Tag Archive | "Freedom of expression"

FF Podcast (Audio) 49: I’m an Atheist Pero Respeto Naman, Guys


FF Podcast 49 - I'm an Atheist Pero Respeto Naman, Guys

This week, we talk about the Pennsylvania kid who is facing two years in prison for simulating oral sex with a Jesus statue.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Freedom of Expression, Religion, Secularism, SocietyComments (1)

FF Podcast 49: I’m an Atheist Pero Respeto Naman, Guys


This week, we talk about the Pennsylvania kid who is facing two years in prison for simulating oral sex with a Jesus statue.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, VideoComments (1)

FF Podcast (Audio) 28: Abortion Rights in the Philippines


Abortion Rights in the Philippines

This week, we talk about abortion rights in the Philippines. We go into detail about what’s been happening with the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, which conservative Catholics have been trying to shut down.

You may also download the podcast file here.




Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Media, Religion, Secularism, SocietyComments (0)

FF Podcast 28: Abortion Rights in the Philippines


This week, we talk about abortion rights in the Philippines. We go into detail about what’s been happening with the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, which conservative Catholics have been trying to shut down.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Politics, Religion, VideoComments (1)

PNP Starts Damage Control by Denying Official Connection to FB Page


UPDATE (10/4/12) [Pepe Bawagan]:

The following image is a screenshot from the Google Web Cache of another Facebook Page named PNP National Hotlines Directory (Metro Manila+Provinces):

Previously, it could be seen that the post in the shot had been deleted, but now the entire page is gone. Thankfully, a copy of the page dated September 5 is still available from Google Web Cache. (Here’s a screenshot of the page from Google Web Cache, in case the actual one has expired.)

Given this new evidence, the “long con” theory seems to have become a lot more complicated and a lot less believable.

UPDATE (10/1/12 9:37pm): The “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB Page is up and running again, but without the controversial thread.

The reputation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is in danger now, thanks to some comments made by the admin of the Facebook page titled  “Philippine National Police (PNP).” I’m being careful about how I worded the previous sentence because the admin of the Facebook personal account belonging to “Philippine  Nat’l Police” has released the following statement denying any “official connection” to the PNP FB page (emphasis added):

Press Statement of
PCSUPT GENEROSO R CERBO JR
PNP Spokesperson
Chief, Public Information Office
October 1, 2012

The PNP categorically denies any official connection to a message which appeared in one particular facebook account found by many to be offensive, threatening and malicious.

For one, official statements of the PNP to include press releases intended for public consumption are published
in digital form through our PNP official web site www.pnp.gov.ph or Facebook under the account name pnp.pio.

Further, said official statements can be released individually to our media friend both in hard and digital copies in the name of the PNP Public Information Office.

We shall have this incident investigated ASAP. You will be updated on the developments.

The phrase “official connection” immediately struck me. Do they have an unofficial connection to the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page? If they do, that would explain why the page was taken down so quickly — it usually takes much longer for FB to act on page removal requests.

In a recent post on Rappler, PNP spokesman Chief Supt Generoso Cerbo Jr. — who wrote the press statement quoted above — told Rappler that “statements made on their Facebook page are not official. [emphasis added]” Does “their” mean they do own the page? Another source of confusion is Cerbo’s next statement:

“Di kami nagrerelease ng statement through Facebook,” he said, adding that the PNP only makes statements through their official website. (We don’t release official statements through Facebook.)

But as of this writing, Cerbo’s statement has not been posted on their official website. It has only been released on the PNP PIO personal account. Should I then suspect the PIO statement on FB to be less than official?

Another thing that bugs me is how Cerbo keeps referring to official statements. The Big Brother comments on the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page were just that: comments. No one seriously takes comments as official statements.

Imagine that something similar happened to your organization. You discover that there’s an FB page posing as someone who is affiliated with your group, and worse, they’re posting comments that make you look bad. How do you respond? You wouldn’t say, “We don’t post official statements on Facebook.” You would say something like this: “We don’t know who is operating that Facebook page, but we can assure you that we have nothing whatsoever do do with it, and that its admin is nothing but a fraud.”

That the PNP statement says something less than this adds weight to my suspicion that the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page, however unofficial, was run by someone connected with the PNP. According to several FB users who have frequented the page, it contained informative posts and was updated more frequently than the PNP PIO account. It also had almost 9,000 likes, dwarfing the PIO personal account’s 824 subscribers. Lastly, compare the headers used by each:

I don’t particularly like either, but the second one sure looks like more effort was put into it. Considering this, together with the amount of content and interaction in the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page, it’s no wonder that many still think it was authentic despite PNP saying otherwise.

This isn’t the first time the authenticity of “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page was questioned. Technogra.ph posted an article arguing that the page was fake because (1) the behavior of the admin was too abusive for an official PNP page, and (2) PNP didn’t link to the page from their official website. Both are true, and I particularly agree with their first reason. PNP also took flack for what the FB page had said back then. But that was almost three months ago, and I don’t think the PNP was unaware of what had happened.

So why haven’t they taken action on it until now? And why was the page only taken down now? I hope these questions and more are soon answered by PNP’s investigation into this. And I find it interesting that the fascistic technologies and manpower mentioned in the “unofficial” FB page will be a big help to them now. (It’s also interesting that the PNP statement did not deny any of the statements made by the fake FB page. Are they really monitoring citizens this early?)

Lastly, I’d like to commend the allegedly fake admin of the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” FB page. I read that the page had been up since Jan 10, 2011. (The first activity of the PNP PIO account was on Jan 6,2011.) It takes dedication to attract 8,880 likes in only a couple of years. If this was indeed a long con meant to troll PNP, fool thousands of Filipinos online, including the reporters at Rappler and GMA News (they wrote a post about this but have since taken it down), then all I can say is well played, sir.

____
Check out Google’s cache of the allegedly fake FB page. Really seems legit.

Posted in Freedom of Expression, Politics, SocietyComments (3)

PNP FB Admin First to Abuse Cybercrime Law


UPDATE (10/1/12 9:42 PM): More updates on PNP’s damage control.
UPDATE (10/1/12 7:15PM): A press statement in this PNP PIO account denies any official connection to the “Philippine National Police (PNP)” page, which has already been taken down.
UPDATE: The FB thread below has been taken down.

The Cybercrime law hadn’t even taken effect, but that didn’t stop the Philippine National Police (PNP) from abusing it. At least that’s what the admin of their Facebook page did when they encountered an unwelcome comment.

The comment was a response to PNP’s post about criminology students doing poorly in English. Here’s a screenshot just in case they delete the comment, too:

I say “too” because right now these are the only comments I can read out of the ones included in a screenshot that is spreading all over Facebook. Here it is, just in case they get Facebook to take it down as well:

As several commenters have pointed out, the law doesn’t take effect till Wednesday, October 3. Yet the “CIDG Anti Transnational Crime is now conducting background investigation against” the commenter. This may or may not be true, but one thing is certain: some who read PNP’s comment are now thinking twice about speaking their mind. And when anyone is afraid of exercising their right to freedom of speech, something is definitely wrong.

Thank you, PNP, for proving that the Cybercrime Prevention Act (AKA Cyber Martial Law) must indeed be stopped. And fuck you.

___

Image source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=507445769267202&set=a.102182453126871.4645.100000053506248&type=1

PNP thread: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=407303659323060&set=a.145337415519687.39609.145291485524280&type=1

Posted in Freedom of Expression, Personal, Politics, SocietyComments (15)

Our Government was Hacked: Cyber Martial Law and the Sottovirus


Definitely not a government web page.

The true test of any system is its ability to respond to problems. A system can work most of the time, but you can’t measure its true capacity unless you subject it to stress.

This is what happened to several government websites recently when Anonymous Philippines hacked them to display a message protesting the Cybercrime Prevention Act. While proving their skill as hackers, they also proved another thing: the security system of these government sites has failed. There have been a range of criticisms to this hacking: from petty and ineffective on one end to ultimately counterproductive on the other.

Whatever the case, this serves as a good analog to the larger narrative. The government is designed to self-correct internal problems through a system of checks and balances. There’s a reason there are three branches of government, two houses of Congress, 24 senators, and so on. These bureaucracies make it hard for any single element to make the entire system fail, similar to a computer’s using several layers of protection, such as firewalls and anti-virus software.

So what does the passage of the Cybercrime bill say about our government? Our legislative system has been hacked; its many layers of security have failed. A malicious virus was uploaded, undetected, and resulted in the system behaving contrary to its intended design.

Let me explain the analogy. As part of a democratic government, our legislation was designed to create democratic laws. In contrast, the laws crafted by a dictatorial government would be undemocratic. By now it’s obvious to any intelligent person who has a basic understanding of democracy that the Cybercrime Law is undemocratic. I have yet to encounter someone who thinks otherwise. Despite their responsibility for the law, even our politicians agree, but it will take some explaining.

Most probably, the implications of the Cybercrime Law — particularly on the right to free speech and privacy — weren’t fully understood by most legislators when they first encountered it. I don’t think that any intelligent legislator would think that someone who simply tweets an unflattering sentence about someone should be at risk of government surveillance or spending a decade behind bars. This is just one of the Cybercrime Law’s implications that weren’t so obvious at first. These concerns possibilities may be absurd, but they’re legitimate ones, at least according to every lawyer I’ve read and spoken to so far.

Senator Escudero: Better late than never?

I believe that if you take a poll of our lawmakers, asking them whether they would have passed the bill knowing these implications, the results would show how much each lawmaker understands and values democracy. Only the undemocratic or incredibly stupid would still have passed it.

In spite of everything, I still think majority of our lawmakers are basically democratic. Yet the Cybercrime Law shows that a mostly-democratic legislative branch has created an extremely undemocratic law. The executive branch, which is lead by someone who would especially want to avoid any association with dictatorship, would have vetoed the bill had he known its dictatorial implications.

Sadly, most of them will never admit this. Senator Escudero has been the first and only one so far to have admitted his mistake, but only because he has good reason to. He is the author of a bill that decriminalizes libel. There could be nothing more embarrassing than his having passed a bill that not only perpetuates libel’s criminal status but broadens it as well. An error of this magnitude is better corrected sooner than later.

Which makes me wonder why Senator Angara, who has also authored a bill removing the prison penalty for libel, has yet to admit his mistake. It probably has to do with the fact that he is a principal author of the Cybercrime Law. Admitting that you shouldn’t have passed your own law is understandably more embarrassing. Two more senators, Sen. Honasan and Sen. Estrada, also have pending bills that decriminalize libel. Yet both have voted for a bill that makes libel an even graver crime, and both have yet to admit their grave mistake.

The other senators are not as hard-pressed to admit their error, and it will be interesting to listen to their excuses when (or if) they do. But I highly doubt that many will. Because if more Senators admit that they’ve made a mistake, then the integrity of the entire legislative institution will be jeopardized. Better to perpetuate the story that the Cybercrime Law, flawed as it is, is still the product of a working legislative branch.

P-Noy thoroughly examining something.

Which is precisely the story that the executive one has been telling so far. His spokespersons have said that he endorsed the Cybercrime Law only after studying it thoroughly. Which is a good political move considering the alternative: admitting that he and the people who work for him weren’t doing their jobs (or as his critics love to call it, Noynoying).

Our government may not admit it, but the integrity of the legislative and executive branches has been tested, and it has failed badly. Like the handful of government websites hacked by Anonymous PH, our democratic system has been hacked — the Cybercrime Law is the malicious web page to prove it.

But there is hope. The third branch of government has yet to fail, and it is now being tested. Several citizens have separately filed motions asking the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on implementing the law’s undemocratic provisions. Some have even asked that the entire law be repealed. But it will be hard for the Supreme Court to do either. Whichever they choose, it will mean the failure of the executive and legislative branches. Understandably, Chief Justice Sereno would think twice before painting P-noy and his administration as less than competent.

And if there’s any branch who understands how undemocratic and unconstitutional the Cybercrime Law is, it’s the Supreme Court. Regardless of what the SC decides, it’s up to us citizens, the programmers and owners of this system, to make sure that the error is corrected. We deserve some of the blame, having installed these faulty components. But it’s a good sign that unlike the incompetent government we’ve elected, we’ve detected the virus.

CJ Sereno and the SC: The Last Bastion?

What’s left is to deal with it — telling our anti-virus software to put the virus in quarantine (issue a TRO), delete it (repeal the law), and of course, uninstalling those responsible for it (not re-electing them). The Cybercrime Law is testing our country — whether we’re truly a democracy or just a democracy on paper. It is then fitting that some have dubbed it “cyber martial law.” Forty years ago, when Marcos declared martial law, we faced a similar test. I hope it doesn’t take us as many years — or casualties — to pass this one.

____
For updates on the fight to junk the Cybercrime Prevention Act (Cyber Martial Law), join the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA) on Facebook. Filipino Freethinkers is a proud member of PIFA.

Posted in Advocacy, Freedom of Expression, Personal, Politics, SocietyComments (1)

On the Cybercrime Law: How Sotto Violated the Democratic Process to Violate Our Democratic Freedoms


When Senator Sotto plagiarized Sarah Pope in his recent turno en contra speech, it wasn’t discovered by traditional media. Sotto’s plagiarism was first pointed out in a post on our website at FilipinoFreethinkers.org.

From there other bloggers spread the word, and some even discovered that Pope wasn’t the only one Sotto plagiarized. By then, traditional media had picked up the story, and Sotto’s plagiarism became national news. Soon, it even went international.

Sotto’s critics were those who, unlike the Senator, understood that plagiarism was a serious offense, especially for a public servant. It was surprising that Sotto’s colleagues in both houses of Congress were mostly silent on the issue. Was it because they were guilty of plagiarism themselves? Were they simply looking out for one of their own out of professional courtesy? Whatever the case, one thing became clear: If someone was going to call Sotto out for his erroneous views on plagiarism, it wouldn’t be his fellow legislators.

Fortunately, Filipino netizens took the responsibility. To the extent that public officials kept quiet, Filipino netizens made noise — writing blogs, creating posters, spreading memes — exposing, criticizing, and even mocking Sotto for his plagiarism and how little he understood its seriousness.

This was democracy in action: Ordinary citizens were fearlessly criticizing a representative they had elected. They didn’t have regular columns in which to publish their thoughts. They couldn’t interpellate or give privilege speeches to denounce Sotto. But now, they could have their say, and they were heard. Sotto heard. To a small degree, the playing field was leveled. And this was thanks to the internet.

But instead of listening to netizens, Sotto claimed that he was being bullied. He said that his alleged bullies would one day be held accountable. A few weeks later, the cybercrime law was passed, and it contained a section that made e-libel a worse crime than defamation in print. It’s not a mystery who we have to thank for this.

Much can and has been said about e-libel, but one thing is clear: anyone who uses the internet to criticize public figures has good reason to be afraid. The possibility of spending more than a decade in prison tends to have that effect. As a result, people will think twice before criticizing people like Sotto online. Or as Sotto would like to call it, “cyberbullying.”

But bullying is defined as “the use of superior strength or influence to intimidate or force someone to do what one wants.” Sotto has used his position as a Senator to intimidate and force others to keep silent or think twice before criticizing people like him. Who’s the bully now?

With the Cybercrime law, how will ordinary citizens criticize elected officials without fear of being sued and fined, or worse, put in jail? Should we all join traditional media to receive the same protections journalists receive? Should we all run for public office to receive the same privileges politicians enjoy? These are unrealistic expectations. And if only a few have the freedom to criticize public servants, what does that say about the democratic process? As President Obama said at a recent speech in the UN–a statement I will gladly and properly attribute to him–true democracy “depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear; on the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people.”

Speaking of democracy and the democratic process, we could have used more of that while the Cybercrime Law was still a bill in legislation. The most controversial section of the bill was the section on e-libel. But it seems that it was the least discussed and debated. That is, it didn’t get any time for discussion and debate at all. No one even got an opportunity to interpellate. Why? Because the e-libel section was a last-minute addition by Sen. Sotto during the period of amendments. Note that there wasn’t even an e-libel section to amend — it was an entirely new addition.

Why no one objected to this is a mystery to me. I refuse to believe that so many senators failed to understand the negative implications this has on freedom of speech. Whatever the case, I’m sure that one of the main reasons for this was the very short time they had to review and discuss it. I heard that Sotto, as majority floor leader, immediately closed the period of amendments after introducing the new e-libel section.

As an advocate of the RH Bill, I find this disturbing. Where is the meticulousness that led to the pointlessly long discussions on the meaning of certain words? In the RH Bill, it was “life.” Couldn’t the same attention to detail be applied to words such as “defamation,” “malicious intent,” “justifiable ends,” and “libel” itself? Why is it that in discussing the RH Bill every detail of implementation is carefully questioned, while in the Cybercrime bill, implementation details were left for later?

This lack of discussion and due process has surely lead to the vagueness of the current Cybercrime Law, and I’m sure that had our legislators realized its implications, they wouldn’t have passed it so haphazardly.

This is why we fully support the various motions to amend, replace, and even repeal the Cybercrime law, especially the section on e-libel. At the very least, we want the SC to issue a TRO on the said law. This law has implications on our most basic freedoms, but most of our legislators seem to have overlooked this because the democratic process was hurried, if not entirely violated. And as citizens who are guaranteed free speech by our democratic constitution, we deserve better.

Filipino Freethinkers is part of the Filipino Internet Freedom Alliance, a newly formed coalition that seeks to repeal the current version of the Cybercrime Law and replace it with something more democratic. We invite allied individuals and organizations to join us. Together, let’s ensure that democratic freedoms like freedom of expression and information, both online and off, are preserved and protected.

Image from pineswire.net

Posted in Advocacy, Announcements, Freedom of Expression, Organization, Politics, Press Releases, SocietyComments (2)

Help Free Jailed Atheist Alexander Aan


Earlier this year, an Indonesian named Alexander Aan went on Facebook and expressed his doubt of the existence of God. In return,  he was attacked by a mob, arrested, and convicted for “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility.” Many of his countrymen now call for his death.

By arresting Aan, the Indonesian government has violated its agreement to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees every person the rights to freedom of belief and expression.

Yesterday, July 17, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) set up an online petition on the White House website urging the Obama administration to call for Aan’s release. To ensure a response, the petition must gain 25,000 signatures in 30 days. If you support the freedom of expression, and the freedom of and from religion, then do your part to help free Aan and uphold these rights for every single person.

Sign the petition here.

Image from secularworld.net

Posted in Announcements, Politics, Religion, Secularism, SocietyComments (0)

Filipino Freethinkers Support the Declaration of Internet Freedom


The Filipino Freethinkers, alongside hundreds of other organizations across the globe, sign The Declaration of Internet Freedom which can be read in full here.

The following is an excerpt from the site:

DECLARATION

We stand for a free and open Internet.

We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:

  • Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.
  • Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
  • Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.
  • Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.
  • Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.

Throughout the years, the Internet has enriched the lives of countless people and has made the world so much smaller with the incredible connectivity that it offers. It has enabled individuals to access virtually the whole pool of human knowledge through online encyclopedias and search engines, giving everyone almost unlimited sources for learning. It has allowed for near-instantaneous communication and sharing of creative content, revolutionizing what it means for information to be viral. It has given birth to a playful and entirely new Internet culture and has helped forge the image of an open global village in the minds of its users. It has fueled the growth of countless web-based services and communities that enable meaningful interaction between strangers and even better ways of collaborating with peers.

With these in mind, we realize that increased connectivity, openness, and transparency should be observed, and to abandon the very principles that guaranteed the success and speedy development of the Internet would be a huge step back for humanity.

 

 

 

Image from geeksaresexy.net

Posted in Announcements, Politics, Press Releases, Science, SocietyComments (0)

Lady Gaga Concert Ends in Flames, Fans Sink Further into Moral Decadence


MANILA, Philippines–The fire was over, but the worst was yet to come. After putting out the last of the flames, firemen began searching for survivors in the rubble of what was once the SM Mall of Asia concert grounds. This was where Lady Gaga performed a concert as part of her “Born This Way Ball” tour.

But what was supposed to be just another concert in the tour became one of the worst disasters the country has ever seen. An eyewitness is yet to be found, but surviving CCTV footage caught the unfortunate series of events.

It all started when Lady Gaga sang “Born This Way,” a song that has become an anthem of the LGBT community. Upon hearing the chorus, straight couples separated from each other and immediately French kissed the same-sex person closest to them.

With only minimal foreplay these same-sex couples fornicated on the ground, and to make matters worse, they used condoms. Soon there were threesomes and foursomes until there were several huge gay and lesbian orgy piles around the arena.

But it was when Lady Gaga sang “Judas” that all Hell broke loose. As soon as the song started, the now fully homosexual audience immediately stood up from the orgy piles.

The lighters, which were to be used for dramatic waving in unison, became weapons of arson, their lighter fluid sprinkled all over the venue, blessing the place with the unholy water of fire.

It is unsure who ignited it and what kind of Satanic lighter fluid they used, but soon the entire MOA concert grounds were engulfed in flames.

Bodyguards escorted the bewildered Lady Gaga out while her Filipino fans rushed like mindless rage zombies toward the exit.

Outside, they trampled and tripped over corpses of Christian fundamentalist protesters, who by the mere sound of Lady Gaga’s voice started to eat each other without even saying Grace.

Those who made it out alive followed a similarly demonic pattern according to consolidated witness testimonies, mostly from close friends and family who were shocked by the demonic transformation.

Married couples, who were now all homosexual, cited psychological incapacity and impotence for straight sex as they filed for annulment.

Pregnant women immediately got abortions and bought several boxes of birth control pills.

Those who were taking care of grandparents or loved ones on life support committed euthanasia shortly followed by acts of necrophilia.

Relatives urged these Lady Gaga fans to go to Church for confession, but all of them had apparently become atheists, preferring to stay home in their sex chapel worshiping their new god, Satan.

The police have captured one particularly violent fan who after the concert started kicking street dogs several times before having sex with them (wearing condoms, of course).

He reluctantly gave us a quick interview before he was taken to the vet for Rabies shots. We asked him, “What’s the reason for your gratuitously evil behavior and that of your fellow Lady Gaga fans?”

“I don’t know,” replied the man. “We’ve heard all her songs and watched all her music videos millions of times. We’ve even seen footage of other Lady Gaga concerts online.

“I guess there’s just something special that happens when you hold a Lady Gaga concert in predominantly Catholic Philippines.”

Image credits

Posted in Humor, Religion, SocietyComments (28)

Lady Gaga vs. the Bible: An Obscene-Off


Lady Gaga will perform in the Philippines, but not if some bigots can help it. Biblemode Youth Philippines has gone on Bible Mode, calling for the blasphemous concert to be canceled. Their protest leader, former Congressman Benny Abante, threatened to file a lawsuit if she sings “Judas,” a performance protesters consider obscene, and therefore, illegal.

Penal Censorship

Former Manila Mayor Jose Atienza agrees, saying that such obscenity is punishable by six months to six years in prison under the Revised Penal Code. According to Article 201 — which was also used against Mideo Cruz’s Jesus-Penis-Juxtaposition in Polyteismo — obscenity applies to immoral displays that

(1) glorify criminals or condone crimes;

(2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography;

(3) offend any race or religion;

(4) tend to abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and

(5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts.

Judas vs. Jesus

The music video of “Judas” depicts “Jesus and his disciples as a motorcycle gang and tells the story of Jesus’ betrayal, with Lady Gaga playing the role of Jesus’ girlfriend, who is torn between her loyalty to Jesus and her love for Judas.”

Out of the 5 criteria for obscenity, “Judas” is guilty — by my judgment — of just one: (3) offending any race or religion. (1) doesn’t count (unless the motorcycle gang Jesus belonged to was a criminal one). Nor does (2) because beyond the stunts and gimmicks, many people actually like her music. (4) is arguable but unlikely. And (5) refers to laws, public order, and other supposedly non-sectarian rules — not the doctrines and opinions of a single sect or religion.

Fans vs. Fanatics

Lady Gaga is no stranger to such controversy — South Koreans protested to prevent infecting the youth with “homosexuality and pornography,” and in Indonesia, the Islamic Defenders Front said “they were ready to die to stop the concert.”

But should the concert be canceled — like in Indonesia — or censored — like what could happen here — it’s not Lady Gaga who’ll be affected most — it’s the fans. The right to freedom of expression implies the right to freely access artistic expressions in their uncensored form. To defend their right to enjoy an artist they admire — and to protect the ideals of free speech in general — Lady Gaga’s fans should counter-protest, and I’m suggesting this is how they do it.

Gaga vs. Bible

They should file a case against Biblemode Youth Philippines for giving the youth access to the most obscene artistic expression ever made: the Bible. Compared to the Bible, a Lady Gaga concert looks like an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. No one will dispute this, at least not anyone who has read the Bible — cover to cover, not just homily material. The Bible is so obscene that other than criterion (4), it is guilty of violating criteria (1), (3), and (5) many times over, and of (2) as well — unless you consider “being terrified of God” as a valid purpose.

The Bible is full of obscenity, filled with verses and verses not only of sex and violence, but every form of injustice, intolerance, and incitement of hatred against women, LGBTs, and even children.

I know many of you won’t read the Bible — especially if you’re a Bible-thumping Christian like Manny Pacquiao — so I’ll list just one example for each criterion of obscenity (except the fourth) to prove that more than Lady Gaga, the Bible is deserving of censorship, if not banning.

(1) glorify criminals or condone crimes

The Bible has many graphic stories that depict and even condone slavery, murder, genocide, torture, infanticide, and other atrocities that any non-psychopathic person would consider criminal. Here’s one.

To gain Saul’s approval, not to mention his daughter, Michal, David and his men not only killed a hundred Philistines, they also performed postmortem circumcisions, offering the Philistine foreskins — the 100 they individually counted — as bride price.

(2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography

Banging on a door, some wicked men wanted to gang rape a man, who was a guest in the house. The hospitable homeowner offered his own daughter and the guest’s concubine to be gang raped instead.

The wicked men didn’t agree, so the homeowner pushed the concubine out from the house into the wicked men. Gang rape ensues. The next morning the homeowner, finding the concubine dead, did the sensible thing and chopped up her body, limb from limb, into twelve parts before mailing them to all the areas of Israel.

Does the story have any other purpose “but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography”? And even if this did teach some moral lesson (pray tell, what?), the violence is just too gratuitous for an allegory.

(3) offend any race or religion and (5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts.

God hates the Midianites because they worship Baal of Peor. He told Moses to kill all Midianite leaders, or else, he’ll keep punishing them with a plague. So Moses ordered Israel’s judges to kill Israelites who converted to Baal worship.

One day, an Israelite man brought a Midianite woman into camp. Phinehas, not a judge, followed the couple into their tent. As they were having interracial interreligion sex, Phinehas thrust a sphere through both of their bodies. (Talk about double penetration.) For taking things into his own hands instead of letting the state (judges) enforce the law, God rewarded Phinehas and stopped His plague.

Child Pornography

Any one of these stories depicts something more immoral than any stunt Lady Gaga could pull, and this is but a small sample of similar stories scattered in both the Old and New Testament. What’s worse, the Bible does more than depict immorality — it condones and even justifies it.

Yet with all the pornography and gratuitous violence in the Bible, it’s probably the easiest book for anyone to access — children included. (It’s a good thing children generally think the Bible is boring. That old copy at home won’t be so dusty if the children knew there was enough sex and gore in it to make most video games dull in comparison.)

Some may argue that the stories aren’t so bad when read in context. But imagine what would happen if a fundamentalist studio were to show a movie depicting these scenes. Would it get a PG rating from the MTRCB? Would it be any different if there was narration that put the scenes into context? And what difference does putting it in book form make? Didn’t fundamentalist groups also call for the censorship of Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code, and the novels of Jose Rizal?

I’d be interested to see the outcome of such a case should Lady Gaga fans follow my suggestion. If they don’t, maybe it’s FF that should challenge the Bible’s immunity to censorship. In any case, somebody should do it. Think of the children.

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (51)

Join Our “What Would Jesus Do?!?!?!?” Cosplay Contest!


In celebration of Blasphemy Day 2011, the Filipino Freethinkers invite you to join

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?!?
a Jesus H. Christ cosplay contest

Dress up as Jesus doing something batshit blasphemous, and be in the running for awesome prizes!

Rules:
1) Participants must be fans of the official Filipino Freethinkers FB page

2) Submissions can be either a photograph or a video

3) Persons/animals/objects other than Jesus may be in the entry

4) Entries featuring Jesus in public are very highly recommended

5) PLANKING IS NOT ALLOWED. EVER.

6) If the submitter wishes to remain anonymous, they should ensure that they are unidentifiable in the entry

7) Post your entries on the COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS EVENT PAGE.

8) Entries must be submitted no later than 11:59 PM, OCTOBER 23, 2011, FRIDAY

9) Criteria are as follows: 40% creativity, 30% offensiveness, 20% execution, 10% online votes

10) Online votes (i.e. number of “likes” per entry) will be collected from SEPTEMBER 30 to OCTOBER 28, 2011

11) Three finalists will be announced on October 29, 2011 via the FF FB page

12) Finalists will be invited to come in costume on October 30, 2011 at the FF HALLOWEEN PAR-TAY

13) Finalists’ places (First, Second, Third) will be announced at the PAR-TAY

14) Prizes are as follows:
Third Place – 1 official FF t-shirt
Second Place – 1 official FF t-shirt + 1 Fully Bookd gift certificate worth Php500
First Place – 1 official FF t-shirt + 1 Fully Bookd gift certificate worth Php1000

Again, the crucial dates are as follows:
Deadline for Submissions: October 23
Voting Period: September 30 to October 28
Announcement of Top 3: October 29
Coronation Night: October 31

Visit our event page to post your entry!

Posted in AnnouncementsComments (2)

Language, Lifestyle, Privilege, Perspective: What The Language Of The Learned Truly Is


It’s Only Words, And Words Are All I Have To Take Your Heart Away

Before I get into this, Ruffy Biazon, a man I truly admire and respect, pointed out the inconsistency of people who defended Mideo Cruz for blaspheming Jesus Christ and then proceeded to assail James Soriano for “blaspheming” the Filipino language, as it were, during Buwan ng Wika itself.

Allow me to demonstrate my consistency on these matters.


Okay. That’s settled.

That being said, in an article yesterday, obvious Atenean James Soriano discussed Filipino as a language in a less than flattering light. This article has been taken down by Manila Bulletin already, but I found a cache of the article thanks to some of my friends. Allow me to preface this by pointing out I am writing in English right now, so no, I am not going to get into a blind Patriotic Filipino® rage and make a sacred cow of our language. That completely defeats the purpose of opening this discussion, and reeks of hypocrisy in light of the impassioned defense against Mideo’s right to blaspheme. Our language is not immune to criticism, but then, neither is Mr. Soriano’s argument. This is also why I was disappointed that the article was taken down. It has engendered discussion on the role of language in one’s life, and I personally believe this is a good thing that shouldn’t have been stifled.

I believe that the sticking point to most people who are indignant over the article was the notion that “Filipino is not the language of the learned.” It reeks of intellectual elitism and privilege, which, to Mr. Soriano’s credit, he never once denied.

It’s just that… nobody really understood what he was trying to get across, and the onus was on him to have chosen his words carefully and concisely to do so, since it was his article, and name-dropping Fr. Bulatao just because he can just feels like such a predictable thing a typical pretentious pseudo-intellectual Arrnean would do.

Mr. James Soriano, the language of the learned isn’t English, Filipino, Cebuano, French, Spanish, Latin, whale, Klingon, or anything else of the sort. The language of the learned is well thought out. The language of the learned is characterized by one’s deliberate choice of words, regardless if those words are uttered in English, Filipino, Cebuano, French, Spanish, Latin, whale, Klingon, or anything else of the sort.

I bear no ill will towards you, not just because I believe you are entitled to your opinion, but simply because your upbringing likewise prevents you from truly expressing yourself in Filipino in a manner that you could deem as “educated.” Which is why ultimately, your via negativa thesis statement should have been “Filipino is not the language of my education.”

There will be others who will learn and can only learn primarily through Filipino. Or English. Or any other language. The choice of the language itself does not dictate whether or not it is learned or civilized. It is the exercise of choosing the words carefully and then expressing them clearly and concisely that dictates how learned one actually is.

Thus, to dissociate myself from people who disagree with Mr. Soriano solely on the basis of him dissing our national language instead of disagreeing with him on the universality of his statements, I would like to point out that saying “P****g i*a mo, James Soriano, bakla ka, mamatay ka na!” is no more or less learned than saying “F**k you, James Soriano, you’re a f****t, go die in a fire.”

In both cases, you are being a boor who lets your feelings get the better of you instead of responding to the issue the way a learned person actually would.

And really now, being learned has little to do with where you graduated from or how much money you make. It has much more to do with your own temperament and the way you choose to respond to situations. Heaven knows a lifestyle of privilege didn’t give Mr. Soriano the perspective to understand how the learned could very well express themselves in Filipino if they choose to do so.

Language will always have its limitations with the built-in capacity for growth. We realize that every time we add a new word to the dictionary the way “Tweeting” and “bromance” have been added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year. As such, no single language would have a monopoly on learnedness. We heard this before during the middle ages when they believed only Latin speakers were educated. We really shouldn’t be making the same mistake again.

I do not resent you one bit, Mr. James Soriano, nor do I pity you. I believe you are learned enough to realize that your life experience and your privilege is not enough perspective for you to cast your net so wide in your attempt to speak for everyone.

Sa katapusan ng araw, kahit ano pa ang sabihin natin, may karapatan si Ginoong Soriano na ihayag ang kanyang saloobin. Marahil, nakakalungkot para sa ibang mga tao na hindi lubusan ang pag-yakap ni James sa kanyang pambansang wika, subalit hindi rin ba tayo nasasakdal sa tuwing pinagtatawanan natin ang Cebuano dahil sa tingin natin, kapag probinsyano magsalita ang isang tao, hindi siya edukado? Pare-pareho tayong nagkakamali sa pag-iisip ng ganyan, at ang kahalagahan ng inilathala ni James ay ang pagkakataong ginagamit natin ngayon upang talakayin ang mga punto at kontra-punto ng kanyang isinulat.

Ito ang pagkakataon na imulat ang ating isipan at alalahanin kung ano ang tunay na marka ng wika at pananalita ng edukado.

Sa huli, kahit Ingles, Tagalog, o Swardspeak pa, ang sariling wika ang mahalaga, kahit na ang wikang itinuturing mong “sarili” ay hindi ang pambansang wika. Ika nga ni Gat Jose Rizal, na isinalin sa Swardspeak…

“Ang wiz mag-Mahalia Fuentes sa sariling wiketch ay mas Smellanie Marquez pa sa echoserang frogette. Trulalu, walang halong eklavu.”

Mabuhay ang wika ng tunay na edukado.

Long live the language of the truly educated.

ADDENDUM: In light of Mr. Soriano’s sister’s attempt to play the satire card in Tumblr, I would like to point out that even if someone writes poorly to emphasize an ironic point about one’s mastery of the language, it doesn’t make it any less agonizing to read, precisely because it is poorly written.

Furthermore, his article has since been republished on the Manila Bulletin here. He has also written a new article that addresses the troll responses against him, but none of the actual arguments against his initial assessment that “Filipino is not the language of the learned.”

Posted in Personal, SocietyComments (6)

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