Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Good Manners and Right Conduct

consistent with his support of censorship of Mideo Cruz's exhibit, Conrado de Quiros now supports the MTRCBs censorship of the Tulfo brothers.  Not because they did anything illegal, but because they did not conduct themselves like good boys:

...the transgression is grave. It has nothing to do with politics, it has to do with ethics. It has nothing to do with opinion, it has to do with decorum. It has nothing to do with partisanship, it has to do with good manners and right conduct. Llamanzares herself says "T3" has been the subject of several complaints in the past. She has asked to meet with the show's producers and hosts, but despite their repeated promises to appear, they have not done so. And now this.

The Tulfo brothers' excuse is that they got carried away in the heat of emotion. After all, it was another brother of theirs who had been at the receiving end of a beating, and they were feeling raw. That is no excuse at all. They had no business being there to comment on it to begin with. They should have taken a temporary leave of absence before they went on a temporary leave of their senses. They knew they had a deeply personal stake in it, they knew they could not possibly be objective about it. That is not a recipe for public service, that is a recipe for public disservice. Since it was unlikely they would have volunteered to inhibit themselves, Channel 5 should have asked them to do so.

I read the transcripts of the brothers' ululations, one challenging Santiago to a fistfight, another warning the couple they had better not meet at the airport or mall or any public place, still another advising the couple to just stay at home and stay healthy. That's not public service, that's private malice. That's not just emotional excess, that is journalistic thuggery. That's not even toughness, that's just weakness. Everyone always finds the witty line after the argument; everyone always finds the balls after the fray.

How was that display of bad manners and wrong conduct any different from what happened to their brother, a group ganging up on him and beating him black and blue? Well, at least the Santiagos merely conscripted their friends to go along with them, or indeed they didn't have to conscript them at all, they volunteered freely and spontaneously. The Tulfos conscripted media to gang up on the couple, or used them to inflict that scale of mayhem. Oh, yes, mayhem. Words, particularly when amplified a million times by the power of TV, break bones as much as sticks and stones.

The point of public service programs is to curb abuse, not heap it. The point of public service programs is to put fear in the hearts of the abusive, not to put fear in the heart of the public. No, the MTRCB's 20-day preventive suspension of "T3" does not threaten freedom of the press, it secures it. I feel more threatened by journalists, broadcast or print, who try to use TV, radio, or newspaper to carry out naked vendetta than a government agency trying to remind them of what their profession calls for. Radio and TV are particularly powerful because of their reach and immediacy. With much power comes much responsibility.

What the the Tulfo brothers said may be as crass as he describes, but that should not merit government censorship,  It's ok for Mr. De Quiros that the Tulfos be censored because he agrees with the MTRCB, unfortunately, that will not always be the case.  And when the MTRCB censors speech that he likes, what will he do?  He already conceded that they have the power to censor those they do not agree with.

That is why we must always defend free speech, because one day, it may be our speech that is silenced.

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