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Chilling reflections on the tube

I recently traveled on the underground rail system in the United Kingdom. At one of the stations, a commuter attempted to board when it was too late by sticking his leg and umbrella through the door.
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Written by ZDNet Staff on

I recently traveled on the underground rail system in the United Kingdom. At one of the stations, a commuter attempted to board when it was too late by sticking his leg and umbrella through the door.

Instantly the train doors shut their jaws on his appendage and refused to budge. Several commuters jumped to his aid and pry the doors open but to no avail. While we waited for the train to start again and carry this person's leg to the next station, the doors opened and freed the man from its jaws.

Then, the public announcement came on and someone, presumably the driver of the train proceeded to chide that man (or the term used was "Mr Intelligent") for carrying out an act that a child would not do.

We looked at this in stunned silence but the matter came to rest there. It was funny but I saw a more serious side to it. I realized that such an occurrence, though normal in the U.K., is unique in Singapore. In Singapore, the fear for speaking up is present--too many lawsuits have taken place for innocuous or deserved comments. This results in what experts called a chilling effect--that even comments that are deserved are suppressed. This was a good example of a chilling effect.

Another example of a chilling effect is in relation to intellectual property law. Where copyright law or patent law over-protects the rights of inventors, the chilling effect may result in a situation where invention is, ironically, curtailed.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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