Now, I learned from one of my friends, Beting Dolor, who is now the Managing editor of Manila Times, that a Court in Manila found probable cause to pursue the case filed by Abante etal against them. Dolor, who is the managing editor of Maxim when the case was filed, is surprised. I, too, am surprised.
As well all know, Playboy and Maxim continue to be seen in our bookstores and there is no one hollering about it. Of course, our citizenry is mature enough to know what "sex" really means and what " obscene" truly means.
In the "class suit", Abante pointed out that these editors violated a Manila ordinance which prohibits magazines and tabloids from publishing“obscene, erotic, indecent, or lewd pictures/poses that show, depict, exhibit, or describe nude or semi nude bodies sexual acts, sexual intercourse, private parts of the human body of both male and female, with no educational, artistic, cultural or scientific value.”
“Such portions/pages of the said magazines and tabloids are clearly scandalous, obscene and pornographic within the meaning and in violation of Articles 200 and 201 of the Revised Penal Code,” the group said in their complaint.
The question that I always ask myself in things like this is---who says that a photo of a nude woman or a nude man is "obscene", or just for "educational, artistic, cultural or scientific value"?
Example, if a teacher suddenly shows a fake penis while teaching grade six students, will that be considered obscene? Let's apply it to a magazine. If a magazine features a story about sexual reproduction and shows a graphic of a man and a woman making love and with a penis showing, will this be obscene?
How about the concept of "lewd"? How "lewd" is "lewd"?
Example, if I reproduce a material encouraging women to do safe sex by promoting oral sex, will it be "lewd" if I show the woman doing it? Or I am promoting a "new" oral sex method, how then can I do it without being "lewd"?
The problem really is this---these things really depend on "people's perceptions." Let's look at these two examples. The first one, if you ask the teacher, is for "educational purposes". I think if you ask another one, and he happens to be an artist will say " It's artistic". If you try to show it to a cultural promoter, he will definitely say, "its culture" and if a scientist, obviously "scientific"
If you show it to a pervert, it's definitely pornographic. So....
The core question is--who among them is right? Who among these people will the law rests its head on? The Law, according to what I know, is un-emotional.
Remember a known psychiatrist saying that lewdness is really a "mindstate"?
I asked my friend another question---is God truly dressed? Does the Truth wear clothes?
Laikoff, a known linguist, says that we live by the metaphors we use.
Our metaphor for truth is "naked". How about God? Is God that gentleman, fully clothe and with an umbrella? Nah. God is often depicted naked.
Or, for those who really believe in the true religion, God is neither naked or clothed. How can you dress a spirit up? It's like putting clothes on the wind.
To those who fight for freedom in the Philippines, I dare you now--fight for the rights and liberties of these Filipino editors who were wrongfully accused of a crime by these religious fanatics who are like the Talibans of Afghanistan, terrorists hiding in pastoral clothes.
How dare this government define for us what is "obscene" and what is "lewd"? What is their scientific evidence that the Filipino people found Playboy totally "obscene" and "lewd"? Was there any survey done which shows how many of us, Pinoys, consider these magazines as "smut"? How "smut" is "smut"?
And even if there is such a survey, how accurate or how credible is that survey?
Those who fought for the liberties and the democracies we so enjoy today must fight for the rights of these editors, namely, Pierre, Beting, Thelma San Juan, and others, to be free.
I ask the prosecutor who found "probable cause"---what is the basis of your "scientific inquiry"? What were the particulars of your "study" that led you to say that those editors showed obscenity and "lewdness". What are the prerequisites or shall we say, the conditions that should exist which will lead one to say that this thing is obscene and this one is lewd?
The Law, as we often say and believe, is fair, balanced and scientific. I dare this prosecutor to tell me the requisites of this law on obscenity and lewdness. And then I will ask--who actually made those requisites into requisites? On whose authority? On whose standards?
To the members of the Philippine media, let us protect the rights of Beting Dolor, Thelma San Juan, Pierre and all the rest of the editors victimized by these "moralist/fundamentalists"! Let us uphold the law by preventing the law from being smeared by the pseudo-beliefs of these people.