Sunday, October 3, 2010
Not heroic at all
I stand by my conviction that there is nothing admirable about Carlos Celdran's rudeness, and that it's highly discouraging to find out that people are saying it's heroism or martyrdom of a sort to do such an uncharitable thing.
Let's put it this way: think of your most favorite hero (one of mine is Sara Crewe!) and tell me if you'd still respect that person if he walked up to you (as you prayed) and screamed in your face, all because he wanted to let you know you were super-duper absolutely positively incredibly and crazily wrong about something. What's so heroic about that?
Sometimes, I turn to books for comfort. Here's a tidbit from A Little Princess:
"When you will not fly into a passion people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage, and they are not, and they say stupid things they wish they hadn't said afterward. There's nothing so strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in--that's stronger."
I ain't saying we should never speak up and air our views, I'm saying we should air them calmly and in a civilized and respectful manner. Write a Letter to the Editor, organize a march, get the word out through various media.... If you love the Filipino people, you'll do us a good turn by not giving the impression that the only way we Filipinos think we can be heard is by making a complete fool of ourselves and getting jailed for it.
Here's a Letter to the Editor of Philippine Star that basically sums up what Celdran did, and what the media shouldn't have done.
Today's editorial calling for the repeal of the law penalizing offending religious feelings ("The Philippine Star", October 2, 2010, p. 14) is highly misinformed.
First of all, it is inaccurate to portray Carlos Celdran as a martyr for his free speech rights. He is not being charged for simply expressing his views; hence your fear that "80 percent of the population who through surveys have expressed support for birth control" could be imprisoned for offending religious feelings is unfounded. He is being charged for having scoffed at church authority during the mass and inside a church. Please take the trouble of researching what Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code actually penalizes. The constitution protects Carlos Celdran's right to express his views, no matter how unconventional they may be, but the constitution likewise protects the rights of everyone to worship according to their religious beliefs in peace. While he has the right to express dissenting opinions, he has no right to infringe on other people's right to worship in peace.
Second, the provision penalizing offending religious feelings applies to all religions alike. To repeal the law against offending religious feelings would be to expose all religions -- and not just the Catholic religion -- to contempt. The repeal would mean anyone can burn the Koran inside a mosque during an Islamic service, or make a heated attack on Manalo inside an Iglesia ni Cristo building during their Thursday pagsamba. These scenarios hardly promote mutual understanding among religions. The above mentioned examples are offensive to modern sensibilities; a similar affront on the Catholic religion is no less offensive.
For quite some time, I have been disappointed with your newspaper which, while printing inspirational quotes about God on its footer and daily biblical commentaries, prints a lot of articles and editorials supporting the RH bill. I have tolerated your publication of these articles even if I don't agree with them. But your approval of Carlos Celdran's offensive behavior is no longer a healthy exercise of free speech; it is an affront to what the majority of the population holds sacred. Please consider my subscription to your newspaper cancelled.
Atty. Cristina A. Montes
Have a fruitful week everyone!