racoma.com.ph

Essays on tech by J. Angelo Racoma

A Question of Basic Decency

| 10 Comments

seenoevil-sm.pngThis is what I think of the latest issue hounding the local blogosphere of late. Let me direct you to Abe’s post about it, which seemed to have jumpstarted the discussions. A certain Kenneth Ocampo has been on an email campaign and online petition against Filipino blogger bryanboy.

I am writing to you with hopes that you spread our outrage. We’re appalled that one of the country’s top bloggers is an anti-christ. How dare he make a joke out of Jesus by posting disturbing photos on his blog.

Please spread the word about this sinner and help us with our petition.

Inq7.net recently covered the story, too, care of Erwin Oliva.

Filipino blogger Bryanboy has angered Filipino Catholic Christians this week after posting a controversial photo in his blog on October 30, 2006.

The photos featured a British man doing a pose in Bryanboy fashion beside a statue of Jesus Christ on a cross.

His post generated mixed reactions on the Internet, including an online petition that labeled the gay Filipino blogger an “antichrist.” The petition was addressed to the Catholic Church, and it urged Bryanboy to remove offending pictures on his website.

Ad Hominem

I will run the risk of being branded as self-righteous and a hypocrite if I took a stab at things from a religious perspective. Yes, I am a practicing Catholic, and I try to live my life according to morally-acceptable standards (at least to a good majority of the world’s population).

But let’s try to be objective here. Those on the morality side of the debate say that bryanboy is evil and should be sent to the deepest pits of hell. Those on the freedom of expression side say that the moralists are nothing but self-righteous hypocrites who aren’t without sin themselves.

Isn’t this an immature way to go about with a discussion? Last time I checked, _ad hominem_ is still a logical fallacy, and IMHO one of the most pathetic ways to go about with an argument.

Decency

I can say that bryanboy’s posting was done in bad taste, and is against common decency. I wouldn’t go as far as comment on the photos themselves, bryanboy’s sexual orientation, and whatnot (I’m not one to judge). But the title itself and bryanboy’s short note are something to be unhappy about–one does not use God’s name alongside an expletive and expect the people concerned to just stand there.

bryanboy.png
Notice the title.

And this is not only limited to Christians. I do agree with one commenter on Yugatech that if it were Muslims that bryanboy insulted, the reaction could have been far greater. Remember the Apple NYC Cube fiasco I wrote about on Apple Gazette a while back? Propagandists were successful at inciting religious hatred by pitting religion against religion (well, almost, since love for Apple is considered a religion by some). We were able to dig deeper into the matter, and discovered that the “news” sites involved were of questionable intent.

Think Before You Publish!

Here’s my take on the matter. Bloggers are, indeed, free to post whatever they please on their blogs. That’s the beauty of the blogosphere. However, this can also get ugly. The blogosphere can also be full of crap. And people can be haphazard with what they post. True, the blogosphere tends to be self-correcting–it’s _publish then filter_ as opposed to editing before publication in traditional media. But by the time the issue has been cleared up, the damage would’ve already been done.

Since bloggers do not have editors and publishers to review and filter our material, like with mainstream media, it’s up to us to be responsible with what we post. If you intend to incite strong reactions among your readership, then so be it. But it’s always good to consider the concepts of decency and respect in whatever you write. You may not necessarily rot in hell or get excommunicated by the Church, but people who do insulting stuff like the above out of fun are plain ol’ arses in my book.

Responsibility

Alex goes as far as saying that responsibility goes both ways: for both the consumers and producers of content.

What I could suggest is for readers to be open-minded yet critical to what the Internet has to offer. We could all choose not to view bryanboy .com if we want to. We all know that the Web is a war zone of good and bad information. And for Filipino adults wary about children reading such material as what is found in bryanboy .com, download and use any one of these [parental filters]. This issue all boils down to one’s responsibility to oneself and to others.

I think those who have greater power should have the heavier burden of responsibility (has anyone watched _Spiderman_ lately?). The people who started the petition against bryanboy may not have been too familiar with the realm of blogging, hence their means of responding may not be as strong or effective (emails? free online petition sites?). So I think those of us who have a better grasp of the medium should take it upon ourselves to do something. And I don’t mean by taking sides. You may stand on either side of the argument (or neither), but what’s important is to always keep in mind our responsibility as publishers.

Author: J. Angelo Racoma

J. Angelo Racoma is a technology and automotive journalist and blogger. See more of his work at e27. Follow him via Twitter at @jangelo.

Comments via Facebook:

10 Comments

  1. Internet is material, since it’s material, you can use it – right or wrong. Since there’s limited law that rules the internet, It’s upon the writer/reader/webmaster to decide what they will do about it. I personally don’t like BryanBoy, but cmon, let him do his own stuff (apparently he’s good at it). There’s more of that in the internet, even worser than BryanBoy.

    Finally, too bad, in this world, right and wrong always ends up relative.

  2. Pingback: CarloTech.Net » The Petition Against BryanBoy

  3. has anyone watched Spiderman lately?

    I watched a bit of Spidey 2 last night, actually. :D

    In CS, there’s such a thing as a DC, a “don’t care”, i.e., something immaterial or irrelevant.

    I think the sense of responsibility varies with the purpose of each blog. I really don’t care about his site but I’m guessing it’s no reliable source of anything newsworthy. And that he’s not exactly open for discussion on morality. I guess it’s scandalous because we’re part of the community and he’s tarnished its reputation.

    I agree with Jason. We can’t control people’s actions. If we do wish to rebuke them, there’s a chance the effort may not be worth it.

    Viral. Linkbait. Head-turner. Tabloidal. These terms come to mind. (Heck, even SEO!)

  4. I read the comments, and laughed at all the Muslim comparisons.

    Muslims are given far too much ‘credit’ for righteous indignation then we should be. Eg the German play where Muhammed’s head was cut off – it was ‘cancelled’ because of Muslim concerns. Yet again, everyone missed the point – it had run three years ago without a single complaint, and it was cancelled without a single complaint.

    Most muslims don’t care. Actually, cut that – 99.99% of muslims just don’t care. There are idiots everywhere, why should we be bothered? It just so happens that portraying muslims in bad light is a great way to get attention. Most of the recent acts attributed to Muslims (hating on the Apple NYC store, shutting down German play, etc etc) had nothing to do with Muslims.

    Now, in regards to the Pope’s comment and this – people seriously need context. The pope is the leader of the Catholic Church, and he essentially called Prophet Muhammed evil. This guy is some random stooge who put some clothing on Jesus. While I still think any outrage over the Pope’s stupid comment was also idiotic, comparing this incident with that is reaching. A lot :)

    In the end, as long as people are not directly spitting and effecting your lifestyle (questionable if a single catholic has endured any real hardship through this) people just whine.

    And lastly – most nutcases only gain power when you give them the attention they so desperately crave. If you were to ignore them, they nicely fade into oblivion.

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. I’d like to clear up some things. For one, I don’t read bryanboy’s blog. Not my taste, not my type of content, not my crowd. I thought I’d rather not have a say on this, as it will attract more attention. But I thought I’d take it from a more general perspective.

    As a blogger, I could just keep on publishing stuff, and there _was_ a time in my blogging life when I’d just been posting trivial stuff. But I’m also an advocate of quality blogging. Bryanboy may not be the Pope, but for some reason he’s up there in the top Pinoy blogs (Yeah, traffic-wise. But quality-wise? Heck no!), and this thing gets much exposure.

    @Jason:

    Finally, too bad, in this world, right and wrong always ends up relative.

    It always has been. This is why I love watching films and reading stories where there’s no clear delineation of good and evil. The grey areas help me exercise my mind! But I believe there’s such a thing as decency. And while it is also relative, at least there are areas that most of us in the civilized world would agree upon.

    There are grey areas, too, though (say, for instance, public nudity is all right in many places in Europe, but not in most of the western world and here in Asia).

    @Ia:

    I really don’t care about his site but I’m guessing it’s no reliable source of anything newsworthy.

    Ditto!

    Viral. Linkbait. Head-turner. Tabloidal. These terms come to mind. (Heck, even SEO!)

    No linklove here!

    I initially inadvertently linked to bryanboy since a plugin automatically converts URLs to links. No link now.

    This issue might not be worth discussing if only in the light of bryanboy’s posting. But in the general sense of my wanting a better blogosphere, I think the juice is worth the squeeze (err, has anyone watched _The Girl Next Door_ lately?).

    @Ahmed:

    Thanks for the enlightenment!

    In the end, as long as people are not directly spitting and effecting your lifestyle (questionable if a single catholic has endured any real hardship through this) people just whine.

    Endured any hardship? Hmm. I got curious and viewed his site, and OMG my eyes still hurt! :P This guy seriously needs a visit from the design police. Oh well, I’ve seen a lot of whining about it on blogs and comment threads of late.

    And lastly – most nutcases only gain power when you give them the attention they so desperately crave. If you were to ignore them, they nicely fade into oblivion.

    I agree. I hope my post does not appear as my giving to much attention. Perhaps we can treat it not as a featured blog or blog post, but as a case study for _how not to blog_.

  6. Pingback: Alleba Blog » Bryanboy, Tsk tsk tsk.

  7. i am a practicing catholic, so naturally i am deeply offended by this recent development. a year ago, i think i happened across the blog in question, and saw what appeared to be an altered image of the virgin mary. i *hope* that was not what i saw back then.

    to be honest, i am tempted to get all riled up about this, but pausing for a moment leads me to the conclusion that there is no point to stress myself out because of someone else’s actions. it’s his blog, let him have his way with it; after all, this is a democratic country, and the Net is a democratic place. there are far more disturbing things on the web.

    i agree with jason: “Finally, too bad, in this world, right and wrong always ends up relative.” too bad, indeed.

  8. Really, there is all one thing people need to do:

    “What would Jesus/Muhammed/etc do?”

    Jesus, Muhammed, and all the rest would be much bigger men than what most people are stooping to.

  9. Thanks for citing my article, Angelo. Freedom of speech is not absolute. That’s one thing I learned from my post-grad. But there are also different types of freedom (freedom of religion, freedom of choice, etc.)

    As the line between journalism and blogging becomes blurred, bloggers are increasingly facing the same burden we do as journalists. We have to stick to certain ethical norms. Inflammatory languages or even expletives are avoided but if not, we substitute them for some characters. I was once asked by a book publisher if same journalistic ethics apply to bloggers, and I told him, yes and no. Yes, if they do write in a “journalistic” and factual manner. But if they’re not, then there is still libel. The expletives and the “controversial” photo in Bryanboy’s post were deemed inappropriate by some sectors, and we have to respect that. However, not to the point of censoring people’s freedom to express. Now, that’s tricky and until now, my class are still debating on whether to give more credit to what’s right and what’s true.

  10. Well said.

    I’m not the most religious Catholic,and I really don’t like people who don’t practice the religion they so ardently preach (I myself have an aunt or two who are so active with the Church but aren’t exactly nice people). But I do believe in respect.

    Granted that BryanBoy is a “proud” aethiest, that still doesn’t give him the right to disrespect an icon that devotees worship. Just think of it this way… When you enter a Buddhist or Muslim temple, you know you should respect their beliefs and don’t go around doing things in there that would offend the believers. Just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean you have the right to disrespect those who do.

    I totally agree with you on this. It’s not a matter of freedom of speech, it’s a case of common deceny.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.