Here's a column by Manuel L. Quezon III (grand son of the late President Manuel Quezon)and a letter by Jonathan Best, all published at the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
THE LONG VIEW
The grand inquisitor
By Manuel L. Quezon III,
(Published on page A15 of the August 14, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
KURT VONNEGUT ONCE OBSERVED, “FOR SOME reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with Tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.” Vonnegut was pointing out the basic immorality of society’s self-proclaimed moral custodians. Hate the sin but love the sinner? But that opens to a possible debate on what is sin.
How much easier, more certain and eminently satisfying to decree, Kill them all. God will know His own.” The result is the perversion of the finer instincts of religion into a false trinity—faith, hope and bigotry, setting aside charity which represents an inconvenient truth: Christ was friend to prostitutes and tax collectors, and He debated even with the devil. Must Christianity end with Christ?
Retired Supreme Court Justice Isagani Cruz says that his vigorous and vicious condemnation of gays,lesbians and transgendered people is not supposed to incite hatred and intolerance—or to be precise, that he is not invoking a blanket condemnation of all gay people. He only objects to some, not all. For example, he has nothing but the most generous and respectful thoughts for those who conform to what he finds tasteful and tolerable behavior. And what is tasteful and tolerable as far as his wounded sensibilities are concerned? A minority meekly and absolutely surrendering to the tyranny of the majority, a sub-culture reduced to the subhuman, in which the individual is instructed to live out, every day, a total repudiation of the self. Cruz demands the elimination of a diverse and rich culture—one that is as much a mirror of society’s larger complexities as it is an alternative to some of the worst instincts and features of the broader culture for which he has stepped forward as spokesman—because the minority displeases and disgusts him.
He would have me, and everyone else like me be a slave, a fugitive, a hypocrite and, most of all, a coward. And I find that disgusting. I find it neither reasonable nor acceptable. I do not even find it understandable. Cruz does not understand us, does not want to, would be unwilling to. Yet he says he hates only some, not all, of us, and expects “some of us” to embrace and thank him?
For what? That he reserves his scorn only for hairdressers and fashion designers? That he respects me, the writer, but heaps abuse on someone else because that someone uses slang I don’t use, speaks louder than I do, wears what I don’t wear—and those superficial differences are the things that guarantee me (and those who behave otherwise) Cruz’s respect?
I will not embrace him, not for that, much less shake his hand or offer him the opportunity for civilized disagreement. For he is blind to the civilization to which I belong, and to the fundamental identity I share with those he despises. Whether we have a little learning or not, whether we speak in the same manner or not, regardless of what we wear and what mannerisms we choose to exhibit, we are the same, for in the fundamental things—those we choose to love, to have relationships with and with whom we aspire to share a life marked by a measure of domestic bliss and emotional contentment—there is no difference. To permit Cruz to make such distinctions is to grant him and all those like him an intolerable—because it is fundamentally unjust—power to define myself and those like me.
When he casts the law as an instrument for prosecution, persecution and discrimination, he must be fought. That he discredits polite behavior by portraying civilized discourse as a fancy disguise for his uncritical obedience and intolerant enforcement of uniformity; that he defames religion by turning it into an ideology of hate; that he makes a mockery of filial piety by insisting that tyrannical instincts should be cultivated among the elderly and enforced upon their direction—these should inspire not pity for his moral dementia; these must provoke anger. And condemnation.
To be different is to be held in suspicion. The nonconformist is a subversive. Subversion and rebellion make societies become more generous, more diverse, more compassionate—and an individual more free. For the inability—or unwillingness—to see rebellion as a virtue and not a flaw is what provokes the uncomprehending hostility that makes the anxious herd stifle dissent and stamp out anything different. But humanity is not a herd, and being human demands a vigilance against the kind of provocations that start stampedes.
I will respect anyone’s convictions, but only to the extent you will respect mine. Goodwill inspires the same; tolerance results in cooperation. But I will not be told whom to love, whom to be friends with, what culture to represent, what mannerisms and interests to adopt and, much less, discard. I will not modify my behavior or limit my pleasures merely to please Cruz or bigots like him. The respect gays, lesbians and transgendered people experience is a brittle kind, but hard-won. Far more has to be won, in terms of actual legislation or in every sphere of our lives where discrimination virtually takes place every day.
The behavior Cruz finds so obnoxious is the price he and everyone else must pay for the pink triangles of the German concentration camps, the labor camps and prison cells of Soviet Russia and Communist China and Cuba, the merciless beatings and taunts endured by so many over so long a time. It is his punishment for representing a society whose instincts remain fundamentally murderous toward anyone different. If he weren’t such a hate-monger, he might realize it’s no punishment at all, and that society is all the better for the increased prominence of gays.
Hate-speech as journalism
(Published on Page A14 of the August 17, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
IN his Aug. 12 column, Isagani A. Cruz ranted about the terrible vulgarity of gay hairdressers and effeminate schoolboys and he warned the Philippine nation lest it loses its masculine virility. (In 2003, he targeted gays on TV shows in a somewhat less hysterical article.) Cruz waxed nostalgic of the simpler days of his youth when hardly a gay could be spotted on the streets of Manila. Was he born during the Spanish Inquisition?
Cruz offered apologies to the "decorously discreet" homosexuals he respects -- among them the "less than manly" dress designers (who are acceptable as long as they manage to repress their "condition"). If he had the guts he would also have apologized to the distinguished heads of several major Philippine corporations, Catholic and Protestant priests, movie stars, famous athletes, military men and millions of Average Filipino men and women who are active homosexuals and lesbians enjoying their "condition" just fine.
Cruz launched himself into plain, old-fashioned bullying and gay-bashing, while trying to pass off hate-speech as respectable journalism. Social commentators are welcome to criticize gay culture all they want, we criticize ourselves mercilessly at times and accept criticisms from straight friends and honest critics when appropriate.
But Cruz is not a friend or thoughtful critic. He is a bigot and a hate-monger. He singled out the most vulnerable members of the gay community -- the youth and transgendered and the marginalized workers among them -- who have few options when dealing with their sexuality. He growled about the "homos" in religious processions and asked if the Philippines would be converted into a nation of "sexless persons." He fumed that some people are advocating that homosexuals be given equal rights as "male and female persons."
He menacingly boasted how gays were "mauled" in the 1970s when his five "macho" sons were in school. Despite being a former lawyer, he conveniently ignored the fact that violent gay-bashing is considered a serious hate-crime in most civilized nations.
Sadly, Cruz's self-righteous tirade is pointed to a direction where so many Demagogues and hate groups have gone before. The Church in the dark days of the Spanish Inquisition proclaimed homosexuals an abomination in the eyes of God and sent hundreds of thousands of gays to be tortured and burned alive. Offending men were tied together and burned like faggots of wood, hence, our modern-day nickname "faggots."
The Nazis used gas chambers and the Red Guards in Shanghai used baseball bats because they felt bullets were too expensive to waste on "bourgeois degenerates." The American Klu Klux Klan castrated and lynched gays. And now Islamic fundamentalist death squads in Iraq and Iran are beheading gay men and lesbians in the name of their "all-merciful" God.
JONATHAN BEST, Tambo, Parañaque City