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Saturday, July 12, 2014

“Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen (Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people)."
-- Heinrich Heine, from his 1821 play Almansor

THE news of the Redemptorist priest humiliating an unwed 17-year-old mother during baptism caught everyone’s attention earlier in the week, overshadowing a more ominous development.

The Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (Caib) was also confiscating pornographic DVDS on Colon St. and magazines it deemed lewd inside a bookstore in a mall in Barangay Mabolo.


I’m not interested in the movies. You can easily download them on the Internet. Not that I do, download or watch them, that is. I’m more worried about the magazines the board described as lewd, or pornographic, although I’m not really familiar with the third magazine, Kamasutra. Hey, it’s probably a manual.

Anyway, FHM and Cosmopolitan, both published by Summit Media, are far from lewd, or “sexual in an offensive or rude way,” as defined by People do buy them for their articles…and for their visual layouts (if you’re a graphic artist, I guess). According to Summit’s website, FHM is the country’s no. 1 men’s magazine, while Cosmopolitan’s target audience is the “fun, fearless female.”

There’s nothing prurient about that, unless, of course, you’re the doyenne of prudery.

Caib head Lucelle Mercado said the selling of these magazines is not allowed under the City’s policy on anti-indecency.

The next day, Cebu Citizens-Press Council executive director Pachico A. Seares issued a statement.

Here’s an excerpt:
“The Supreme Court has always ruled that obscenity is an issue that is ‘proper for judicial determination and should be treated on a case-to-case basis and on the judges’ sound discretion.’ It is not for Caib to determine obscenity.

“What Caib did amounted to unreasonable seizure that the Constitution condemns. In Pita vs. Court of Appeals (Oct. 5, 1989), the High Tribunal ruled that only the court can order the seizure after proper legal steps are taken.

“What Caib should’ve done was to secure copies of the ‘offensive’ publications and ask the court to order the confiscation if it finds them to be obscene.”

Mercado retorted: “We did not do anything wrong as the items that we have confiscated are pornographic.”

She said Caib was only doing its job to protect the youth from obscenity.
Mercado, in another newspaper report, said the board never conducts operations without consulting first its members, who include “the city legal officer, city prosecutor, City Council representative, city schools superintendent, city police director and representatives from the private sector.”

The Cebu City administrator reportedly plans to burn the magazines.
There was another group that had a penchant for burning literature it didn’t like. It was called the Nazi Party.

Here’s the fiery address Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels delivered in May 1933 to some 40,000 people gathered in the square at Berlin’s State Opera for the literary Sauberung by fire: “No to decadence and moral corruption! Yes to decency and morality in family and state!” Hmm.

Sounds familiar?

Aside from Goebbels, the group also included, among its members, Herman Goering, head of the Luftwaffe and founder of the Gestapo; Joseph Mengele, an SS physician infamous for conducting human experiments on concentration camp inmates; and lest we forget, the big man himself, Adolf Hitler.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 13, 2014.


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