Sunday, June 10, 2012

My comments on "The Faces of Haters".

This post will detail my two cents regarding the current controversy over Xiaxue's "The Faces of Haters" post a few weeks back, and her latest update of "The Faces of Haters part II - Unrepentant".

Unless you're a homeless dude living under a bridge (hope you don't get eaten!) and have no Internet access, you will know who Xiaxue is: arguably Asia Pacific's most popular blogger, and is not shy to go full out on controversial topics. People either love or hate her (hard to be indifferent about highly opinionated people; I personally love her blog), and there are furores that rise up from time to time whenever she blogs about unpopular, controversial topics, in particular her posts that name and shame people who have annoyed her too much.

However, this particular incident has garnered the most public attention so far. In a nutshell if you're too lazy to read her lengthy posts (in which case you're missing out, and this post is gonna be really wordy anyway), she basically went on a blogger revenge rage, and posted information, pictures, and provided mostly insulting views on guys that called her things like "ugly", "prostitute", "dumb" etc on a facebook page that recently posted pictures of herself and other blogger friends attending a PAP rally last year. The information she posted was available for viewing on anyone who clicked on these guys' facebook pages, which were set to "public", and some pictures she posted included the dudes' wife and/or kids.

Part II was where Xiaxue addressed the main criticisms of her previous post, and also showed us the reactions of a few of the guys she blogged about. So now, these guys feel "their right and their family's right to privacy has been compromised", and they might be right in thinking so, because they could actually sue her for her actions. It should be noted that they are all pissed off and feeling self-righteous, instead of embarrassed and repentant.

So what do I have to say about this?

1. The guys are disgusting assholes.

Well this is self-explanatory. No decent, level-minded person in the world would click on a stranger's picture, and leave nasty, hurtful comments.

The Internet makes these things easy. If you point at a woman in public and say "whore", chances are high that you would end up greatly embarrassed because some auntie would come up to you and give you a longass lecture about respect at the top of her lungs, or bruised and perhaps bloodied if the woman is not alone. Online however, the cloak of anonymity and distance makes you feel more reckless.

These guys weren't even anonymous; they used their facebook profiles to comment, and had their personal information available to the world's access at the click of a button. Yet, there were still shameless enough to insult innocent strangers, and still put on the show of a maligned person. 

I imagine they went around to hoard sympathy from their family and friends like this:

"Oh boohoo to me! This bimbotic whore blogged about me and posted pictures of my family too! She is so awful and an elitist daft, I should sue her and flame her! What do you mean I started it first? Limpeh very innocent ok, only posted a comment on some small facebook page and not to the whole world!"

Honestly, I really cannot understand how they would expect others to sympathies with them. You yourself chose to be an asshole and post mean things online; how can you act so bloody victimised when your victim chooses to hit back?

And also, I would here bring up a huge point: They know who Xiaxue is.

I mean, they are all Singaporeans, and she's all over the media there from time to time, no? You see her in the newspaper, hear her on the radio, watch her online show etc. Even if they are not readers of her blog, I bet they still know that she is a blogger, and a very famous one at that, because they are clearly not homeless guys with no Internet access. 

I bet you anything these guys know who Xiaxue is, and yet they still chose to mess with her. Did they honestly expect to get away with insulting a local celebrity, whose blog is gets an average of 40000 unique visits everyday, and get away scot-free?

Xiaxue's part II stated that none of the guys had approached her to apologise for their actions. How can they not feel ashamed for being so horribly disrespectful to another woman they don't even know, when they have wives and sisters and mothers themselves? I see no possible way for anyone, at all, to think this is reasonable behavior and choose to side with the guys over Xiaxue.

2. The furore over the posting of family pictures.

I don't see why this was a big deal. I mean, yes it must be embarrassing for the wives when people recognise them, but who was even focusing on the wives when reading the post? I don't think posting the kids' pictures should amount to any backlash: the kids were either babies or toddlers (she didn't post pictures of any teenage kids that might be embarrassed by their peers), and this likely wouldn't affect them one bit.

But yes, those poor wives. I mean, now they are labelled as the wife of a disgusting asshole. People now probably point at her and whisper about her behind her back; and even if they don't, the wives probably still feel scrutinised and embarrassed every time they step out of the house.

Even though the comments would mostly be that of pity for the wife for being the unfortunate partner of a Geylang regular, no self-respecting person likes to be the object of pity and gossip. They would likely here be innocent victims of this entire thing. They might even avoid talking to their friends and colleagues for some time, choosing to lay low and become a social recluse until this whole state of affairs blows over for the next scandal.

I mean, not everyone can handle great amounts of public attention. I just hope that none of the wives go into deep depression over the stress of it all.

So yes, I do agree that Xiaxue probably should not have posted pictures of the guys' family. Having said that, I do not think it was an intrusion of privacy, which was another huge outcry from said disgusting assholes. It should be noted that copyright infringement would be the basis of any legal action taken against Xiaxue, under Singapore's Copyright Act.

I actually went to read the Act, and yes, they do have a case against her. However, s.12.1.11 allows certain acts that would not constitute copyright infringement, which include for the purposes of criticism or review, and reporting current events; and anyway Xiaxue has a prima facie case for defamation. I am also certain that Xiaxue would have consulted a lawyer before posting something so controversial.

Every single picture posted on her blog was available on the guys' facebook profiles and accessible to the general public, so this doesn't seem like an invasion of privacy to any layperson. If anything, the guys should feel terrible for putting their family in such a compromising situation. It is not very difficult to change your profile setting to "private" if you don't want random people to access them, you know.

So to conclude, I do not think that posting the guys' family pictures was nice, but it definitely was not wrong.

3. "Taking the high road" vs "Giving them hell"

Well, this should be an issue for Xiaxue alone to decide, no?

What would you do if one day, you discovered that a picture of you was on another facebook page, with hundreds of nasty comments from people you have never seen in your life? Complete strangers calling you a "prostitute" and other mean things?

I wouldn't have been very gracious about it. My blog isn't viewed by many people, but that wouldn't have stopped me from going all Benihana on them, by any means possible. I probably would have posted lots of status updates on facebook too, that insulted those guys and wished them unhappy things.

Its so easy to tell someone to take the high road. Because yes, that would be the ideal thing to do, in a perfect world where the sun shines everyday on a whitesand beach, where we all wear expensive shades and big floppy hats, drinking fruity cocktails on striped deckchairs. But I honestly don't think anyone (except Mother Theresa) put in that situation would stay silent and do nothing to hit out that those guys.

It was unkind, and perhaps a tad excessive, but I think Xiaxue was right to choose to defend herself instead of letting it go. 


And there we go, my two cents (okay maybe ten) on the latest blogger controversy. 

I would like to think that Xiaxue's post would make a big difference in the world, that guys would stop being degrading to women, especially to completely innocent strangers; but who are we kidding? After a few more weeks, this will all die down.

Xiaxue will blog about beautiful, sunshiney holiday getaways and bright, fun advertorials; the guys' wives will have either left them or forgiven them, and most of them will go back to their usual lewd activities after some time, because a leopard can't change its spots. Until the next time their paths cross with another furious, unforgiving, and influential woman.

But hey, it sure was entertaining as hell.

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