Monday, November 08, 2010

Accountability

This was my column on the date indicated above.

Two readers recently sent in their reaction to that Halloween column I wrote which was partly about Assistant Secretary Mai Mislang and her unfortunate tweets from Vietnam and about Hayden Kho.

Reader Joseph Baldono agreed with my consternation over the recent attempts to resurrect Hayden Kho’s celebrity career. Baldono’s reactions are quite insightful so I have decided to print them in full:

“Like you, I am aghast that certain media personalities are allowing themselves to be party to the resurrection of Hayden Kho’s star. The handsome pornographer ex-doctor has been all over television trying to look innocent and angelic, his photoshopped mug blown up in giant billboards has been slowing down traffic at EDSA, and he has been very busy it seems doing the rounds of various social occasions in the last few weeks. He and his doctor-girlfriend has been featured in many society columns attending this and that event. These developments are very confusing, to say the least.

I believe even snakes deserve a second chance and that every person deserves redemption. I also do not think the issue is forgiveness because it is obvious that the Filipino people have forgiven him. But we must not forget what he did and we must make sure that people are constantly reminded of the dire consequences when people break social conventions. Media people should remember that by being party to all these effort to deodorize Hayden Kho’s image, they are sending the message to all that it is okay to do what he did because in time everything can be cast to oblivion.”

It seems my reader and I comprise a minority in this country because I don’t hear anyone else protesting all these frenzied attempts to paint Kho as a victim. Like I said in a previous column, I am not advocating that we lynch Hayden Kho. I think there is still a court case pending somewhere and he should be made to account for what he did to all those women, but I agree that he deserves a second chance. But I think there is something seriously wrong in the way people are opening doors for him so that he can parade himself again in the nation’s consciousness. It is like rubbing salt to healing wounds.

A behavior specialist friend of mine told me that Hayden Kho’s fixation with being a celebrity is indicative of serious emotional issues. Given what he already went through, reinventing himself as a celebrity endorser of a product that also happens to carry his name is either a brilliant marketing ploy or a very expensive attempt to prop up someone’s ego.

The other reader who wrote in hid behind the handle Social Critic wrote in to chastise me for having criticized Assistant Secretary Mai Mislang over that Twitter incident. The reader was of the opinion that the virulent criticism directed at the President’s speechwriter was “an overkill, an utter waste of space and a clear indicator that there is a serious drought of controversial topics worth writing about.”

The reader basically agreed with Secretary Ricky Carandang’s assessment that Mislang’s tweets were a “minor matter” that has been magnified many times over by pundits (presumably, like me). Social Critic then went on to point out that even I made the assessment that “at least Mislang was honest.” The reader ended his email by echoing what had become the most convenient justification for Mislang’s serious lapse of judgment: Youth. In short, this reader thought we should all cut Mislang some slack because she is young.

I did write in a previous column the phrase “at least she was honest” (referring to Mislang). But I take exception to the insinuation that I meant it as a justification for Mislang’s immaturity. There are occasion when I do bewail the tendency of some people to sacrifice the truth, sincerity, or honesty for the sake of political correctness or just simply politics. But I don’t think there can be any justification for her tweets. To begin with, Mislang was not being politically correct nor was she engaging in good politics. Actually, she was rude, period.

I think most people have already concluded that Mislang deserves the vilification that she has been getting from most everyone.

However, I do think that Secretary Ricky Carandang’s role in the whole brouhaha has been glossed over. Like many others, I am a fan of Carandang. He was the only media person I sat down with for an interview at the height of that open letter uproar four years ago. But in the interest of calling a spade a dirty shovel, it must be pointed out that the whole snafu was really aggravated by the fact that Carandang—who is Mislang’s immediate boss—refused to take the matter seriously when it first cropped up. My friend Grace Abella Zata noted in a Facebook shoutout that had Carandang addressed the matter with earnestness and conveyed the impression that Malacanan Palace was concerned about the flap and would deal with it administratively, people would not have felt the need to react as much. The problem, really, was that everyone was saying it wasn’t such a big deal when it truly was!

Worse, Carandang actually responded to Mislang’s tweet (“the wine sucks”) with the question “the red or the white?” Some people did find Carandang’s rejoinder just as objectionable. He not only failed to chastise Mislang immediately as her boss and as a Cabinet secretary who should be concerned about the impact of such a tactless remark would have on diplomatic relations. He actually legitimized the tactless remark by inquiring as to which wine “sucked.”

Is youth an excuse or justification in this particular case? I don’t think so. True, fast-tracking the emotional maturity of our young leaders is a problem that we all have to contend with. While we can attribute impulsiveness and impatience to youth, we can’t do the same for rudeness and tactlessness. There’s just no justification for these things.


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