Yokyajarta is a renowned Indonesian city. A popular destination for tourists. One that is inhabited by hospitable people. It’s a centre of tradition and modern science. Of open mindedness and religion. Where a guy I met, a Muslim, drank a cordial beer or two with me, a non believer, on our brand new friendship ( well, only if we call “Bintang” genuine beer. Which is open to discussion…).
I hold the city in high esteem.
But a student, Florence Sihombing, at the famous local university experienced some cracks in the paradise-like surface of Yokyakarta. Or just thought so. And wrote a tough critical review about it on social media. Yokyakarta according to her rant was inhabited by “poor, idiotic and uncivilized” people. And she wanted it to be known by everyone.
Well, those addressed were not amused. They cried ‘slander’ or similar words. And Florence got arrested. She apologized and promised not to do that again. But she stayed in custody. Her case became a hype on internet though. And her Alma Mater ran to her rescue. She was set free, but definitely is not off the hook. After saying sorry publicly, governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X asked his subjects to forgive the perpetrator. In spite of that for her the scandal is not over yet.
That is a pretty drastic reaction after some angry words by a ( probably slightly spoiled) young lady.
Overreaction actually. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, is a universal human right after all.
However apparently it’s content and limits are different in different places.
Florence had back luck living at a spot on the globe where the definition of slander ( and I guess libel, religious offense, pornography, obscenity etc also) is much less restricted than elsewhere. If, for instance, I would like to state that my small town’s citizens on average are, lets say, dull, behind the times, egoistic and materialistic followers of capitalistic consumerism, I could do so without the risk of being arrested.
Hey, by the way, this is an opportunity for me to vent some personal anger.
So, for the sake of solidarity with Florence and because of the urge I feel to at long last frankly speak my mind on my home town Zeist, I repeat that it’s
behind the times,
and crowded with petty capitalist consumers.