I’m sure you all have heard by now that Amos Yee has finally been freed from detention. Congratulations should also go out to his tireless, brilliant legal team at Grossman Law, LLC, the many local activists and human rights organizations that supported him, Kenneth Jeyaretnam for his expert testimony, Adam Lowisz, a mentor to Amos who continues to go above and beyond for this kid, and Amos’s mom Mary Toh who steadfastly stood by her son.
Mary, you were 50% of the reason why I wanted to help, because I could see the urgency and desperation of a mother who just knew that a life of continued harassment from the authorities would befall the young contrarian who couldn’t keep his mouth shut had he stayed.
I know there’s no middle ground with Amos. He polarizes people to the extremes with his admittedly incendiary antics, foolish politics and inflammatory rhetoric. But look at him through a lens of compassion – how do you think a recalcitrant, petulant teenager with the heart of a rebel would be impacted emotionally, intellectually, philosophically and psychologically being immersed in a cultural soup brimming with conformity of thought and unquestioning deference to authority? How would he respond to being dealt with by the iron fist of the State and forcibly sent for “reformative training” in a mental institute?
His views and politics don’t exist in a vacuum, they were very much shaped by his experiences. The most important thing for a boy his age is something that Atossa Araxia Abrahamian wrote about in her compelling article for Buzzfeed: he recognizes the possibility that how and what he thinks might be total bullshit, and is more than open to changing his mind.
Tonight, he will sleep in a regular room in a normal American suburb, poised to live the normal life of a teenager that was deprived of him: ranting online, looking stupid on social media, meeting friends, making mistakes, watching crappy Hollywood movies.
Welcome to the USA, Amos Yee. You’re totally wrong about the food though. It isn’t better here. 🙂