We have found the limits of Press Freedom in the Philippines, and it is indeed at the Gates of Religion.
Up until Conrado de Quiros published a column on the Danish cartoon controversy yesterday, there has been a contemptible silence in most of the Main and Blog Stream Media. Today, after weeks of turmoil over the issue PDI published an editorial on the issue. Muslims might hate the editorial cartoon that was used though (NOT Made in Denmark by Jyllands Postens), even if today's Philippine Daily Inquirer Editorial, Indivisible Freedoms, uncharacteristically tries to be "sensitive" and "respectful." For might the PDI cartoon not be seen as sending the message that "Muslims are blowing up the world"? In bending over backwards to appease "religious correctness" PDI only ends up dividing Freedom of Religion from Freedom of the Press and separating them from their indivisible source -- the democratic Right of Free Speech and Expression. To believe in God is as sacred a right as to believe in anything else. To express a religious belief by "practicing a religion" is no different than to publish a column to express a private opinion or belief.
It is a dark and mournful day to see the paper I used to love and write so passionately for, lose its way and so completely disavow the Democracy that protects and sustains its own passions and pursuits. And so that there will be no misunderstanding or misquoting about what has been said, I shall reproduce every word of this infamous and traitorous manifesto to prove, sadly, that just like under Martial Law, the Philippines has indeed become Not Free, because certain Sacred Cows may not be gored, not even by the newspaper that prides itself in destabililizing and overthrowing not one but two Presidents, and is strenuously going for a third. By the way, the above unretouched Editorial Cartoon on page A-14 of the 15 February edition of PDI shows a lit bundle of dynamite strapped to the Globe by a headband that reads "Islamic Protests Over Danish Toons." Especially when taken out of its context on the printed page, it too isn't going to appease too many Muslims with such a clumsy and provocative characterization of the present situation. (It'll serve PDI right if they get a Salman Rushdie fatwah issued against them for this new anti-Muslim cartoon). But I'm talking about just plain old secular infidel civil libertarians like me -- who will never --EVER!-- be appeased by this APOSTASY of Democracy:
INDIVISIBLE FREEDOMSCAVEAT: It is indeed a dark and mournful day when the newspaper with the greatest pretensions to defending Press Freedom would be calling the work of journalists "a profoundly irreligious act". Normally the following would be irrelevant, but it is a famously known fact that both the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the Inquirer begin each workday by first kissing and praying before a stone idol of Mama Mary at the bottom of the spiral staircase that ascends to their Editorial offices. Perhaps that is why they are at pains to explain how to celebrate the martyrdom of Fr. Santoro without offending the sensibilities of the religion in whose name his murderer sent him to Heaven. They deny Fr. Santoro was "actively" trying to convert Muslims to Catholics. Well, maybe Fr. Santoro was actually in Turkey trying to resurrect the Ottoman Empire, but I seriously doubt he was "passively" trying to evangelize the Muslims. The man who killed Father Santoro admitted it was hatred that drove him, yet PDI makes it appear it was the remote control doings of Danish cartoonists. Oh yeah, PDI. Abjure personal responsibility for crimes and blame everything on stuff people are drawing half a world away. The Danes made him do it? Or was it radical Danish imam-provocateurs working with Syria and Iran to inflame the Arab Street?
Philippine Daily Inquirer Editorial February 15, 2006
LAST Friday, a funeral was held in
Romefor Fr. Andrea Santoro, a missionary priest killed the week before in . Camillo Cardinal Ruini of Turkey announced at the funeral that he wanted to open the process for the beatification and eventual canonization of the priest. Santoro, he said, was a martyr. He was definitely a kind and pious man: Pope Benedict XVI ordered a letter Santoro wrote to him, on behalf of three Catholic women asking the Pope to visit their parish, published in L’Osservatore Romano, the official Rome Vaticannewspaper.
, the person accused of killing Santoro “admitted that he was driven by hatred aroused by the publication of the caricatures of Mohammed published in the Western press,” according to one press account. The accused murderer was under the impression that Santoro was actively trying to convert Muslims to Catholicism. In fact, the Italian’s ministry was to attend to small, isolated Catholic communities in areas that once comprised the Catholic settlements of antiquity. While praising the Christian virtues of Santoro, and proclaiming his worthiness to be considered a martyr -- proof of which would immediately result in sainthood -- Turkey Vaticanofficials have been careful not to lay blame at the doorstep of Islam, whether as a religion or a community. The kind of misunderstanding that would lead a man to kill another, in the name of God, all because of a profoundly irreligious act that took place a very long distance away, is in a sense a parable for our times.
The National Catholic Reporter has this on Father Santoro's murder:
"Among other things, what Santoro's death illustrates is just how thin the veneer of civility sometimes can be in the border zones of the world where Christians and Muslims rub shoulders. In that sense, the lessons of the killing may have little to do with the cartoon controversy, but a great deal to say about the future of Christianity in majority Muslim nations. On the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 5, a 16-year-old Turk entered St. Mary's Church in Trabzon and fired two bullets into Santoro's lungs and heart, shouting Allah akbar, meaning "Allah is great." He later said he had been agitated by the controversy surrounding the Danish cartoons. Santoro, 61 at the time he was murdered, was a donum fidei priest, a priest released by the diocese of Rome to serve as a missionary on Turkey's Black Sea Coast. A popular Roman pastor, he left for Turkey at the age of 55, saying he felt the need to "start over again" in the place where one tradition holds that Abraham was born, in Urfa, and where the earliest Christian communities took shape. "Being here, where what you can do is so limited, it's much more important who you are," Santoro told an Italian documentary last year, which was rebroadcast on the morning of his funeral. "You have to ask, 'What have I got inside?' If you love others only when you're surrounded by a certain apparatus, with a certain level of satisfaction, is that really love?" "As Christians in this land, we carry a message of reconciliation, the same reconciliation that was born with the blood of Jesus," he said.
PDI: Thornton Wilder, in his short novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” tackled a profoundly religious question. In the book, a monk named Brother Juniper witnesses the “finest bridge in all Peru” collapse, killing five people. And he asks, “Why did it happen to those five?”CAVEAT: And what about religious contempt for secular conventions? In my post yesterday, Reporters Without Borders tells of Yemeni editors and journalists being jailed and their newspapers closed down for publishing the Danish cartoons.
As a consequence of editorial cartoons being published in a Danish newspaper, the world has been asking the same question -- in the Middle East, where, from Damascus and Teheran to Palestine and Baghdad, Muslims erupted in fury. Just as they did in Denmark itself, and all over Europe; and everywhere, from Pakistan and Indonesia to the Philippines, where Islamic communities are found. Days of anger and violence have resulted in the Islamic world engaging in soul-searching of its own. Yesterday, a meeting between the Danish prime minister and the leaders of Denmark’s Muslim community led to calls on their co-religionists to “move on.”
Excesses such as rioting and complications such as some irresponsible provocateurs inserting two cartoons (the most offensive ones) among the real cartoons circulated among Muslims aside, the Islamic world has been adamant about its belief that the Western press crossed the line. Non-Muslims have also observed that what the Western media attempted to paint as purely a question of freedom of expression was not that at all; it was a question of secular contempt for religious conventions.
"Reporters Without Borders expressed dismay at the arrest, on 10 February 2006, of Abdel Halim Akram Sabra, editor of the independent weekly Al-Hurriya, journalist Yahya Al Aabed and editor of the Yemen Observer Mohammed Al Asaadi, for publishing the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Al Hurriya and two other newspapers that published the cartoons, the Yemen Observer and the Al Raî Al Aam have been closed."But there we have it from PDI: "the Western Press crossed the line." Philippine Commentary stands proudly with that Western Press AND that Yemeni Arab newspaper in denouncing the coming appeasement to religious fascists everywhere that PDI and its brand of "free press" apparently now espouses. Here's more from our favorite, uhmm, clerico-fascist newspaper--
PDI: "While the Philippines adheres to the principle of the separation of Church and State, and indeed, the Philippine media are heir to a tradition of anticlericalism dating to the Propaganda Movement, as a whole, Filipinos are profoundly respectful of religious conventions. Even the bigotry of certain Filipinos toward their Islamic countrymen does not extend to flagrantly heaping contempt on their faith. There are lines Filipinos do not cross, and rightly so (if only we did not cross more of them than we already do).Well there you have it folks -- straight from the Philippine Daily Inquirer -- our new Principles of Separation of Church and Press. Here are the old fashioned principles of Democracy --
"Islam and Christianity both pay the highest tribute to martyrs. Even secular societies consider martyrdom possible in defense of country or ideology. The question is whether any kind of creed, including secularism as understood in the West, calls for provocations that make it inevitable for people to become martyrs, whether unintentionally or by design. While we do not counsel self-censorship arising out of fear, we do believe that a proper recognition of the central role faith plays in the lives of millions would go far to avoid undue provocation against people who take their religion seriously. After all, since World War II, the world has rallied to defend the Four Freedoms: of speech and expression; of every person to worship God in his own way; from want; and from fear. They all go hand in hand, and to raise one over the other diminishes them all.
Freedom of Religion IS Freedom of Expression
The basic democratic principles that govern this situaation, IMHO, are discussed here.
Danish Cartoons Broke the Muslim Taboo On Idolatry
This is why the Muslims have rioted.
It's Capital Blasphemy Just To Describe the Cartoons
How then can religious idolaters -- Roman Catholic Marian devotees that run PDI -- end up supporting, or at least allowing, the appeasement of the Mohammedan anti-idolaters who want to impose THEIR religious beliefs on everybody? I mean, if we literally accept the prescriptions of PDI, even the Encyclopedia Brittannica and many, many history textbooks that depict Mohammed anyway, would have to be considered blasphemy and "over the line."?
I suspect the reason for the mental and logical contortionism on the part of the PDI Editorial is the same as that of The Responsible Journalism of Conrado de Quiros....
By the way, here are all the Danish Cartoons at my favorite European webstop: the Brussels Journal. Tell me this has nothing to do with Press Freedom when newspapers are being shut down and journalists being jailed and threatened with death in Muslim countries. Tell me you don't want to see why PDI has proclaimed the Separation of the Church and Press in the global politics of the thing.
EMAIL from QTPi: "Looks like Philippine Commentary won't be winning the Catholic Mass Media Awards this year." Rizalist replies: Why not???
A SUPERB CARTOON FROM COX AND FORKUM shows Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad with fingers in his ears and eyes closed muttering, "Didn't happen! ... Didn't happen..." as a long single file of Jews with bared forearms showing Serial Numbers from Treblinka...Auschwitz...Dachau..."Didn't happen...didn't happen!"