Mideo Cruz’s Kulo: Freedom of Mis-Expression

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We confess:

We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the Name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

—Pastor Joe Wright

The prayer above was from my textbook in Christian Living when I was in third grade, I think. I lost that book, I forgot what part of Christianity were we studying by then but I never forgot this. This opened by young mind to the consciousness of my limitation as a person.

Sorry for not just choosing the part where I need most to discuss in this article. But I think everybody needs to read the entirety of that all encompassing prayer to understand the limits and excuses of humanity in justifying their wrong acts. One thing that I do not understand in the news nowadays is that why a lot of Filipino “artists” protests against the removal of the controversial “Kulo” exhibit of Mr. Mideo Cruz.  Of course, I do understand where they were coming from. To say the least, this right had been overplayed, overused and overstated to an overwhelming extent. As the Section 4, Article III of the 1987 Constitution so provides,

“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” 

There is no doubt that exercising this freedom is what makes us all human and in a sense, sovereign from another person. This freedom is the means of a person or persons to communicate or to rage about discrimination in men as preference in employment, in the want for our LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) brothers and sisters to be accepted by the community and in the thirst of some persons to practice religion where they are minority. This freedom also freed our country from the more than four hundred years of Spanish occupation. Jose Rizal enlightened us with Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo as well as his articles on the bigotry and oppression of our forefathers. Other national heroes also resorted into writing for our freedom like Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Graciano Lopez-Jaena, Antonio Luna and the rest of our propagandists as well as the Katipuneros like Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto in history. During Martial Law, a lot of young men and women did fight secretly by publishing their anger on their loss of speech and the repression and hounding of the government to whoever fights for it. Yeah, I know you get the story that’s why we are now living in a world where we could easily express our views. This blog, of course, is a concrete example so is my Twitter account. The television, Internet and newspapers hardly have anything to regulate them. We love fiery arguments of another person, we love criticizing anyone mindlessly and we even like in-depth showbiz news which they all provide. Nonetheless, even though we overuse this freedom in our everyday lives, that doesn’t give us the right to be reckless.

Let me remind everyone again that there is NO SUCH THING as ABSOLUTE FREEDOM. But what limits it, you ask? The answer lies on the rest of our 1987 Constitution again which are other rights stated on the 22 sections of the Bill of Rights including due process, privacy of communication, freedom of religion. Simply put, you are going beyond the right vested in you from the time you are already stepping on the right of another person or group of persons. These rights are further limited by the Revised Penal Code. It’s a crime to uncontrollably say or publish defamatory or hurtful articles that’s why there is such thing as libel and slander. It’s even punishable if one incites to overthrow or incite war because this disrupts public peace. Pornography items are also illegal because it transforms the thinking of men with some women as sex objects. Offending religious feelings is also punishable just like what happened with Carlo Celdran and his “Damaso” sign. Just imagine a world with absolute freedom of expression. It shall be a more despiteful, more reckless and lonelier so to speak.

In Mideo Cruz’s “art work” he stepped on the feelings of the Christians who revere their religion. I wonder what would happen if he did a “Kulo” this time against Islam. I’m sure our Muslim brothers and sisters, who are known to be very passionate and brave with their religion, shall definitely also action on this. Just how important is Religion, the Supreme Court answered it with the 1974 landmark case, Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers’ Union et. al., to wit:

The constitutional provision into only prohibits legislation for the support of any religious tenets or the modes of worship of any sect, thus forestalling compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship, but also assures the free exercise of one’s chosen form of religion within limits of utmost amplitude. It has been said that the religion clauses of the Constitution are all designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and with the common good.

Yes, I am a devout Catholic but personally, I was more of annoyed than hurt when I see parts of the “Kulo” exhibit from photographs on-line. They said it was “mixed-media” style but for me, I just see pieces of things glued together and childish vandalism on the images of Jesus and Mama Mary. Really now, is this art? Frankly, it looks like garbage for me. I do not condemn Mr. Mideo Cruz as a person but indeed, I see no art in what he had done. Perhaps, this wouldn’t have been an issue had it not for Cultural Center of the Philippines better use of their “artistic eye”. Come on, CCP, there are so much, much more talents in this country that needs more support and attention than him. Rather than calling this a blasphemy, I call this a very juvenile and insignificant piece of junk that is not worthy for all the media and public attention it’s now enjoying had it been displayed in CCP, but of course whether there had been negligence on the part of CCP is another story and I’ll leave that to the determination of our government instead.

In conclusion, I end this with a quote from Sigmund Freud. This verse verily summarized what is the essence of this issue regarding freedom of speech or expression or any freedom for that matter,

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.

Now the question remains: Who would be responsible for this “Kulo” hodge-podge?

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