Guest Blogger: The Filipino Culture of Pandering to Ignorance.

Posted by admin | Posted on January 19, 2016

January 19, 2016

As the great philosophers, scientists and artists of our time have said quite often, why must we pander to the willful ignorance of the masses? Is being offended more important now than the propagation of intellectual dialogue and argumentation? What kind of future generations are we raising by teaching them to shut their mouths about public stupidity in order to avoid offending the feelings of the less informed?

The Philippines has a rich culture of pandering to ignorance and shaming intellectual discussions and arguments. Pandering to lesser sensibilities is common sense in this nation. But what we need is critical thinking, not this kind of common nonsense. Often does it happen that the learned will be told of the need to censor themselves in order to comfort the ignorance and stupidity of those around them, as if the political lobbying of the ignorant wasn’t bad enough for the whole political organism that is the nation, lest they incur wrath upon themselves for speaking the truth. Is honesty therefore the best policy or is it some myth we tell children? The lessons of childhood are often at odds with the adult culture of the country. Where once we told children to aspire for knowledge, skepticism and curiosity, told them that they need to be educated and to be leaders in order to bring about a just and progressive society that will protect the individual freedoms and liberties of the people, we now tell adults that they need to avoid speaking about educated ideas, intellectual arguments and radical ideas in an effort to avoid hurting the feelings of those who should know better. What indeed has happened to us?

The golden age of the Philippines is long gone and over. Where once the country was led by the most educated of people, we now have more and more stupid politicians and showbiz personalities being voted into positions of power and decision making. An issue that is no secret and well known to everyone. Personalities like Tito Soto or Alma Moreno easily make it into the senate and the people are none the wiser each election period. A recent debacle happened when on live television, Alma Moreno was being questioned regarding a very important political issue. Alma Moreno was unable to answer properly and her ignorance was made bare in public. Netizens were quick to pick up on it and made memes ridiculing her ignorance and stupidity. However, days later, the interviewer, Karen Davila, was forced to apologize for her line of questioning that was necessary and important. What is that? Are people running for political positions now to be immune from intellectual questioning in order to avoid offending feelings and maintain a falsely claimed reputation of capability? It was not the interviewer who proved that Ms. Moreno was ignorant and stupid, she did that to herself on her own. Politicians need to be scrutinized with nothing less than the most extreme of skepticism and questioning. The fate of the nation may soon lie on the shoulders of people like her. And yet it is the host, not the stupid and ignorant, who had to apologize in public. Is this not evidence enough of the deteriorating educational and intellectual situation in the country?
Filipinos love their freedoms and liberties, so much shamefully so that one will even get away with jaywalking or plunder. But honest to goodness meant, it is our positive freedoms and liberties that are under attack and at risk of being lost due to the ineptitude of politicians being voted by a public that should be knowing better.
Since when did we start seeing “being offended” as more important than truth and the freedom to express? Since when did we begin calling ignorant and stupid arguments as anything but what it is? Has political correctness become more important than the ridicule of unsound opinions?
As adults, we are now told to avoid confrontation, avoid arguments, avoid offending sensibilities and avoid conflict and debate in discussions, the very fulcrums and wheels that turn societies around from being horrible cesspools of ignorance into brimming hubs of progress, advancement, solutions and innovation. No great civilization has ever reached the height of its glory by being oversensitive, rather, all great civilizations began deteriorating once closed minded arguments became the norm and the uneducated gained the upper hand.
In our country nowadays, we are told that we must avoid offending, because hurt feelings are now more important than the propagation of truth and honesty. The “I am offended” response is not an argument in any sensible fashion and should not shut down intellectual and academic discussion in any way. It empowers the less educated with a weapon that will allow them to spread stupidity and ignorance unabated and unchallenged. The acceptance of this card as a form of argument shuts down reason and rationality and goes against the better sensibilities we should be teaching our children.
Pandering to ignorance through censorship is a disservice to society and state. It assumes the position that the person being spoken to is far too immature to understand anything of sense. Basically, it means that the person is not an adult and needs to be cuddled and babied. Silence to avoid offending someone is an insult, not a show of respect. There are instances where one should avoid offensive statements, like how we should avoid calling pregnant women fat, that’s sensible enough. We should use a little common sense in this. But regarding matters of the state and society, no. No argument that is used to affect and lobby social policies should be free from skepticism and ridicule. That is the point of freedom of speech. Being “offended” has no benefit to offer whatsoever in a civilized thinking and deciding society.
Stephen Fry aptly puts it in 2005, “It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that”, as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase.”
The late and great Christopher Hitchens in turn said “If someone tells me that I’ve hurt their feelings I’m still waiting to hear what your point is.”
If we really want to make this nation great again, we will need to outgrow childish statements and sentiments like “I am offended” and actually make a sensible argument that would allow the nation to move forward. To avoid the process adopted in higher academic institutions will only bring more problems, not less. We should learn to stop patronizing the ignorant and pandering to their every whine. Filipinos need to wake-up, grow-up and actually have something sensible to contribute to society other than hurt feelings.

By: Christopher Villadelgado Barredo
BS Psychology Graduate
HAPI Admin/Editor

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