Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Prejudice and the Pursuit of Happiness

Columnist and former Supreme Court Justice ISAGANI CRUZ writing in Philippine Daily Inquirer last Saturday ("Don We Now Our Gay Apparel") -- produces a snarling, angry hissy-fit "against homosexuals in general." He does exclude some "decorous, discreet, reserved" gay persons -- to whom he abjectly apologizes just before he pees in their soup, hypocritically sighing, "They have my admiration and respect!" Whereupon he heaps openly prejudiced vituperation on the flamboyant tribe of "gays, lesbians and transgender persons."

But if you were to substitute "NIGGER" wherever Isagani Cruz uses "HOMO" or "QUEER" you would get an embarrassingly racist screed worthy of the antebellum Old South in slave-era America, where quiet, submissive niggers were praised for knowing their place and abolitionists were niggah-lovahs. Instead of the purity of the races as racists then decried, Isagani Cruz worries over the loss of gender purity, or at least, the acceptable, social concept of it in his own formative years.
Is our population getting to be predominantly pansy? Must we allow homosexuality to march unobstructed until we are converted into a nation of sexless persons without the virility of males and the grace of females but only an insipid mix of these diluted virtues? Let us be warned against the gay population, which is per se a compromise between the strong and the weak and therefore only somewhat and not the absolute of either of the two qualities. Be alert lest the Philippine flag be made of delicate lace and adorned with embroidered frills.
(Seems to me that the fanciest Philippine Flags I've seen do have beautifully embroidered frills and tassels along their borders. Hmm...) But the same statements could have been made about Negroes in the era of American slavery, or during the period of anti miscegination laws before World War II, when Filipinos were prohibited by law from marrying whites in California, (thus starting the first mad rush to Reno and Las Vegas in Nevada). A direct translation from skinheads might sound curiously similar to the above:
Is our population getting to be an abominable mixture of incompatible races? Must we allow racial integration to march unobstructed until we are converted into a nation of raceless mulattoes without the purity of the white race and the brute strength of the Negroes, but only an insipid mix of these diluted virtues.? Let us be warned against an impure population with inter-racial marriages compromising the strength of one with the weaknesses of the other. Be alert lest the emancipated Negroes demand to put the dirty color BLACK in Old Glory?
Of course in one sense, Isagani Cruz is just being a silly old fuddy-duddy. But in the process he does touch upon a number of substantive issues that deserve commentary.

Is Acceptance of Gay Culture a Sign of Social or Moral Decay? Isagani Cruz thinks so and writes:
It seems that the present society has developed a new sense of values that have rejected our religious people’s traditional ideas of propriety and morality on the pretext of being “modern” and “broad-minded.
You bet Isagani Cruz! And not only that, modern, broad-minded people also respect the rights of the differently abled, the racial, ethnic and religious minorities as well. I think it is based on stuff to be found in the American Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Vast changes in nations and societies have accompanied the history of man since those words were written in 1776. But the concept of unalienable human rights to Life, Liberty and Pursuit to Happiness has inspired revolutions throughout the world to overthrow imperialism and colonialism and to establish democracies where before were nothing but murderous autocracies, monarchies, theocracies, empires or wastelands of Ozymandian pride. By the late 20th century, the democratic revolution had so successfully advanced globally that a majority of nations are now counted as at least being democratic systems, or pledging to be. In my opinion, the way we judge whether a society is a viable democracy is on the quality of the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness" available to its citizens. That is, whether the scope of personal freedoms and liberties becomes larger and expands along with the prosperity and complexity of the society as a whole. When we look at the past in successful democracies, we indeed see a clear trend towards greater liberty for ever more of its citizens. Once, the blacks were slaves in America. No more. Once women could not vote despite the literal words and meaning of the Declaration of Independence. The suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries changed all that. Likewise for all sorts of minorities, including the smallest one: the individual citizens.

How About Same Sex Marriage? I'll be the first to admit I've not actually formed a hard and fast opinion about this complicated and novel issue. Isagani Cruz writes:
Gay marriages have been legally recognized in a number of European countries and in some parts of the United States. Queer people -- that’s the sarcastic term for them -- have come out of the closet where before they carefully concealed their condition. The permissive belief now is that homosexuals belong to a separate third sex with equal rights as male and female persons instead of just an illicit in-between gender that is neither here nor there.”
Clearly Isagani Cruz wants homosexuals to stay in the closet and conceal "their condition." Yet, every quirk one might care to notice about SOME queers, can certainly be observed as well in SOME straights, with as much depravity or virtue in the behavior. But I doubt very much that the global acceptance of gays as people in their own right is any sign of moral or social decay. Persons derive their equality of rights and duties before the Law for being members of the species Homo sapiens. Every word or deed by individual human beings ought to be judged on its own merits, not solely on the sexual preferences of the person. In fact here it is from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (International Convention on Civil and Political Rights:
ARTICLE 26: All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Now I would be curious to know from the good Isagani Cruz, precisely what Constitutional or human rights are granted to persons based on whether they are male or female? Is democracy not gender blind as far as civil and political rights are concerned? Can someone give an example of a female human right? How about a male human right?

Nowadays it is easy to ignore the simple fact that black people do marry white people and have done so since the Civil War and Abe Lincoln. But before that seminal event and person, the thought of a black man marrying and having sex with a white woman was not socially acceptable on either side of the racial divide. Even though it happened all the time as proved by virile white males like Tom Jefferson and George Washington.

As much as human beings of all races have fallen in love with and had sex with each other since time immemorial, it is probably a fairly old "tradition" also that men have fallen in love with men and women have fallen in love with women. And yeah, --gasp!-- they've made love to each other too. Now they even want to marry.

Here is a relevant provision again from the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights:

1. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

2. The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized.

3. No marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

4. States Parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children.

On the issue of gay marriage, it does seem strange for Isagani Cruz to proclaim a defense of conservatism while he opposes giving gay couples the right to pledge lifetime monogamy and devotion to one another.

Indeed, in a world gone mad with war and blood lust, there is nothing more basic I can think of for humanity to return to but the right to love and cherish one another, the right to defend the homelands of the heart!


AmericanPainter said...

Like you, I have formed no hard and fast opinion about gay marriage but I see no reason to oppose it. I find that a loving relationship should be honored by all.

I also agree that everyone regardless of sex, race and gender should be equal under the law which brings me to your question: Can someone give an example of a female human right?

Yes, I can, in America women receive special treatment under the law as a specified minority group, just as do Blacks, Latin Americans and Pacific-Asian-Islanders. If two people apply for the same job with equal qualification. One being one of the aforementioned minority groups and one being a Caucasian male. The minority person receives preference and automatically gets the job. Homosexuals in America are applying political pressure for this same minority classification.

The entire concept of the law is unfair and I deem unconstitutional. This creates unequal treatment under the law and reverse discrimination. I was a victim to this on three separate occasions. It now seems that the only true minority in America is a Caucasian male. It is claimed to be necessary because of “past wrongs” Since when did two wrongs ever make a right? And why should Homosexuals be granted special preference? Equal protection? YES! Special preference? NO!

Amadeo said...

At first blush, affirmative action as practiced in the US does ironically appear discriminatory though it is done to “compensate for discriminatory practices that have in the past denied fair consideration to members of minority groups”, including women. And that is why in the present context, the practice has become very controversial.

The present demands of the gay community are precisely just for “equal rights”, rather than special privileges, though in my personal opinion, they go a bit too far when they insist that their union be also called marriage, which traditionally has been between man and woman. Because there is the matter of “civil unions” which first, no politician or sector of society worth its salt opposes, and secondly, which union, for all intents and purposes, invest the couple with the same legal rights and obligations as marriage.

Unfortunately, in matters like this social acceptance cannot be legislated.