Friday, May 18, 2012

Project 52 (20/52): On IDAHO (And Why "Walang Basagan Ng Trip" Is A Valid Ethical Rule Of Thumb)

.:Project 52 (20/52): On IDAHO (And Why "Walang Basagan Ng Trip" Is A Valid
Ethical Rule Of Thumb):.

Yesterday, we celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, or IDAHO for short. Given what a hot-button topic homosexuality has been lately, it's kind of a big deal. 

Also, fabulous!

Despite the leaps and bounds we may have made over the years all over the world, there is no question for the LGBT community and their allies that there is still so much left to do. That much is pretty obvious, what with all the x-phobic things going on, and being hurled in their direction, not to mention the subsequent attempts by x-phobic people in general to silence anyone with dissenting opinions.

Yes, homophobes: we've heard your arguments before. Repeating it doesn't make it any more believable.

This is very old news, ladies and gentlemen. derailing tactics are very common and  used because people don't want to come to terms with the realization that maybe, just maybe, they're actually every bit as bigoted as they happen to not want to be. It's an uncomfortable feeling, especially when most of us hetero-normative people are so used to the privilege of hardly ever being questioned for our romantic choices the way LGBT people happen to be.

Well, boo-freaking-hoo: if a little discomfort makes you cry "foul," then maybe you haven't given enough thought to the discomfort LGBT people feel when their life greatly entails having a precarious and eternal dance of treading on eggshells, always unsure about the exact limits of the tolerance their cisgendered counterparts are exhibiting while in their presence.

I've come to realize that religious reasons are now the only remaining reasons we have to remain adamantly against same-sex marriage. Barack Obama's call for marriage equality doubtlessly raised quite a ruckus in America, and its effects can be felt even here in the Philippines: a shockwave that hit the whole world radically, as we now begin to question long-held beliefs that only obstinate, blind, fundamentalist religion currently finds defensible. Interracial marriage? Female suffrage? Racial segregation? As the Bible became less of a static manual believers need to follow and more of a living, breathing word that Christians grew with, history has proven those on the other side of humanistic progress more than once.

Nowadays, these people expect gay marriage to somehow be the exception to the rule.

Based on what grounds? The Bible? That's patently, woefully faulty as grounds, given that in America and the Philippines, we are supposed to be secular. Thus, while the Catholic church, for example, may choose to maintain a hardline stance against gay marriage (As they are expected to.), they cannot force their stance on an entire nation. As such, the separation of state and church, to put it bluntly, allows them to remain as bigoted and as discriminatory as they would like to be on the marriage issue, so long as those outside their jurisdiction are not obliged to follow suit. Cool. It's not perfect, but I think that's a perfectly livable solution: nobody's going to force priests to marry gay couples, and gay couples can either leave a church that discriminates against them or simply avail of the legal, and thus, secular equivalent.

So what else? The law? Well, in American constitutional law, anti-gay marriage advocates are SOL: the law doesn't define marriage as between a man and a woman, after all. In the Philippines, on the other hand, the Family Code is rather specific about that. Well, I guess gay marriage may need to wait in line after the RH Bill and the Divorce Bill, but obviously, the Family Code can be subjected to revisions. Personally, I'm cool with that: the RH Bill is sadly being forgotten in favor of multiple other causes, and what needs to be done at this point is to focus. One step at a time. Not everyone can handle these things pouring in wholesale.

What else, then? Tradition? We've already seen how the traditions of slavery, lack of female rights to suffrage, and racial segregation didn't go over too well despite being pretty longstanding traditions. And if we look far back enough, the tradition of marriage has evolved quite a lot. It wasn't always man and woman in a few cases, and a lot of it sure wasn't even about love, but simply more of a social contract. So given the spotty tradition argument, gay marriage does have pretty solid backing, too.

But really, why do we even care if people love who they love? If they are of age and of right mind, if it is mutually consensual, who cares if they're both dudes? How will the union of two men ruin another heterosexual couple's marriage, unless you're secretly afraid that every single person is actually gay and only pretending to be straight to conform in a heteronormative society? When people cheat and divorce each other willy-nilly, is that not the destruction of a family, as opposed to two people, straight or gay, entering into a lifelong commitment with each other?

When Archie comics starts getting more progressive than you, 
I think you better start worrying about your own worldview.

I realize it's pretty easy to use scare words to really get people to fall in line. After all, if the fabric of morality in a nation will unravel when two dudes are legally recognized as married, then I guess removing that makes up for all the adultery, murder, hate speech, and discrimination already going on in the world? First of all, they're not even comparable. Two people getting married and that marriage working out is an awesome thing. Adultery, murder, hate speech, discrimination? Not so much.

Last night, while I was at 70's Bistro and watching the Itchyworms and Radioactive Sago Project, the latter had this new song entitled "Walang Basagan Ng Trip," which roughly translates to "No raining in on someone else's parade." It was an awesome song, and the message was very clear: if it's not hurting you, if it's not hurting them, then who the fuck are you to tell them to cut it out?!?

Seen performing a song from their album entitled "T*ngina mo, ang daming nagugutom sa mundo, may panahon ka pa rin mag-privilege speech tungkol kay Lady Gaga?" (Image thanks to  Noise Ninja)

People lose sight of this because they're too busy debating on insignificant points like whether Manny Pacquiao just disagrees with gay marriage or actually wants gays put to death. Way to miss the forest for the trees! Even I fell for it: I apologized to him because I misattributed something to him, but a less benign form of bigotry is still bigotry. If people are offended for being called bigots, well, they can try not being a bigot and maybe that would help remove that feeling of guilt that you now want to project on the guy who made you feel guilty.

And that's the awesome thing about it: you can actually try to stop being a bigot. Meanwhile, if you were black, you can't try to stop being black. If you were gay, you can't try to stop being gay. And you certainly can't just pray the gay away.

Go ahead. Judge him. I dare you.

"So wait," someone who suspects they may be a bigot might be asking. "Are you saying that just because we don't want gay marriage because our Bible said so, we're already bigots?"

Yes. Yes, you are. Let's rephrase that question, and maybe you'd understand why.

"So wait," someone who suspects they may be a bigot might be asking. "Are you saying that just because we don't want to give other people the same rights that we privileged lot enjoy because a book that they may or may not believe in arbitrarily said so, we're already bigots?"

Yes. Yes, you are.

In case you haven't realized, that's precisely what bigots are. Furthermore, seeing as bigots are privileged and not the marginalized sector in this picture by any stretch of imagination, you can't really be bigoted towards bigots, even if you tried. If you don't believe me, here's an exhaustive piece to explain why you can't.

So yeah, if this hit you, then yes, you're a bigot. Do you hate that feeling of being made to feel inherently evil when this was how you were for the longest time? Then you now share something in common with a lot of gay people who are normally used as props by straight friends who use them as proof positive that said friends are not homophobic at all, no siree. "I have gay friends, so I can't be homophobic!" Riiiiggghhhhttt. That's like saying you're health-conscious because you had a diet coke to go with your baconator and french fries.

When you ask them for "respect", this is what you ask them to take sitting down. Bull.

Meanwhile, the underlying hint of "yeah, we tolerate your disgusting, hellbound behavior" gives these people daily cause for discomfort that, being gay and being born that way, they have absolutely no way of changing. Bigots, on the other hand, can choose to stop being bigoted, and it'd actually make for a nice change of pace.

Fret not, though: it's not like your bigotry is the only facet to you! Nobody's perfect! Sure, bigotry is a pretty bad thing, but it doesn't make you a bad person. It sounds kinda like the exact same logic bigots use on gay people to justify their homophobia, doesn't it? Welcome to their world.

But yeah, it's a free country, and if you really want to, you can be as bigoted as you want to be. It's only when your bigotry is already hurting other people that it becomes a problem. And that's where the "Walang Basagan Ng Trip" ethical rule of thumb comes into play.

Someone wants to buy sorta-kinda expensive ice cream because Magnum seems like such a cool thing right now. Cool (literally)! Walang basagan ng trip.

Some girl posts pictures of her purchasing this sorta-kinda expensive ice cream, and even shares the receipt on the picture. It's a bit tacky, but it doesn't hurt anybody, so cool. Walang basagan ng trip.

Thousands of people call said girl an "attention whore" and a host of other mostly gendered insults. These thousands of people don't know her, have probably never met her, and are in no way affected by her having Magnum. They claim "so what?" and they "don't care" so much that they spend hours of their time just to cyber-bully this poor girl. Hold on a minute! What did she ever do to you guys? Walang basagan ng trip!

What did this girl ever do to you guys?!?

People with actual good taste in music decided that they would rather not watch Lady Gaga. Cool, go ahead and not watch. I'm sure NKOTBSB will be much, much better, anyways. Walang basagan ng trip.

Hardline Christian groups take one look at Lady Gaga's songs "Born This Way" and "Judas," and petition to have Lady Gaga's concert actually canceled. Unless she's having sex onstage, and unless little kids are expressly allowed to attend a concert that should clearly not be for all ages, hold on a minute there! Walang basagan ng trip.

Gay people want equal rights and to be free from discrimination. That sounds fair to me. Cool. Walang basagan ng trip.

Straight people don't want to get married to people of the same sex. Well, it's not like accepting homosexuality as perfectly fine means you're also homosexual, so that makes sense. Cool. Walang basagan ng trip.

The government is going to let any two consenting adults, regardless of creed, race, or sexual orientation, get married. Marriage as a union of mutual love? I'm all for that! Cool! Walang basagan ng trip.

The government is going to insist that in order to deal with the population explosion, for the next decade, only same-sex marriages will be allowed. That's not gonna fly. Hold on a minute there! Walang basagan ng trip!

The Catholic church, being a religious institution people may freely choose to participate or not participate in, will remain steadfastly against gay marriage. Cool, they are free to do that. Walang basagan ng trip.

The Catholic church will threaten lawmakers with excommunication or with the non-existent "Catholic voting bloc" so that they would not make laws like the RH Bill. Are you seriously going to let 11 women die in childbirth everyday without a fight just to honor your Bible? A Bible that not everyone, not even your own leadership, subscribes to and interprets universally? Walang basagan ng trip!

Had I written my thesis based on this principle instead of focusing on Levinas, I have a feeling I'd have ended up all the better for it, and I'd probably have a PhD by now. Then again, maybe not, but it was just a stray thought I had to mention.

Am I saying that all these choices people make are the right choices to make (Although again, homosexuality isn't a choice, but the other examples mostly stand.)? Of course not! It's just that the whole point of human beings having free will simply means that if any of these choices, such as marrying or not marrying, watching or not watching Lady Gaga, using or not using contraception, turn out to be wrong, then it's part and parcel of the human condition to realize the rightness or wrongness of these decisions.

To remove these options, to remove the possibility of making these choices or even mistakes, that is when it becomes patently wrong, and that is when it crosses the threshold into basag-trip territory. If all this TL;DR text hasn't made that point clear enough yet, that's a very, very bad thing.

Kung ang trip mo, hindi naman bumabasag sa trip ng ibang tao, walang karapatan ang sinumang basagin ang iyong trip.

Thank you very much, Lourd De Veyra.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's hard to go wrong with a simple ethical rule of thumb like this. For as long as your own inclinations do not trample upon other's inclinations, then by all means, hold onto them for all you want. You can be as straightedge as you want so long as you don't shove the straightedge lifestyle down anyone's throats. You can drink all you want so long as your drinking poses no danger to other people (Hint: you're not driving.), and you're ready to deal with the consequences of drinking. You can even be as bigoted as you want so long as you don't hurt anyone else with your bigotry!

That last one's a little bit tricky though, isn't it? Guess you still need to work on that, then, but don't worry about it. We accept you for who you are. ;)

You've been trying for 2012 years more or less, but keep trying. You'll get it eventually.

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