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I Hate Filipino Culture -Society/Politics

Saturday, December 19, 2015

If Duterte were president...

There are those who argue that what we need is an iron-fisted leader or even a dictator, a Filipino Lee Kuan yew perhaps. Maybe it's true that a US-style democracy works against us because we’re a country of shallow people and therefore very much susceptible to the influence of demagogues , leaders who appeal to the emotions.  

For some, this iron-fisted leader is Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao who has often times admitted to being responsible for the extrajudicial execution of criminals. This is a fact that's not ignored or even contested by his supporters. For a lot of them it's actually his selling point. For a society that finds cursing and distributing condoms to those who can’t afford it morally reprehensible, it is a bit of an oddity that a politician who espouses extrajudicial killings would find popularity.

The right of every person to a fair trial is ingrained in every modern democracy. It is a globally recognized basic human right. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Duterte’s judgement is indeed impeccable. That he can tell with certainty who is guilty and who is not, rendering trials unnecessary. Surely, Duterte with his impeccable judgement wouldn’t have time to carry out the killing or judging of all of the country’s criminals all by himself. He will have to delegate. Would his delegates be gifted with the same omniscience and “purity of intention” as their boss? We don’t even trust our police force to handle the country’s traffic situation without extorting our motorists. People can’t even fly in this country without the fear of bullets mysteriously appearing in their luggage. Imagine our law enforcement officers operating in an environment where killing offenders of the law without trial is justified. Maybe the Duterte system sort of works within the confines of Davao’s borders but when taken to the national level, the potential for abuse will expand exponentially. It don’t think that one would have to be particularly pessimistic to see that. On the contrary i think one would have to be zealously optimistic not to see it.

The Davao death squad, which the mayor has admitted to having connections with, is not only responsible for the death of rapists and muderers. They've also allegedly executed people who have committed Petty crimes. Minors have allegedly been executed. Even some of the locals of Davao will admit that some people have been killed by mistake -and they're ok with this because they're happy with the peace and order situation in their city. Imagine the misfortune of those people who were killed by mistake -that their lives were sacrificed for the whims of people who demand peace and order at any price. Even if it was just one person killed without a fair trial and killed by mistake, that’s one person too many.

The mayor has a treasure trove of quotable quotes that would be funny if it was coming from a comedian, entertaining if it was coming from an action star but bone-chilling for someone who's running for president. If you really think about it, who really wants death squads roaming the streets of Metro Manila at night looking to deal swift and fatal justice to suspected criminals?

We can only make assumptions because no one has the clairvoyance to see what a Duterte presidency would be like. Maybe the naysayers are wrong. Maybe he will reform the country. Maybe he can straighten the police force. Maybe his "enforcers" will hit the right targets every time, maybe he won't ban algebra and trigonometry. Maybe this, maybe that. We will have to make assumptions about the other candidates too. The one constant though is that this is a person who is known for and has admitted to operating outside of the law to kill. That is a lot of power to give to one man. We’d be giving up a very basic human right in the assumption that we're surrendering that right to a person who has pure intentions and to a system that will not be abused. If we’re inaccurate in our judgement of his ethics, which we already know are already quite questionable to begin with, we're screwed. The legal system exists for a reason. If it is flawed, fix it. By circumventing it, you'd just be replacing a problem with an even bigger one.

Give up the rights of the few for the many. That's what's being suggested. Surely a few innocents will suffer but we’re at war with criminality and at war there are always casualties, right? You’d just have to pray to your chosen deity that that casualty will not be you or someone you know. In a world of progressing civility where rights are gradually being disseminated equally to every race, gender, age, this is several steps back.. The hierarchy of world governments doesn’t go from a full democracy, where the right of every citizen is equal and legally protected, to a system where the rights of the citizens are conditional and can be waived when one man or the Filipino mob demands it. There are plenty of steps in between.

Duterte's supporters might argue that it's only the rights of the criminals that he will be taking away but without the right to a fair trial, innocence is a very fragile, transitory thing. When the authorities, deem you a criminal, you are one and you have no say about it. As one country under one leadership, we're all in the same frying pan. You can't selectively "cook" certain people without getting others or yourself burned accidentally.

When laws are being violated or "circumvented" around me, I would like to think that it’s being done by deviant individuals, not by my own government. That there is an objective legal system that’s not based on one man’s word and that everyone is subject to it. No one should be above it, no one should operate outside of it, especially those in power.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Is Islam a religion of violence

A lot of people see Islam as a religion of violence. If interpreted literally, it can be. But the Bible is just as potent an instrument of hate if also interpreted literally. The punishment for homosexuality in the bible is death (Leviticus 18 and 20), The punishment for worshiping other gods is death, the punishment for blasphemy is stoning… to death. In the bible, a lot of crimes that we would consider petty are punishable by death. We look at acts done by muslim extremists as primitive because that’s exactly what those acts are. They’re following books written at a different time when the concept of civility was not as we know it now. But why is it that more acts of terrorism are committed under the name of Islam than in the name of the Abrahamic God when both religions promote similar punishments for the same crime?

The Roman Catholic church hasn’t always been peaceful and humane. It took its sweet time. Up until the 16th century, The Catholic church was burning people at the stake for heresy.  A lot of European conquest was partly fueled by the need of the church to convert as much of the world into Catholicism. A lot of people died in the process.

Muslims had a very prosperous civilization in the middle ages. But most muslim countries now are poor and have not been very progressive for a long time. Those that are rich became rich just recently. The hotbeds for terrorism are usually the poorest of these countries. Al qaeda in Afghanistan and ISIS in Iraq -theocracies that progress has barely touched, where life expectancy is short and death is a way of life

When people aren’t dying around you, the value of human life goes up. The death of one soldier in World War 2 doesn’t have the same impact as the death of one soldier today in peace time. We’re not used to death anymore. And when a person doesn’t worry about death happening within the immediate future, that person is free to think about other things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with survival, such as the rights of your fellow man as well as your own. And most especially, since death and killing become taboo, you don't think of killing your fellow man when his beliefs contradict yours.

A lot of the more violent aspects of Catholicism have been slowly rooted out by modernization in Europe -a process that is still continuing today in the free world. It wasn’t too long ago when racism was state imposed and slavery was legal (slavery was permitted in the bible). Look where progress has brought us now. State imposed racism and slavery have been practically eradicated and several states have legalized same sex marriage.

A lot of people claim that religion is the root of a person’s morals but in the modern world, it’s not. . Morality evolves as civilization progresses. As life becomes less of a privilege than it is a right, concepts such as equality gain a foothold in a society's collective consciousness. We no longer live our lives based on the morals of bearded men who lived at a time when human life was a disposable commodity. Morality evolves as society evolves. And we live in a world where morality has evolved to encompass everyone’s rights, including those who don’t belong to our group and those who don’t belong to our religion. Unless you live in Davao, death is no longer the only possible punishment for any given crime.

There are of course those that progress has left behind. Those who choose to hold on to archaic laws and morality. And I think therein lies the answer to the first question in this entry on why one group tends to produce more extremists than the other. One group has progressed more than the other. I think one lesson that we can learn from the Catholic church is that it doesn’t matter if your religion promotes violence and bigotry or not. One can go beyond it and still practice the same religion.

This is not a post against religion. It is a post for reason... For a morality that is carefully thought out and not based on doctrine or dogma. That’s more or less what we have right now in the free world. And it’s something that a lot of people who subscribe to Islamic extremism could use. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On the INC demonstrations

Photoshopped, you’d say but is it really? Hard to tell exactly considering that plenty of the INC flock who participated in the demonstrations most likely had no idea what they were doing in the middle of edsa and being a bother to metro manila’s normally peace-loving motorists who were then probably quite irate. They managed to bring metro manila’s traffic on a Friday night which is usually at a standstill to a… standstill. I avoided edsa during the demonstrations but as someone who passes through edsa regularly, it’s hard for me to imagine how traffic could be worse on a Friday night at rush hour on a payday. If I tried really hard to imagine it, I’d probably see cars going at negative speed in my head… going back to the offices from which they came, in reverse.

Perhaps separation of church and state is a fool’s dream in a country that is so deeply religious. Artificial birth control, gay marriage, divorce: these are concepts that may never find general political acceptance in your lifetime. A religious group could order its flock to paralyze one of metro manila’s main arteries and they would unquestioningly do so –because the same laws that are applied to every man were applied to their leaders. They’d make democracy work against us if their church leaders also tell them who to vote for. I’m glad that never happens. What is democracy but an illusion in a country where individual thinking is controlled by an elite few who claim to be arbiters of morality and truth.

I am not a religious person and that may even be an understatement but I have no problems with people practicing their religion as long as it doesn’t impede on the rights of others, as long as they don’t force their values on people who don’t share the same views and as long as they don’t force their version of the truth on me.

Going back to that picture. At first glance it may not make sense but if you come to think of it, it’s completely logical -makakapunta ba sila sa kalsada kung di sila nagpunta doon? It only doesn’t make sense because you’re looking for rational thinking where it doesn’t exist. It was photoshopped but it might as well be real

Sunday, June 28, 2015

What is my Opinion on Gay Marriage

What is my opinion on same-sex marriage? The US just legalized gay marriage nationwide so people have been expressing their strong opinions on the matter, especially the religious variety. It’s unnatural, they say; It offends them, they say. Some try to rationalize their distaste for same sex marriage by arguing that same-sex couples are unfit to raise kids, by arguing that kids need both a father and a mother -nevermind that the issue of adoption is separate from the issue of marriage itself, that there are plenty of parents not fit to raise a family but are legally given the right to do so … nevermind the fact that single parents are actually allowed by law to adopt children. –let that last phrase sink in for a moment. Also, I’m not sure what passes for “natural” in this hitech age of ours but I imagine that the people complaining that gay marriage isn’t natural aren’t living in the jungle and hunting their own food.

The bottomline is: It doesn’t matter what my opinion on it is. It doesn’t matter what yours is. None of us should be able to repress a group’s rights on basis of personal opinion. Two adults, regardless of gender, should be allowed to spend their lives together and be afforded the same legal rights and recognition as the rest of us. Anything less is no different from state-imposed racism, sexism and other state-imposed isms that we’ve left behind in the past. If the general public finds the idea offensive, they must know that they have a right to be offended but what they don’t have is the right not to be. They also don’t have the right to force their outdated religious sensitivities down people’s throats.

Several decades ago, people of different races were not allowed to get married. It was considered a criminal act punishable by incarceration. Not only was racism popular among the public, it was also state imposed. It seems so backwards to us now that interracial marriage is widely accepted but it was considered taboo back then. At some point in the future, when rejection gives way to tolerance and tolerance gives way to acceptance, people will see same-sex marriage the same way we view interracial marriage now. When they do, wouldn’t you want to be on the other side of the fence?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On cyberbullying part 2

I wrote about cyberbullying in my previous entry and this rant is a continuation of that
There seems to be this recent trend of mainstream publications trying to incite a lynch mob by publicly shaming ordinary people for what wouldn't even be considered misdemeanor offenses.

The video below was shared on top gear and went viral shortly afterwards. It’s a video of two young women in a car trying to ruthlessly awaken a commuter from his deep slumber by viciously blowing their horn. Watch the video below to see the very face of evil (/sarcasm) Seriously, who hasn't tried waking up a friend for the Lulz. Maybe the guy thought that it was mildly annoying but i doubt that he was seriously offended by it. He probably slept again and moved on with his life unlike majority of the commenters on the site. I seriously think that if you replace the two attractive women with two ordinary looking commuters there wouldn’t be as much hate. But because they were driving a car, they looked like arrogant, rich bitches and therefore deserving of the vilest insults.

Top gear is especially fond of this practice. It’s one thing if it’s a random internet nerd posting this story on facebook for his or her friends to see. It’s an entirely different thing if it’s a mainstream publication with magazines that you see in newstands that’s supposedly manned by adults. When you have more than a million followers and you ask the masses to lynch somebody, they will do it with relentless passion. The owner of a maseratti who punched an LTO officer in the face. He was publicly insulted, along with his family without waiting for his side to be aired. Later on it was discovered that the LTO officer was notorious for being an A-hole. Not enough reason to be punched in the face, maybe (?). but at least if there had to be lynching, it shouldn’t have been as one sided as it initially was. Or just leave out the lynching altogether and let the parties involved settle it among themselves. Then there was the beast mode guy, cars parked incorrectly with their plate numbers in full display –also lynched online

I specifically like the comment about not "murdered-ing" the english language. What's most disturbing about this story is not the prank itself but the fact that there are more than 11,000 comments and i'd say more than 90% of them are at least this brutal

I understand the need of these websites to generate traffic but at the very least blur faces out or plate numbers, especially if there’s no illegal offense involved.  There's a reason why plate numbers on cars are usually blurred in photos. You can find out a lot of information about the owner of the car by displaying its plate number, including his or her home address.

Some of these viral stories can be pretty funny and worthy of ridicule. I do laugh at them sometimes but I move on shortly afterwards. I don’t feel the need to dig out more private info about them and then make them public, I don’t feel the need to start facebook pages shaming the people involved in the videos. I don’t feel like raising pitchforks and inviting my comrades to do the same until we receive a groveling apology from the person whose life we have practically destroyed. I hope I’m not the only one who thinks that this lynchmob mentality is getting way out of hand