bad english and fake news, anonymity and discourse, in a time of trolls

this post started out lamenting the decline of our english-speaking skills…

Pinoy nurses recruited for jobs in UK fail English test
Fifty-two out of 59 nurses recruited in Manila for a job in Medway Maritime Hospital in the United Kingdom have failed an English language test, stalling their employment.

Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent said 52 out of the 59 candidates had failed one or more of the listening, reading, writing and speaking tests.

… that i meant to tie up with randy david’s column that begins with The president as purveyor of fake news and ends on the uphill battle against misinformation and disinformation on social media courtesy of trolls with bad grammar, and who seem to live in a different world.

So huge is the battle against fake news that it cannot be left to the mainstream media to fight it alone. Neither can we expect scholars, experts, and specialists to weigh in all the time and correct the misinformation and disinformation that clog social media. For, there is a public out there that has long harbored a resentment against experts, that trusts in the power of its own commonsense, and that is sustained in its comforting delusion by the bits of information it picks up from Wikipedia.

This fight ultimately has to be waged in the internet itself by digital activists who refuse to have their reality defined by trolls that can neither spell right nor write grammatically, that resort to exclamation points to call attention, and that, most importantly, paint a world we cannot recognize.

agit na agit, of course, ang mga ka-dds sa facebook, and not because david said the president purveys fake news (!) but because david dared call out the bad english of trolls in general.  offended na offended both the ones who feel alluded to and the ones who don’t feel alluded to, and this from dswd usec lorraine badoy is priceless:

There is an eloquence in the faulty grammar and badly spelled words of the unlettered. But it is the kind of eloquence you can only hear with your heart—if you care enough to listen to them and not default on denigration—this denigration they’ve had to bear all their lives—and in the hands of those who ought to know better.

eloquence.in.the.faulty.grammar.  wow.  on a fine day i might concede that it’s not unimaginable, but only if the faulty grammar were not a reflection of faulty reasoning (thinking) because based on slanted (inadequate) information, the kind that the ka-DDS cohort specializes in doling out.

puwede rin namang i-level up ang discourse, aminin na we do have language problems (from english to tagalog) as a nation and let’s do something about it.  after all, badoy herself belongs to the smart educated class and if her heart is in the right place, she would want to do something about it?  smart-shaming denigrating david does not help the cause of the “unlettered.”

anyway, that got quickly overtaken and overwhelmed when ka-DDS heavyweights declared virtual war on anonymous dilawan blogs like silent no more that tagged as “malacanang dogs” seven senators who did not sign kiko pangilinan’s resolution asking the president to stop the killing of minors.  senator sotto, one of alleged “dogs” is so angry, “pakakain ko sa kanila computer nila hindi lang yung words nila.”

sino sila?  sass et al. have managed to identify the webmaster, but did he write that particular blogpost?  is he obliged to identify who wrote the post?  i’m not sure anymore.  anonymity has its uses.  one is braver, i think, when one is writing anonymously, but also maybe prone to errors because, you know, hindi nakataya ang pangalan?

it was careless of silent no more, tagging tito sotto a rapist when in fact the 1982 pepsi paloma rape case was vs vic, joey, and richie.  a little googling and some reading would make such a difference.  pero walang oras, ano?  nagmamadali kasi, para makarami, kaya bara-bara na lang.  this latest post on silent no more‘s fb wall says it all:

SNMph says
We have deliberately left the door open for the TROLLS to earn a living. Thank you for the valued engagements.  #SNMph have just hit the 10m engagements mark because of them. Those familiar with how FB algorithm works knows that we have just hit the jackpot! Salamat po!

pera pera lang talaga, ano?  trabaho lang, ika nga, but this time with walang patumanggang personalan at bastusan.   a new low in pinoy discourse.  to think that in 2008 i was complaining about intellectual doldrums and filipino voices, the group blog.  as it turns out, those were good times for the blogosphere; it never got any better than that.

by 2012 i was blogging in the wind, lamenting the loss of filipino voices, and feeling my way into facebook.  a completely different world meant to promote freedom of expression in aid of democracy but which has now evolved into a weapon for destructive propaganda worldwide.  so now, on top of everything that’s wrong with the world, we have to contend with fake news.  read Why Fake News Spreads So Fast on Facebook and Social media and democracy: optimism fades as fears rise.

Oxford University researchers said in a June report that social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which were intended to be a platform for free expression, “have also become tools for social control” in many countries.

Governments employ large numbers of people “to generate content, direct opinion and engage with both foreign and domestic audiences,” said the report by the university’s Project on Computational Propaganda.

The researchers, who studied social media in 28 countries, concluded that “every authoritarian regime has social media campaigns targeting their own populations.”

… Zeynep Tufekci, a North Carolina University sociologist who studies social networks and activist movements, said the platforms which helped enable the Arab Spring are now being used against dissenters.

“This is not necessarily Orwell’s 1984,” she writes in her 2017 book, “Twitter and Tear Gas: How Social Media Changed Protest Forever.”

“Rather than a complete totalitarianism based on fear and the blocking of information, the newer methods include demonizing online media and mobilizing armies of supporters or paid employees who muddy the online waters with misinformation, information overload, doubt, confusion, harassment, and distraction.”

the senate hearing on wednesday should be interesting.  the ka-dds camp is siccing senator sotto on LP senators kiko pangilinan and bam aquino who are allegedly behind the well-organized and well-funded propaganda machine run by cocoy dayao et al of silent no more.  of course it’s not as if these ka-dds aren’t part, too, of a well-organized and well-funded propaganda machine with matching anonymous questionable-news sites na sino kaya ang nagpopondo.  ayon kay kit tatad:

The regime has begun to unravel. Ninety-five percent of the social media trolls that used to support everything DU30 said or did are gone, only 48 pro-DU30 troll sites remain, according to IT experts familiar with the subject.

if true, this could be why the ka-dds vs dilawan war on facebook seems to be escalating.  maybe the dilawans are smelling victory and the ka-dds are feeling threatened?  or is it the other way around.  revolutionary government, anyone?  we will know soon enough, i guess.

 

 

level up, frats!

been bloggging for 10 years this september and, of course, i’ve blogged about hazing and frats before, twice referring to dr. godofredo stuart jr’s updated online essay Hazing in the Philippines, and doing it again, zeroing in this time (after last night’s senate hearing on horacio castillo III’s hazing death) on why fraternities need not be banned, and / but why RA 8049 doesn’t work, and how macho frats could level up the hazing from violent pits to noble heights.

FRATERNITIES NEED NOT BE BANNED

Every time a death occurs, part of the hue-and-cry is to ban, dissolve, or prohibit fraternities, and the question inevitably raised: Do fraternities have a place in society?

Outlawing fraternities will do nothing but drive them underground. Besides, fraternities provide for various human needs — a surrogate family, a place for young men and women to forge friendships, bonding, and trust, a milieu of kindred spirits, a place to experience community. It is the hazing that is the unnecessary ritual, and the deaths from it so senseless.

Hazing wasn’t part of the Greek and medieval origins of fraternities. Hazing took roots in that period of change when the ancient rituals and classic traditions of intellectual explorations and expressions were disappearing. Now, what remains in some (most?) fraternities are the Greek letters, symbols and crests, hedonistic extracurricular pursuits, and its annual ritual of hazing.

Hazing is the fraternity’s murderous thorn on its side. Many organizations, schools and universities have banned it, but to no avail. The deaths continue. In 1995, the anti-hazing law, Republic Act No. 8049, was approved by President F. Ramos. The law is impressively replete with definitions, liabilities and penalties — reclusion perpetua, reclusion temporal, prison mayor, prison correcional. Yet, it has woefully failed to stop the beatings and deaths. And in the theater of the courts, the guilty have always managed to skillfully mitigate culpability through avenues of twisted legalese, loopholes, and appeals.

It’s a law that lacks teeth, rife with flaws. It allows hazing or initiation rites with ridiculous conditions that seem to not recognize the potential for violence: That prior notice is given seven (7) days before, that it must not exceed three (3) days, that no physical violence be employed, that two school or fraternity representatives be present.

And alcohol? It is ubiquitous in our celebratory gatherings. Certainly so, in initiation rituals. It shouldn’t take much to imagine how much of the violence is fueled by alcohol. And despite the fact that 82% of deaths from violent hazing involve alcohol, the law makes absolutely no reference to alcohol.

Hazing is a blood sport, a ritual of power and control wielded with violence. The street gangs, cults and the underworld may never be rid of it, but schools and universities should be saved from it. The youth should be protected from the psychological and physical violence. It is inane and insane to expect that promulgation by law can regulate, supervise, and temper the violence. Hazing in all its forms should be punished with expulsion. Deaths should be dealt with for the heinous crime that it is, by a law with teeth, unencumbered by legal loopholes and politics.

MANSLAUGHTER
Justice Secretary de Lima expressed puzzlement when Judge Perla Cabrera-Faller dismissed the charge for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law in the hazing death of San Beda law student Marc Andrei Marcos for “lack of probable cause and ample evidence.” Of course, nothing followed her puzzlement. Incredulously, the judge exculpated: “No one is to be blamed for the death of Andrei Marcos… The court feels that it could suffer the flak of society, but it cannot in conscience consign all of the accused to the dust bin of history simply on the basis of the uncorroborated and incredible lone statement of Marcelo.”

The history of hazing is littered with deaths. Despite the deaths and known risks, fraternities continue with with their conspiratorial regimens of torture. Despite having been criminalized by Republic Act 8049 more than a decade ago, the deaths continue. Despite “zero-tolerance” edicts and sound bites, when hazing season comes around, schools and universities turn a blind eye, waiting for the next death—when it becomes the occasion for the usual public outcry, condemnation and condolence.

Every hazing death clamors for justice. Hazing deaths qualify as manslaughter. At the least, involuntary manslaughter. But in the Andrei Marcos case, the judge found lack of probable cause and ample evidence! No one to be blamed!

Non-Violent Alternatives

Hazing can be replaced by non-violent alternatives that measure the mettle, worth, and resolve of the pledges. For the able-bodied pledges, have them walk to Baguio, planting trees along the way. Spend their weekends and a whole stretch of summer in volunteer work. Take to the boondocks, like the teachers who walk their arduous miles and wade through rivers daily to reach small communities of children hungry to learn how to read and write. Provide community service to the countless riles communities. Clean the garbage and refuse that clog up the tributaries of the Pasig river. There are limitless opportunities waiting to be invented for a fraternal Peace Corps of pledges. And instead of the twisted glamor of initiation violence, let the pledges prove their worth and mettle with a new kind of macho-ness, through deeds that boast of sacrifice, social relevance, and a dose of nobility.

andy bautista wins? who loses?

interesting that it is pro-duterte peeps who are protesting, questioning, criticizing the dismissal of the impeachment complaint vs comelec chief andy bautista, yet it is also the pro-duterte majority in the house of reps justice committee that dismissed the complaint on mere technicalities re sufficiency in “form” because, you know, they have to be strict and follow the rules daw; and yet they refused to entertain a correction of the form (which is NOT disallowed) and at once dismissed the complaint even when the rules entertain a dismissal only upon a finding of insufficiency in “substance.”  check out rules of procedure in impeachment complaints, rule iii, section 4, 17th congress.

the big surprise, however, is representative edcel lagman, who is known to be an oppositionist — he is against the drug war, voted against the death penalty, martial law in mindanao, and the CHR budget cut — but who belongs to the super majority pala. he voted, too, to dismiss the case.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of those who supported the dismissal of the case against Bautista, said there is no rule allowing a complainant to amend his verification and his complaint.

He said the attempt of Paras and Topacio to present an amended verification “clearly shows that the original was defective.”

to think that rep. edcel is a member (for the majority) of the committee on suffrage and electoral reform.  is this a portent of things to come?  we will never know if our votes are being counted correctly?  we will always be under the thumb of the likes of bautista (and smartmatic and their cohorts in congress) whose integrity and love of country are under such heavy clouds of doubt?

the andy bautista issue is a unique one that divides the body politic along different lines from the drug war.

the dilawans, of course, are happy about the junked impeachment complaint.  it means that leni is safe.  imagine nga naman:  if, when, andy is impeached, who knows what evil magic a duterte-appointed comelec chief might wreak in aid of bongbong’s claim to the vp seat.  kahit pa sabihing nasa supreme court na ang kaso, we all know how the system works for ones who are powerful enough.

the duterte diehard supporters in congress, of course, are also happy about the junked impeachment complaint.  it means that andy owes them big, and it means that the very crucial plebiscite on charter change for term extensions and economic liberalization, not to speak of federalism, would happen under andy’s watch, with smartmatic pa rin kaya?

which is to say that the duterte camp is clearly divided.  baka wala pang memo from the palace?  or is this one issue on which they will remain divided.  right now it’s social media ka-DDS vs. the house of reps ka-DDS.  the lines are drawn, the battle is joined.

but wait, there’s hope.  rep harry roque says that the House plenary can still override the justice committee’s decision.  hmm.  kailan iyan?  automatic ba iyan, magaganap within a certain number of days?  or will it be the call of majority leader dear rudy fariñas who is said to be, like the dilawans, afraid that impeaching andy means that leni will likely be replaced by bongbong.  he is also said to be of the belief that if not impeached, andy will resign of his own accord.  magugulat naman ako masyado.

a plenary would be good.  and when the reps vote, dapat ay nominal voting, one by one, let the records show who is for what!  itigil na iyang hiding behind viva voce!

and just in case fariñas won’t do a plenary…  if he does, then just in case the plenary lets andy off the hook…  ngayon pa lang, i’m thinking civil disobedience.  why should we vote when we don’t trust the people behind the machines that will be counting our votes?  what if they held elections and nobody came?

Hazing in the Philippines

When death occurs, at the very least, it is manslaughter.
Dr. Godofredo U. Stuart, Jr.

September 18, 2017 . . . and yet, another death. Hazing claimed the life of UST a law student, Horatio Tomas Castillo III, as he sought the promises and possibilities of a future in the brotherhood of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.

It is a human condition — the need to belong to a family, group, tribe, club, organization, or community. Some seek the allure and exclusivity of some brotherhoods or sisterhoods — fraternities and sororities, street gangs, military units, secret societies — for that special sense of belonging, kinship, and bonding, and for the promise that membership in a special community of men or women will provide a lifelong cachet, to reap imagined privileges, reassurances, and advantages later on in life. In return, one accepts the ethos of a brotherhood, subservience to a set of ideals, and commitment to a code of silence.

For that fraternity, men and women are willing to suffer through the hazing rituals of physical and psychological abuse, sometimes a combination of extreme and heavy doses of both — being smeared with feces or urinated on, drinking concoctions of bodily discharges, suffering torrents of degrading insults, demeaning sexual acts and nudity, or various acts and varying degrees of physical violence. They are meant to humble the pledges, and from that humbling, they imagine, springs bonding, love, and trust.

The consequences of psychological abuse are often hidden. But sometimes, after the hazing, beneath the seeming normalcy, there is a lifetime of psychological scars or wounds that never heal.

Elements of Hazing
Power
Control
Testosterone
Sadism
Peer pressure
History of abuse
Alcohol
Wall of silence

Read on…