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The mockeries

(Article published in the Apr 8, 2009 issue of Manila Standard Today)

It is a no-brainer to assemble legal arguments to destroy the credibility of the Gospel accounts of the abusive mockeries that Jesus the Christ was allegedly subjected to before He died on the cross.  There is the tried and trite, “no personal knowledge” of the unknown authors; the canonical gospels were written long after the event by persons who obviously could not have been eye witnesses.  In addition, there are the trial lawyer’s  tools of the trade, ever present in his brief case, such as, “inconsistency”, “vague”, “no basis”, and the mindless, “falsus  in uno, falsus in omnibus.”

 There are two accounts of the mockeries: first, by the Jews and the other, by the Romans. The mockery by the Jews is reported by Mark and Matthew as having occurred right after the trial conducted in the house of Caiphas the Jewish high priest where scribes and elders had gathered. The trial was ended abruptly, sans witnesses and with the theatrical tearing of his own garments, after Caiphas was able to get Jesus to commit blasphemy by admitting that He was the Messiah.  Luke and John have the incident happening the night before whilst Jesus was in custody awaiting the trial in the morning. 

 Jesus was allegedly spit upon, slapped, and asked to “prophesy”, meaning identify who slapped him.  But it is not clear who exactly it was who did the spitting, the slapping (only Mark and John attribute that to the “attendants”, with Mark talking of many and John of only one), and the taunting.  Moreover, only Luke mentioned the covering of the Jesus’s face presumably to test his supra-human ability to make identification (or lack thereof); the other three omitted that important detail. 

 The story of mockery by the Romans is just as, legally speaking, flawed.  Again, there is no agreement as when the mockery occurred.  Mark and Matthew said it happened right after the trial before Pilate; John and Luke had it as having transpired during the course of the trial.
 










     

Furthermore, there is no consensus on who was responsible for Jesus when the mockery occurred. Mark Matthew and John narrate the incident as having happened at the preatorium where Pilate was; the implication is that Jesus was then under his authority. Luke, on the other hand, speaks of it as having been conducted by Herod and his troops, not at the praetorium but in another place in Jerusalem. 

 The reason for the mockery by the Romans is also not clear.  In Mark, Matthew and Luke, the mockery seemed to be a spontaneous exhibition of soldierly buffoonery; in John, it was specifically ordered by Pilate, who hesitant to condemn Jesus, tried to elicit sympathy for him by beating him up.

 The time when Jesus was taunted by the Romans as “King of the Jews” is also problematic.  Mark, Matthew and John had the Romans making fun of his title before he was crucified.  Luke, however, had this taunt uttered by the Roman soldier who gave him vinegary wine while he hung on the cross.

 Notwithstanding these variances which lawyer-wise one could pounce upon as indicia of possible falsity and therefore reasonable ground to doubt their veracity, the stories of both mockeries somehow ring true.  Our experience seems to nevertheless attest to the stories’ verisimilitude, if not actual truth.  Embedded in our memory are  accounts, too many to be simply dismissed as false, of persons, who, in  the belief that they are exempt from the retribution that is sure to be exacted, though at times rather belatedly, by the laws of the heavens, callously disregard the sufferer’s dignity and routinely add insult to injury.

 I personally hold the view that Chip Tsao’s insult of the Philippines in his column in the HK Magazine last 27 March as being of the same kind as the Jewish and Roman mockeries of Christ. And I view the administration’s readiness to remove Chip Tsao from the blacklist, upon his mere apology, a condescending trivialization of the mockery he spewed on Filipinos.

 The pertinent portions of Chip Tsao’s offending column, now removed from the net, read: “As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter…As a patriotic Chinese man, the news [of the Philippine insistence on its claim over the Spratly’s] has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China…Grimly, I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her straight home, because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day…”

 Clearly, the insult was not just the phrase “nation of servants.”  I personally do not mind being called a servant, provided it be of the Master who hangs on the cross. 

Chip Tsao was, in fact deriding what keeps our economy afloat, ridiculing the value of a degree earned from a Philippine university and downgrading the education we give to our people, arrogating unto himself the right to be harsh, asserting the ascendance of the power of his purse over a human being’s right to decide what communicate and what not to say, and demeaning the dignity of a Filipino’s labor.

And despite all that, the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is willing to forgive and forget simply because Chip Tsao, after finding that his magazine’s initial apology was not enough to put out the fire of indignation that his comment ignited, went personally to the Philippine Consulate to say “I’m now aware that I’ve crossed the line and I offer my public apology"?

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr., ought to do some soul-searching these days if he is simply content, at this time, to simply stand and wait. It is clear, from what he had written, that Chip Tsao did not just “cross the line”.  Chip Tsao’s way of describing his offense is itself offensive, down playing as it does the gravity of his insult and robbing the righteousness from the indignation that his abuse precipitated.  Not to mention the implication that we do not know enough of the language of his cultural masters to realize his apology couch as it is in British-speak, is mere lip service and definitely not from the heart. 

There is no doubt about it. Chip Tsao has mocked us as the Jews and the Romans mocked the Christ.  And if Steve Conejos wants to be worthy of the school diploma that he shares with Jose P. Rizal, Gregorio H. del Pilar, Claro M. Recto, Edgar M. Jopson, and Evelio B. Javier, among others, then I suggest despite Chip Tsao’s so-called “apology”, consider an action along the lines taken by the Master who drove out the money-changers from His Father’s house.  No way should he be content with reacting like a sweet Bunny Rabbit.
 

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