Timah: Why do we let stupid people win? — Zuhairy Fauzy

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NOVEMBER 1 — Empty tins = pure noise. Nothing else. No issue there.  Now, whether we allow that noise to mess with our heads — that’s a whole other question.

Consider what’s going on with “Timah” whiskey. These guys had been around for a while. They went about their business in peace. No one complained. Then this year, they won some awards. The local social media radar picked this up.

The empty tins started singing.

Timah is a common contraction of the Muslim female name “Fatimah”, they say. Never mind that “timah” is, simply, the Malay word for “tin” — an ancient word, by the way, with Austronesian roots far predating “Fatimah”. Never mind that this was the intended meaning all along. The irresistible, inevitable conclusion is that “timah” refers to the Muslim female name “Fatimah”. There can be no other reading. A straw (wo)man was invented, the fiction propped up and magnified to humour the stupidity of the masses. To drink the stuff was to drink a Malay woman, whatever that means. This was a calculated insult to their religion, and so help them God, Timah whiskey should close shop to spare their poor little feelings.

What else is one to do? Should we expect DBP to coin a new term for “tin”? The Latin-derived “stanum” perhaps, like how the Malay word for “potassium” is “kalium”?

All this self-righteous gatekeeping only feeds the perception that Islam is either so insecure a religion, or its adherents in this country so monumentally stupid, that they are terrified by phantoms that they themselves conjured in the first place.

This isn’t a slippery slope. It’s happened before and it will happen again. It’s been going on for years, if not decades. We let it happen. We keep letting stupid people hijack the narrative and write themselves into the script as the hero of the story. We keep letting stupid people win. Lest we forget:

Servcorp took down their Hari Raya billboard ad because stupid people couldn’t tell the difference between a pig and a wombat in a baju Melayu.

That housing development in Langkawi had to repaint their roofs because stupid people saw Christian crosses in the design and nauzubillah it was messing up their iman.

Auntie Anne’s had to call their pretzel dogs “pretzel sausages” because stupid people calling the shots on what’s halal in this country didn’t want to associate ritually impure “dogs” with food. Heaven forbid it might confuse Muslims into thinking the dear things contain actual dog meat. (I’m looking at you too, A&W. “RB” in place of “root beer”? For shame.)

You really can’t make this up. Team Stupid: 3 — Everyone Else: 0.

On that last point, here’s some earth-shattering news: there’s a chain of hot dog joints throughout the Middle East called “Wazzup Dog”. Catchy name. Good reviews. Look them up. Pretty sure they’re halal, too. Let’s out-halal them by pretending hot dogs are not called hot dogs.

Let’s go full stupid. Let’s rename guinea pigs next.

If we keep caving in to stupid people, others will think they are right after all. We need to crash this bandwagon fallacy. We can’t afford to let the tyranny of the stupidity dictate where things are going for this country.

At the time of writing, the people behind Timah are considering a name change. I wish them all the best, whatever the decision may be. It’s their call to make. That said, it would be nice to see them stand their ground against stupidity. Maybe then the empty tins would shout themselves hoarse, tire of the silliness, and then shut up in good time.

Let’s take a stand for once. Don’t let stupid people win.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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