OPINION: Erupting in rage over a joke

Inday Espina-Varona

Posted at Oct 20 2019 05:29 PM

I winced at hearing the controversial line, "Let's kill this president, charot!" towards the end of the Skimmers’ cheerleading entry at the October 16 opening of the University of the Philippines Visayas’ sportsfest.

The word, “charot!” -- gay slang, tacked on to an outrageous statement to clearly label it a joke -- said it all.

I got that it was meant to be ironic, to mock reality. Much later, word came that it was also a play on the popular song "Kill This Love" by K-pop girl group Blackpink.

None of that eased my concern.

I’ll never agree with jokes referencing violence, even among friends in private conversation. In an era where “kill” is heard almost weekly from the country’s most quoted person, the less we hear of it the better.

It wasn’t worthy of what was otherwise a brilliant takedown by the students of communications and media studies, and literature, on many of the country’s problems and the hypocrisy of people and institutions (media included) that think of themselves as better than the rest.

The performance, save for that one line, was as comprehensive as it was entertaining, tackling press freedom, media killings, and media failings, the West Philippine Sea, Rice Tarrification Law, the junking of Filipino and Panitikan from the general college education syllabus, and efforts to make the Reserve Officers Trainings Corps course mandatory.

I could think of a dozen better analogies than kill.

But the deluge of rage -- rabid, vicious, bordering on the psychotic -- that greeted the Skimmers’ viral video perversely validates their point.

It is a mad word that convulses over a clear joke and then hurls REAL threats at students.

It is a hypocrite who rants about the insult done to the President and then calls out for Espendido, the police officer egged on by Duterte to “kill everybody.”

You’ve never heard the President append, “joke only” to any kill order.

At every guttural directive, hands come together in applause.

Sometimes, there is laughter, transporting modern halls back into the age when crowds humped at each other and bared breasts and slashed at any flesh in reach to greet every spray of blood in the arena.

You only hear the joke excuse from aides a day or two after the latest tirade.

And after three years, nobody believes that excuse.

Duterte has a record of reneging on a lot of promises. He always makes good his threats. A long line of uniformed men wait for his kill orders and try to outdo each other in laying down gifts at the foot of their lord’s altar.

All those screaming for blood over a joke have screamed for blood before.

Social media has shown us enough of their orgiastic joy as cops gunned down poor Filipinos by the hundreds, then by the thousands and tens of thousands.

Now the senators want to join the fray.

They have even less right to that. They have spent gazillions of people’s money in useless hearings that only end up with new apologia for extrajudicial killings in the country.

They can’t even pursue a probe into drug lords continuing with their rule in maximum security under Duterte’s hand-picked men.

They should just lay off the students.

Despite reservations about the UP Skimmers decision to use the controversial line, I stand firmly with their freedom of expression.

My issue is over taste and wisdom. They have not violated any law.

Only unthinking ghouls used to following mad orders would mistake a clear joke -- CHAROT -- as a marching order for violence.

This is simple nihilism, encouraged and nurtured by a regime that benefits from leaving fear and terror in its wake.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.