Monday, 7 May 2007

Response from Asst Prof Yvonne Lee

I posted a response to a Straits Times commentary arguing against the decriminalisation of homosexual sex. This afternoon, I received a letter from the writer, essentially making the following points:

  • her article is to highlight issues relevant to the debate over Section 377A;
  • the cogency of her arguments stand independent of the personal views of the reader; and
  • the Government will "address and resolve" all legal and policy issues "in due course", presumably in the context of the upcoming Penal Code amendments.

She finished off by stating:

"Kindly refrain from making personal or professional statements against me. It is both unprofessional and unbecoming."

I would have reproduced the full letter on this blog, except that I have not received any response from the writer to my request for her consent to post it here. (The letter is technically copyrighted work belonging to her and reproduction here may or may not constitute a fair dealing of the copyright work, so I just decided to avoid that altogether.)

My response:

"Asst Prof Lee,

I stand by my posting. I believe it is justified and/or fair comment. I suppose we disagree on that.

On a related note, would you consent to the letter being published on my blog?

As I said, I've not received any response. I'll leave it to my readers to judge for themselves the cogency of her arguments, and whether my statements are justified/fair independent of my personal views.


o said...

With respect to her second point (as summarised by you), did she in any way defend the cogency of her arguments beyond simply stating that they are cogent? If not, then her response is laughable.

Your analysis was focused on her writing, and based on her writing you formed an opinion about her suitability for her position at NUS. Unprofessional? Unbecoming? I think no, since your opinion was reasoned and since her writing showed her shortcomings in one of her areas of expertise (constitutional law).

In fact, it is unprofessional on her part (as a lawyer and as an academic) for her to make statements in the public domain and then shy away from reasoned debate on the statements.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I think that people should feel free to comment on her letter, which is on a matter of public interest and, by virtue of being published in a newspaper, is in the public domain.

Of course, in my opinion, it was a ridiculous letter. For example she wrote:

"Any argument to decriminalise homosexual sex must consider the harmful social consequences. For example, would affirming homosexual sexual practices serve the common good? It is a known medical fact that homosexual intercourse or sodomy is an inherently unhealthy act that carries higher risks of a number of sexually transmitted infections. The law should not facilitate acts which threaten public health."

A ridiculous argument, because I don't see her saying, for example, that smoking or overeating should be punishable with life imprisonment (the way that homosexual intercourse is, under section 377A).

And of course smoking-related and obesity-related diseases kill a lot more people every year than STIs linked to homosexual OR heterosexual intercourse.

Daniel said...

I don't see anything unprofessional at all about stating one's immense disappointment over a law lecturer's lack of logic and inability to apply the law. The only person being unprofessional is the law lecturer herself - in the sense that she has sullied the reputation of the NUS law faculty and let down the law profession in general by her grotesque lapses of logic and extremely poor legal reasoning.

rupertstreet said...
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rupertstreet said...
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a Cookie Monster said...


I mailed off a response to Ms Lee and received a reply ending in this:

"Therefore, one should be careful not to assert that any view is devoid of legal reasoning, or make personal or professional attacks against an individual."

She previously said that she and I "have differing views". I received no reply when I pointed out that it is not possible to have differing views on propositions known as facts, and that her "medical fact" was plainly wrong.

I attacked her factual errors; hence, she did not say outright that I was making personal/professional attacks on her person. But still, what a silly woman. I am shocked that she is a professor - and sincerely hope she will never make it to tenure.


rupertstreet said...

Yvonne's agenda is very much similar to Thio Li Ann's, which is a Christian one. I will not be surprised if Thio is backing her up. One wonders if Thio would say something.

And for goodness sake, if you put your opinions out there for all to see, be equally prepared to accept the criticism that may ensue. Besides, I don't think that anyone is beyond or above reproach/criticism, unless of course, he or she is god!

Ned Stark said...

I felt that her letter was defensive and she was going on the basis that she had been a victim of ad hominem attacks; this weakened an already weak position to begin with.

YCK said...

Was really impressed by your ST interview a few days back.

Basically, I see it as a matter of double standards. It is more for fairness sake that I cannot accept Dr Lee's kind of reasoning that was not much more advanced, despite her credentials, beyond Agnes Chai's.