Four completely unrelated things happened which produced the picture you see nearby, of my simple but wholesome breakfast today-- (1) One Sunday a few weeks ago, I was at a popular outdoor market near the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City and bought a bunch of herbal plants, including "Java Mint from the Isle of Sumatra" which produced the most unusual bright green pungent leaves with the most gorgeous and delectable purple flowers that bloom in tiny profusions on my sunny balcony overlooking Laguna de Bai now. (2) Some Filipino American friends arrived from New York with real bagels (egg, garlic, blueberry or just plain, yummy). (3) Lady Philippine Commentary brought home some cream cheese, --two kinds, one from Philadelphia, the other from Denmark, branded Arla. Don't know why I snapped this picture half way through breakfast this morning...until I saw (4) this from Christopher Hitchens writing in Slate today: Stand Up for Denmark on a matter that has preoccupied this blog and its regulars for the last few weeks and still bears looking at and thinking about...even at breakfast...especially at breakfast! (For a full course dinner though, I suggest you visit this Club.)
Questions to the Comment Thread:
(1) Is Freedom of Religion a genre of Freedom of Speech as Press Freedom is?
(2) Must Religions EVOLVE under Democracy?
(3) Would it violate Separation for civil societies to try to force Religions to revise their dogmas?
It was completely by accident of course, that one brand of cream cheese we have is made by the company called Arla Foods, which turns out to be a cooperative composed of 11,600 largely independent milk producers in Denmark and Sweden, and is Europe's largest dairy products supplier. I'd never even heard about Arla before this, though I have no doubt consumed their products even here in Manila, where they seem to be available at a reasonable price. Arla is also one of the companies targeted for boycotts as a result of Muslim reaction to the Mohammed cartoons of Jyllands Postens. But Mr. Hitchens explains who actually lit the powder keg which has blown up and killed 30 Muslims and burned down embassies "--
It was the arrogant Danish mullahs who patiently hawked those cartoons around the world (yes, don't worry, they are allowed to exhibit them as much as they like) until they finally provoked a vicious response against the economy and society of their host country.Then there is the mullah in Pakistan who has offered $1 million and a car as a bribe for the murder of "the cartoonist."
I am sorely disappointed in the Philippine Media and most of the Philippine Blogosphere, for the mostly contemptible silence of those who've been cowed by some deeply wrong sense of what "respect" and "responsibility" and "freedom of expression" truly mean for the future of a multicultural human race.
It was surprising and disappointing to see the position of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a self-proclaimed champion of freedom of the press and one that likes to shake the tree of government until the coconuts fall out. PDI does not seem to understand how press freedom and religious freedom are both essentially exercises of the freedom of speech and expression, and are therefore mere genres of free speech governed by the same laws and conventions. Organized religion is mere freedom of assembly and has no special rights beyond that, other than to be treated in a completely neutral manner by the State.
I say "mere" only in comparison to the lofty position occupied by Religion in theocracies. But PDI seems to grant Religion a mystic or mythic right to be respected and revered that is not a part of this democratic conception, but a remnant of a theocratic demiurge that apparently delimits its commitment to full democracy. They are well aware of this and justify it in terms of "independence from American tutelage," preferring to consider their apostasy against democracy's princple of religious freedom as respect for cultural traits or sensitivity to the religious beliefs of others.
Yet if a newspaper like PDI or a writer like Conrado de Quiros, is not touched that editorial cartoonists now have a bounty on their heads by a mullah's fatwah, and calls for the beheading of journalists are to be heard in Makati's Central Business District, and if they continue to deny that this has anything to do with freedom of the press to criticize even a Religion with a billion adherents, then no wonder no one riots over how dangerous it is to be a journalist in the Philippines. Because even the journalists and the bloggers have largely decided to accept that it IS a dangerous place. that it should be a dangerous place because of those nasty Europeans and their Ugly American allies.
But here is how the Catolico cerrados who run Big Media in the Philippines took this bull by the horns and gored democracy in the gut with it. They preach tolerance for the murderously intolerant, because that ensures tolerance for the non-murderously intolerant -- like themselves, when it comes to religious issues in the broader society. Yet, in the final analysis, their "sensitivity" is like the sensitivity that exists in some families with a dysfunctional member, where alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual mania or other embarrassing "mental disorders" are firmly swept under the rug, tolerated, controlled, and "respected" all for the sake of respectability and cultural sensitivity.
What we learned from Flemming Rose of Jyllands Postens just a few days ago, was that he published the Mohammed Cartoons in order to criticize just this same kind of political correctness and a reluctance on the part of the Danish civil societies and media to confront, criticize and try to reform radical Islam within Denmark.
That is the same condition we face here in post-Edsa Syndrome Philippines and our response must be the same as Christopher Hitchens: STAND UP FOR DENMARK ... to which I must add, because we must stand up for ourselves, our beliefs, our "Religion"...
"THE RELIGION OF PATRIOTS IS DEMOCRACY ITSELF."
If no one in history has uttered these words, then let me claim them as my own. For my religion -- I have come to learn from the Danish cartoons of Mohammed -- is indeed, Democracy itself.
From reading and writing and thinking about this important global controversy, with its sustained, violent reaction from the Arab Street, I have come to a number of firm conclusions, clarifications and extensions to my personal understanding of certain key democratic principles and concepts.
(1) The most basic of all democratic rights are the Rights of Personal Privacy and Security granted to the smallest minority in a democratic society -- the individual human being as private citizen. Look at Article III, the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution --
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.From these basic human rights of every private, atomic individual, flows all the other, more famous rights and freedoms...
Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
(2) The exercise of the Freedom of the Press is clearly an exercise of Freedom of Speech. A newspaper, radio or television station is thus an exercise of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly -- Organized Speech and Opinion as it were.
(3) The exercise of the Freedom of Religion is also an exercise of the human right to hold a private belief or opinion about anything whatsoever and to be able to express it freely without fear. Which is what we have called the Freedom of Speech and Expression.
In the main and blogstream media, there has been mostly a contemptible silence or self-contradictory editorial and column writing on this fundamental issue that is both global and local at the same time.
I do not see how Edsa IV can possibly happen as Edsa I sentimentalists fervently wish, if its adherents would rather solve all political problems with "miracles."