Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oh by God!

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language has an interesting etymological explanation of a bigot:
Bigots may have more in common with God than one might think. Legend has it that Rollo, the first duke of Normandy, refused to kiss the foot of the French king Charles III, uttering the phrase bi got, his borrowing of the assumed Old English equivalent of our expression by God. Although this story is almost surely apocryphal, it is true that bigot was used by the French as a term of abuse for the Normans, but not in a religious sense. Later, however, the word, or very possibly a homonym, was used abusively in French for the Beguines, members of a Roman Catholic lay sisterhood. From the 15th century on Old French bigot meant “an excessively devoted or hypocritical person.” Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense “a superstitious hypocrite.”
By Webster’s definition, a bigot is “a person who is utterly intolerant of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from his own.”

If a religious bigot is one who is so partial to his religion and intolerant of those who differ, what makes him different from a religious fundamentalist?

One fundamental Christian dogma for example is the inerrancy of the Scripture. Therefore, to the extent that science challenges the biblical account of creation, secular modernity poses a threat to Christian fundamentalism. Literal meaning of the Scriptural text sometimes struggles against common sense and science, and when strong religious beliefs discount plain rationality, bigotry can be said to come into play.

In at least two instances, St. Paul has touched on the issue of homosexuals. One was in his Letter to the Romans, and another in his Letter to the Corinthians, in both occasions to preach to the small communities of early Christians in those ancient places.

The New American Bible (NAB) version, a Roman Catholic translation, of Romans 1:26-27, reads:
Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversion.
Whereas 1Corinthians 6:9-10 is translated by NAB in this way:
Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
One may argue that Paul is preaching that homosexual acts are sinful. But many Christians today have interpreted Paul’s teachings and other biblical texts in such a way as, for example, to accord women their rightful personhood. Present-day Christians have also come to accept new meanings and understanding of individual rights and equality. And based on advances in science and technology that obviously were not available to the ancients, attempts are being made to place traditional beliefs in proper perspectives so as to avoid undue prejudices against the so-called third sex. Hence, Romans and Corinthians may accurately reflect traditional values of the old but shouldn’t continued oppression of women and gays be considered as un-Christian today as tyranny and slavery have now been?

Note should likewise be taken that the NAB translates arsenokoitai as “practicing homosexuals” not as “effeminate” as in the King James Version of Paul’s Letter. Such translation might imply that homosexual orientation per se is not a sin but being a sexual offender is.

NAB footnote explains further: “The Greek word translated as boy prostitutes designated catamites, i.e. boys or young men who were kept for purposes of prostitution, a practice not uncommon in the Greco-Roman world. The term translated ‘practicing homosexuals’ refers to adult males who indulged in homosexual practices with such boys.”

Bi got, being a homosexual is neither a crime nor a sin, to say the very least.

This is how I blogged when mlq3 had outed himself in his website to the astonishment of many:
His (voluntary) outing therefore, given the stature he has achieved - at least in our blogosphere (his famous initials and other journalistic and writing repertoire discounted) - has the effect of de-privatizing the problem of cultural bias against adopted children, former drug addicts and gays, of which he has confessed being all.

Following the revelation, the readers or admirers of Manolo have reacted so positively as to keep and acclaim him soundly as an authoritative “insider” in his chosen profession (political analysis, speech writing and propagating agitprops, among other passions or calling) and, in the process, elevate his minorities group as proper political subjects deserving of co-equal status with the “general population.” What in a nutshell I have heard from the reactions is the following: manhood, or womanhood, (without kindness, self-respect and compassion for others) is no longer a secure and strong self-identity.

x x x

Yet again, hasn’t the lack of purposeful, vigilant and holistic thinking chained up gay persons, reformed drug addicts or adopted children to the long-held norm of being cultural or moral negatives, the world over?
I was also thinking of Manolo and others similarly sitauted when I’ve tried to tackle what I thought were certain symbolisms in V for Vendetta:
The second symbolism that caught my fantasy is Evey Hammond [a fictional character in the movie and the novel]. She is the politics of the transformational process. Effectively she purges herself from a long-running denial (that she had been exposed to militancy early in life) to become liberated from her negative self concepts which are manifestations of previous hurts and deliberate conditioning. As in anarchism or libertarianism, the role of the individual in Evey has been given prominence in the change process. She is able to retrieve her own essential self as V, his moral ambiguity notwithstanding, was able to assert his being authentically (he said to Evey “I love you,” didn’t he) in a therapeutic relationship of sort. Together they realize the extension of the self to the interpersonal, relational and ultimately societal sphere.
Now, I’m not sure if Isagani Cruz, a retired justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, is a religious fundamentalist, but here’s the manner he treated homosexuals in his Philippine Daily Inquirer column of Aug. 12, 2006:
The change in the popular attitude toward homosexuals is not particular to the Philippines. It has become an international trend even in the so-called sophisticated regions with more liberal concepts than in our comparatively conservative society. Gay marriages have been legally recognized in a number of European countries and in some parts of the United States. Queer people -- that’s the sarcastic term for them -- have come out of the closet where before they carefully concealed their condition. The permissive belief now is that homosexuals belong to a separate third sex with equal rights as male and female persons instead of just an illicit in-between gender that is neither here nor there.
Justice Cruz does not only share the “permissive belief now” and the “popular attitude” toward homosexuals: to him, this “new sense of values . . . have rejected our religious people’s traditional ideas of propriety and morality on the pretext of being ‘modern’ and ‘broad-minded’” and that these religious traditions and ideas demand the identity of homosexuals be deemed as no more than “just an illicit in-between gender.” Already stretched but this level of discourse may still be tolerable at this point.

However, Cruz became utterly intolerant in religious terms when he went on accusing “an association of homos (of having) dirtied the beautiful tradition of the Santa Cruz de Mayo by parading their kind” and when he was dismayed as the public was not “outraged by the blasphemy.” And then he casually resorted to fear-mongering: “Now homosexuals are everywhere, coming at first in timorous and eventually alarming and audacious number” and “the schools are now fertile ground for the gay invasion.”

Cruz, who also professes to be a constitutionalist, was dangerously cruising on lynch-mode when he suggested “That pansy would have been mauled in the school where my five sons (all machos) studied during the ’70s when all the students were certifiably masculine.”

The coup de grâce to a civil discourse came upon a cheap and uncouth appeal to patriotism: “Be alert lest the Philippine flag be made of delicate lace and adorned with embroidered frills.”

My immediate reaction to Cruz in Ricky Carandag’s blogsite was possibly equally intolerant (but still not utterly, hopefully):
To discourage senile onanism of the sort that Mr. Justice Cruz has publicly indulged in, PDI should seriously consider retiring his Separate Opinion. It’s sounding more as it is - an “insipid mix of . . . diluted virtues.”

Shame on you, Isagani.


Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

Hi Abe,

I have heard about the "bi got" story in Rennes (France) but not as detailed as yours. Thanks for the continuing education.

On pansy: Had Justice Cruz perhaps used the alternative word for "pansy", i.e., flower, (which was the English equivalent in the old days) his statement on the probable mauling of a homosexual pupil in an all boys school would have been less conspicuous.

Seriously, I was surprised by Justice Cruz' piece. It wasn't so much that it was politically incorrect in today's terms but, like you said, I thought it smacked of brazen bigotry.

But like what one commenter in MLQ's blog said, Justice Cruz belongs to a different generation, although I must say that my Dad, a macho personified, wouldn't have said it as aggressively as Cruz did.

Justice Cruz could have tackled the issue with a bit more finesse. The general pouring of indignation might have been the same but there was a chance he would have escaped being branded a bigot. (Obviously, the follow on repartee with MLQ3 didn't help.)

August 31, 2006 7:51 PM  

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