Opinion makers, please stop spreading the lie

By Jean Paul L. Zialcita

IN her article, “Condoms in the spotlight” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 November 2010), Rina Jimenez-David asks:

And if the Holy Father, in his compassion, sees fit to abjure the sin of a prostitute (male or female) using a condom, why can’t he find the same compassion in his heart for men and women seeking a balance between responsible parenthood and fulfilled couple-hood? Why can’t he give them a break?

No, Ms. David, the Pope has not abjured anything of the sort. I suggest you read the Pope’s words again in Light of the World (assuming you’ve already read them, of course; we cannot just rely on second-hand data from AP, Reuters, and BBC). You must have misunderstood something somewhere.

All the Pope said is that when an HIV-infected prostitute (male or female—it doesn’t matter) uses a condom so as not to spread the virus, the act of using the condom could be interpreted as a sign that the prostitute’s sense of good and evil isn’t entirely dead. The concern not to spread the virus on the part of the condom-using, HIV-infected prostitute could, therefore, be construed as a first step in the direction of taking responsibility for immoral acts committed.

So, no, Ms. David, this is not about the Pope showing compassion for prostitutes and withholding it from married couples. He is compassionate towards everyone, especially towards those who need to realize their dignity but whose weaknesses impede such a realization.

Mr. Zialcita is an Assistant Professor at the Political Science Department of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy of the University of the Philippines – Diliman.

More substantial columns, please.

I would like to believe that there’s a dearth of potential columnists, that’s why the Manila Bulletin chose Floro L. Mercene to rank among its regular writers.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mr Mercene could give his readers more  value  and substance in what they read?

Fine, his style is condensing his wording into Twitter update-lookalikes and arranging them in almost-random order (separated by three asterisks); it keeps each of his ideas down to its very basic. Nothing wrong with it per se.

The problem comes, however, when he begins dishing out opinion (because his is an opinion article after all, and often in less than 140 characters, as in Twitter) without sufficient elaboration and citation of facts. In other words, his column suffers from want of more substance. Below is taken from his article today, entitled “Showdown on RH bill” (10/11/10 p. A11):

Congress will defy the church and pass the Reproductive Health bill no matter what.
The church is facing a big embarrassment if it does not change its position.
***
The church is strongly opposing passage of the RH bill and threatens to excommunicate the President and others who will support the bill.
We have a problem.

And then after the series of pro-RH bill statements, he says:

Archbishop says using the Internet to collect bets for small town lottery, proposed by a franchise holder, will lead to more gambling.
Faster bets, faster turnover of losses and winnings.

Mr Mercene is the author of Manila Men in the New World: Filipino Migration to Mexico and the Americas from the Sixteenth Century, published in 2007 by the UP Press. I would rather hear the relevant bits  of that period in Philippine history instead of random rants on current events.