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Of the Things That Make Us Happy and Discontented

February 1, 2008

Over at MLQ3’s blog there is an interesting debate over media rights and responsibilities, right to life and to happiness, the right to liberty and the right to know, and so on and so forth. It’s an offshoot of the Manila Pen incident when Senator Trillanes, General Danny Lim and company holed up in that plush hotel after walking out from a court trial and from there called for the ouster of the incumbent President. The events come all blurry now but for the sight of journalists shoved into buses hands tied in some plastic devices. I guess I was on my way home cooped up on a bus when the herding of media people occurred. Hours before that I was predicting Trillanes and Lim would be bombed to kingdom come by the government and die heroes. They did not: they surrendered along with the rest so quickly, which made everything look comical–and tragic.

Now the debate is: did the members of the media acted as they should or did they cross the boundaries? Depends on where your sentiments lie, really, I pointed out to MLQ3 in the comment box. You like the status quo— media inappropriately crossed the boundaries. Your sentiments align with the reasons inspiring the rebels’ rebelliousness— media only acted as it should. They could debate about principles of this and that to death; in the end it would boil down to where one’s sentiments find peace, and for that matter, to other motivations that make one happy. Reason why I regard the debate quite superfluous. In the world of reality, most of the time I think we first define where our hearts and minds sympathize, or perhaps where we see our interests align, and thereupon we search for principles to explain ourselves— not the other way around. You think this government is illegitimate, all arguments about its right to protect itself is rendered nonsense, so-called duly constituted authorities by necessity not duly constituted but instruments of an illegitimate authority, hence, fair game for hide and seek, for hit and run, for all acts of defiance and mocking. You think this government is legit, or your interest is favored by accepting this government is legit, exact opposite plays out, plain and simple. When DJB argues that the right to life is higher than the freedom of the press, he is arguing from the perspective that this government is legit and therefore has the right to defend itself. All challenges must respect that legitimacy and the rules that preserve the order of things recognizing that legitimacy. In that sense, Trillanes and Lim are nobody but ordinary destabilizers no different from criminal elements like the Abu Sayyafs or Al Qaeda rogues. You do them favor by whatever means and imputation, you are part of the crime, the line you draw between the law-abiders and enemies of the state is crossed.

My fascination with debates is the same fascination I have for lawyers. Which comes first in the order of priorities, for a lawyer at least: the principles arrayed in the client’s favor— or the fee? If I pay you enough to make you wealthy and the effort so worthwhile would you supply a good argument for myself, even as it would run counter to your very own convictions?

In the end, I think it’s all about the things that make us happy and make us mad or sad. Are you offended by lying? If in cheating you lose your soul but gain the power to shape the course of things and set things aright, would that be alright? How much would you exchange for your dignity and honor? Ten thousand pesos? One hundred million pesos plus house and lot and a retirement in luxury? Or do we wish our values on others only out of want for company for the misery that came with this thing called dignity if only because we do not have access to that which made them corrupt and abominable, but nonetheless wealthy beyond reasonable imagination? Or are you one of the very very rare who find happiness and bliss in being upright despite penury? in being virtuous despite the mocking? in being righteous at all cost?

But then, come to think of this, as a friend once posed in one rowdy philosophical discourse provoked by loads of alcohol– is it not being selfish to stay immaculate and tidy if in being so you must go in isolation, like: here is our house, dirty and dusty, filthy and messy, in dangerous state of decay– how the hell do you suppose you could help clean up and put that house of ours in order while keeping yourself impeccably groomed, your shirt still immaculately white after the chore? Hmmm…

I should stop here before I begin quarreling with myself…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2008 9:41 am

    the priority of the right to life over freedom of the press, and of the priority of liberties in general, has nothing to do with the “legitimacy” of any given government or administration. The right to life belongs to every individual citizen, whether or not the current administration got in there by cheating or not. The duty to defend the right to life of every persons belongs primarily to the police in a case like the manila pen. The duty to gather the news to serve the right to know belongs to the journalist. But the duty of the cops has priority over the duty of the journalists because the right to life has higher intrinsic priority than the right to know of the public.

    Garci has nothing to do with our self-evident, God-given rights.

  2. ricelander permalink*
    February 1, 2008 1:33 pm

    Back at MLQ3s I asked rhetorically: “If the occupants of Manila Pen were Abu Sayyafs, would you be as stubborn and unheeding? Don’t think so.”

    See? I know what you’re getting on. They could be terrorists, murderers,… in which case would they honestly argue for the freedom of the press or the freedom of the people to know, for being five meters away from the scene of the crime? You have an incident like that with real terrorists, they’d be hiding behind the police lines, begging their editors for relief! But the “fearless” members of the media were there “protecting” the “bastards” haha! Now, need we tell you why?

    If you look at the event as an isolated anomaly, without cause but for some unsatisfied ego and pointless reason and messianic complex, you are right. Then perhaps we should blame the PMA and Lim’s and Trillanes’ parents for their wrong upbringing and education.

  3. February 4, 2008 4:35 am

    Hah! That learned him! (referring to DJB with your rhetorical question…)

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