Saturday, March 25, 2006

Press Freedom and Organized Religion Are Freedoms of Assembly

[NOTICE: All comments and opinions, contrary or otherwise, are welcomed and encouraged on this blog. I don't moderate comments...Just don't make a mess...My bandwidth is your bandwidth!]

I am still grappling with the issue of the Danish Mohammed Cartoons because I think the encompassed issues of press and religious freedom are of transcendental importance. I also think we cannot adequately defend our human rights and freedoms if we do not have a principled understanding of them that can withstand the severest test of moral consistency, where I think most Filipinos fail when it comes to issues and controversies involving the "eternal principles."

PRIVATE HUMAN RIGHTS ARE THE ROOT OF ALL CIVIL RIGHTS The smallest, weakest minority in a Democracy is the individual human citizen. Perhaps that is why the Bill ofRights of the Constitution defines and defends the human rights of the private individuals that actually compose the democratic polity. The Bill of Rights is a series of limitations on the powers of the State. It is a list of prohibitions on the Government which effectively define Freedoms that belong to the individual private citizens which can only be taken away by due processes of the Law. I have come to appreciate the view that all public or civil rights really have their roots in these rights of private citizens.
BILL OF RIGHTS (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.

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.

Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law. (2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
Sections 1 and 2 above explicitly protect a citizen's life, liberty, property; his equality before the law; the security of his very person, of his abodes, and that of his papers and "effects". and his communications.

Section 3 seems to make his very words and thoughts a form of private property and extensions of his "effects" -- by protecting the privacy of his communications as "inviolable" except by Court Order.

Section 4, protects Freedom of Speech and Expression, which seems to me to be an extension of the human person's right to private property -- in this case the right to hold a private opinion and to communicate it (with no guarantee of course that anyone will listen!) Freedom of the press is, in one view, merely the right of many individuals to peaceably assemble, in this case as newspaper organizations, radio or television networks and other forms of organized Media, for the purpose of exercising together, their individual freedoms of speech and expression.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION IS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION In Section 5, Freedom of Religion may be seen as a derivative of the freedom of individuals to hold private opinions -- in this case beliefs or teachings about supernatural questions, gods, deities, philosophies, credos, cults, questions about ultimate origins and ultimate destinies of human beings and the Universe. It also protects a complete nullity of belief in such things or even a worship of anti-religious symbols such as Satan or Beelzebub or Pazuzu. Atheism is a protected form of religious expression. Freedom of Religion thus comes from the Freedom of Speech. Religious practices and rituals are a form of the democratic Freedom of Expression. Organized Religion is likewise protected as a special form of Freedom of Assembly -- not necessarily to petition the Government for redress of Grievances, but as fervent appeal to a Higher Power for salvation or as sign of worshipful faith. From the point of the view of the Constitution, a Roman Catholic High Mass has equal protection as a peaceful demonstration, a published editorial, a Hollywood movie, or... a Danish cartoon!

ORGANIZED RELIGION IS FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY When an individual human citizen joins a Church or Synagogue or Mosque or any other such religious association, that citizen is practicing the Freedom of Assembly. When a Catholic or a Baptist or a Born-Again Christian expresses some article of faith in a worship service, that citizen enjoys equal protection under the law as a Leftist activist demonstrating againt U.S. Imperialism in front of the U.S. Embassy. Or the right of Comedians to do standup comic shows. Or the right to publish editorials or broadcast the news. No more. No less.

DEMOCRACY SAVES RELIGIONS FROM EACH OTHER. In history, men have annihilated men and nations have warred on nations over differences of religious belief A careful reading of Section 5 (and years of thinking and discussing it with others!) reveals what a careful tightrope act Democracy walks when it comes to Religion: a complete neutrality, a steadfast prohibition against BOTH promoting or prohibiting Religion. But this careful distinction and balancing act, sometimes embodied in the Principle of the Separation of the Church and the State is not fundamentally different from something one might call the Principle of the Separation of the Press and the State, in that theoretically the State has no business either promoting or prohibiting Mass Media. The government shouldn't be meddling in the activities of journalists and broadcasters any more than it ought to be intruding on priests and mullahs. Or promoting some particular set of religious beliefs and teachings. The latter would of course be disastrous for any government to do, the tyranny of Theocracy. I think this is the proper light in which to consider the issues and arguments that have issued from the Mohammed Cartoons published by Jyllands Postens in Denmark and that have spawned a global controversy and violent demonstrations. Even in the City of Makati, we actually saw signs calling for the BEHEADING of journalists who insult Islam. A Pakistani cleric has even offered as bounty a brand new Mercedes Benz and cash for anyone who KILLS the Danish cartoonists reponsible for "blasphemy against Islam."

NO TO THEOCRACY But all this Constitutional vouchsafing of certain inviolable rights, both religious and civil, does not imply a principle like the Separation of Church and Press The protected character of the Free Speech called Religion is not any more protected than any other form of Free Speech, such as the publication of cartoons which may have the effect of offending members of that religion. But the State is PROHIBITED from protecting one religious belief that may be completely contradictory to that of other religious beliefs. For example, in the case of the Danish Mohammed cartoons, at the heart of Muslim rage is the Islamic taboo on idolatry, which is considered blasphemous. Being a democracy however, Denmark clearly cannot uphold such a teaching of Islam, no matter how keenly it is felt or how violent is the reaction. That would be giving in to theocracy -- even if it doesn't lead to the actual establishment of a full blown Islamic Caliphate of Denmark. Or simply put. It would be unconstitutional, both here and in Denmark.

THE ARGUMENT FROM DISRESPECT Many people in the Philippine Main Stream Media and the blogosphere have presented the argument that publishing the Mohammed Cartoons was wrong because they represent a fundamental disrespect for the religious beliefs of about one billion human beings on the planet. But it is too easy to ignore the actual reasons that Jylannds Postens originally published the Mohammed Cartoons -- it was certainly not to insult Islam or disrespect its adherents. As Flemming Rose, publisher of Jyllands Postens explains it, they were trying to prove a point about political correctness in Danish Media by not being obsequious in avoiding criticizing Islam and its forced association with terrorism, chauvinism and religious intolerance. However, radical Danish imams latched onto the editorial cartoons and disseminated them in the Arab world to provoke precisely the reaction that they got. Strange how it was blasphemy for Jyllands Postens to publish the cartoons but not for the Danish imams to show them around at Islamic conferences in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It was truly despicable too that two cartoons that were never published were nevertheless misrepresented as part of the series. Thus, it is pretty clear that there was no intent to disrespect Islam on the part of Jyllands Postens. But even as lampoons of Islam, these works are protected free speech and we cannot ban or apologize for them without giving up fundamental democratic principles. This does not mean I would publish such material myself, but I don't disrespect Islam, even as I defend the rights of the cartoonists to publish them. It's no different than defending the rights of the Daily Tribune and Ninez Cacho Olivarez. One may not agree with the Tribune because it's pretty obvious they don't RESPECT Mrs. Arroyo, though they would certainly be right to argue they still respect the Presidency itself. I think it is morally and logically inconsistent to defend the Daily Tribune but not Jyllands Postens.

33 comments:

manuelbuencamino said...

As Flemming Rose, publisher of Jyllands Postens explains it, they were trying to prove a point about political correctness in Danish Media by not being obsequious in avoiding criticizing Islam and its forced association with terrorism, chauvinism and religious intolerance.

DJB,

It was bigotry pure and simple.

Rizalist said...

MB--OKAY, let us assume that the cartoonists are "bigotted". Should we now uphold "blasphemy due to idolatry" and criminalize it. What other "bigorty" or bad taste would you suppress? As a Protestant I too detest IDOLATROUS practices. Should we ban Roman Catholicism who practice idolatry fervently? I mean it and am not being argumentative. How do we save religions from each other if we do this?

HILLBLOGGER said...

Hi Dean,

If I'm not mistaken MB gave an opinion on the Flemming Rose & his cartoons: he said the act was bigotry or biggoted.

Now Dean, how could a potential act of upholding "blasphemy due to idolatry" have anything to do with Rose's act of bigotry which MB thougt it was.

I can't see how an assertion that Flemming's act of bigotry or blasphemy have anything to do with "blasphemy due to idolatry" or not

In other words I fail to see how blasphemy is associated to idolatry in the Flemming case. You gotta explain your "blasphemy due to idolatry" premise...

Based on what you have been saying, I can see we must deal with 3 distinct premises which should be attacked separately for the moment: bigotry, blasphely, idolatry...

Anyway, here's my simple sailor mind wants to re-present the Flemming problem:

Is Flemming's act bigotted? If yes why, if not why not.

If the premise is that Flemming's act is not bigotted BECAUSE blasphemy is not bigotry, then there's no problem.

If Flemming's act is bigotted because he committed blasphemy, there's no problem either. Bigotry in itself is not a criminal offence.

But I believe we should discuss whether blasphemy should be criminalized or not.

And you know me, Dean, I am one of the rare women who would blaspheme in front of a Cardinal. I wouldn't give a Goddamn hoot whether someone thought I was being blasphemous but what I would care about is that I wouldn't like to hurt someone's feelings unnecessarily.

Anyway, I don't believe blasphemy should be criminalized. If I can contend that my being blasphemous is part of my freedom of speech (which I certainly believe it is), it follows that I should consider Flemming Rose's act as being blasphemous. That his commmiting blasphemy may be a result of his being a bigot may be an issue but heck there's nothing criminal about being a bigot.

However, this is where the crunch is: inciting people to committing racial discrimination acts is a criminal offence. This is Flemming Rose's problem in Europe today.

On one hand he merely invoked his right covered by the bill of rights but on the other hand, the result of having exercised that right may have led to inciting people to commit racial discrimination acts. Aha - this is the crux of the matter now.

Obviously, a European prosecutor will have to go through the eye of a needle to to win his case if ever he prosecutes Flemming for that overlapping right.

Rizalist said...

HB--I think it's like this. For Muslims, any graphic portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed or Allah, whether good or bad is considered a form of idolatry, which is considered to be a blasphemy or insult to God and the Prophet. For no such graphic portrayal is considered possible and the attempt is always a disastrous vanity, a blasphemy. It just so happens that Jews were anti-idolaters before Mohammed, who in fact overthrew ARabic tribal religions which practiced STONE IDOL WORSHIP. Islam as established by Mohammed was monotheistic, as is Judaism. Likewise Protestants are anti-idolatry. My father laughed often at my mother's rich Roman Catholic rituals, full of rosaries, stampitas, stone statues, pictures, crosses, etc. But only the Muslims call for beheadings of journalists who, though they are not Muslims, have no problem with "idolatry."

I don't buy the charge that it was bigotry that caused Jyllands Postens to publish the cartoons. Only stupid people can be bigotted, really. And from my reading of Flemmng Rose's essay in the National Review Online, he is not a stupid or racist person.

Pingkian said...

The Rights of the Bigot

I’ll feel slighted if someone calls me idolater.
I‘ll be hurt if someone blasphemes my religion.
In the same way that I’ll be angry if someone disrespects my parents.

As a Christian (Roman Catholic), religion to me is something that is very personal and sacred. The good thing is that our culture and my religion has thought me to be tolerant of others whose set of beliefs differs from mine. Religion being personal and very sacred to many, hence some people is provoked to violence when their religion just like when their parents is affronted.

So, do we ban bigotry? I said no. I agree with Rizalist, in his write-up in its entirety, especially in his assertion that “Democracy saves Religion from Each Other and The Argument from Disrespect.” Having said that the cartoonist, writer, editor, and publisher should be prepared for the violent outrage of the people they have disrespected. The State is then obligated to intervene to maintain order and even protect rights of the provocateur – the bigot who started it all.

Though, I haven’t seen the controversial editorial cartoon, based on your write-up and the reactions of Muslim peoples, the publication of the cartoon was in poor paste and politically incorrect.

Rizalist said...

Pingkian--
You should definitely have a look at the Mohammed Cartoons and decide for yourself about them. Here is a WIKIPEDIA entry where you can see them. (PG13)

Oh but what you should really see is 1000 years of Mohammedan Idolatry (sublime, beautiful art!)

Mohammed Image Archive throughout history.

Rizalist said...

Here is that second link again:
Historical Image Archive

manuelbuencamino said...

Blasphemy is not bigotry.

You all know what bigotry is. You know it's wrong.

The cartoons are not an attack on the religion per se, The cartoon draw stereotypes of Arabs who practice Islam. That is where the bigotry comes in. It is a racial, religious and cultural stereotypng of Arabs.

Mohammed is drawn as a generic arab because nobody really knows what he looked like. The generic depiction makes him represent all arabs. That's where the racial bigotry comes in.

The editor of Jyllands Posten proves that bigotry is not the exclusive property of rednecks and neo-nazis. Western history tells us that some of the most brilliant leaders of that civilization were bigots.

Karl M. Garcia said...

Allow me to digress.

Re:Separation of Church and press...

Sec. Raul Gonzalez calls Father Bernas a destabilizer,but won't bother him because he is a priest?

What if Bernas is just a plain and simple constitutionalist whom everybody repects,would he be the next(or first one ) to be arrested then?

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB, MB,

I agree bigotry is wrong. I have no quarrel with that. It is morally wrong.

MB, I was tackling the whole issue on the criminal nature of the result of an act.

To me, bigotry is NOT a criminal offence in itself (we all tend to be bigots at one time or the other) even if it becomes the basis of a person's exercising his right to freedom of whatever; unless bigotry itself results in act of racial discrimination and inciting people to commit acts related to racial hatred, it is difficult to prosecute someone of a crime just because a person is a bigot.

However, when a bigot extends his bigotry by inciting people to commit acts of racial discrimination, the person is liable for criminal prosecution (here in Europe). And this is where Flemming is at today. European pundits believe that he transgressed his rights. Some people are waiting on the side to pounce on him for what they believe is a criminal offence: inciting people to racial hate. No longer anything to do with blasphemy or bigotry.

Blasphemy has become a tertiary issue.

Personally, I don't know if Rose was inherently a bigot. His cartoons made him appear a bigot. Does that make him a real bigot? I don't know.

But I give him the benefit of the doubt that his act was originally an act of "rebellion" which was covered by his right to freedom of speech against a prevailing status quo. That his "rebellion" went overboard is really the crux of the matter today.

DJB, I don't deny that Rose exercised his right to do what he did. I think he was courageous. But there is a prospect that he will face something criminal in the future. Perhaps it may not happen but it is there - omnipresent.

Unfortunately Dean, a right is NOT absolute.

You may say that it's bigotry is merely for the stupid but it ain't true Dean. MB is right when he says that some of the most brilliant leaders of Western civilization were bigots!

Jean-Marie Le Pen is one of the most brilliant minds, leaders, thinkers in French politics but he is a BIGOT!

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB, MB,

What I believe should be asked is whether racial discrimination or racism, religious discrimination or religious racism is bigotry in itself.

I believe they are.

I may have a tendency to be racially discriminating (not on the basis of one's color) but I don't make it my life's principle to be racist.

But I am categorically NOT discriminated AGAINST any religion (save perhaps against the UK's officially recognized SATANIC RELIGION, or the religion worshipping of satan). Does this make me a bigot?

That I believe is where Flemming Rose is at as well.

HILLBLOGGER said...

But here's my overall personal pronouncement Dean: Flemming Rose's justification of why he published the cartoons, to my mind, doesn't make him a bigot.

Moreover, people who do not accept his right to do what he did are guilty of bigotry.

HILLBLOGGER said...

I meant: like you Dean, Flemming Rose's justification of why he published the cartoons, to my mind, shows that he ain't a a bigot.

On the other hand, people and some press publications that do not accept his right to do what he did are guilty of bigotry.

Karl M. Garcia said...

Bigotry nowadays can be anything from extreme prejudice to not tolerating those who run counter to your beliefs.

So you don't have to be stupid to be bigotted.

Back to my point a few weeks back...

What if the Catholics are stupid enough to be bigotted...
Dan Brown could be dead by now for publishing the Da Vinci Code..

Da Brown is not stupid but to me he definitely is a bigot.

Rizalist said...

MB,
Just some questions:

How many of the Danish Mohammed Cartoons have you actually looked at?

Are they all pure and simple racist bigotry, with no political or moral message? Just gratuitous racist stereotypes of Arabs and Islam?

Which of them would you pick as the best example of racist bigotry?

If you were the Danish Prime Minister, what would you do with respect to the Muslim world's demands that the Jyllands Postens cartoonists be...?

manuelbuencamino said...

Hillblogger,

"On the other hand, people and some press publications that do not accept his right to do what he did are guilty of bigotry."

How ? Would I be guilty of bigotry if I condemned racist cartoons by the Ku Klux Klan or by neo-nazis?

DJB,

I have seen most of the cartoons from your links.

Does a political or moral message change the nature of the thing? Are you apllying the "redeeming social factor" criteria to bigotry? I believe that criteria is what used to be applied to distinguish pornography from art.

Remember that racist cartoon about talking monkies that I used as an example some time back ? Well, if my were the Danish PM I would read the riot act to Jyllans Posten.

As far as I am concerned the cartoonist can draw all the cartoons he wants. The cartoonist can be as bigoted as he wants.

I took issue with Jylans Posten for disseminating them. That's the difference between an individual's freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Do you think its okay for the New York Times to disseminate the teachings of neo-nazis or the Ku Klux Klan? Is it just a matter of political correctness? Or freedom to publish anything?

That's why I say - Jyllands Posten was disseminating bigotry and we all know bigotry is wrong so let's stop standing up for Jyllands Posten's right to disseminate it. That paper was wrong.

Let's uphold freedom of the press. But let's not defend its right to disseminate bigoted/racist ideas.

Pingkian said...

Thanks you “very” much Rizalist for the link and for the advice. I’ve read and re-read the article “Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy” with my heart” and have made me re-examine my post and my views on the matter. Seeing the illustrations for the first time made angry and reading the article for a while made me waver on my concept of Freedom of Speech. Upon reflection though, the article made me more steadfast in my in defense of Press Freedom even for the bigots. I also realized that I’ve been rush in my estimation of Flemming Rose, Hillblogger is right Rose is not a bigot and to add, neither is the publisher. Yes, MB is right bigotry is wrong but as Hillblogger asserts, bigotry is not a crime. What can not be condone is the violence as a consequence of bigotry.

It is just very unfortunate that Rose has chosen a very sacred and powerful symbol to our Muslim brothers to drive a message, for neither can I identify a more powerful symbol to challenge the limits of Freedom of Speech. Indeed, the illustrations are definitely offesive by any standard. If their’s any consolation, as Rose explained: “The cartoonists treated Islam the same way they treat Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. And by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims….”

Though If I am Rose, I may have had decided differently and exercised self imposed restraint out of respect for our Muslim brothers and its religion and shame on me, out of fear of reprisal, but since the illustrations have already been published, it is but more urgent to stand by Jyllands-Posten in defense of Freedom of Speech for fear is an anti-thesis of democracy.

Rizalist said...

MB,

Does this mean that ALL RELIGIONS can demand the same treatment you wish to accord Islam?

For example, since you would read the riot act to Jyllands Postens for alleged racist bigotry, should the National Enquirer (big gossip tabloid in the US) also be read the riot act for ridiculing the Raelians (who were convinced a spaceship was hidden behind Comet Kahoutek and was coming to pick them up), or is the fact that there were only 50 members of that cult, instead of a billion what matters?

Btw, do you think editorial cartoons in the newspapers here would pass your test?

This is a test of "moral consistency" for your position.

As for the cartoons being pure racist bigotry, it would be very hard to put them on the same level as say anti-Semitic graffiti in NewYork subways, or anti-Muslim insults like Catholic altars at national government offices.

Are you saying, we are not allowed to lampoon the foolhardiness of Nazareno fanatics (who yearly kill five to six of their own number out of religious fervour? Or would that be racist bigotry too, considering they are all brown Filipinos of Catholic faith?

Is Islam or Catholicism so perfect that we may not lampoon or cartoon or even ridicule anything about them in the Media?

We are to keep quiet for example about stonings of women in Somalia as a form of sharia law?

Where does racist bigotry begin and legitimate criticism end?

Pingkian said...

I see no malice on the publication of the controversial cartoons; it was published neither out of hatred or revenge nor without justifiable context and historical precedence -- Danish journalistic tradition especially that of Jyllands-Posten newspaper; the publication of “Danish newspaper Politiken ran an article under the headline "Dyb angst for kritik af islam"[12] ("Profound fear of criticism of Islam"). The article discussed the difficulty encountered by the writer Kåre Bluitgen, who was initially unable to find an illustrator who was prepared to work with Bluitgen on his children's book Koranen og profeten Muhammeds liv (The Qur'an and the prophet Muhammad's life) citing the murder in Amsterdam of the film director Theo van Gogh, while another [declined, citing the attack on] the lecturer at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute in Copenhagen” (source: Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, link probided by Rizalist) that sparked the debate about self censorship.

As such, were the acts of Flemming Rose bigotry to drive a powerful message? If others say “YES,” then indeed, the rights of the bigots to free speech shold be uphold.

HILLBLOGGER said...

MB, DJB, Pingkian, Karl,

Re condemning racial cartoons by Klu Klux Klan or by neo nazis: bigotry on not?

It all depends on the law: If there a provision in the law that says it's illegal because it's a form of racial hate, condemning it per se will not be bigotry in moral terms. But TO take issue by banning these nazi eggheads and klu klux klan hooligans from exercising their right to freedom of speech is bigotry itself if the law allowed it would be bigotry as well. That's why, I believe we must take cognizance of the law.

Personally, if the Klan went on a press campaign using racist cartoons I would condemn them most virulently. To me their act would be pure bigotry. However if the law gave them right to do this, I would be equally accused of bigotry if didn't recognize their legal right to do such bigotted acts. We are in that sort of moral dilemma.

I remember one of DJB's blogs here containing a swaztika drawing (I think it was a condemnation of Gloria's gagging of the press blog). To me the swaztika image was harmless enough - it evoked nothing blasphemous nor anything politically outrageous. But Austrians would take it differently. They would be shocked because it is considered illegal in Austria to print a swaztika for public reading. Does that make them bigotted? If they arrested DJB while he was on a trip in Austria because of that blog, would that make Austrian authorities guilty of bigotry? I believe so! To me the Austrians would be guilty of bigotry. Morally, the act of arresting DJB would be the height of bigotry but the law is the law.

Pingkian summed it up well for us: "What can not be condoned is the violence as a consequence of bigotry."

And MB, I refuse to go as far as to say you were guilty of bigotry just because you condemned what Flemming Rose did - dissiminating those cartoons but I believe that we cannot blanketly condemn Flemming for being guilty of bigotry either because his act was covered by his right of free speeh in Denmark. As Pingkian said, Rose used a powerful and emotive tool to drive a message but unless there is proof that he had incited the Danish to commit acts of racial hate, to me Rose is simply guilty of political incorrectness and not of bigotry.

As to Dean's question: "Where does racist bigotry begin and legitimate criticism end?" To me in the current political context there is thin, very thin line that delineates legitimate criticism and racial bigotry depending on which end of the spectrum you find yourself. We in Europe have been grappling with a kind of balancing act. This is why we have to go refer to the law systematically to avoid being accused of racism when our act of legitimate criticism of a racial practice, custom or tradition is under attack.

Here's a distinct example: I was an official of a parents-teachers-students association in Paris that upheld the law some 2 years ago: banning school children from school who wore attires that evoked religious and distinctive or deep racial appartenance. Was I being a bigot? I guess I was from the point of view of the parents who were infuriated because of my group's support for the law but the law is the law! I didn't think I was being a bigot because I thought the law was moral - it treated the children of all religious indoctrinations and racial appartenance EQUALLY!

Rizalist said...

HB,
Interesting you bring up the ban on Islamic clothing and attire. In that case, I don't think you were being a bigot, but I would stand up for the rights of Muslims to wear such dress, on principle. I thought it was a sign of WEAKNESS for French democracy that they would feel so threatened by what? How in fact is it any different than the BlackNWhite Movement's recent demonstrations of fashion as political protest? But isn't that the sort of "political correctness" that prevents assimilation and leads to bigotry? In France!

Bagong UNIDA said...

In the Philippines there is no such thing as FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. Gloria has taken 10 steps further than Marcos, Cory, FVR, and Erap. She is the state and she is the government. Moves against her are steps against the state and government and are therefore rebellions. Rebellions and destabilizations will be crushed by the military and the police who are in the hollow of her hands.

Dissent and demonstrations will not be given permits and therefore dissenters and demonstrations will be dealt with extreme prejudice. And in all this the Panganiban Supreme Court is supporting Gloria every step of the way by their actions and inactions.

Rizalist said...

Bagong Unida--Like you I descry the ongoing mailed fist policy of the palace. But Freedom of Expression is an inherent private property of every individual citizen, like his life, or his liberty, or his IPOD. Therefore, it is not for Gloria or anyone else to grant to us. But something we must use, or lose.

Rizalist said...

MB--The Danish cartoons can't possibly be about RACIAL bigotry because obviously there are Muslims of every race. So you must be saying they represent RELIGIOUS bigotry. However, unlike the biological commonalities that destroy any scientific basis for racist ideologies of racial superiority, there are no such commonalities among religions. In fact most religions are antipathetic to one another. Even between Sunni and Shia there is a gulf of chauvinism. Also, religions are MOST DEFINITELY not created equal, just as newspapers, radio and tv. I guess it comes down to that: I don't think of religions as anything more special than media, organized free expression. No special privileges for religion in democracy!

HILLBLOGGER said...

Dean,

Re my being a bigot. I don't deny that I can be a bigot just as much as you can be Dean. I think bigotry is not a prerogative only of the stupid as we've said earlier. It would be the height of bigotry to say that we are never or will never be bigots.

But for you to brand me a BIGOT because of my belief that the French law secular provision is moral makes a BIGOT of YOU TOO. Problem is YOU don't know this particular law in France, Dean. If you base your understanding of it on some US press criticism, then you are wrong. The American press rebuked this part of secular school law in French law because they refused to understand that in France we have a secular system of education and second, they probably don't speak French (but shit, that's their problem not mine), yet if you look in the US public school system, even the subject of some kind of intelligence that deals with the existence of God is banned. I could say they are being totally bigotted but I won't because that's the US law.

By saying that I am a bigot you contraditct me, therefore you lead me to believe that you support the open display and acceptance of a young muslim French school girl's appartenance to the very harsh part of sharia law which automatically places her in second or lower status to a male. And you find that alright? Because if you don't know, lemme tell you that's what the French law seeks to prevent from happening: that a young muslim French girl should be considered inferiour to the boys. Do you think we in France should accept this in our public schools where the very tenet of liberty, equality, fraternity is the foundation of the French Republic? Why, that would be pure bigotry on your part Dean! And you say I am bigotted because I believe in the French tenet of equality, fraternity and liberty.

Understand Dean that it is not a question of either strength or weakness of the LAW. The law provides that we should NOT DISCRIMINATE against the gender of a school child no matter the religious or cultural ethnicity of the child. What's wrong with that? That makes me a bigot?

You must remember that it's NOT simply a question of the wearing of muslim attires either - we are speaking here of the wearing of attires with deep religious meanings and symbols that French muslim girls are forced to wear by their parents to public schools. We don't care if muslim girls wear their muslim attires everywhere else in France or that muslim women are covered from head to toe in thick black veils but children are not allowed to wear that in a state-funded public school here. What's wrong with that Dean?

Moreover, the law does not BAN people from wearing saya or barong tagalog or priestly gears or shik turbans anywhere else in France and anywhere else in French society but state schools must remain SECULAR - no outward display or sign of religious apartenance by any children in public school so that children may be treated EQUALLY.

Where is the WEAKNESS there? I would rather see it as a strength - I fully support this particular French legal provision because I do not believe that muslim school girls should be set apart by allowing them to wear of veils and scarves that connote strong religious and cultural or ethnic distinction: they are second to the male students (who are not obliged to wear headgears as religious symbols). Where is my being bigotted there, Dean? You, however, are being a bigot by pressing for the right of Rose to print his cartoons and for everyone to accept them but you refuse to grant me my right to believe (and enforce a moral law) that muslim girls should not be set apart and displayed as second class citizens in an a public school.

School girls are banned from wearing veils or scarves to cover their heads or faces, etc at school, whether they are Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jewish, Budhists, pagans or what. The French law, uncannily, precisely addressed your question: when does legitimate criticism end and when does racial discrimination begin? You must remember that the law seeks to put the children of various religious, cultural ethnicity and origins on the same LEVEL, on the same footing, as equals before the law which was a provision of this kind was put it.

And if you remember, this same line of thought pretty sums Flemming Rose's line of defence in his justification for the publication of the cartoons: that he released those cartoons for publication because their act was meant to drive the idea of acceptance of muslims into Danish society as Danish equals.

Make them all equal before the law at least in public schools, the French law says! And you say I am a bigot? Hah!

Pingkian said...

Bigotry should be discouraged, but not by banning it or threats of punishment, for what make supposedly democratic nations different from those who can not tolerate other faiths or beliefs is tolerance. Intolerance to bigotry is a mild form of bigotry. Education on the dangers of and tolerance of bigotry (but not to its associated violence) and dialogue are I believe are the best defense against bigotry and the best way to promote harmony between and among peoples.

I feel uneasy to defend the right to disseminate racist and bigoted ideas, but bigots have messages too no matter how skewed they may seem to be. They too a right to be heard. In many cases, as Hillblogger pointed out, bigotry is an act of rebellion -- a rebellion against fear and oppression; it is not primarily meant to spite but an expression of deep seated feeling of insecurity; some indeed intends it to provoke one to violent action and to provoke authorities to arrest them, thus reinforcing the feelings of their sympathizers that they are indeed being oppressed. Bigotry is not act of the confident and neither is banning bigotry an act of a confident nation.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Oooops... APOLOGIES DEAN, I re-read your post - you did say that I was not exactly a bigot which I thought you said I WAS BEING A bigot... heheh so mille excuses!

But just the same: let me point out that the French law does NOT BAN muslim attires. The secular system prohibits the wearing of scarves by a French muslim school girl because it will make her accept her ethnic inferior status to boys (which sharia law dictates).

I believe it's a sign of strength of the French democracy to re-enforce that belief that women of all religions and of all ethnic backgrounds are equal before the law.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Hey Dean,

A personal question: do you think Max Soliven is a bigot?

manuelbuencamino said...

DJB,

you said,
"The Danish cartoons can't possibly be about RACIAL bigotry because there are Muslims of every race,"

So what did those cartoon characters look like to you? Arabs? Danes? Chinese? To me they looked like Arabs.

As to religous bigotry - Here are a few examples and tell me if those cartoons did not further that kind of thinking

Rev. Jerry Falwell, "I think Mohammed was a terrorist. I read enough of the history of his life, written by both Muslims and non-Muslims, that he was a violent man, a man of war,"

and Rev Pat Robertson, "This man (Muhammad) was an absolute wild-eyed fanatic. He was a robber and a brigand... this man [Muhammad] was a killer. And to think that this is a peaceful religion is fraudulent,"

and Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, "The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the Son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it [Islam] is a very evil and wicked religion."

Rev. Jerry Vine who went so far as to call Mohammed "a demon possessed pedophile who had twelve wives."

And Gen. Boykin, "My God is more powerful than their God"

There is a war on terror going on and that war, rightly or not, is associated with Arabs and Muslims.

The truth of the matter is there are a billion Muslims from every race known to man and probably a hundred million Arabs and I seriously doubt if even a sizable minority of them are terrorists or support terrorism. But bigotry, stereotyping and religious/racial profiling creates that impression.

Do you approve of the dissemination of bigotry to fan the flames of misunderstanding and hatred ?

Allow me to repeat. I am not questioning the cartoonist's right to draw bigoted cartoons but I take issue with Jyllands Posten for disseminating his bigotry.

I am not taking away anybody's right to criticize anything nor am I upholding the right to stifle criticism. I am merely pointing out the line where decency ends and bigotry begins.

Edwin Lacierda said...

DJB,

I am going off-tangent here but what say you of your friend, Raul Lambino, being used as a front to amend the Constitution a la Marcos style?

Seems like more and more men of goodwill like your friend and Abueva are being used to extend GMA's hegemony over our wretched land.

Rizalist said...

Gee ED, you make it sound like Chacha is my fault for having such friends. Actually I haven't seen Raul in 7 or 8 years but we've got our hands full with all the lawyers! Your tribe!

MB, at least you admit that it IS a legitimate issue of Press Freedom.

But I think developments will force us to return to this topic.

Unexpected developments sometimes help to clarify issues when people honestly disagree..so we shall see.

bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

Dissemination of Racist and bigoted ideas is a right that even those who do not believe in them defend. How I envy the Danes because in my country legitimate dissent and demonstrations are CPRed and crushed by the police and by the threat of the military under the guise of protecting the state that they consider synonymous with Gloria.

Media is being threatened with arrest and being cowed to submission under the guise of "responsible journalism." We are talking about a cartoon that expresses a newspaper's stand on a controversial religious matter. Some call it racist, and some say it is bigotry. But no one is being threatened with arrest or being CPRed or being shielded by an EO464, or hindered by a 1017. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION and FREEDOM OF RELIGION? Damn! Gloria is the ANTONYM of both.

HILLBLOGGER said...

You are right BFR!

Gloria Macapal-Arroyo is immoral, indecent and a bigot...

She must be brought down before she brings the Republic down with her.

Filipinos must muster their moral and physical courage to bring her and her cabal of cheats, liars and thieves down.