To do or not to do: A discourse on the naked truth, the Freedom of Expression and Individuality
by Jose Mario De Vega
I refer to the letter of Angeline Lesslar, “Young sex bloggers a sign of societal breakdown”, Malaysiakini, October 25th.
Indeed, “our young adults are once again creating headlines through their actions and exhibiting the values they uphold.” The initial question here is: so what is the problem?
The latest burning issue that is being face by our society concerns the recent posting of sexual encounters by a Malaysian law student on his blog.
I concur with the unorthodox views expressed by one on-line commentator, thus:
“I honestly don’t see what the problem is. It’s their own free will, their body. We have the choice of whether or not we want to read and watch what they put up on their blogs. No one is arm-twisting anyone here to read their blogs or interviews. If they’re not blogging about having sex with animals or minors or little kids, I fail to see what the problem is. They’re not harming anyone, except their own reputation in the future. Have they done anything to you? No? So, why the pearl-clutching?”
The fact that there is a mutual consent by the couples; I cannot see any issue that offends anybody.
Ms. Lessnar, said that:
“While the Internet provides the freedom to express oneself, one must exercise this gift responsibly.
“We must use our conscience and think before we indulge in our fantasies. Will our actions contribute positively or negatively to the morality of society as a whole?”
I cannot understand what she meant by exercising one’s right or gift responsibly! The said couple did not make love in the public; they posted their sexual escapades in their own blog. So, where is the point to protest and to contest? You are offended by the said blog? Then, deblog it, delist it, block it and to me that’s it! Finish! Subject closed! Why this brouhaha? Why this animosity and noises? What is the fuss all about?
Is the author implying that I cannot express or speak or act on my own sexuality and fantasy and physical discretion in my own blog?
I certainly believe that it is a grave form of coercion and indeed, a violation of my right to privacy and an intrusion to my own personality and cherished individuality!
She and the others may argue that: But, Sir, how about the effects of their acts to society in general? Yes, they have a right to do what they wish to do, but how about the interest of the public?
I overwhelmingly agree to the categorical contention of Mr.Anonymous #58437020 (an on-line commentator from the Malaysiakini):
“Every day we hear of stories in the media or pregnant students and low income women getting pregnant and killing their own babies. Are Malaysians being too prudish when we know that some rich Malay man take four wives, rich Chinese and Indian men keep mistresses and here we try and tell young members of society not to have sex, and that sex is dirty. Sex is a private matter and we encourage sex amongst married members and try and promote marriage as an important social institution. However, Malaysia’s progress in modern society has also created many hypocrites who are quick to pass judgment. I don’t condone what these two students do, but I would urge all Malaysians especially the Malay society to think how we can actually help the young single mums.”
Same as Mr. Anonymous, I also do not condone what these two students do, yet as we are a democratic government governed by republican ideals; their acts no matter how ridiculous, absurd, preposterous, malicious, dirty, disgusting, detestable, offensive, etc. to our senses, beliefs and values — nonetheless is protected by the Constitutional provision of the Freedom of Expression.
Believe it or not, the Freedom of Expression does not only give a citizen the right to speak his or her mind, but also the right and the discretion to humiliate himself or herself before the very eyes of the public as a whole.
Clearly, Ms. Lessnar recognizes the peoples’ sovereignty, albeit in a guarded fashion. The right of expression pursuant to Article 10(1) (a) is manifest sovereignty for every citizen. The couple, though some may consider them as immoral and deviants are citizens of this country. If the right of expression means anything minus the exceptions, exclusions, excuses, and exemptions, then, what the heck is wrong with regard to the acts of this unusual couple? This is a clear case of freedom of expression that that is regardless and irrespective of whether their acts of expression are dirty, disgusting, reprehensible, etc.?
The said couple expressed themselves without reservations. That is guaranteed in the supreme law of the land, unless Article 10(1) (a) is an extreme flaw entombed in the supreme law.
In the case at bar, a couple posted pictures of their sexual escapades, some of our people are offended and dismayed, yet that is the price we have to pay to protect and advance the Free Market of Ideas rule of the Fundamental Law!
I do not subscribe to the position of Ms. Lessnar that:
“This act by the couple is regressive to mankind as it places us on par with animals which do not exercise self control and shamelessly give in to their sexual urges in public.”
This is a clear case of being self-righteous.
In school, I was taught that no person or institution has the monopoly of knowledge; the same is true in the same vein that there is no such thing as moral cartel. The unpardonable and disgusting act of some of our self-righteous people condemning and blasting the couple in the media is a form of moral discrimination. It is a form of moral discrimination by virtue of the fact that it implies that they are the only morally pure people in this society and the other individuals who does not believe or conform or subscribe to their views are immoral and impure. This is logically untenable and morally impertinent.
I directly view Ms. Lessnar’s negative view as dangerous and sinister. To quote Gusnargh (another on-line commentator):
Why the proselytizing? Why the holier-than-thou attitude? The way I see it, nobody’s hurt by these actions. If this is not something you approve of, just don’t watch! Nobody’s forcing anyone to watch.
There you go! That’s the point! Yet, in my own view the most telling and substantive problem that needs to be addressed is the issue of being self-righteous.
Who determines society’s morals?
Is it the individuals who comprises the said society or is it the state through its government that determines what is the suitable moral social codes from its people?
My firm thesis is that it is precisely man himself that should legislate and must craft his own values, morality and virtues to the complete exclusion of the state and/or the government.
We are who we are. Ethics and morality can never ever be enacted as laws and enforced as statutes that will regulate how people and the citizens will live their lives.
If that will be the case, then it would undeniably diminished man’s humanity and autonomy. That is besides the fact that it will incontestably violates man’s right as a member of the political community.
The state has no right whatsoever to pass moral laws that impliedly telling the people how the people would live their lives.
In the lucid words of Professor Kristine Korsgaard:
“We are masters of our own self-mastery, in control of our self-control. Being human is not sapping our strength, for we still know when to fight…”
No one has the right to impose their concept of morality and sense of righteousness to another. That is a clear case of moral cartel. To each it’s own! Your morality is yours; while my ethics is mine.
Yes, this and other social problems are just symptoms of a deeper problem facing our society today.
Why are we talking about this insignificant issue? In fact, for all intents and purposes this is a non-issue by virtue of the fact that this only involves the affairs of two hot young couple?
Why don’t we talk about those matters of transcendental concerns? Those issues of national and paramount importance, such as corruption (whatever happened to that bloody submarine?), the general election (when the hell would it be held?), the sorry and horrendous status and plight of our education sector (what kind of blue print is that?), the rampant cases of baby-dumping (what is the root causes of this social problem?), etc.
In the words of Platform_sinking (another on-line commentator):
“To me it is a private matter and not a big deal. There already too many moral policemen in this country trying to impose their moral standards on others. The key thing to ask, did it harm anybody. If not, just leave it. There are many bigger problems to handle in the country like rising crime rates which are more and more violent. Also, the dropping standards of education and the increasing influx of foreign labor (talents) with the related social and health issues.”
These are the pertinent and relevant matters that should concern our minds, hearts and soul; not the sexual lives of private persons.
What kind of society do we have?
Instead of concerning ourselves and dealing with the important matters, we are wasting our time and efforts, confusing our focus and unjustly deviating our attention to those matters that does not concerns us, unnecessary and utterly irrelevant. What a shame!
I agree with Ms. Lessnar is her query that:
“Has our education system helped provide the correct knowledge and shaped the minds of our young adequately about reproduction and responsible sex?”
We all knew the answer! Sad but true, but the government, up to now fail miserably to lay down a comprehensive program with regard to this undeniably important undertaking.
I also concur with her ultimate point and central question:
“As parents, we are ultimately responsible for the way our children turn out. Have we played our role to be there for them throughout their adolescence years, especially, to guide and answer the many questions they have about life in general and sex?”
Indeed, we are who we are because of our upbringing.
The question might be asked: So, Sir, how are we going to explain the acts and the conduct of the said couple under discussion?
The rule may be state unhesitatingly and indisputably that good parents produced good children and correspondingly, bad parents will gave way to irresponsible and ungrateful offspring. However, there are some instances, wherein this rule would not apply. There are many narratives and testimonies of kids and child who were abandoned, neglected and did not receive proper and correct upbringing from their parents but still remain noble and decided to be good and do good in their characters and lives. Sadly, there are also a lot of horrible and ironic stories of good parents who did everything for their kids, yet the same child turn astray and betray all the goodness, harmony and love that were given to them by their loving parents.
Henceforth, the ultimate issue here is not only the upbringing and the rearing of the child by his or her parents. Rather, this is also unquestionably a question of the individual themselves.
Hence, it is a personal discourse, in the final analysis!
Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Passport No.: XX 4070556
College of Arts and Humanities
Department of Philosophy
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Sta. Mesa, Manila, Philippines
The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Klang Valley.
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