Beyond False Dichotomies (An Open Letter – Part 2)

Dear Antonio P. Contreras,

I have come not to convince you but to ask. To share, to gain knowledge, and to paraphrase our mutual friend, to contribute steam to intellectual ferment.

I have neither come to curtail your freedom of speech. No person or political group has the monopoly of such freedom. Some comments to my post notwithstanding, I echo the cry of civil libertarians: I may not agree with what you say but I will defend until death your right to say it.

I have come instead to invite you to a cause: to elevate the level of discourse permeating in social media — to disagree without being disagreeable. To reason and not to shame.

To repeat, there is no shame in having a conviction not shared by many. Shame lies not in having an honest opinion but elsewhere. Shame lies in being a monster who hides in anonymity and darkness and threatens or curses people (Mamatay ka sana! Ma-rape ka sana!). Shame lies in intellectual dishonesty and academic egoism – shooting down others’ opinion not on the basis of logic but on the basis of argumentum ad hominem. Shame lies in uncalled for epithets and misogyny. Shame lies in blind support as much as it lies in blind opposition. Shame lies in what is wrong regardless of color. May dilaw na walanghiya. May pulang walang hiya. May asul na walang hiya. Husgahan natin ang kawalang hiyaan hindi ayon sa kulay bagkus ayon sa katwiran.

Let me therefore continue to reason with you and, now with Ms. Sassot:

Yes, Lijar is small (just a little bigger over 4 countries in the world). But is the Lijar precedence devalued simply because it happens to be small?

The other wars, while in part have something to do with boundaries, were stimulated if not worsened by the most unusual and curious circumstances. That was the basic premise of the historical analogy in as much as it was in response to your statement that: “international relations is not as simple as what [Ms. Isidro] think[s] it is. Countries do not behave like the soap opera [she] play[s] where a bitchiness of one leads to a catfight, or a fistfight.”

And at this time and age, we’re not just talking about wars in strictly legal terms as limited to military combat. There’s a possibility of economic reprisals and sanctions like the withholding or pulling out of investments. Is it not that the latter relates to the many wars the country has to win — war on drugs, crime, corruption, poverty and traffic, among many others.

I would, of course, be happy to be proven false. The purpose of free speech, after all, is to allow the free flow of ideas for rational discourse. To spread knowledge not hate.

* * *
Beyond false dichotomies is a shared prayer: a better Philippines.



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