Why isn’t Singapore caning spammers?

Not that I believe in caning spammers, mind you, at least not in the literal sense (if we’re talking figuratively, well, no punishment is too harsh).

But caning is considered a perfectly acceptable form of corporal punishment in Singapore. So it seems just a touch odd that this week Singapore for the first time invoked its Spam Control Act with nary a mention of caning among the consequences for violators. According to a statement from the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, spammers will face fines of as much as 1 million Singapore dollars, or US$657,000.

A $675,000 fine is nothing to sneeze at, of course. But where’s the jail time? And, where is the caning?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t even believe in spanking children and haven’t hit anyone for any reason since whacking a guy’s fist with my upper lip during a brawl at a football game 30 years ago.

But we’re talking spammers in Singapore here and the temptation is overwhelming. From a Wikipedia article on caning: “The subject to be caned is strapped in a bending-over position to a metal or wooden frame. The punishment is delivered to the bare buttocks, the number of strokes being specified in the court’s sentence.”

Now doesn’t that seem like punishment fit for a spammer? I mean if you believe in that sort of thing? And you live in a country where it’s considered perfectly civilized?

It’s an extra-large world after all

Unwelcome jockstrap ads on a Disney-related Web site might seem amusing unless you’re Al Lutz and run MiceAge.com, an independent online outlet for news, gossip, opinion and visitor tips regarding all things Disney. Lutz doesn’t want to sell jockstraps, but he’s had no luck in getting Amazon to stop putting the ads and their otherwise buck-naked models in front of his readers.

This is no Mickey Mouse vanity operation. Lutz claims 2 million to 5 million monthly visitors. And while the younger crowd might not blanch at a jockstrap ad, they are not the primary audience for MiceAge.

“We skew older in our readership,” Lutz tells me. “Baby Boomers love their Disneyland.”

Baby Boomers wear jockstraps, too, don’ t they? Yes, but…

“Our typical readers have come to trust the site when we suggest something to them (a ride, tour or book) — in the same way one might have a good friend who always knows what flowers work best for what occasion,” Lutz explains. “Imagine going to that friend for some advice on a floral arrangement and then having him extol the virtues of a jockstrap instead.”

If you’re interested in how Lutz’s back-and-forth with Amazon’s service department, you can read the actual e-mails on my blog.