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Why Rude Protest Is Better Than Polite Concession

A Violent Kind of Envy

“Try protesting inside a MOSQUE and let’s see if you can keep your head on your shoulder.”

I have heard this said several times to argue against Carlos Celdran’s actions in the Manila Cathedral in 2010, and I think it is nothing but veiled Islamophobia, not to mention unfair to a group of people who happen to practice a different religion from the Filipino majority.

Saying this actually suggests that ALL our Muslim brothers and sisters are a bunch of violent, vindictive terrorists who will kill anyone who disrespects their faith. I find this offensive because I have Muslim friends and office-mates who are peaceful, reasonable, progressive, and in many ways, better than so many so-called Christians who react violently when someone disagrees with them. Shame on those people for even suggesting that all Muslims will immediately resort to violence. They probably don’t know that many Muslims, and I doubt if they are good friends with one.

‘Fatwa envy’ is the term used for the phenomenon of people complaining that criticism of their religion or political beliefs is wrong because the criticism would never be directed at Muslims for fear of violence or death, according to Rational Wiki (

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 ‘Proper’ Way of Protesting? 

You can drive out a person who says or does rude things inside your house, but you don’t sue them or send them to prison. It shows how emotionally immature you are. I am of the opinion that there are times when some people need a rude awakening, especially when social niceties and outward politeness are numbing and sheltering them from the fact that they are rudely over-stepping their boundaries.

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The CBCP and their ultra-conservative Catholic cohorts are over-stepping their boundaries, getting access to public privileges without paying taxes, violating the separation of church and state and shutting down art exhibits and protest actions that they find offensive. They can’t surrender pedophile priests to the public, they amass wealth by the billions in a country full of hungry, poor people, they get to ask a former president for gifts of SUVs, and they exercise political influence like it is their birthright. Barging into their church meetings to protest their political meddling is an act of defiance, an act of rebellion against the bigger evil that they are perpetuating, and is a nonviolent way of bringing to light the fact that they are not exercising the same respect that they are now demanding from everyone else.

A Stomping Ground For Stomping on Non-Catholics

It reminds me of the public high school that I went to years ago. Our government-employed Catholic principals and teachers required that all students attend a Catholic catechism class, and not attending will cost you your grade in Values Education. The cathecist teachers they allowed to come in and teach were from the local parish that the school administrators go to every Sunday. These cathecists would routinely ask each student, in the presence of the whole class, whether they are Catholic or not. When they learn that some of us are from ‘born-again’ families, they would proceed to joke that we are ‘burned again’, in reference to the hellfire punishment for apostates. Before we graduated, we were compelled to attend a Catholic mass. Some of our teachers even threatened us that we will not get diplomas if we do not attend.

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The Catholic Church in our neighbourhood has a tall loudspeaker that rudely blares their prayers and sermons all over the place every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, at the expense of the non-Catholics who also reside in the area. Every Lenten season, messengers claiming to be from the same neighbourhood Catholic church would knock on our gates and ask for donations for the Holy Week celebrations, and we get dirty looks when we tell them that we are not Catholics.

Another incident was when my wife was confined in a Catholic hospital in Manila years ago when she gave birth to our son. We had no choice but to rush her there because it was the nearest hospital in the vicinity. The hospital’s priest visited our room while my wife was still recovering from a Cesarean surgery, asked us if we were Catholics. When we said we aren’t, he told us that we have lost our way and that God welcomes lost sheep when they go back to the fold. He said it in front of my visiting mother, who is a life-long ‘Born-Again’ Protestant deacon. It was a disconcerting experience for my mother and my wife, to say the least.

So a strangely-dressed man with a placard sign saying ‘Damaso’ walks in on an ecumenical church meeting that the CBCP bishops are attending and tells them to stop meddling in politics. For all the rude violations that the ruling Catholic majority keep doing at the expense of those who do not share their beliefs, is it that damnable when a man like Carlos Celdran gets fed up and goes directly to them, to tell them to their faces to stop?

In the New Testament account, an angry Jesus goes into the Temple to turn over the tables of merchants who jack up their prices to rip off the faithful, and whipped the traders with a rope to drive them out of their own legal territory. (Gospel of John 2: 13-16)

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Now You Do What They Told Ya, Now You’re Under Control

In connection to this, I happen to like punk and metal bands that use rude language to get their messages across, and I have often observed that it has a more immediate impact than any politely-worded political treatise out there because it gets into the heart of the issue. Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of” comes to mind.

To paraphrase fellow freethinker Sass Sasot, polite behaviour is often dictated by those who are in power, the oppressor, to control the oppressed. What we call ‘polite behaviour’ depends on what a certain group of people find acceptable. Who dictates the norm for polite behaviour? If those who are in power are the only ones allowed to decide what proper behaviour is, or what a proper venue for protest is, then the minority is already being restricted by this dictate and are only being bullied to the point of silence. Restrictions imposed by social rules of propriety only serve to delay the efforts of the person complaining of injustice. As Martin Luther King, one of the modern fathers of civil disobedience, would say, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” (from Letter From Birmingham City Jail)

Polite society often tells us to obey its rules at the expense of things with bigger consequences and to obscure bigger issues that should be addressed. My answer to that is “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!“, as RATM would put it.



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