Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fear not Chinese missiles — towels are the real threat

Activists at a Dapu protest on Ketagalan Blvd
Following ‘complaints,’ Yahoo has pulled a famous towel from its auction site 

Many symbols have emerged in recent months over the protests against forced evictions, the demolition of people’s homes and other forms of government/developer predations. One of the most famous ones is the now ubiquitous “Civil Revolt” towel sported by the popular hip hop band Kou Chou Ching (拷秋勤).

Recently, the band members, who have openly supported the various causes that have led to civilian mobilization against the authorities, put up the black-and-white towels for sale on the Yahoo portal. All the proceeds were to be donated to the Taiwan Rural Front, an NGO that has led the charge in supporting the victims of demolitions, including the most recent ones in Dapu (大埔), Miaoli County.

Now, according to a post by band member Chen Liljay (陳威仲) late on Friday, Yahoo has removed the towels from its site following alleged protests by individuals whose identity has not been revealed, but can certainly be guessed at. The reason? The product was deemed “dangerous.”

I will let the reader be the judge of whether such action as taken by Yahoo was warranted, and what it says about the state of freedom of expression in Taiwan. But ask yourself this: Is civil unrest fueled by the sale of towels with a few radical words printed on them, or is it the result of mounting public frustration with a government that has repeatedly used and abused the law to its advantage and shown only contempt and disregard for the defenseless who, as fate would have it, happen to stand in the way of the enrichment of a few? (Photo by the author)

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