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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On Lady Gaga And The RH Bill

Unless you've been living under a rock these past few years, you would know who Lady Gaga is by now. Her "blood soaked" performance at the Grammy Awards, the sure-to-be-talked about "clothes" (the meat dress, the bubble wrap ensemble, literally wearing Kermit the Frog), her music videos that leave viewers wondering "What the...?!?". Anything and everything she does is almost guaranteed to keep people buzzing.

She's not blood soaked here.
(Courtesy of izismile.com)

As a child of this generation, the pop star has utilized platforms like Facebook and Twitter almost fully to her advantage: based on sheer online influence and reach, last year, she was named Time Magazine's Most Powerful Celebrity, knocking Oprah Winfrey off the top spot. It underscores the importance of social media in this day and age. (News for news and other media outfits who are still not on the cyberspace wagon: Get on it. Remember the dinosaurs.)

In what universe would she and the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill be sharing the same space?

The unlikely answer comes from Indonesia.

News reports have indicated that Indonesian authorities have revoked Lady Gaga's license to perform in that country (she was slated to perform there in June as part of her Born This Way Ball tour) after preselling 30,000 concert tickets. The reason: three Islamic groups have registered their protest and displeasure at the upcoming event, accusing the singer of promoting "satanic teaching".

(More here: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/entertainment/05/15/12/lady-gaga-gagged-indonesia-after-islamic-opposition)

I initially dismissed the news item as a sad consequence of living in a theocratic country, until I read it further: did you know that Indonesia is a secular state?

Just like we are. Supposedly. But reading another news item yesterday - a priest urging people not to vote for lawmakers who support the RH Bill in 2013 - I began to see that, however unlikely, Lady Gaga and the RH Bill are actually occupying the same boat, on a route to nowhere. All because they both offend the sensibilities of a particular religious group.

Ever since our colonization from Spain, we have been subjugated by one sector long after the Spaniards have left us, and that is the Catholic Church. They have been so interwoven into our lives, they are already considered part of Philippine "culture", and no one blinks anymore at their blatantly direct involvement in politics. You can't get any more "direct" than stating to your religious flock who not to vote for.

As if you needed more proof of this meddling, the RH Bill has been languishing in Congress for decades. The most vociferous critic of the proposed measure is the said religion, with both overt and implied threats of their "voting power", rendering legislators largely immobilized by fear that they won't be voted into power for another term.

Most of the opposition of the Catholic Church stems from its reading of the RH Bill as a measure that supposedly will push people into having sexual encounters 24 hours a day, because artificial contraception is the "hidden" agenda of the bill. Online commenters who openly oppose the bill on the same religious grounds usually have the same retort: Bakit? Makakain ba ang condoms?!? (Can condoms be eaten?!?) It proves that there is a myopic, constricted view of what the bill is all about: sex.

It's not so different from one of the Indonesian religious leaders protesting Lady Gaga, who said that "she's a vulgar singer who wears only panties and a bra when she sings".

This obsession about sex reminds me of a statement by Stephen Fry, comparing it with people on a restricted food diet, who, because of the unnatural state, are naturally the ones most obsessed about food.

Dieters don't expect everyone else to go on the same restriction just because they voluntarily do it, do they? This analogy pretty much answers which group is most obsessed about sex.

Reading through the RH Bill and its provisions (there are several sites online that you can peruse), it is overwhelmingly a bill that pushes for education about reproductive health, and a measure that respects people's choices, religion being one of the bases for those choices. It will not, as one comment I've read puts it so animatedly, "sasaksakin yung condoms sa baga natin" (shove the condoms down our lungs).

But then again, most of the major world religions are not fond of the terms "education" and "choice". How could they, when they all insist that their body of knowledge - such as it is - is the only way to go, and any deviation from their religious code is an affront to their deity and beliefs?

At least, in Lady Gaga's case, all that will be affected will be her ticket sales. She earned $90 million last year, so I doubt her non-concert in Indonesia will cause a blip in her financial standing.

But what is the cost for the non passage of the RH Bill? We now have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Southeast Asia. I saw a newsmagazine show over the weekend that featured a town filled with teenage moms, one of whom was still playing with dolls because she was still a child herself, barely a teenager.

Without education, there is no way people can arm themselves.

And as for choice? Well, the 30,000 tickets that were presold proves that Lady Gaga has fans even in conservative Indonesia. Similarly, in survey after survey conducted by reputable firms, people in "the Catholic bastion of Asia" favor the passage of the RH Bill.

People can live without seeing a Lady Gaga concert.

Wearing animal rights on your sleeve. Or body.
(Courtesy of squidoo.com)

But people are dying needlessly while the RH Bill gets kicked around as a political-religious football.

It is time for the government to score a goal for the RH Bill.

31 comments:

  1. preaching not to vote for politicians who are for RH Bill is not "interference". It is just basically standing for what you believe are the tenets of your faith. anybody can campaign for or against any politician whom they feel do not conform to their moral or political standards. So, it's not an interference for me. I would rather have a noisy Church than a quiet and passive one or less we will no longer have a barometer of morality.

    by the way, here's my commentary as well on the RH Bill --> http://bayenn.blogspot.com/2011/04/commentary-on-reproductive-health-bill.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one religion has the monopoly or trademark on morality. If we were to follow what the Bible says word for word, women would be gagged to prevent them from speaking, all gay people will be "put to death", slavery would be legal, shops serving shellfish would be closed down, and clothing manufacturers who use polyblend would cease to exist.

      We should be moving forward, not regressing to the Dark Ages.

      Delete
  2. "But people are dying needlessly while the RH Bill gets kicked around as a political-religious football."

    Which people are dying needlessly?

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    Replies
    1. I refer you to Sotto debating the "11 maternal deaths" statistic in the Senate.

      But I didn't need to tell you that, did I?

      Delete
  3. I'm not saying that any church has a monopoly on morality. But that shouldn't stop anyone from professing what he or she believes is morally right, whether it be sourced from the Bible or Koran or the Book of Mormon.

    Truth comes in trickles and you learn how to appreciate them as you grow. For example, you don't teach your 2 year old with Calculus immediately right? You have to teach him the basics first (e.g. counting from 1 to 10). Same is true with the revelation of Truth from the divine. When God decided to manifest himself on Man, he did so progressively and thus the understanding of God by man is reflected in his writings. For those living in the Old Testament, they see God as a "jealous God, a punitive God, a God who requires loyalty and faithfulness". In the New Testament, God is seen now as somebody who is not only just but merciful, a loving God, a "Father" and not just a distant deity to worship. Thus, the rules in the Old Testament may seem to be stricter but the essence is the same. The way sinners are punished may differ in the old but the sin is still the same. The ten commandments have not changed. Truth has not changed. The appreciation of how they are implemented and observed may differ but the essence of it is still the same. Immorality is wrong as it was wrong since the beginning. Indecency is wrong as it was wrong since the beginning. There are some things that remain constant, regardless of time and age. And that is the beauty of Truth. Now, what Truth is again, I cannot say. Like you said, no one has the monopoly of Truth. Thus, it is therefore proper to respect each other's opinions and not judge those who may be having different opinions from ours as somebody "backward", "passee", "heretic", "homophobe", etc. :-)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "...we will no longer have a barometer of morality" (in your first post)

      "I'm not saying that any church has a monopoly on morality" (in your second post)

      Clearly you are confused by your own stance.

      Delete
    2. And as far as judgement goes, I think your precious Church has had centuries to master the art, calling people sinners, abominations, unclean and a whole lot more.

      Homophobia is a scientific term, look it up.
      Backward is a direction.

      Delete
    3. As a final parting shot (and I have the last word, since this is my blog), take my advice: Visit another blog. Clearly we are on very different wavelengths. It won't do your mental health any good to stay here one more second. You will need to preach to someone whose logical faculties aren't fully developed in order to be convincing in any kind of way.

      Delete
  4. I am quite surprised by such a defensive tone with your replies. and i think it is replies like these that blur the dialogue between differing opinions.

    but then let me clarify (since clarifying is part of dialogue):
    1. you quoted my comments, ""...we will no longer have a barometer of morality" (in your first post)

    "I'm not saying that any church has a monopoly on morality" (in your second post)"
    and then remarked that clearly I am confused with my stance.

    If you read carefully, surely you will see that there is no confusion here. Question: who is or should be the "barometer" of morality? Government? State? Clearly morality is in the domain of the religious, the church. So, any church (whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist), organized or not, is a barometer of morality. Of course, since no single church has monopoly on morality and truth, then it is best to listen to ALL churches, consider their opinions and dogmas and then choose which is for you more believable. Whichever you choose, that is according to your conscience. Be that as it may, it is still the church (whichever that is)that is the barometer of your morality.

    2. If indeed in the past my "precious Church" as you sarcastically refer to it has indeed mastered the art of "judging people", let me clarify that the Church is composed of members who are both sinners and saints, both spiritually perfect and imperfect. if by the Precious Church you mean the Christian Church, well, you better read the Christian dogmas first or the catechism of the Catholic Church. The golden rule is always, "Love Thy Neighbor" and it has always been the doctrine preached by the founder of the Christian Church (Jesus and his 12 apostles) albeit not perfectly followed by those who belong to it. What the Church condemns is the SIN and not the SINNER. The ACT and not the ACT-OR. In fact, according to the Catholic Church, "being gay" is not a sin but "doing the homosexual act" is. That is why within the Catholic Church (I am not familiar with the other churches), gay Catholics are encouraged to practice a celibate life, that they can still express their love but not in a sexual way. Of course, that is grounded on the doctrine of the church and whether you believe in that doctrine or not is really up to you. The point is, opinions differ and just because somebody tells you his or her differing opinion does not qualify him or her to be "hateful" of the other. There is a "mea culpa" here though and an admission of the fact that there are indeed professed Christians who are not kind and tolerant to homosexuals and that is not what I am advocating for. On the other side of the fence, there are homosexuals who never dare understand the doctrines of the church thus they could never really appreciate where some conservative christians are coming from. Blinded by ignorance, both sides turn against each other.

    3. Again, I am really quite surprised by the way you are responding to the comment. I actually find the blog entry interesting but I felt that I needed to clarify some things such as the point you raised of interference. The gist of my comment was really freedom of expression. If you so demand that people respect your freedom to choose and be gay for example, then by all means you must also respect the freedom of expression of let's say a priest in his campaigning against politicians whom he feel holds values and beliefs that are contrary to the values and beliefs that he so hold dear and swore to defend with his own life. I am by the way not a preacher. Just a layman who brings in his 2-cents worth in this ever-endless debate of homosexuality, Church and all. :-)

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    1. Are you saying that without your church. you are immoral? (face palm)

      Delete
    2. depends on how you define "church". Some people would make a distinction between organized religion and simple a fellowship of people confessing the same beliefs. Whether you are a member of an organized religion or simply someone who professes faith in a deity (whether Allah, yahweh, etc), your morality (or lack thereof) is still defined by your set of beliefs. unless of course you would contend that it is the State or government that defines your morality. :-) I didn't say that 'without "my" church, you are immoral.' we must agree though that it is the realm of the church (whatever Church you believe in) that defines what morality is. it's not just a personal observation. history of mankind tells it so. :-)

      Delete
  5. Barometer of morality ... nice one ... does that include pedophilia and child abuse?

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    Replies
    1. Like I said in the earlier comment, " let me clarify that the Church is composed of members who are both sinners and saints, both spiritually perfect and imperfect. " I think that was perfectly clear, right?

      Delete
  6. @bayenmd ... Are you saying that without your church, you are immoral?

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  7. Replies
    1. Can you expound?

      And it's hypocrite.

      Delete
    2. heehee :D (the spelling)
      -liza

      Delete
  8. This is for bayenmd:

    (1) Don't mistake my exasperation for defensiveness.

    (2) Are you saying that atheists are immoral?

    (3) On what grounds are you imposing celibacy on an entire class of people, even those who do not subscribe to the religion you choose for yourself?

    (4) Are you aware that religion is a personal choice? Are you, really? I have to ask this repeatedly because while you say you do, your succeeding statements clearly disregard this fundamental fact of life. I obviously do not share your religion - you are making the lousiest case for it, in case you haven't noticed - so whatever you believe that gay people, and other "sinners" according to your religion should do - is something I do not subscribe to, and you certainly do not have the right to impose those standards on me.

    Is any of this getting through? (I'm sure it still doesn't, but hey, there could be a miracle.)

    (5) Freedom of expression also includes blasphemy. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the United Nations, it upheld blasphemy as a human right.

    (6) Taking this from a popular meme from Facebook:

    "Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does."

    The reason I am exasperated is because no matter how you cloak your hatred, bigotry and intolerance for those who do not share your beliefs, it is what it is: hatred, bigotry and intolerance.

    I am intolerant as well - I am intolerant of stupidity. And hypocrites.

    Hence, my exasperation.

    If this is too complicated to comprehend, reread it a few thousand times. Hopefully a little bit will sink in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, this is amusing. Hehehe. let me clarify again.

      1) Don't mistake my exasperation for defensiveness.
      "Well, the way the reply was written appeared that way but if I was wrong, then I stand corrected. True. Written words unaccompanied by non-verbal components can be misinterpreted in different ways."

      2) Are you saying that atheists are immoral? "Never implied that atheists are immoral. But if you are really smart enough, which I think you are since you said so yourself that you are intolerant of stupid hypocrites, you would know that atheists are simply people who believe in a concept that is antithesis to theists. They don't believe in a deity nor subscribe to a specific "organized religion", that makes them a congregation of their own. Their own "religion" so to speak. and the lack of belief in a God also defines how they live their life. Now, if that is their standard of morality, then so be it. So, what is immoral for theists may be moral for the atheists. Like I said, "Whichever you choose, that is according to your conscience. Be that as it may, it is still the church (whichever that is) that is the barometer of your morality."

      3)On what grounds are you imposing celibacy on an entire class of people, even those who do not subscribe to the religion you choose for yourself?

      "In what aspect of my comment did you read that I am 'imposing' celibacy. If you were referring to this line, " In fact, according to the Catholic Church, "being gay" is not a sin but "doing the homosexual act" is. That is why within the Catholic Church (I am not familiar with the other churches), gay Catholics are encouraged to practice a celibate life, that they can still express their love but not in a sexual way.", then please re-read it again (or should i say, reread it a few thousand times) and see whether or not that was imposition from my part. i was merely stating an example. and then you have conveniently disregarded the sentence which follows that quote, "Of course, that is grounded on the doctrine of the church and whether you believe in that doctrine or not is really up to you." So, whether you believe in the catholic church's way of running things or not, it is really up to you. Please re-read it again, "hopefully a little bit will sink in" ;-)

      Delete
    2. (1) I've corrected you. Repeatedly. More exasperation.

      Delete
    3. (2) I see you don't have the balls to stand by your own statement. It figures.

      Delete
    4. (3) Idiotic "reasoning" like loving the sinner hating the sin - one more proud reason I'm not Catholic.

      Delete
    5. It's so interesting to me that you never bothered answering the other points. The cowardice is dripping all over your non-replies. Another "it figures" moment.

      Delete
    6. "It's so interesting to me that you never bothered answering the other points. The cowardice is dripping all over your non-replies. Another "it figures" moment."

      I actually divided my reply into two sections since obviously they wouldnt fit (exceeded the maximum characters) but since comments here are moderated in your blog, I guess you failed to approve them or something. :-) Still, i got a screenshot of it.

      "Idiotic "reasoning" like loving the sinner hating the sin - one more proud reason I'm not Catholic."

      Then, nobody's forcing you to be catholic. Never did. Hehehe. and if you can't understand the meaning of "loving the sinner, hating the sin" then please do some studying even more. it's best not to really expose your ignorance, sorry to say this.

      ...and you know what, now I'm beginning to grow tired of commenting here. I was made to believe that with a person such as you who believes in "non-discrimination" and "tolerance" and "openness" seems to be displaying a behavior contrary to that. now, who's the hypocrite after all. :-)

      Delete
    7. I have to repeat myself: I am intolerant of hatred, bigotry and stupidity. So if you aren't feeling the love, reread a million times, since a thousand times didn't take.

      I did warn you that it wouldn't be good to your mental health to stay here. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

      Delete
  9. should i still keep reading your blog?? i'm getting angry and sad at the same time. so many people are still backward thinkers.
    i'm starting to think religious leaders might be the true anti-christs. wtf is wrong with them.
    i love the gaga-in-kermit pic btw. she had me at "animal rights" *grin*.
    that "bayenmd" - where the fuck do these people come from?? he makes me glad i mostly stay away from the internet. reading that nonsense makes me lose faith in the world. i worry about what he and others like him will be teaching their kids. i sincerely hope his kids grow up to think for themselves.
    hey see you at my birthday ha? :)
    -liza

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    Replies
    1. GMTA. Some comments make a case for stunted evolution talaga. And just when I thought I couln't find a more fantastic level of hypocrisy, here they come to astound us with their "powers".

      Looking forward to celebrating your big day with you :)

      Delete
  10. Hear, hear! I'm glad to know there are other people out there who actually think for themselves and whose minds are not controlled by the very precious Church. I think you have made a very good point. Why some people would not admit to seeing your point, I don't have the slightest idea why. I think the Church needs to mind their own business and not blackmail (because if you think about it, that really is what their doing) the politicians because clearly, without their interference, our country would be a better place. All things considered (e.g. divorce, rh bill, Lady Gaga, etc.) Cheers to more posts that make a lot of sense! Makes cyberspace a whole lot more worthwhile. :)

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  11. Religious extremism and fascism from abrahamic religions (roman catholic, christianity, islam, judaism) are far more deadlier than listening to "stupid" songs of Lady Gaga!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mestigo Guy & Guy With A Blog!

      "Religious extremism and fascism from abrahamic religions (roman catholic, christianity, islam, judaism) are far more deadlier than listening to "stupid" songs of Lady Gaga!"

      This statement is discriminatory.

      Delete
  12. There maybe some anti RH Bill protest action against our documentary "God, Church, Pills & Condoms", a Filipino story about the RH Bill, health care and family planning in the Philippines. Support out film and see it at Cinemalaya!

    The 30-minute documentary is directed by Fritz Kohle and produced by Arleen Cuevas and premieres at the Cinemalaya film festival on 25 July, 3:30 P.M. at the CCP Dream Theater, Philippines. Its part of the Cinemalaya Film festival Documentary Section.

    www.youtube.com/reproductivebill

    ReplyDelete