Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Joe Am Deletes a Comment

Sometimes our aspiration for high ideals goes astray.

The introduction to The Society of Honor, up there at the top of this page, tries to express an ideal, an openness to expressions pro or con on any issue, without need to descend to personal insult. After all, personal insult is rather like people washing dirty laundry in public or throwing turds on the wall of someone's home. It is not the highest representation of a kind and civilized people.

I am rather of the belief that if we (writers and commenters) strive to set a constructive tone for this blog, others will pick up on that tone and participate in the same vein. Open, for sure. Not pinched and high-falootin' with some kind of air of superiority. Just open and open-minded. With humor. With perspective. With intelligence. Critical but non-judgmental, if you catch the distinction. Leaning on the myriad of experiences and impressions that are available among a large group of smart people. Very different from those mud-slinging sites that aspire to be sensationalist  and popular rather than inventive and constructive. Sites that just can't seem to separate issue from personality, as if it were a concept their minds can't grasp. Issue. Person. Different.

I do presume that the people who read this blog are intelligent. That is the target audience. They have a high school degree, probably some or a lot of college, and are interested in intellectual growth. And they are interested in the well-being of the Philippines.

So that's the idea, and I think if you read the comments on the article threads you will find that they generally live up to this ideal. Comments are insightful and they add a lot to the blog article. The article, after all, is not meant to be a definitive statement on everything. It is meant to provoke thinking.

The comment I deleted was placed beneath a note to JoeAm from Kris Aquino thanking Joe for a recent blog expressing confidence in her brother, President Noynoy Aquino.

Until now, I have not published an e-mail address so that I can receive such private messages. The only way Ms. Aquino could reach me was via the blog thread.

As of today, people have an e-mail address should they choose to contact JoeAm directly. It has been added to the introduction at the top of the page. I also welcome guest submissions - articles from others - at this address.

 Anonymous replied to Kris Aquino with an insult to the President of the Philippines. I was originally going to put the remark in this article, separate from its original context, but . . . sorry . . . it is too personal, too insulting, and absolutely not necessary.

Now here is why I deleted the comment, my second deletion in four years of blogging.

The message from Kris Aquino was  a thoughtful personal note to JoeAm. It started off "Dear Joe" and was clearly written directly to Joe. She's a busy lady. She did not have to write.

Kris Aquino is a guest of this blog, she is not the principal.  She is in my internet home, behaving graciously, and I will not allow some heathen to use my hospitality to besmirch her or her brother.

What kind of person would insert his or her personal angers and obnoxious views into a courteous personal note like that?

I don't know.

Low class, for sure. About as low as a person can go. Especially since the message from Kris Aquino reflected on Mr. Aquino's subdued mood due to the plane crash involving Interior Secretary Robredo. Clearly, this was a serious and sincere message.

The remark from anonymous shocked and dismayed me.  This particular anonymous is a very angry person, I would guess. He or she is certainly not nuanced as to courtesy and dignity. In reading this article, I would guess he or she will strive for rationalizations about how JoeAm is an idiot and it is his rightful and constructive duty to slam the president. It's the same kind of perverted logic you get from the thugs at GRP or Anti-Pinoy.
I debated for a short time as to whether or not to delete the message. Maybe I should let it stand so people can witness this disgusting display of incivility. It is what it is, eh? I don't need to protect Kris Aquino or President Aquino. They are public figures out front in a world that is less than kind. They probably deal with this kind of obscenity all the time.

But, no. I can't leave it there. It is too far removed from the tenor of the blog site that I aspire to produce. It dirties the blog. I don't want it there.

So I sigh a deep sigh, a real big deep, disappointed sigh. And punch "delete".

Sometimes we trust in others.

Sometimes they do not have the character to live up to that trust.


  1. You have the right to bar any pesky guest into your home. Only those with humor and something resembling a rational comment need enter. That commenter whose comment you deleted might be sick and seriously consider eating an apple a day...


    1. Yes, Doc. I'd prefer that those who read and comment do the editing, though. Sort of raise themselves up to the higher plane so I don't have to act like some Daddy to them.

    2. Was the comment aimed at Kris or at Pnoy? If it was against Kris, man, that's pretty low for a gentleman. Definitely not for the Society of Honor...


    3. At the President. Kris was asked to deliver the message.

  2. You did the right thing. A person's freedom of expression ends where another one's right to refuse stupidity begins.

    1. Go ahead, Joe.

      Off topic now; would it be too much to ask if you could also write a tribute to Jesse Robredo, as part of your first class Philippines series? By most accounts, he was one world class public servant. I think he deserves to be on the list.


    2. Cha, you are right. He deserves to be in the First Class honorarium. I'll probably link to other tributes, however, as others know him well, and I'd have to start from scratch. If you wished to do a tribute, I'd publish it.

    3. Thank you for the tribute up there on the right. That's more than enough for me. i really just wanted that tag First Class Philippines to go with his name, too.

      I don't know him, too except for what other people have written about him. And yet here i am tearing up over your fine tribute.

      Thanks mate.

    4. In reading through the various tributes that are out there, two things stand out. (1) Jesse Robredo was a very good person, and (2) he believed in the Philippines.

      I detect this thread in a lot of the appointments that President Aquino has made.

  3. Cant blame you Joe, I once kick a religious minister out of my house for abusing my trust.

    Its Jack

    1. Well, I held you in high regard before, and now you've upped it another notch. Trust is precious.

    2. Huh! Its a wonderful life, you know!

      Posting views in your domain blog is honorable.

      Its Jack

  4. From: Island Jim-e (aka: The Cricket)

    Observation: Every good gardener needs to sift
    the good seed from the shaff...or cull the bad
    fruit from the vine ( good jelly, wine and
    the other liquid gold/essense comes from a closely
    watched-monitored brew-kettle press or still!)

    chirp, Chirp!

  5. Hi Joe, You may want to do a future piece on this:

    Go To Tribune online news and go to the article by Arch Oscar Cruz, "Even Animals Observe Natural Family Planning."

    Cruz' praise for the animal kingdom makes me wonder if he endorses polygamy, the rule of the jungle and cannibalism (done by many animal species) It's too rich a source for your satires and irony!

    Why it landed on a newspaper rarely read, I dont know. But it's getting nuttier by the minute, like that Ateneo 192 professors signing a pro-RH manifesto and getting threatened by the CBCP.

    1. Well, andrew, you certainly know how to tantalize my curiosity and maybe satiric creativity. I'll look up the article. No promises yet, just a little investigation. Thanks.

    2. Whoa! That would be an interesting read.

      The title itself, "Even Animals Observed Natural Family Planning", already caught my curiosity deeply especially when penned by the controversial Arch Cruz.

      Its Jack

    3. Sorry to disappoint - it is not interesting. It is simplistic and puerile.

    4. Ah, but simplistic and puerile is good fodder for satire, which can arch into subjects which aren't so simple.

  6. Joe,

    1. I tend to fall on the side of freedom of expression.

    2. Censorship is a tool easily abused. And the question always asked, in so far as government censorship goes, is who will censor the censor?

    3. DocB, Cha and Jack all agree that censorship is permissible on the grounds of: (a) Non-rational comments (DocB); (b) Stupidity (Cha); and (c) Abuse, specifically abuse of trust (Jack).

    4. The US Supreme Court supports their positions on the ground that certain kinds of expressions, like obscenity, are unworthy of protection.

    That makes it almost unanimous, right?

    Going further, I consider four facts:

    1. That the remark was a personal insult to the President.

    2. This blog is your home.

    3. That you debated with yourself before hitting the Delete button.

    4. That you thought of publishing the deleted comment in a separate thread.

    I input all of these into my computer and – whirr, whirr – it’s official: the decision is unanimous. I like that Fact 4 was considered. On Fact 2, yes, anyone can wonder in, but you decide who gets to sleep in.

    If the above seems a lengthy process, it is how my mental processes run. Of course, it’s quicker than the time it takes to write.

    But let me throw a puzzle: If I expressed a radical idea - more radical than the Church of Man - and supported it with reason, would you exercise censorship? Consider:

    1. Proposition: I favour sex education but say that it does not go far enough. Sex education should include actual sex. It should not only cover safe sex and reproduction but also techniques in gaining and giving satisfaction.

    2. Three reasons:

    2.1. Young people do not have to burn until marriage.

    2.2. It will lessen immorality because people will not need to seek satisfaction outside of marriage.

    2.3. It will eliminate this often times unhealthy obsession with sex, and allow our energies to be directed to more important things.

    This is more than a theoretical proposition. Sex always seems to be the final frontier, the last taboo. It's not and it shouldn't be. It's a natural function. The bees and the birds do it. Let's not worry ourselves and our children about it.

    1. I personally like radical and even bizarre ideas that provoke thought, such as Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal", in which he proposed that Irish citizens eat the extra babies being produced. The result of his article was a great uproar and then legislation to actively reduce the poverty that was really Swift's target.

      Besides, the proposed article demeans no one, and would certainly stretch the brain.

      I also like the logic you outlined in considering whether a remark should be deleted or not. I went through a similar exercise but not as organized as yours.

  7. Hello Sir. I have been reading your blog for a while now, but I think this is the first comment I have made on your blog. I just wanted to say that I agree with you. While censorship in general makes me uncomfortable, I do think it's necessary at times, especially on the internet. Many articles have been written about how the anonymity of the net brings out the worst in many. Just read the comments on news sites - sometimes I get shocked at how vicious these anonymous cowards can be.


    1. Sarah, good of you to visit and comment. Yes, some people are hard to understand. But I think, statistically, they make up a very very small part of the population. Their noise and the impact of their insults tends to be much bigger than they are.

  8. Gosh, Joe, I suggest you send this article to all self-professed "brilliant" whisky swigging, cigarette-puffing Philippine Newspaper editors and their slash-and-burn low-intelligence moderators as their guide when to hit DELETE button.

    I noticed that non-compelling arguments are retained by their moderators and my compelling arguments are deleted just because I cannot help my self laughing at their loony news reporting.

    1. The newspapers must appeal to the broad audience of those with 8th grade education, or maybe it's 3rd in the Philippines, so your double-bending insights disrupt their flow. Especially the laughter you aim at their puerile brains. Your wit and wisdom are always welcome here!


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