No, freedom of speech is NOT under threat…

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Whiny, emo, pa-victim “activism” is.

This realization has failed to sink in, so far, among the chattering classes currently up in arms just because Carlos Celdran was jailed for his Damaso stunt.

The simple inescapable fact emerging from all this is that he violated a law. Regardless of whether he and these “activists” knew that such a law existed, he still did. Common sense dictates that barging into a church with a “Damaso” placard is simply wrong.

Ignorance of the law excuses no one; neither does lack of common sense.

carlos_celdranFreedom of speech is forum-dependent, and he went into a religious institution, which is not a public place by the way, and disturbed whatever rituals were going on that time in a premeditated manner.

The subset of commentators I’ve come across claim that Carlos Celdran’s arrest and subsequent conviction have set a dangerous precedent for the Church to persecute all criticism directed at it.

Excuse me, people have been able to criticize the Church before and after Celdran did his publicity stunt. The only difference is that he overstepped the bounds on what the law allows.

The only “dangerous precedent” that Carlos Celdran’s arrest and conviction have set is that Filipinos now have to think properly about their “activism” and their “advocacies”. It’s “dangerous” for a society with a reputation for being intellectually bankrupt, overly emotional, predictably gullible, and willfully dismissive of the law.

Running amok on social media and on the streets like headless chickens is simply not a cool thing anymore.

When Celdran went to jail, these “activists” cried suppression of freedom of expression; if he goes free, the culture of impunity goes on. Any decent society claiming to be civilized would uphold the law.

Currently, what would Filipinos gravitate towards? No-brainer; since when did ever Filipinos make a conscious effort to follow the law anyway?

Only when it’s convenient, or only when in foreign countries.

If these “activists” think that the laws are either too severe or too lenient, then they should follow the proper process to get these laws amended. Take it up with their representative, which by the way the people themselves voted in. Do you worship them as if they’re infallible? Excuse me, they’re there to work for you, not to work you over. That is why they’re called public servants.

Oh yes, these “activists” do need to make sure they make a compelling, logical case as to why the law needs to be changed. No appeals to pity, emotion, or populism, please.

Whew, I bet Filipinos never imagined being a democracy entailed so much actual hard work.

***

Now, there’s a petition for BS Aquino to grant executive clemency to Carlos Celdran. Am I missing something here?

Where were these “activists” when Former Chief Justice Corona’s constitutional rights were being trampled on? Where were these “activists” when Gloria Arroyo’s right to travel was being hindered? Where were these “activists” when falsified evidence and weak cases were being thrown left and right against them?

Oh, I get it.

“Activism” in the Philippines suffers from the same narrow-minded thinking that Filipinos generally do. It focuses on people and events instead of ideas.

When the person is not popular, or vilified, no thanks to the biased media we have here, the people are easily riled up in anger and regard them as “have to go” or “resign”. True to the Filipinos’ penchant for telenovelas, there is always a villain who “oppresses” the people, and a hero who will supposedly save the “oppressed”.

Screw the rule of law, screw due process. If the mob hates him/her, crucify! If the mob likes that person, save him/her!

Mediocre minds, indeed.

I think it’s high time that these “activists” realize that being a real activist means more than just making noise.

[Photo courtesy Yahoo! News.]
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About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

38 Comments on “No, freedom of speech is NOT under threat…”

  1. Holy Week will be upon as eventually now that we are into the second month of the year. Go watch Jesus of Nazareth. Even the GRP atheists. Anyone semi familar with the cruxification of Christ will know the crowd chanted during the trial CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!! What’s interesting to note in the Robert Powell/ James Farentino / Stacy Keach/ Rod Steiger version of Jesus of Nazareth was their version of how that crowd was incited to that particular state. Not unlike what my friend FallenAngel suggests the media did to the Chief Justice a year ago. In the Philippines, without mob mentality there really is not much left mentality of any worth to go around.

    1. @pablo

      Infallible church and infallibility of the Church are two different things. But then, granting that they’re the same, then we go to the meaning of the infallible as used in Catholic religion –

      “in·fal·li·ble – incapable of error in expounding doctrine on faith or morals.

      Just for us to be in the same calibration.

  2. The law was designed to eliminate biases. If someone commits a crime, the penalty should be the same whether we like the person or not. Secular laws do not excuse the ignorant. By virtue of the Revised Penal Code, what Carlos Celdran did was a state crime with a defined set of penalties. In the Church, meanwhile, you are not considered at fault if what you did was born out of ignorance and you had no means to know that what you did was wrong. In Noli Me Tangere, it was said that it was better to be a heretic than a subversive. The worst that could happen to a heretic was excommunication, which carried no criminal penalties. Subversives, meanwhile, were jailed and possibly executed. Jesus was executed for crimes against Rome because the Jewish religious leaders had no power to execute anybody at that time. They had to make it appear that his words and actions were defying Rome. Ibarra did not go to jail for shoving P. Salvi and pointing a knife at P. Damaso. P. Salvi, therefore, engineered a frame-up to get rid of Ibarra.

  3. I realized “activism” lost its credibility a long time ago, when many activists began to embrace the popular views. And they thought they were still activists, even if what they were promoting was being sponsored by the government or a company. Or some silly personal agenda.

    1. Noooooooope! 😀

      Not to carry my own chair, but I participated in one of the rallies against the Anti-Cybercrime Law (Mr. Celdran was there, by the way; nice and witty guy, for sure, and shares my disdain for Marlene Aguilar, too) and did some information dissemination amongst my peers as to the danger presented by certain provisions in said law.

      Oh, and that one rally I attended (and, by extension, all the other Anti-Cybercrime Law rallies) are lawful — having been done within the purview of the Bill of Rights provision on peacably assembling and petitioning the government for redress of grievances, and having violated no laws in the process. 😀

      Jake, before you conclude that the “fat asses on this site” are doing nothing as compared to Mr. Celdran, please think things over. Hasty generalization is a fallacy, man… tsk, tsk, tsk. 😀

    2. Jake,

      You’re such a perfect example of the whiny, emo, pa-victim “activist” I’ve been describing here. Thank you!

      I pity the people who think going out in the streets and stomping indignantly like whiny spoiled brats is the only noble cause worth aspiring to.

      By the way, our audience comes to us. Whiny “activists” of the likes of Celdran kick down doors, illegally, as it stands.

    3. Did jake just use the “at least” clause? Typical: the propensity of Pinoys to use the “at least” clause to justify an act.

  4. So this Jake says we should praise Celdran for “doing something in the real world” even as he makes an ass of himself.What real world are you yapping about? The commenters in this GRP site which you say fat asses make more difference in this world when they point out the wrongs in society.

  5. celdran upsets the sensitivities of catholic priests!!!

    removing the suv from the garage would upset them, and barring the altar boy from their bedroom would really p!ss them off.

      1. Silence?
        No. Of course, not.

        On SUVs:
        When I was invited to give a talk in a remote municipality in Mindanao, I was privileged to take a ride in one of these controversial SUVs. There were neither bishops nor priests on the vehicles but community lay workers (Basic Ecclesial Communities) who traveled more than three hours of rough and muddy roads from the diocesan church which is near the resident of the bishop. It was a gathering of BEC members as part of their continuing education and livelihood programs.

        SUVs in this area are common sights where industrial companies are competing in hauling the golden red (yellowish red)soil for export. It’s not luxury to own an SUV here but a practical option to ensure that you arrive at your destination on time and safely.

        When the bishops returned the said SUVs, they easily did so because they were not inordinately attached to it. If there’s regret on their part, it is how the media and the Aquino administration used the issue to malign further the integrity of the former President Gloria Arroyo and the antichurch and antireligion atheists launched their no holds barred ridicule of the bishops. They also regret that the useful vehicles for their pastoral work became tools for bad partisan political propaganda.

        On sexual abuses:
        Let me outline my thoughts on this issue. Sexual abuse in the Church is basically an abuse of power. This is aggravated by two structures in the Church: (1) the hierarchical nature of the Church where power is concentrated in the hands of the ordained ministers, the bishops and the priests; and (2) the unhealthy culture of clericalism.

        You see, the power differential between the culprit and the victim is given in the hierarchical structure of the church: one holds more power over the other. Our Filipino culture of submission to authority further aggravate this power differential. The power of the priest (the capacity to influence others) is further institutionalized as an authority figure in the hierarchical Church.

        The silence that you referred to is the institutional concealment of these abuses principally due to false sense of security, that is, safeguarding the institutional purity of its teaching and practice by protecting the clerical status of priesthood. The bishops would rather protect the Church as an institution rather than the victims of sexual abuse.

        However, such silence is now slowly articulated. The Vatican itself issued the Circular Letter in 2011, and the CBCP has issued Protocol in handling cases of sexual abuse and misconduct by its clergy.
        There are concrete steps taken by the Church to address the issue. Silence? Not at all.

        1. “studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops found more than 4,000
          U.S. priests have faced sexual abuse allegations since the early
          1950s, in cases involving more than 10,000 children, most of them
          boys. and hardly any resulting in criminal cases” reported today via interaksyon

          the vatican creates paper smokescreens/ reviews/ inquiries etc but the abuse continues. shut down the churches would be a more practical step.

          and the situation is even worse in the philippines.

          theives and child abusers in politucs and the church

        2. @libertas

          Are you just taking potshots on Catholic priests?

          It seems to me that you’re basing your 4,000 number from wiki.

          If that is the case, can’t you not tell the readers the percentage of those errant priests to those who are true priests. ( Take note that we don’t have the information if those errants are hard core queers before they take their priesthoodness. We also don’t have the information that they become queer during their priesthood.)

          “…and hardly any resulting in criminal cases” reported today via interaksyon”

          And who would file the criminal cases?

          “the vatican creates paper smokescreens/ reviews/ inquiries etc but the abuse continues.”

          Care to show us a verifiable examples?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

    1. “celdran upsets the sensitivities of catholic priests… removing the suv from their garage.”

      your logical mind is truly amazing… it is fall short of being liberating, libertas.

  6. perhaps, this is the problem when one has too much freedom….to the point that he kicks down doors when he himself is unwanted….he should be imprisoned, learn how it’s like to mess with the law…

        1. A lot of Filipinos like to get away with what they do. Like steal from someone without giving back, or hurt someone without responsibility for it. Impunity. And it’s because Filipinos tend to desire the wrong things.

  7. FallenAngel

    “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.” — Art. III, Sec. 4

    Take note that this provision was copied almost word for word from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Take note too that the series of phrases in this provision are joined together by commas inserted before the coordinating conjunction “or.”

    To my mind, this would grammatically indicate that the command – “No law” – was intended to immunize from sanctions the exercise by the people (in their capacity as sovereign) of any of the cluster of freedoms of speech, expression, the press, assembly and petition “for redress of grievances” against “the government” they themselves established under a Constitution they ordained.

    And this would include the unrestricted airing (speaking, writing, publishing, assembling and petitioning) of whatever “grievances,” criticisms, protests and complaints, even outrage, the people may harbor now and then against government, its policies and its officials.

    In short, quoting Meiklejohn, the provision was intended to guarantee the unhindered “public discussion of public issues.”

    And this is clearly shown in the original “version of the speech and press clause” James Madison introduced in 1789, which provided:

    “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”

    The Senate Special Committee moved to clarify the intent of the particular word “sentiments” Madison employed by changing the term to “grievances” and adding words “the Government” as the object of such grievances, to read:

    “The freedom of speech and of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble and consult for their common good, and to apply to the Government for redress of grievances, shall not be infringed.”

    The Senate later rewrote this revision to finally read:

    “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Hence, the revered phrase, “freedom of speech,” as employed in Article III, Section 4, has nothing to do with Celdran’s “grievances” against the Church, for Roman Catholic Bishops are not “government” officers; rather, they are officials who belong to an altogether different and separate entity — the Church.

      1. Trosp

        Madison initially used the verbs “deprived or abridged,” but I have not read or come across an article or discussion on why the framers of the amendment decided to use “abridging” in the final draft.

    1. Domingo, I believe you are mis-interpreting the First Amendment. The semi-colon in this context is being used to separate items of a list. So, the last part – “or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” – is just one of the three main issues that the amendment deals with. It does not mean that the whole amendment only applies to grievances with the Government.

      1. Jason

        Thank you for affording me the opportunity to elaborate on my view concerning “the central meaning of the First Amendment.” So, please bear with me, this is a rather long explanation.

        The commas I was referring are those inserted in the free speech clause in OUR Constitution, and not those in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

        As you perhaps are well aware of, the same punctuation marks — commas and semi-colons — are the same marks that now similarly confront legal scholars concerning their employment in the Second Amendment. This is the amendment regarding their right to bear arms, now the focus of newscasts following the recent mass killings in the U.S.

        In fact, the pair of commas enclosing the phrase, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” in the Citizenship Clause in Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment is also the subject of so much controversy in the U.S.

        But take note that the First Amendment actually consists of two parts: (1) the freedom of religion and (2) the Freedom of speech, press, assembly and petition while our 1987 Constitution provides for two separate provisions on religion and on speech.

        In any case, allow me to point out at this juncture that my view on the speech and press clause is not mine at all. I am merely repeating the view advocated by the writings of Dr. Alexander Meiklejohn — the U.S. Medal of Freedom Awardee, “the nation’s highest honor,” in 1963.

        One of his books, “Free speech and its relation to self-government,” is now available at:
        http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/UW/UW-idx?type=header&id=UW.MeikFreeSp.

        There is also the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute at U.C. Berkeley, California named after him for his free speech advocacy. http://mcli.org/about/history/alexander-meiklejohns-creed/

        And it is in this regard that I refer you to the speech Justice Brennan delivered in 1965 at Brown University as the Alexander Meiklejohn Lectures published in 79 Harv. L. Rev. 1 (1965). This annual Meiklejohn lecture continues to this day and was last held March 2012:
        http://www.brown.edu/academics/taubman-center/events/alexander-meiklejohn-lecture-civil-rights-and-education-obama-age

        Justice Brennan’s address was aptly titled: THE SUPREME COURT AND THE MEIKLEJOHN INTERPRETATION OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT. Along with Meikeljohn’s books, I was also able to secure while in the U.S. a hard copy of this speech sometime in the 1970s, but (thanks to the internet) you can now read relevant parts of his speech (though condensed) in the url that follows, specifically at pages 785-788. http://www.blasi-first-amendment.com/forms/chapter8.pdf

        (NOTE: Justice Brennan penned the now-“landmark” free-speech case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964). http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0376_0254_ZO.html

        (NOTE: Justice Black’s concurrence of the Sullivan case cites Meiklejohn at footnote 6.) http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0376_0254_ZC.html

        Justice Brennan’s speech at Brown was a discussion that revolved around “the central meaning of the First Amendment” – quoting the very words the late Prof. Harry Kalven (of the Univ. of Chicago Law School, a leading First Amendment scholar) employed in referring to the New York Times Co. v Sullivan case, to wit:

        “Professor Harry Kalven suggests that the result might have been based on the ‘clear and present danger,’ ‘redeeming social value,’ or ‘balancing’ tests; however, he correctly points out that the opinion relied on none of these tests. Instead, the Court examined history to discern the central meaning of the first amendment, and concluded that that meaning was revealed in Madison’s statement ‘that the censorial power is in the people over the Government, and not in the Government over the people.
        x x x
        “More important, it found in the controversy over seditious libel the clue to ‘the central meaning of the First Amendment.’ The choice of language was unusually apt. The Amendment has a ‘central meaning’’—a core of protection of speech without which democracy cannot function, without which, in Madison’s phrase, ‘the censorial power’ would be in the Government over the people and not ‘‘in the people over the Government.’ This is not the whole meaning of the Amendment. There are other freedoms protected by it. But at the center there is no doubt what speech is being protected and no doubt why it is being protected. The theory of the freedom of speech clause was put right side up for the first time.
        x x x
        ‘‘’Analogous considerations support the privilege for the citizen-critic of government. It is as much his duty to criticize as it is the official’s duty to administer.’ It is now not only the citizen’s privilege to criticize his government, it is his duty. At this point in its rhetoric and sweep, the opinion almost literally incorporated Alexander Meiklejohn’s thesis that in a democracy the citizen as ruler is our most important public official.”

        So, to repeat: “It is now not only the citizen’s privilege to criticize his government, it is his duty … This is not the whole meaning of the [First] Amendment. There are other freedoms protected by it. But at the center there is no doubt what speech is being protected and no doubt why it is being protected.”

        In this speech (and in his writings, as well), Meiklejohn often lumps together “speech and writing and assembly” which forms, in his view, the freedoms the First Amendment guarantees so as to uphold “the governing power of the people” or simply, “self-government.”

        And one such instance is Meiklejohn’s testimony on the Meaning of the First Amendment he personally presented November 14, 1955 to the Hennings Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, authorized by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary during the first session of the 84th Congress: http://rci.rutgers.edu/~tripmcc/phil/meiklejohn-testimony.pdf

        “Third, and finally, if we say, as this paper has urged, that in many situations, speech and writing and assembly may be controlled by legislative action, we must also say that such control may never be based on the ground of disagreement with opinions held or expressed. No belief or advocacy may be denied freedom if, in the same situation, opposing beliefs or advocacies are granted that freedom.”

        In short, “at the center,” or “the central meaning of the First Amendment,” is the absolute immunity and protection (“no law”) extended to the citizen-critic of government, its policies and its officials, by way of “speech and writing and assembly” — often lumped together in Meikeljohn’s view as one.

        Hope you will find the time to dissect fully Alexander Meiklejohn’s writings on the First Amendment.

        1. Domingo,

          That’s a lot of material you’ve referenced, and I haven’t gone through it, yet. However, based on your summary, I don’t see anything that changes my mind about what I’ve said. Some quotes from your reply:

          “Instead, the Court examined history to discern the central meaning of the first amendment, and concluded that that meaning was revealed in Madison’s statement ‘that the censorial power is in the people over the Government, and not in the Government over the people.”

          “The Amendment has a ‘central meaning’’—a core of protection of speech without which democracy cannot function, without which, in Madison’s phrase, ‘the censorial power’ would be in the Government over the people and not ‘‘in the people over the Government.’”

          “It is now not only the citizen’s privilege to criticize his government, it is his duty.”

          “In short, “at the center,” or “the central meaning of the First Amendment,” is the absolute immunity and protection (“no law”) extended to the citizen-critic of government, its policies and its officials, by way of “speech and writing and assembly” — often lumped together in Meikeljohn’s view as one.”

          All of these clearly show that the core objective of the amendment was to make sure that the government could not pass laws that would censor the citizens, or inhibit free speech (without which democracy cannot function). Of course, one end result (perhaps the main goal, as per Meiklejohn) is it ensures that the citizens can speak freely about their government, without being censored.

          However, I don’t see anything there that implies that this is the ONLY form of free speech that is protected. To me, it clearly implies that ALL free speech is protected (not counting the exceptions, eg. inciting violence, etc).

          If you know of any wording that implies that the amendment applies exclusively to speech against government, could you point me to roughly what part of the texts I should look?

        2. JASON

          I never said that criticism of, or “grievances” against, government is, and to quote, “the ONLY form of free speech that is protected.”

          Why would I venture to say that?

          In fact, the first two lines in the SECOND paragraph of Justice Brennan’s speech at Brown I quoted is the reply to your question:

          “This is not the whole meaning of the Amendment. There are other freedoms protected by it. But at the center there is no doubt what speech is being protected and no doubt why it is being protected. The theory of the freedom of speech clause was put right side up for the first time.”

          And to repeat for emphasis these two lines:

          “This is not the whole meaning of the Amendment. There are other freedoms protected by it.”

        3. Domingo, in the conclusion of your post you wrote “Hence, the revered phrase, “freedom of speech,” as employed in Article III, Section 4, has nothing to do with Celdran’s “grievances” against the Church, for Roman Catholic Bishops are not “government” officers; rather, they are officials who belong to an altogether different and separate entity — the Church.”

          I took this to mean that you don’t believe freedom of speech applies here, because he was not speaking against the government. If that wasn’t your meaning, I apologize for misunderstanding. What, then, was your point here?

        4. Jason

          What I meant was that Celdran cannot invoke the shield of immunity and protection the “freedom of speech” clause guarantees, since the object of his “grievances” – the Roman Catholic Bishops — are not officials of government.

          Allow me to refer you to, once again, Alexander Meiklejohn in his article, The First Amendment Is an Absolute. This article appeared in The Supreme Court Review, Vol. 1961, pp. 245-266.

          The following excerpt of Meikeljohn’s article may provide the reply to your query:

          “The principle here at stake can be seen in our libel laws. In cases of private defamation, one individual does damage to another by tongue or pen; the person so injured in reputation or property may sue for damages. But, in that case, the First Amendment gives no protection to the person sued. His verbal attack has no relation to the business of governing. If, however, that same verbal attack is made in order to show unfitness of a candidate for governmental office, the act is properly regarded as a citizen’s participation in government. It is, therefore, protected by the First Amendment. And the same principle holds good if a citizen attacks, by words of disapproval and condemnation, the policies of government, or even the structure of the Constitution. These are ‘public’ issues concerning which, under our form of government, he has authority, and is assumed to have competence, to judge. Though private libel is subject to legislative control, political or seditious libel is not.”

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