From ‘Did Glenn Ong really say that?’, 19 Sept 2011, article by Gerald Goh, Teh Jen Lee, TNP
SHE couldn’t quite believe her ears when she was listening to the radio last Thursday. DJ Glenn Ong had related an encounter he had with a “crazy” woman who caused chaos in a restaurant a segment of The Morning Show on Class 95 FM.
The listener, a 33-year-old corporate trainer who wanted to known only as Sabrina, said Ong went on to say that the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) should be responsible in making sure “these people” are not out in public.
When TNP contacted Ong yesterday, and asked if he had used the sentence about “putting mad dogs to sleep” on air, he said: “Roughly.” But he clarified that he was reading an SMS response from a listener.
It’s hard to judge if Glenn Ong was discriminating against mentally ill patients from the report above, or whether it was a case of him using the overused and trivialised ‘crazy’ the way most people would say it everyday, like ‘the weather is crazy’, ‘don’t be crazy’ or ‘ you’re crazy not to accept the promotion’ i.e on ‘normal’ people. If you think about it, we hardly ever call individuals with overt psychotic ailments i.e autistim or schizophrenia ‘crazy’, not to mention bring it up on national radio unless this woman’s behaviour was typical of a demanding, aggressive customer which angered the DJ to the point that he would resort to cursing euthanasia upon her. If you look at the spectrum of synonyms for a mad person, you’ll realise they become more euphemistic as the words get longer. Mad, crazy, psycho, lunatic, deranged, mentally ill, schizophrenic, neurotransmitter-imbalanced. Like Glenn, most of us pause to find the right word to describe someone who needs medical attention, but do not hesitate to call our boss, wife or teacher ‘mad’.
It’s likely that Glenn was using ‘crazy’ in the figurative sense, and mistiming the association with IMH and mad dogs to give the listener the impression that he thinks all mental patients who are ‘let loose’ in public should be put down, when it’s likely that the target of his rant isn’t a mental patient at all, but a difficult diner who displayed all the traits of a rabid, wild animal in heat. Nonetheless, any call to forcibly put to sleep any human, sane or insane, on the air (even if as a joke) would be taken as inciting discriminatory violence by sensitive listeners rather than a quick-tempered outburst by a radio personality whose impulsiveness is reflected in his serial marriages.
Not the first time of course, that this veteran ‘shock-jock’ got into trouble over the air. In 2007, Class 95 FM was fined $5k when Glenn and long time partner Flying Dutchman discussed if men and women should make noise during sex on air. Early last year, the same duo remarked that the ‘top 10 most trustworthy’ Singaporeans‘ according to Reader’s Digest ‘could not be trusted’ at all. Glenn has always struck me as a no holds barred, unapologetic ‘wise guy’ known for his cynical barbs and observations, part of a Morning Show charm that appeals not just to his fans but specifically to certain females in the same profession. There must be something marketable about his scruffy attitude which makes Mediacorp stick with him all these years. Or maybe Class 95 FM is just ‘crazy’ not to let him go.
Postscript: Glenn later feigned amnesia about quoting the ‘mad dog’ SMS, with Vice President Sandra Chan clarifying that Glenn intended to say that IMH should ‘lock up these people for public safety’, based on an isolated incident with a ‘mentally unstable’ person in China. To elaborate (What DJ meant to say was.., 24 Sept 2011, TNP):
“He did not mean to link these individuals to ‘crazy dogs’. What he meant to say was that if a dog had attacked someone, measures would be taken, so in the same vein, mentally unstable people should be monitored to protect other members of the public from danger.
“He apologises unreservedly if his comments were deemed insensitive and might have caused undue distress to his listeners.”
It’s not clear what Glenn experienced at the restaurant, but if the ‘crazy’ woman had indeed gone ‘postal’ and tossed cutlery at random diners, he might have a point, but the change of tune from ‘putting down’ the mentally ill to ‘monitoring and locking them up if necessary’ is opening up another can of vitriol for critics to ‘go mental’ on him. A simple, personal apology would have sufficed, though the damage is done and we won’t see the likes of Glenn taking part in the President’s Star Charity anytime soon.