Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cavalcade of Insanity

Like an unfolding soap opera, the ongoing trial of the Subic rape case has me checking daily for new developments. It's not so much the lurid details nor the political/nationalist implications nor, I must admit, even the plight of 'Nicole' and the accused. It's the whole emerging pattern of strange behavior that's caught my attention.

For the moment, let's dissociate the case from the political color that it's taken. Because of the players, some groups are using the trial as a rallying point against the Visiting Forces Agreement. And that's unfortunate, because it draws attention from the human tragedy. If the VFA must be reviewed or decided upon, it shouldn't be from a single isolated and emotionally-charged incident.

What's more interesting, at least to me, is the behavior of the people on the night of the incident and now on the ongoing trial itself. It's turning out to be a whole cavalcade of insanity.

No one is denying what took place before and after the incident: the drinking and the dancing at the bar, and later, dropping off the girl with her pants down. No one is even denying that a sexual act took place, the difference being one side saying it was forced and the other saying it was consensual. Without any apparent premeditation, it all seems to hinge on what happened inside the van, and it's really the word of one side against the other.

That's the first thing that strikes me as strange. No one seems to be raising any eyebrows over the fact that the sex took place in the van filled with four other people. Has this thing become...normal? If not normal, has it become at least acceptable? What if the sex had indeed been consensual? Would we have been expected to applaud?

Assuming the sex was consensual: I wonder what was going on through the mind of the marine who did it with the girl. The act would not have been just to satisfy his lust, it would also have been a performance for his friends. I wonder what was going on through the minds of his friends as they watched or heard the two. Were they cheering him on in esprit d'corps? I wonder what was going through the mind of the driver? Did he shrug, saying it was none of his business, or did he smirk in worldly wise fashion, or did he join in the cheering?

All the more odious, then, if the sex was forced. In either case, it's just...insane.

Sex has become a sport. Not just any sport, but a spectator sport. We've been primed by FHM, Cosmopolitan, and other forms of media -- blogs included -- to accept an open-mindedness about sex. Sex is not to be hidden, sex is to be talked about and brought into the open. And once sex is brought out into the open, it becomes the subject of exhibitionism and one-upmanship. Think about it: if 'Nicole' hadn't cried rape, the story would have been fodder for FHM's "Ladies' Confessions."

"God was in the van," one of the accused marines said, yet another sign of insanity. But isn't that message consistent with the subjective God that we've heard preached over and over, the God-in-the-self? If God is in the self, then yes, God was in the van just as God was in the rapist. If that sounds like an abomination, that's because it is: in the same way that God-in-the-self is an abomination.

What about 'Nicole?' Advocacy groups involved in the case want to paint her as a courageous heroine, but they seem defensive, even a little embarrassed, about her actions leading up to the incident. At the very least, 'Nicole' was stupid and naive. Subic is a long way from Zamboanga; far from home, in the company of strangers, prudence dictates caution. What did she do? She downed six strong drinks.

So now, the women's advocacy groups are saying that it's her right to drink as much as she wants, but it doesn't give the marines the right to take advantage of her. Of course. But drunkenness and its associated loss of control has its own consequences. One makes a fool of oneself. Babbling. Giggling. Hurling. Crawling. Passing out. Being taken advantage of.

We're not supposed to say that 'Nicole' had it coming, but there's one age-old adage: you play with fire, you get burned.

Rape is a heinous offense because the object that's violated is placed in high value. It's not enough to say that the dignity of a woman has been offended: there are many ways to offend the dignity of a woman, say, by verbal abuse or by physical non-sexual violence. Both are deplorable but not in the same category as rape. Rape is odious because it assaults the sanctity of a woman's sex, the wellspring of life, something which we instinctively put in high regard.

If sex is so valuable, doesn't it make sense to safeguard it with modesty, temperance, and prudence? Why risk something so valuable for the sake of openmindedness and a person's right to do with herself what she wishes?

Putting oneself in a position where one loses control of one's faculties and relying on strangers' good behavior as the only defense is just...insane.

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