Welcome, everyone, to Real Talk Tuesdays! This is where we encourage contributors of Girls Got Game to share their feelings with us on so-called issues in “the real world”. They may or may not have to do with geeky things. If you ever stumble across something that you think any of us would be interested in, feel free to drop us a line!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, Girls Got Game! as a whole.
Let’s go over the fine details, just for the record. In a video that clearly shows how this was put through a PR team and produced as an official statement, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao set the Internet on fire by saying that gay people were “worse than animals”. His logic was, as he proclaimed, based on the teachings of the Bible, and from what he knows, animals do not engage in homosexual intercourse.
We’re just going to show you all this image here…
Keywords: “a video that clearly shows how this was put through a PR team and produced as an official statement”. Why is this important? Because, as any sensible Filipino citizen would know, it’s election season. The Pacman is gunning for a position on the Senate. As if his noted lack of attendance to Congress hearings and the meetings of other equally important government bodies hasn’t already been pointed out before.
Retribution and impassioned defenses have been swift to wrack up. Beyond the rage of millions of flaring netizen tempers, Pacquiao’s homophobic slur just cost the boxer his contract with Nike. Many local stars have responded, as have some international ones. Devoted supporters of the Catholic principles that Pacquiao supposedly represents have gone Medieval on everyone by burning Nike shoes down in Cebu. Our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds seem to be filled with a back and forth on who agrees or disagrees, who’s reveling in this PR nightmare Pacquiao is now facing (although he remains unrepentant on the matter), why we should care, or not care.
There are several layers, I feel, to this issue. I’ve already mentioned the fact that he is a government official with clear interest in doing another stint in an even HIGHER position than the one he occupied before. I’ve mentioned how he’s lost a contract, which is a concrete manifestation of the law of cause and effect in “free speech” – because this IS the essence of free speech, which has a dimension of social responsibility that most people conveniently forget about. Personal opinions are welcome in the public space, but your audience is equally free to react. So yes, to those of you defending Pacquiao: you’re well within your rights to do that, just as everyone else is welcome to disagree with you, or be clear about how the issue that upsets you doesn’t actually concern them. Freedom of speech does NOT mean that people are entitled to listen to you, nor does it mean freedom from the consequences of your words —
— and such consequences ought to be even heavier on someone in a position of power and authority. Dealing with issues of representation is tricky on its own when it comes to celebrity figures. How, for one, do we separate the contributions to history, to a sport, or to a body of work from the man? SHOULD we even separate them? I have no quick answer. In this case, however, outside of being a boxer, Pacquiao is in government. I CANNOT emphasize this enough. Are people honestly cool with having a guy with this sort of rhetoric in power? Can we trust him to be critical, to be willing to engage in discourse, to be ready to answer to our needs? I know that I’m not voting for him. My tax money isn’t just financing his beliefs. It’s also financing his glaring absence in presence and contributions to public policy.
I think, as well, that in our anger over the slurs, we’re forgetting to ask an even more important question: why is it that, time and again, our Catholic institutions are producing people whose views or sense of morals are uninformed or damaging to a greater body of people? I feel that this isn’t about Pacquiao’s lack of a formal education or breeding, because bigotry seems to be equally prevalent across all social classes and levels of educational attainment. This is indicative of how religious leaders in the Philippines may, indeed, be as ignorant and uninformed in their perspective as their constituents are. How else are we seeing shit like this cropping up on our online feeds? Why else are we dreading the comments section of our own timelines?
Religious beliefs should never been an excuse for hatred, nor should they be an excuse for intellectual laziness. No single religion or philosophical slant should consider itself immune to discourse, especially when it comes to issues of ethics and morality. Christian leaders and educators are producing generation upon generation of people like Pacquiao, people who will be VOTING for people like Pacquiao. I thought Christianity was a faith of grace, understanding, compassion, and love. Furthermore, I thought that a real faith is an INFORMED faith, NOT one that simply falls back on whatever one has been spoon fed in Theology/CLE classes, or at Mass. This needs to stop.
If you’re interested in reading up on how Christianity may actually view same-sex couples and same-sex marriage, I’ve got three links for your reference. Salon has published a piece, there’s a Gay Bible Study over here on WordPress, and Patheos has their own take on the Bible and homosexuality. I also stumbled upon an interesting take on the nature of opinions and entitlement from a Philosophy professor here.
On a final note: lots of solid commentary has been floating around online about this matter. We’d like you to link your favorites to us, and let us know what you think of this.