Former Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin – who recently gained some measure of infamy for his “Teditorial” on NAIA, branding bloggers who criticized the airport as “homeless gays” with a not-so-subtle dig with “kneepads in restrooms” – is at it again.
This time, Mr. Locsin calls Inquirer’s tribute to the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre “just plain baduy.” Without the homophobic innuendo, Locsin rambles on with contrarian pontifications criticizing the pictures of the columnists: kesyo the columnists who closed their eyes are in the act of forgetting, kesyo the columnists should open their eyes, kesyo the stunt was baduy, etc. It’s as if Mr. Locsin held the monopoly of knowledge in meaning, in semiotics, in expression – whether artistic or journalistic – and that the schoolyard pejorative should make for a good summation.
While we’re no strangers to editorial segments in newscasts – the late Frankie Evangelista excelled at that – I guess we can all agree that editorializing has its functions as well as its limits. For the lack of a disclaimer, as well as a lack of prudence in editing the talking-head piece, the caricature of Locsin has not only painted itself as an ultra-conservative elitist who does not hesitate to betray deep-seated homophobia, but now it also paints a caricature of a cantankerous nitpicker who forgets the importance and relevance of symbols and metaphors.
This, a week after the commemoration of the second year of the Ampatuan Massacre. The other, a few days shy of Pride Day.
Again, while we’re no strangers to editorials, we should know by now that while an editorial will offend people at one point or another – especially those in positions of power – that is not its primary purpose. The editorial should enlighten, should make sense of the news, or at the very least present an opinion of the paper outside of what it is reporting. This is not to say that papers or news organizations should be devoid of opinion, but knowing that Locsin’s opinion takes center stage in a nightly newscast – without the benefit of a disclaimer or a knowledge of why it’s there in the first place – is a bit unsettling.
Which brings us to the problem: if Teddy Locsin is the “chief commentator” (for lack of a better term) of ANC, do his opinions represent ANC, The World Tonight, and ABS-CBN in general? I don’t think so: not with the homophobia and elitism and self-aggrandizement present in his previous “Teditorials.” I don’t think he should, either, as should his own pieces and commentaries be edited prudently by the organization (in this case, the newsroom) to prevent them from being offensive. Or at least having a clear disclaimer.
What difference does it make if you’re rich or poor, gay or straight, to have a properly functioning airport? Are those remarks and innuendos necessary to make a point against current plans for rehabilitating NAIA? So what if Inquirer chooses to pay tribute to their murdered colleagues in the media? Baduy as it may be to Locsin, walang basagan ng trip holds as much – if not more – weight. And more than that, what do these innuendos and remarks do to elevate discourse and conversation about the NAIA mess and the Ampatuan Massacre? Yes, it’s important to “read between the lines” and all that, but if between those lines are the unnecessary and uncalled-for remarks of a talking-head on television, then the lines should be raised and, more importantly, drawn.
J. William Fulbright writes, “When public men indulge themselves in abuse, when they deny others a fair trial, when they resort to innuendo and insinuation, to libel, scandal, and suspicion, then our democratic society is outraged, and democracy is baffled.” In the case of Teddy Locsin, it is more than just outrageous and baffling: it is, for a segment in a much-watched telecast, unacceptable.