rhetoric is used to quell any tension that might be building here in Singapore. In this case, it might have been the tension between the freethought community and the religious in the USA and Europe.

It becomes ironic when you consider what happens when religious conflicts do escalate. It ends with one religious faction making a hell of a fuss by rioting. So essentially, I cannot criticize you because you might lose your sanity and kill people -- and this is supposed to be acceptable?

For example, if a riot broke out because a group of people were unhappy with the government's decision, those people are insurgents. But if a riot broke up because a group of people were unhappy because they were presented facts about their religion, those people are good citizens who should be protected from information? Bite me.

I genuinely hope the that is not the position the government is holding and is possibly using that same old rhetoric about religious harmony for more benign reasons.

To summarize, my position is that, I will defend your right to believe in nonsense so long as you do not deny my right to call it nonsense.