Friday, June 19, 2015

That's the point

In any argument with a Duterte supporter who likes him because he encourages killing petty criminals you'd get variations of the following ideas: petty criminals deserve it, Filipinos need discipline more than democracy, and my personal favorite "you can't eat human rights." These memes* form the core of the pro-Duterte (or, more accurately, the pro-vigilantism) argument. At the least the ones I usually encounter.

They also miss the point.

The first idea begs the question: so who gets to decide? Followed by what if they're wrong? A US case was overturned recently and the convict on death row was exonerated following new evidence. Partida, they had due process. Imagine the kind of mistakes the Davao Death Squad can (or does) make. What if they come for you? Will you honestly hold your hands up and say you deserve it?

The second meme makes a wrong assumption: that discipline and democracy are mutually exclusive and that discipline equals dictatorship. Rich European countries are democracies and they (as any Pinoy there will tell you) are "disciplined." Instilling a sense of discipline does not require you to gleefully trample on human rights.

The third idea just makes me want to slap people. You can't eat a lot of things, that doesn't make them any less important. More importantly, does killing petty criminals put more food on the table?

It doesn't. But it provides a false sense of safety and security that the middle class craves, at least until they find themselves on the wrong end of a motorcycle gang's shiny guns.

What Duterte supporters miss is that human rights aren't hindrances to peace and order and economic growth, human rights are the goal.

It's all about rights

Modern society is all about rights. Think about it. A criminal (the ones you want the death squad to murder) is someone who impinges on your basic right to life (murder), liberty (kidnapping, slavery), and the pursuit of happiness (loud videoke at midnight). Your rights, as protected by the law and its proper implementation (due process), are what we want to preserve. Just because someone is suspected of committing a crime doesn't mean he loses those rights immediately.

The whole point of due process is to ensure that we, as a society, make sure that it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that criminals are impinging on others' rights before we all agree to limit theirs. Dutertards want to shortcut this process believing that it'll make life easier for everyone.

But does it really?

Missing the point

Years ago ABS-CBN had an often-brilliant satirical sitcom called "Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata" which had a sociopathic congressman's son as a character. In one episode he talked about eliminating poverty by opening fire on squatters. "In one minute, no more poor!"**

It's funny because it misses the point. And if I need to explain why, then I want nothing to do with you anymore.

It's only ok if a fictional psycho does it.

The war on poverty isn't a war on the poor. You don't get rid of it by eliminating them. You do it by elevating their income (education, opportunities, etc.), the same way you eliminate crime by preventing people from doing illegal activities. A crime is an act and poverty is a condition -- you don't solve either by eliminating the people involved.

*I'm using the term correctly. Look it up.

**In hindsight it's really dark but it's so absurd (and the character played perfectly by Anjo Yllana) that it gets a lot of laughs. 

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