A California blogger has been arrested in Singapore for accusing a judge of prostituting herself to Singapore’s leadership in a defamation suit. Gopalan Nair is a former Singapore lawyer who is now a U.S. citizen. If convicted, Nair could be sentenced to prison for up to a year for insulting a public servant. As a Web attorney, I empathize with her plight.
Although one can question the wisdom of going to Singapore and daring the authorities to do something in response, the fact that a blogger has been arrested for “insulting a public servant” in an email is unconscionable. Many public servants deserve criticism for incompetence and/or corruption. Although there are good judges and elected officials, too often these positions go to those who cannot compete in the real world and seek to live off the public trough through political patronage.
As for the Singapore officials who arrested Nair, their stupidity is an embarrassment to the civilized world. With a little luck, the blogosphere will rake these morons over the coals until they release the blogger.
And what’s the story with the U.S. Department of State? Why in the world are they putting up with this ridiculous arrest? Real diplomats with cojones would inform the Singapore government that Nair gets released immediately or the U.S. military will make an extraction and topple the idiots from power to secure his freedom. Less appeasement and more Teddy Roosevelt.
What are your thoughts?
At what point should we defer to absurd laws of other countries that suppress free speech on the Internet? If Nair can be arrested, why not you or me? Will you need both a Web attorney and a criminal defense lawyer just to express yourself online?
As a final note, this blog post contains multiple insults to Singapore public officials. Please feel free to issue a warrant for my arrest. I won’t be visiting your country until you respect free speech rights.
-Mike the Web attorney