Skip to main content

Some thoughts on offensive art.

Former UP Law dean Raul Pangalangan wrote probably the most sane comment on the "Poleteismo" brouhaha at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).  He exposes Philippine society's "grave misconceptions on why we offer communal protection for expressive freedoms".  The law dean notes the hate mail and messages sent the CCP which threatened the safety of CCP employees and so the center shut down the exhibit.

For starters following Thomas Jefferson, I swear to be"in eternal enmity over any tyranny over the mind of man". I am against any entity that censors and/or vandalizes art. Rightly so because the Nazi Holocaust started by vandalizing "degenerate art", then burning books which then led to burning people!

However not all art is uplifting, some are offensive. For me the only way to deal with offensive art is not to look at them. Another example: offensive literature cannot be banned without shooting liberty and democracy in the foot. In Germany where the de-Nazification laws are still in the books, Hitler's offensive "Mein Kampf" (which is no work of art!) cannot be be banned by German authorities but they can restrict access to it to researchers and scholars after signing an affidavit. The Germans have learned the lesson that censorship always comes before a monstrous tyranny that even Hitler's ideas have to be protected IN ORDER TO GUARANTEE THE DEMOCRATIC ORDER. But the Germans are sane enough to learn the lessons of the Thousand Year Reich and so Hitler's ideas are marginalized in democratic Germany.

Readers should not take this to mean that I like Mideo Cruz's work. I don't and I find it unappealing since I can't get what it means. I have seen it and I don't want to see it again. I have an example of a work of art I find particularly offensive which I don't want to see ever again!

It is offensive to me because it goes contrary to everything what the Catholic faith teaches about the nature of Jesus Christ which the work of art purports to represent. However unlike "Politeismo" this one hangs not in an art gallery (where one can choose not to see it) but in a post-modern Roman Catholic chapel and over the altar where those attending Mass can't avoid not seeing it!

However, I won't write the Archbishop of Manila to shut down the Roman Catholic place of worship just because there is an offensive crucifix there.

Why because as we have learned in Hitler's Germany. Offensive art cannot kill. But offended people do. So I do not agree to the CCP closing its exhibit or the closure of that "heretical" Roman Catholic place of worship.

I worry that the recent controversy has set the Philippines on a path that eventually constrains the freedom of worship (especially for religious minorities)


Popular posts from this blog

Kartilla of the Katipunan

In celebration of Andres Bonifacio Day on Nov 30, I am blogging my English translation of the Katipunan's Code of Ethics or Kartilla (Kartilya). Recruits to the revolutionary association had to learn these by heart. The code was first written by Emilio Jacinto. The Kartilya remains as relevant today as in 1896 .

My apologies for errors in translation. I know there are better translations than this one.

1) A life not spent for a holy and noble cause is like a tree without shade or a noxious weed.

2) Acts that stem from pride and selfishness do not come from a desire to help others..

3) True holiness comes from helping others, charity towards others and the measure of such is in each reasonable act or word.

4) Dark or white your skin may be, all men are equal though one may be greater in knowledge, material wealth, beauty these do not add to one’s humanity.

5) Those who are men of goodwill put honour before concern for self and those who do no good puts the self before honour.

6) For an ho…

President Manuel Luis Quezon's Code of Ethics

Being a denizen of Kyusi, in honour of the man who gave my city its name and for being the most colourful prez the Philippines ever had, I have the pleasure to post Manuel L Quezon's Code of Ethics on his birthday. Let us profit from the wisdom of the Kastila.

1. Have Faith in the Divine Providence that guides the destinies of men and nations.

2. Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affection and the source of your happiness and well-being. It's defense is your primary duty. Be ready to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.

3. Respect the Constitution which is the expression of your sovereign will. The government is your government. It has been established for your safety and welfare. Obey the laws and see that they are observed by all and that public officials comply with their duties.

4. Pay your taxes willingly and promptly. Citizenship implies not only rights but obligations.

5. Safeguard the purity of suffrage and abide by the decisions of the…

Simoun's lamp has been lit, finally.. not by one but by the many!

"So often have we been haunted by the spectre of subversion which, with some fostering, has come to be a positive and real being, whose very name steals our serenity and makes us commit the greatest blunders... If before the reality, instead of changing the fear of one is increased, and the confusion of the other is exacerbated, then they must be left in the hands of time..."
Dr Jose Rizal "To the Filipino People and their Government"
Jose Rizal dominates the Luneta, which is sacred to the Philippine nation as a place of martyrdom. And many perhaps all of those executed in the Luneta, with the exception of the three Filipino secular priests martyred in 1872, have read Rizal's El Filibusterismo. Dr Rizal's second novel is a darker and more sinister one that its prequel but has much significance across the century and more after it was published for it preaches the need for revolution with caveats,  which are when the time is right and who will instigate it.