President Noynoy Aquino stood proudly erect before the nation on Monday to deliver a statistical minutiae-engorged speech which, after nearly an hour of awkward effort, turned out to be little more than a flaccid argument that his very first act – the proscription of the use of their wang-wangs by government officials – has been the climax (so far) of his 13 months as the nation's leader.
Although discussion and analysis of the SONA has overwhelmed the digital universe in the days since, it seems most commentators have not yet discovered that Aquino apparently doesn't have a monopoly on impotent gestures: one of the "priority" measures spelled out by House Speaker Sonny Belmonte for the just-beginning legislative session is a measure to ban the use of the words "Muslim," "Christian," or other words denoting religious or ethnic affiliation by the media in describing a person.
The measure originally passed the House as HB 100 in 2008, and was filed as SB 1990 in 2010 by entertaining Senator Bong Revilla, Jr., who dropped all pretense of what the bill really was about by removing the "Christian" reference. The Senate, displaying one of its occasional bouts with sanity, promptly threw SB 1990 into the Memory Hole called "Pending in the Committee" where it died a deserved, forgettable death. Until now, apparently.
Peter Wallace makes a good point in today's Manila Standard about how fundamentally ridiculous the resurrected "don't offend Muslims by calling them Muslims" priority measure is, and understandably frets that the Congress really has better things to do with the taxpayers' time and money. I don't know. I see his point, but part of me wants to see if the legislature can actually pass it this time. After all, turning a description of the President's most important speech of the year into a 60-odd word dick joke didn't turn out to be as hard as I thought; perhaps a stronger, legislated challenge to my use of language as a writer will add a bit more excitement to my daily grind.
(Posted Friday June 29 by BenK, while taking a break from reviewing HR policies for a predominantly MUSLIM company.)