on censorship

This is a compilation of two reactions I had emailed to another research student on this issue:

I would like to bring up a few points: As your quoted writer said, "it's simply not true that the lines between Church and State are completely blurred": the Church has the right to safeguard her flock in the areas of faith and morality in a way parallel to that of any secular state to implement censorship laws (true of many places, even uber-liberal New York City: note the city gov't's plan to cut subsidies to certain irreverent artists at the Brooklyn Museum).

The movie ban by the Censors Board is a secular penalty authorized by a secular power that the local church may have lobbied for, but, ultimately, is beyond its power to impose. And the Manila archdiocese did not carry out any ban. I'm sorry if the Censors' move curtailed your (anyone's) freedom of expression. I'm sure the disenfranchised visual artists sponsored by the Brooklyn museum feel the same way about Giuliani's funding cut (which was the secular authority's decision and not that of any church). It's just one more illustration that there is no unlimited freedom in this imperfect world (everybody pays taxes [income or va], right?).

Sure, the Church can be counted on to thunder in pulpits that SOME artworks (in fact, the Bible is chock-full of sex and violence-- which nonetheless advance salvation history) that show screwing (in order to arouse the viewer's selfish desires instead of bringing out thoughts of charity) are bad for the souls of the faithful. As previously stated, the Church cannot ban any movie such as "Live Show" outright, BUT it can forcefully present its objections. The Church is a society too, and it can mobilize advocates within -- and only within -- its sphere of faith and morals.

In the past, these objections involved drastic measures such as putting certain booktitles on the Index of prohibited books (though the ban has been lifted, those books remain harmful to most readers primarily because many of them are muddled and unreadable [like The Capital {my opinion, anyway}]).

I have a hunch that "Live Show" is a blatantly mediocre skin flick not worth an iota of the hype it has generated. By issuing moral guidelines about artworks, the Church, in fact, may be doing the faithful a good service by not making them waste time and hard-earned cash. I'm sorry for my many limitations, but, yeah, I favor banning the film based on a "hunch." I am biased on this point. For several weighty reasons ranging from lack of funding and gross commercialism in its film industry, the Philippines has not produced any notable (artistically exhilarating or mildly thought-provoking) sex film since "Oro, Plata, Mata" (if you can consider it that), and even that film's merit is suspect, since its style is highly derivative. "Maynila Sa Kuko ..." and "Ganito Kami Noon,..." are classics, and I don't remember them as treating sex as an end in itself.

Unfortunately, people can choose to skirt laws (both of the church and state) as well as bans to feed their selfish desires. In the case of the church, it has done its job of voicing objections to the depravity of the flick (in the same way it speaks about the ills of marital infidelity and corruption in govt). That is all it can be expected to do. Each one makes a decision based on his/her conscience. NOt even God forces people to believe in Him or follow the decalogue.

I don't know what precise role the cardinal played in the ban of "LIve Show" but regardless of this, he should not take all the flak for what happened to that flick. The president or the chief censor who imposed the ban did so of his/her own free will and well within the ambit of his/her secular authority (perhaps after judging that the flick offended the sensibilities of certain quarters). The cardinal has his flaws, but he cannot be indicted for a mere "desire to remove it from public view." He is also entitled to freedom of expression.

To be sure, "summoning the MTRCB Chair and hurling insults at him in the Cardinal's own house" is definitely unchristian. I don't know if that really transpired. The same goes for "the Cardinal telephoning the President immediately and asking the President to act on his complaints." I'm very sorry if the hierarchy is made up of flawed individuals (in a sense, they mirror their flock).

If there was any moral fight at all, it was between the Church and the evil occasioned by mediocre skin flicks. As I have been trying to point out, the Church "fights" against sins, not people per se no matter how depraved they may be. I totally agree with you that the MTRCB should represent the various view-points of the country. The MTRCB has its prerogative and mandate that I do not have any control over.

As regards clerics and nuns who recommend an R rating for the said flick, the Church is made up of more than a billion souls with roughly the same number of viewpoints. Such differences in opinion over temporal (not to mention spiritual) affairs are not surprising at all. Further, as in any ban, law or revolution (PP2 is a stark example), for that matter, there is never an assurance that a ban will serve the interest of the majority. Politics (or education) is ALWAYS about elites ratifying their agenda supposedly for the interest of the uncritical mobs.

I don't have anything against the classification system. It no doubt has its merits.

I totally agree with you on the proposition that "the ban imposed a single Morality upon an admittedly heterogeneous people." The same can be said of the laws promulgated by Moses and Jesus. There is no referendum when it comes to faith and morality. NOw as to the ban on the skin flick, it can be lifted if the authorities deem the object of the ban as not injurious to people's sensibilities. If they do lift it, I will respect their choice.

As for me, I will not endure sitting through an inane movie, whether it's about sex workers or faith healers (I'd rather watch vintage Fellini, Bergman or Kurosawa).

Maybe this can clarify some aspects of the issue (from the Catholic Encyclopedia):


A door; Actual size=180 pixels wide

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