I’m preparing to leave for Clark, to join other journalists in an annual exercise in navel-gazing, but I can’t resist writing about what is the latest — and apparently the last — encounter between Sassy Lawyer and Philippine Commentary, also known by his real name Dean Jorge Bocobo.
I found out about it when I followed a two-day-old link in Manolo Quezon’s blog yesterday, to what he called the "most star-studded" comment thread in years. (For the record, I agree with Manolo; Caloy Conde’s take on PCIJ’s unHappy adventure seems to be right on the money.)
I am not a regular reader of Sassy; following the link made me remember why.
In reply to a series of loaded questions from Dean, about the provenance of the artwork made by the inappropriately named Bulletproof Vest and which ends with a query about the country’s "Intellectual Property Rights Act," Sassy wrote (at 8:19 pm on January 25):
Since Happy might not be able to view your comment right away, Dean, let me state that Happy is a graphics artist by profession.
Your accusations suck in substance and in form.
And it’s not “Intellectual Property Rights Act”. It is LAW, not ACT. The ACT becomes LAW once a bill is signed by the president. But you wouldn’t know that.
I didn’t know that either. Not because I am not a lawyer, but because Sassy, who is one, only wanted to be snide. In the process, she forgot all about short titles. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a look at a few acts, I mean laws (from the ever-reliable Chan Robles law firm).
RA 9165, anyone?
AN ACT INSTITUTING THE COMPREHENSIVE DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 2002, REPEALING REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 1972, AS AMENDED, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Section 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known and cited as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002."
Or RA 9160:
AN ACT DEFINING THE CRIME OF MONEY LAUNDERING, PROVIDING PENALTIES THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
SECTION 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the "Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001."
How about RA 8505?
AN ACT PROVIDING ASSISTANCE AND PROTECTION FOR RAPE VICTIMS, ESTABLISHING FOR THE PURPOSE A RAPE CRISIS CENTER IN EVERY PROVINCE AND CITY, AUTHORIZING THE APPROPRIATION OF FUNDS THEREFOR,
AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
SECTION 1. Title. — This Act shall be known as the "Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998."
Do all laws, I mean acts, enjoin the public to call them, familiarly, as acts? Again, from the first few laws included in the Chan Robles virtual library (I chose the section on Criminal Law, just for the heck of it), the answer is obvious enough. No.
RA 8353, for example:
AN ACT EXPANDING THE DEFINITION OF THE CRIME OF RAPE, RECLASSIFYING THE SAME AS A CRIME AGAINST PERSONS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE ACT NO. 3815, AS AMENDED, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE REVISED PENAL CODE,
AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as "The Anti-Rape Law of 1997."
As it turns out, the Intellectual Property Rights Law (Sassy’s version, which apparently is not known to those idiots in Congress who make the laws and those doddering men and women in robes who interpret them) is actually called the Intellectual Property Rights Code.
AN ACT PRESCRIBING THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CODE
AND ESTABLISHING THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE,
PROVIDING FOR ITS POWERS AND FUNCTIONS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE
Section 1.Title. – This Act shall be known as the "Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines."
So, strictly speaking, Dean got the name wrong. But then so did Sassy, who, after all, is a lawyer. (And don’t you forget that, Dean!) But she didn’t stop there. She went on to declare a new legal principle: "The ACT becomes LAW once a bill is signed by the president."
After Dean posted one more time, Sassy cracked the whip, and banned him from her very (very) popular blog. On January 26, at 1:32 pm, after what could have been a disagreeable lunch (IRONY ALERT: I am, of course, being snide, just to see what it feels like), she wrote:
Dean, nice try in provoking me and trying to get me to write something with the thought of diverting attention to you.
That’s your last comment in my blog.
I don’t know WHAT you are and I don’t care. You don’t deserve my time.
Frayed tried to conduct a reality check:
What I see here is a real pack mentality. The leader (Sassy) attacks, and everyone comes in for the kill. Someone comes in who you don’t agree with, and ban him from your blog (and he wasn’t even rude or abusive). Enough already. Happy & Sheila are sorting this out on their own, that’s enough for me.
But Sassy replied:
In the instant case [again, code for: I’m a lawyer, Dean, and don’t you or anyone else forget it], only Dean Bocobo got banned. Because he was abusive–the final straw in a long list of abusive comments here and in his blog in a desperate attempt to make a comeback into the blogging scene.
It isn’t for you to decide what is abusive or not; it isn’t your blog.
But did the comment in fact question Sassy’s prerogative to ban commenters from her blog? I don’t think so. It only raised — and only as a secondary point — the standards of abuse that could lead to a ban. Was Dean, in fact, abusive? Only if raising tough questions is considered abuse. But what do I know? I think some laws can in fact be called acts.