Op-Ed

Terrible excuses for Pacquiao’s common sense

Peter Jones Dela Cruz: “I’ve had my share of slurs sent in my direction as I tried to criticize Manny Pacquiao’s views. But I didn’t complain. You know why? I’m used to these abusive tactics. They bother me, but they don’t hurt me anymore. But it’s funny when you cry foul when you get a dose of your own medicine.”

You may think you can excuse the boxing champ for his remarks about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Let me tell you why I think you should reevaluate your excuses.

He was just stating his opinion.

Of course. But what if I told you you’re a disgusting critter, and then I said it was just an opinion? Does the excuse cut it? What if I told you you shouldn’t eat shrimp because I was allergic to it? Does saying it’s just my opinion excuse me from being a meddlesome despot?

People use this notorious excuse to block criticism. It’s not a good excuse. Put opinion out there, and it’s free for public consumption and criticism.

Everyone can make an opinion. But the question is, whose opinion makes sense? We can’t just sit down and accept any opinion thrown at us. We respect opinions that have basis. Manny’s opinion was neither factual nor reasonable. He got it wrong when he said there were no male to male or female to female animal partnerships in the first place.

He already apologized.

If I told you – as in anyone who’s reading this – your mother looked like a whore and said I was sorry, but maintained she looked like a whore, is that an apology?

Apologies constitute admitting one’s mistake and putting forth the right or better words to say. Manny did nothing of these to appease the aggrieved community. He maintained he was only invoking the Bible, including the verses that include killing gay people. These verses are the reason a lot of gay people in different parts of the world are persecuted. This fundamentalism spawns the worst cases of homophobia. No fundie has ever said sorry for all the victims of antigay oppression.

Is there a way we could shed reason to fundamentalism? Sometimes I wonder how we should deal with this issue. When you step back to see the bigger picture, you see Manny as the tiny dot among the swarm of people in a dogmatic culture. That’s scarier than his unscientific version of common sense, and that’s something an insincere apology cannot fix.

He brought honor to the country.

Of course, we know that. However, that’s not the point. His grand achievements in the world of boxing has nothing to do with the issue. The issue is the intolerance and gross ignorance of the marriage equality advocacy.

It’s also unfair when people think we’re being unfair to someone who has put the Philippines in the pedestal in the field of boxing. Suddenly, the issue turned into shaming the LGBT advocates for bullying him and his family online.

Just because he brought honor to the country doesn’t mean he can say anything stupid and get away with it. In addition, someone vying for a position in the senate should have been more responsible in his opinions.

He was only quoting the Bible.

When Manny asked for an apology, he quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9 and then included Leviticus 20:13 in his Instagram post, which he afterwards deleted.

Anyone can take refuge in the Bible because this old collection of stories and cryptic passages is interpreted in different ways. Liberal and conservative Christians take them differently. But as expected, the fundamentalists take the Leviticus 18:22 or Romans 1:26-27 as antigay passages.

It’s hard to challenge the Bible because challenging it means offending people who adhere to it and take it as the source of their moral code. But there’s something to say about literalists who take these unfriendly passages selectively and use them to debase a group of people.

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Sometimes I wonder what the problem is. Is it the people who use the Bible to oppress and ridicule people? Or is it the Bible, which offers egomaniacs the tools to use for their bigotry.

The average Christian doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the historical and semantic context of everything that’s written in the Bible. Thus, many seemingly cruel and inhuman passages go ignored, but a few of these are used against a group of people, the LGBT people in this case.

In addition, a thorough examination reveals the cultural influence on the books of the Bible, depicting how the writers would have wanted people to live their lives then. That’s why I ask, what is the practical significance of Biblical dogma in today’s time? Should we treat the Bible as the source of our moral code today? Or should we just treat it as a literary reference whose moral correctness is arbitrary and therefore not absolute?

A public servant invoking the Bible does disservice to people who don’t adhere to it, which by the way include a lot of Christians. Besides, what is the practical value of quoting Leviticus passages? What message does that send to young LGBT people, that some Bible fanatic out there could be murdering gay people in the name of his faith?

He was right.

Before you can claim all he said was right, you have to ask the following questions:

Is his claim based on facts?

Is his claim reasonable?

Is his claim consistent with other claims?

Is he saying an absolute truth?

What are the practical implications of his claims?

Which part of his statements were right? First, his claim that homosexuality doesn’t exist in animals is wrong.

Second, does saying that same-sex marriage is wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong reasonable? Does the Bible say it’s wrong? He invoked Leviticus, for instance. To whom was the Book of Leviticus written? Does he know what the passages actually meant or he just interpreted it based on his bias?

Third, is there a consensus among scholars regarding the interpretation of these passages? If none, then whose “truth” do we go with? In addition, supposing for purposes of argument we say the Bible says it’s wrong, why then does it say it’s wrong?

Fourth, does the claim that same-sex relationship is wrong and immoral remain true in all situations? Suppose we discuss the topic outside the fringes of religion, does it remain wrong and immoral?

Then there’s the scary part, the practical implications of an opinion. Look at how LGBT people are treated in deeply religious countries and you see the implications of these deeply held religious teachings unchallenged by the scared and oppressed minority and encouraged by the status quo.

He was misquoted.

Does it matter?

Is there is any real difference between saying that gays are worse than animals and saying that people are worse than animals if they allowed gay marriage? The first one is blatantly homophobic. The second one remains homophobic but has added coercive undertones. It’s like saying we shouldn’t allow gay marriage because we’re better than animals. Besides, the vagueness of his opinion lends itself to either interpretations.

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Either way we go, it doesn’t sound like a well thought out claim because it was anchored in his baseless “common sense” that animals do not practice homosexuality. Either way, it is offensive. Either has bad implications for gay and lesbian people.

He can’t be antigay because he has gay friends.

“I have a lot of gay friends…” is a common and tired rhetoric to rationalize antigay remarks. It’s also dishonest. How can you stay friends with gay people when deep inside you don’t hold them in the same regard as your straight friends? So you’re saying you like your gay friends, but you don’t like seeing them get married with their partners and you don’t like them to enjoy the same rights you do.

Claiming you have gay friends is different from actually supporting their struggle and regarding them to be your equal in terms of rights and social privileges. How can you stay friends with them if you think their plight is irrelevant and their “lifestyle,” base?

Okay, so you actually have friends who are alcoholics or drug addicts, but you hate alcoholism and drug addiction? Great! But that’s a bad analogy. Or you can show me how drug addiction, for instance, is equivalent to same-sex romance.

Vice Ganda is a hypocrite. Boy Abunda, too emotional.

I lament that the LGBT response to Rep. Pacquiao’s stance was reduced to Vice Ganda’s and Boy Abunda’s responses. You have leveraged the comedian’s crude retorts to fuel your subservience to dogma. You have disparaged our plight because you think the popular members of our community were unable to handle the issue with sophistication. But were your remarks sophisticated?

These people, though popular and respected in their fields, do not speak for the entire community. Their responses are their responses alone, and I am not going to say they’re wrong. I can’t take away their freedom to express their ire. The outrage was expected. What did you expect, all smiles after an inhuman remark? In an article entitled “World-Class Asshole,” Teddy Locsin, Jr. said, “I was not surprised when gays in showbiz gave it to him. I was surprised that some of them forgave him.”

I have to remind you that like any community, the LGBT community is filled with people of different personalities and intellectual capacities. I, for instance, have no control over what people in this community will say. But while many of us resort to acerbic rants – just like a lot of you on that side hurl your slurs in this direction – many of us, too, are trying our best to put the discourse on a rational level devoid of expletives and cuss words. So if you want this to be a rational battle and you’re looking at Vice Ganda’s quips, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.

However, the most important thing you have to remember in dealing with this issue is that Vice Ganda’s hypocrisy and Boy Abunda’s manner of expressing their indignation are not the issue. By resorting to this trick, you are trying to divert the issue from Manny’s lack of understanding of the LGBT rights and secularism to the responses of certain people, which are after all expected. This is a lame tactic to take naive people away from what should be discussed.

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Moreover, these two celebrities are not after a seat in the senate, where people draft laws that affect your lives.

The LGBT people are bullying Manny.

Bullying actually went both ways. So what’s the point? Manny made a statement. The LGBT people and their allies got angry and reacted. Then the minions from the offending camp retaliated. Zoom out to get a God’s eye view of the scene and you’ll see how much the religious bullies vastly outnumber the pro-LGBT bullies.

I’ve seen some of the vilest retorts from the meanest of your camp. I’ve had my share of slurs sent in my direction as I tried to criticize Manny Pacquiao’s views. But I didn’t complain. You know why? I’m used to these abusive tactics. They bother me, but they don’t hurt me anymore. But it’s funny when you cry foul when you get a dose of your own medicine.

Also, let’s be realistic and look at the implications of both types of bullying. I have yet to hear anti-LGBT folks succumbing to depression and suicidal thoughts because of LGBT rights movement. However, I’ve read a lot of stories of people getting killed, committing suicide, or suffering from depression because of religious dogma, stuff that most anti-LGBT people live and swear by, albeit selectively.

Jose Rizal also compared people to animals.

“Ang taong di marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda.” – Jose P. Rizal (They who do not love their own language are worse than animals and putrid fish.)

I have to admit this was a clever quip, except that people ignored an important difference between Rizal’s famous line and Manny’s infamous remark. Whereas Manny was talking about same-sex relationships, Rizal was talking about lack of patriotism. If there is any equivalence between same-sex relationships and lack of patriotism, I’d like to know.

There are more important issues.

So your issues are irrelevant because the are people in worse situations? Maybe you shouldn’t complain about the mold in the kitchen because there are homeless kids, for example. Is that fair?

The “not as bad as” fallacy is the common rhetoric of the discrimination enablers (and climate change deniers). It’s true that poverty affects more people. It affects more people than antigay bigotry. But is it impossible to be indignant at poverty and anti-LGBT hate at the same time?

Waiting for poverty or territorial disputes to be resolved before attending to other problems solves nothing. If solutions are within reach for “smaller problems,” why not employ them? Moreover, poverty and gay rights are two separate issues that should be discussed independently.

Anyway, if there’s one thing I have to thank Manny Pacquiao for, it’s the chance he gave us to talk about same-sex marriage and to explain to people what it is and what it is not. The controversy gave us an opportunity to educate people.

Issues like this help us identify who our allies are and who among our friends secretly find our identities and romantic lives disgusting. It makes me realize where we are in terms of LGBT acceptance and how vastly uneducated and cruel a lot of people in this country are.

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