Carvajal: Protecting democracy by killing it

·2 min read

“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” – 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article 3, Section 4

It has always been my firm belief that freedom of speech includes the right to read books that satisfy one’s curiosity or love of learning. Correspondingly, it includes the freedom to produce books about experiences and ideas that might satisfy that same curiosity or love of learning.

It is noteworthy that “the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances” is in the same Section 4. That could only mean Komisyon ng Wikang Pilipino’s banning of books it deems “subversive” (for providing grounds to criticize the government and petition for redress of grievances?) is an abridgment of freedom of speech and violates Article 3 of our Constitution.

Communism has given the neo-liberal capitalist establishment a most convenient weapon to protect Fort Democracy from attacks. Those manning its political and economic ramparts play it safe and label as subversive or red-tag as communist all opposition, nay all criticism, of their inherently and fundamentally unfair economic system.

In a wider context, banning books is authoritarianism in action. Those in power decide what people can and not read. In short, they decide what people should think. This is to shield their favored economic and political systems from a questioning and critical thinking citizenry.

Thus, our education system has always been teetering on shaky soft and hard infrastructures. Like there are never enough classrooms and lucky students who end up in classrooms are taught ready-made answers but not how to think and look for answers to their questions.

Learning poverty the Philippines is notoriously suffering from is the result of the subconscious tendency, sociologically speaking, of neo-liberal capitalist controllers of the country’s economy and politics to keep the rest of the population from learning to question the inherent injustice of capitalist economics.

This explains why we are stagnating and not making any progress. How is that? Long story, but just look around and see which countries in the world are the most progressive. They are those countries in Europe and North America that never abridge freedom of speech. They are those countries that have the freest press.

More to the point, they are those countries whose people are able to think for themselves. Like where Filipinos would suffer in silence and pray for divine intervention, people of these countries petition for redress of grievances if necessary via peaceful civil disobedience (sit-down, hunger strikes, etc.) or direct positive action (fall of the Berlin wall).

Abridging freedom of speech is protecting democracy by killing it.