Categorized | Entertainment, Humor, Religion

Fun With Fundies: On Victim-Blaming And The Bacani Conundrum


Oh no, you di’int!

It all started with an (in-character) Tweet.

Thanks to an offhand comment on my Twitter about Bishop Bacani’s objections to same-sex unions, I ended up looking into the man’s history with a little more depth than I would’ve wanted to. The comment was one of my typical one-liners, meant to imply that he finds it all sorts of wrong, yet doesn’t seem to have any objections about the numerous cases of pedophilia within the clergy.

For someone to demand proof of this is ridiculous, given the fact that for an activist bishop who has dipped his hand into the RH Bill issue, among other issues of sexual persuasion, it bothers me why he would deliberately sidestep the issue of sexual indiscretion among his own kind, and why his defenders always insist that we should let the Church handle these issues internally.

Why? Why should we let them handle an issue like this internally, when it steps well into the realm of the criminal? Why would a trial by the church hierarchy trump the legal procedure of the government who made laws against this very thing?

So this fundie attacks me and starts calling me ancient because I was condescendingly calling him “son”. Wow. He sure showed me. I don’t even know how old he is, but unless he’s ten, I doubt he’d have any room to call me “lolo”. Not that I mind, really. It’s not like being old is such a bad thing.


                                                                             
Clearly, being old has its perks.

 

In any case, after putting out multiple sources about the cases of pedophilia that have been swept under the rug by the church, he quickly dismissed them as “rumors.” He then quickly tried to make a fuss about the fact that my sources point to cases in the States, whereas I didn’t mention anywhere (How could I? I had only 140 characters to work with on Twitter!) that this “looking the other way” is exclusive to the Philippine situation.

When I pointed out the sexual harassment case that hounded Bishop Bacani about eight years ago, the fundie dismissed them as “lies,” which, to me, was a warning flag that I was fighting a battle of wits with someone who was woefully unarmed.

Clearly, in his mind, the clergy are immune from any kind of wrongdoing whatsoever. Apparently, this “infallibility” business that the Pope actually needs to invoke before being so rubs off on the clergy like some kind of divine STD.


This is the face of divine STD.

 

At this point, I felt compelled to look closer into the Bacani case. Eight years have passed. Why is there still no conclusive verdict? Why are the so-called wheels of justice turning so agonizingly slowly? As expected, though, a cursory glance at articles written over the matter painted a very clear picture of the whole sordid mess.

Now, see, I like what Bishop Bacani has done for the poor. Compared to certain other bishops, he relatively holds steady to his vow of poverty.

That doesn’t make him perfect or laudable in any way, though. He’s supposed to do that, because he took a bloody vow of poverty, obedience, and chastity. Anything less would be a failure on his part.

“Failure” is exactly how well he did with his vow of chastity. For a girl seeking “publicity,” she sure kept her identity pretty down low for the most part. It was actually a bit sad that the only defense Bacani’s supporters could muster was yet more victim blaming by assaulting the character of the woman who was sexually harassed. The thinking is, if she’s a woman of demonstrably “loose” morals, then nothing Bishop Bacani could do to her should be construed as sexual harassment, thereby proving how little they understand about the dynamics of sexual harassment. And we’re supposed to listen to these guys when they give advice how to conduct ourselves in the bedroom?!?

Newsflash: prostitutes can get raped, too. So even if you assumed the worst of Bacani’s secretary, you need to come up with something better than “but my hug wasn’t intended to harass!” to defend yourself from someone who believes you did. You are a powerful bishop who was heir apparent at one time to the late Cardinal Sin. She was your secretary. The imbalance of power was unmistakable, and no amount of handwaving your “natural attitude” should erase the fact that you are in a position where you can do something questionable and so much more all under your clear power over her. We don’t say that it’s a serial killer’s “natural attitude” to kill people at will now, do we?

Bacani’s admission was pretty damning: “I am deeply sorry for the consequences of any inappropriate expression of affection to my secretary.”

This indicates regret over the result of the act, but not the act itself. This is very typical of people in privilege, and is indicative of a lack of understanding over exactly what went wrong. It’s the same attitude typified by the CBCP “apology” over the Pajeros.

As far as the good Bishop was concerned, and most perpetrators of rape culture will share the same view, intent is mucking fagic. Apparently, because Bishop Bacani didn’t intend to sexually harass his secretary, suddenly, she has no right to feel harassed.

The fact that this instance was actually not the first time this happened should even be a bigger warning flag: true, I’m not a lawyer, but when you’re supposedly a shepherd of morality, I figure that prudence and discretion should take precedence over legalities and technicalities. If you know your secretary is upset by certain displays of affection, if you’ve already apologized to her for it before, then why would you do it again? Because you can go to confession and have it absolved or something?

I’m actually shocked that I have to explain such a basic concept to a man almost three times my age and someone who’s supposed to be my “moral shepherd” considering I’m supposed to be a Catholic apologist and all, but what may be an okay display of affection for you may not be an okay display of affection for somebody else. Precisely because they’re not you. No amount of spinning and pointing to intent can change that.

In the end, Bishop Bacani was, to paraphrase his own words, sorry only because he got caught, hence, “Sorry for the consequences of his act.” He is neither sorry because he trampled on the dignity of another human being, nor that he was insensitive to that fact. His apology was every bit as sincere as Vince McMahon’s was last Monday night on RAW.


“I’m sorry, you son of a bitch!”

 

To this date, we don’t know what the results of the Vatican “investigation” have yielded. It’s mysterious how slow their investigations progress, to be honest, but then again, maybe that’s really just how they roll. I suppose this is the kind of “temperance” that they are asking from people when it comes to their luxury vehicle issues at present.

It also seems to be the same kind of “temperance” that they are demonstrating in quickly calling any Catholics who support the RH Bill “fake Catholics”.

Are we saying that Bishop Bacani is guilty as charged? Of course not. What we’re saying is that the defense of victim-blaming is so tired, so sexist, and reeks of so much privilege, that it’s shocking someone who claims moral ascendancy would have to resort to such tactics instead of just actually proving that none of these morally questionable actions ever happened.

That we are now merely questioning the nature of these actions but taking the actual commission of these actions for granted may pass muster in the court of law, but it seems rather odd that instead of acting in a manner beyond moral reproach, one needs to resort to technicalities and legalities while still maintaining that very veneer of moral inculpability. Isn’t that having your cake and eating it, too?

True, if Bishop Emeritus Bacani were any other man, we probably would frown at his actions a bit, and not raise much of a furor over him beyond that. Unfortunately, he isn’t any other man: he is a man of the cloth, and someone who won’t hesitate to tell everyone what is and isn’t morally acceptable. When his own morality comes into question in such a flagrant manner, how do we expect his words to hold any water?

 
DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.

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