Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cyber Middleclass, Cyber Middle Finger

The cybercrime prevention law is — in the words of those who, by force of habit or by habit of force, hide behind the mist of jargon — draconian. In dictionary terms, it is extremely harsh. It professes to secure the wide wired world by defining online crimes, by reinforcing the criminal aspect of libel, by imposing more severe penalties, and it does so at the expense of our basic right to freedom of speech. It damns one by damning all, and it is wont to not give a damn. 

In the aftermath of the passage of the law, three things come to mind: junk, defy, and amend. The call to defy the cybercrime prevention law and the call to junk the same are two different things. In the first place, defiance of the law permits its continued existence, for if there is no law there is nothing to defy. Let the law stand, and let the people in turn defy it. Like massive cock, or big male chicken, in mouth, this course of action is hard to swallow. Although it has the pretense of protesting the law, it nonetheless accedes to the curtailment of certain rights, specifically that of the freedom of speech. It is a position that tolerates pointless adventurism all in the name of testing legal limits. It does not bother to uproot the law, at least not primarily, precisely because it necessitates the law that it is supposed to disobey.

On the other hand, the call to junk the law is what its phrasing clearly demands, which is to banish the cybercrime prevention law, no more and no less. Make that rubbish return from whence it came. Refuse receipt and ship the full package back to its sender. Let it not see the light of day again so that we can breathe a little more in what is left of this elbow room called democratic space.

Still, there are those who want to bargain for amendments. Place the law before the guillotine and let the blade slice the neck, but spare the rest because a headless body might still have a pulse and live forever. The problem is that the law tries to field a gamut of crimes under one roof. It is a hodgepodge of proscriptions, a congressional Frankenstein riddled with a malicious design reminiscent of an Orwellian nightmare. Ladies and gentlemen, witness before you this unmistakable wisdom of the legislature, passed under the auspices of an unmistakably venerable president. We want to remove select provisions just to make it a little bit palatable when it should be clear by now that the prime defect of the law is its very existence. It sends a chilling effect to our rights, our freedoms, and anything less than its complete nullification is organic fertilizer.

What is most frightening, though, is that there are people who want the law to be retained as it currently stands, and they chastise those who think otherwise. The crux of their banter is this: hate speech is not protected speech. The freedom of expression, they say, is not absolute. It demands responsible exercise from the one who wields it. Well, those are all cute and good, except that the arguments are not really what lexicographers may dub as arguments. They are truisms. It is beyond debate that hate speech is not protected speech, that freedom of expression is not absolute, and that there is such a thing as the responsible exercise of our freedoms. But all these things presuppose that one is even allowed to freely speak in the first place. Where speech is heavily restricted by an omniscient and omnipresent government, the distinction between hate speech and protected speech becomes illusory. Freedom of expression is not absolute, but where one cannot even open one’s mouth to say what one thinks, the freedom is reduced into a privilege available only to bootlickers who spew rainbows from their orifice. There is such a thing as the responsible exercise of our freedoms, but where one finds it troublesome to even exercise those freedoms, the responsible exercise of the same becomes no more than a museum piece.

In the larger scheme, the recent tide of sentiments against the cybercrime prevention law reflects the kind of class consciousness that permeates social networks. People swiftly turned prissy the moment that monster of a law was let loose. People voiced, or typed, their anger with urgent dispatch. To be fair, it can be the natural response of one who finds a stimulus too grotesque, too horrendous that it must be met with animosity, with staunch opposition, sometimes with middle finger in tow. That may be understandable. However, there is one thing that is not.

Which is this: there are online posts, too, about extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, about people losing their homes, in some cases their lives, in the wake of a demolition job, about farmers at the mercy of deceptive agrarian reforms, about laborers mauled to crimson and violet, gagged so as to cease with their cries for minimum wage, posts of these varieties that litter cyberspace, and yet the same degree of vehemence one would expect from what has recently become an angry mob of online citizens is nowhere to be found. There is silence, pure and unadulterated silence, as though our internet bandwidth, or conscience, if there is any difference, cannot be bothered, not even with a simple share or repost, or a mere like, not the least a comment.

There is one way to demystify that guilty silence. Our class consciousness gravely neuters not only our capacity to recognize monumental injustices done in broad daylight, more so those committed in the dead of the night, but also our capacity to act upon them. We are unwilling to risk tea time, or our teabags, all indications of pun intended, in favor of integrating with the basic masses so as to be able to understand their conditions because we treat our temporal comforts as far more precious. And since we find comfort in social networks, anything that threatens it automatically becomes a subject of our spite. We share nothing, not even sympathy, with the landless farmers barely able to feed themselves, certainly not with the victims of human rights abuses in the countryside, but we share, in every sense of the word, everything with everyone else on social networks, where and what we ate at what time, photos notwithstanding, even our most mundane sentiments, or our pointless qualms, questions like why the internet speed is too slow, or why people keep on sending you game requests about a virtual farm that cannot even add to our food supply, or why there are people who cannot have for an ambition losing twenty pounds of their ego instead of their fat, or why people cannot resist the urge to “photoshop” themselves to kingdom come dot com.

But that is giving too much credit where too much of the same is not even due. The disenchantment that the revolution is online is at the mercy of an electricity socket. To those who have an acute allergy to metaphors and to those breed of yellow apologists who want to tape their navels to public coffers, fuck you is the simplest phrase to put it.

I love this country. Here we have a senator who is everyone’s favorite uncle, whose brazen acts tell you he is beholden to a president and never the people, a senator of one landlord and not of the country, one who will take the bullets and ire for a president because goddamn he probably thinks it is his constitutional duty to do so, apart from legislating morality, one who is a perennial comedian so confused he can no longer distinguish his head from his ass. And he is not even trying to be funny, at least not yet.


Eleigh Llaneras said...

I love reading your blog. .very intelligent, never failing to play with words to convey your point. If you have a book, I'll buy it in a heartbeat.

SPLICE said...

Thank you Eleigh! I appreciate the compliment :)

I don't have a book. I want to, though, but sadly I can't afford the price of self-publishing. Neither will the publishing firms be interested, I think, in printing a book that will hardly sell. But it's my dream, and it still is.

Maraming salamat ulit!