POSTSCRIPT / March 30, 2010 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Media feeding politics of hate and retribution?

BE CHRISTLIKE: Yielding to the Lenten tide coming with the gathering darkness, we pick up this first part of the article “Angry, angry, angry” of Pastor Francis Frangipane — which is written for Americans, but rings relevant to us Filipinos:

“It’s hard to remember a time when people were more angry. A civilized person ought to be, first of all, civil. Yet, today there is no discourse, no respect for another’s opinion, no reasoning together for the common good. I am concerned, especially for the church.

“One may argue, ‘Our society is decaying. We should be mad.’ Yes, but we can be angry, yet still not sin (see Eph 4:26). Of course, I feel anger that the underpinnings of our culture are being dismantled by unprincipled men. Our souls should be vexed at the darkening cloud of demonic infestation in our culture, especially when children are caused to stumble or the weak are exploited. If we don’t take a stand, the advance of evil ultimately means more people will die without Christ. So, if we are angry, it does not necessarily mean we have sinned. It can simply mean we care.

“I am not surprised by the increased anger. My concern is that, unless this anger regenerates into something more redemptive, more Christlike, we will not see our world renewed. Indeed, anger that does not awaken in us redemptive action ultimately degrades into bitterness and unbelief.

“While hell advances into our world on many levels, I want to discuss two primary areas. The first manifestation is brazen, widespread and alarming. For example, a corrupt law gets passed or gang violence breaks out; or it might be that a beloved public figure is scandalized. It’s on the news and people are talking about it. The shock waves caused by this demonic intrusion smash against our hearts: we’re disappointed, offended, stunned and, often, outraged.

“In this state of mind, hell launches the second area of attack. There is no newscast featuring this next stage of warfare. On this front, the devil does not come openly flaunting himself, but quietly. In seething whispers he stirs the pot of our discontent until it boils. Ultimately, where once the heart of the Christian was full of faith and love, now bitterness, hatred and malice churn in the souls of God’s people.

“So while we must fight the culture wars of our times, we must preserve our capacity to love if we will actually win our war. We must remember we are not fighting against ‘flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world’ (Eph. 6:12 KJV).

“Sadly, I have heard many people say that they’ve lost their vision for America (the Philippines). What they actually lost was not their vision, but their love. For love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).”

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FEEDING ANGER: After Pastor Frangipane’s piece was posted on our Yahoo-group page by Ed Tirona <ejttirona@gmail.com> came the fast reaction of Jose Caedo <jcaedo@sbcglobal.net>:

“The loud, unmodulated, shouting of ABS CBN reporters is so disgusting and ‘palengke.’ Why can’t those people talk normally and not as if they were in a declamation contest or a verbal argument? The tone of voice itself can raise stress levels. TV Patrol is often disgusting to listen to.”

I can relate to Caedo — as many of my friends and I have also observed the shrill speaking voice of many present-day broadcasters as if competing to be first to make their listeners seethe with anger.

This reiterates the oft-asked question if our loosely regulated media (print and broadcast) are partly to blame for the politics of hate and retribution that seems to permeate everything we say and do in this fragile and fragmented nation.

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FORM OF SLANT: Tirona riposted: “You (Caedo) said it, amigo! Like screaming tabloids ang dating tuloy. Instead of simply raising the level of consciousness of their publics for a dispassionate analysis of the news being dished out, I think, their excited way of delivering the news is a form of slant to sway the listeners towards a certain disposition. Usually that disposition is towards anger.

“Parang rabble-rousers or agents-provocateurs ang mga newscasters ng ABS-CBN led by Ted Failon Etong. Sa GMA7 naman si Mike Enriquez. I find his ‘style’ very ridiculous and annoying. That was why I had to text Radio Veritas to call their attention when I heard their newscasters or news commentators imitating their secular counterparts.

“No wonder marami sa ating taongbayan ang either galit, prejudiced or biased. Bihira ang kalmadong nanunuri ng mga issues. Kaya nga malimit kong sinasabi: ‘Maging MAPANURI, ‘di MAPANIRA’.”

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SILA RIN: The White House, like Malacañang, is in a squabble over key appointments, around 15 of them, rushed by President Barack Obama even after Republican senators wrote to urge him not to as, they said, that would pour “fuel on the fire” of political combat.

Flushed with his dramatic victory on health care reform, Obama made Saturday his first “recess appointments” without Senate confirmation, ignoring Republican objections to his wielding the executive power of appointment while the Senate is on vacation.

Recess appointment is allowed for ambassadors, judges and other top posts without Senate confirmation, but they last only for one congressional session.

The issue is different, but sounds like the question over President Arroyo’s slew of appointments close to the ban on “midnight” appointments a few weeks before an election and the end of her term.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 30, 2010)

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