It’s the dishonesty, stupid

Carla Montemayor
Cretins are annoying, yes, but there are deeper problems in our politics to get worked up about: abuse of power, impunity and dishonesty, for example

Sumayaw, sumunod ka sa indak ng panahon
Kasabay ng mga alituntunin ngayon
Sumayaw, sumunod ka sa indak ng panahon
Maki-quote ka, mag-research ka
Ngayon! *

So we have all had a go at Tito Sotto for his stupidity. It’s been fun and cathartic but I’m afraid it’s not going to work. This man is so ridiculous, he is almost impossible to ridicule.

“Kung gayon, lahat ng mga kumakanta ng mga kanta ng VST ay puedeng i-charge ng plagiarism.” 

“Marunong palang managalog si Kennedy.”

Wow. Call the fire brigade! Someone’s a flaming moron!

The problem is that Wanbol University™ gags lose potency when you consider that his more intellectually gifted and frightfully educated colleagues have excused plagiarism in just about the same ways as Sotto has. “No one owns it. Unless you copyrighted it, anyone can copy it. If you recite Hamlet, you know it was Shakespeare,” said Enrile. (Swap Shakespeare for VST if you can stomach the parallel.)

Holy Corona impeachment trial, Batman!

Are we to believe that a legal luminary such as the Senate President, who displayed his immense legal talents recently that he seems to have been absolved for his past transgressions even by some anti-Marcos activists, 1) does not know that Shakespearean works are no longer under copyright because they’re from the Elizabethan age and copyrights expire a certain number of years after the death of the author or the publication of the work; and 2) has never heard about the “Berne Convention? Under this Convention, an author does not have to apply for copyrights for their works; they “are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared.”

And guess what, the Philippines is a signatory to the Convention. In fact, we joined it in 1950, nearly 4 decades ahead of the United States who joined in 1988. Citizens of signatory countries are protected under this Convention such that if a VST & Co song were to be copied, recorded and passed off as the original work of jokers with a Bee Gees hangover in, say, Bhutan, the composer/s would have a case for a claim.

Yet even Miriam Santiago, usually the champion of intellectual rigor, was uncharacteristically cavalier about the entire matter. “…But this is not the academe where plagiarism is a mortal sin…”

If you remember, this was the same response we got from Justice Del Castillo when his plagiarism was exposed: it’s not a crime because he’s in the judiciary.

So, it’s not okay in the academe but it’s okay in the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines/Supreme Court. What other things are not acceptable elsewhere but common practice in the hallowed halls of power? Tantrum-throwing? Accepting bribes? Cheating and stealing?

Let me know because I did not get the memo. I should have stolen all that printer paper at Congress when I worked there had I known that rules applied differently to public servants.

Unethical behavior

And sin? Who said anything about sin? We’re talking possible theft here. We’re talking grossly unethical behavior at the very least. And yet no censure is forthcoming from Sotto’s brilliant colleagues. Why? That’s no longer stupidity at work there, it’s wilful disregard of rules and ethics.

My theories:

1) They are noobs (and dinosaurs, simultaneously) who think the Interwebs is a vast wonderland where one can plunder with impunity from the works of unknown authors, claim it as their own and no one will ever find out. FYI, if you can use Google to look for text to copy, you can also use it to discover if stuff may have been copied. It’s a search engine, you dodos; not your personal stash of pilfered materials.

2) They think it’s acceptable behavior. Everyone does it, why pick on the idiot who got caught?

3) They think it’s wrong in principle but the rules don’t apply to a senator/Supreme Court Justice/any public official who can pull rank.

4) They don’t care. They’ve got better things to do than denounce theft among peers.

5) They think we’re idiots who deserve the ignorant, arrogant leaders we’ve elected.

You know what, it could be all 5, but it’s the last one that frustrates the hell out of me. I would never vote for Sotto myself under any circumstances; I feel like tearing my hair out every time he is re-elected.

But no one deserves him. Not masa voters fed on a steady diet of Eat Bulaga, not the anti-RH Bill faithful who support his stance on that issue.

I’m not being charitable, I’m just weary of blaming the ills of Philippine society on stupidity, both our leaders’ and our voters’.

I don’t think it’s useful to take elected officials to task for their lack of intelligence any more than it’s productive to sneer at the collective IQs of voters who are condemned to attend the Wanbols of the Philippines instead of the Ateneo.

We did not get rid of Ferdinand Marcos and GMA because they were imbeciles; they were, in fact, very clever and educated people, as they themselves did not tire of pointing out. Cretins are annoying, yes, but there are deeper problems in our politics to get worked up about: abuse of power, impunity and dishonesty, for example.

Idiocy is incurable but theft is punishable. Let’s level up. –

(*From “Sumayaw, Sumunod,” VST and Co. Fair use for parody. No copyright infringement intended.)