Cobbling together words such as “nebbish”, “concinnate” and “complaisance”, while making a random reference to Iannucci, The New Yorker — a publication with a tendency to be pretentiously serious and seriously pretentious — has put annoying 17-year-old Singaporean kid Amos Yee on a pedestal and worshipped at his feet.
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In a piece out on April 10, 2015, “Amos Yee: YouTube Star, Teen-Ager, Dissident“, written by Nathan Heller, the uber highbrow mag was not short of effusive praise for the newest enfant terrible in Singapore, who has been arrested and charged for hurting some people’s feelings with a YouTube video he made.
This is what he wrote:
Yee’s arrest doesn’t just underscore his complaints about Singapore’s backwardness on rights and freedom. It shows the country’s dire need for cultural education through intelligent dissent.
The citizens of developed nations in the twenty-first century should not need to be told that free expression is a basic attribute of political health. It’s part of Yee’s precocity to realize that a population molded into sheeplike complaisance is ideologically vulnerable. If his opinions sometimes tend toward the extremes (in a more recent video, he urges young people to drop out of school, the better not to, you know, go to learn the words of fools), his goal seems to be to unsettle the existing Singaporean power structure enough that young people have no choice but to broaden their expectations. His flamboyant thought and language is part of the best tradition of dissension, from Voltaire to the Velvet Revolution, and it accrues to creative fields beyond politics. Yee is something of a cinematic prodigy, having snagged two top prizes in a Singaporean festival for a hilarious short he made at thirteen, in his bedroom.
If anything, Yee has all the hallmarks of a green and thriving mind; he is exactly the kind of person you would one day want reviewing your books, making your movies, maybe even running your country. Americans, who enjoy the benefits of free media, have a responsibility to take him more seriously than they take the government that has tried to quiet him for thinking freely in the public sphere. And those of us in the Fourth Estate have a duty to spread word of his ridiculous charges. If people like Amos Yee end up the custodians of our profession, the future of countries like Singapore can be brighter than their past. (Bold emphasis mine)
Yes, you read it right. Heller is saying that Singapore will be better off being run by people like Amos Yee, who cannot even comb his hair properly.
The questions then are: Since he is at it, why not suggest arming Amos Yee with a nuclear warhead too? And making him President of ‘Murcia?
What’s stopping Heller from calling Amos “the saviour of Singapore society in a post-Lee Kuan Yew era”? His sense of balance?
Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter last week wrote about how there is a need to be wary of White Men with instructive bent who want to tell Singaporeans how to live.
On hindsight, useful advice, that.