By ALI IAN MARCELINO V. BIONG
In Aristotle’s Rhetoric, he says one way a speaker can make an audience laugh is by violating their expectations in telling a story.
Philosophers such as Soren Kierkegaard and Immanuel Kant later took on this approach, which is now called the Incongruity Theory: a theory saying laughter is caused by the violation of our mental patterns, by seeing the incongruous.
We Filipinos may see this theory on humor transcend into our own jokes: “Anong tawag sa asong tumalon sa ilog? Aso pa rin.” “Anong tawag sa maliit na unan? Unano.”
This manner of joking may earn a good laugh or two, but when a president says during a speech that he uses marijuana to cope with his “killing” meetings and duties while leading a drug war that has taken thousands of lives—regardless of whether guilty or innocent—surely, this incongruity is no longer funny.
Nonetheless, President Rodrigo Duterte nonchalantly dismisses this as yet another one of his many controversial jokes.
“That’s how I am… if you say I was joking all the time, I won’t mind. It was a joke of course. It was a joke but nobody can stop me from just doing my style… Sometimes, you call me a misogynist because of some jokes. That’s my style. It’s too late to change. If I want to [tell a] joke, I will… kung maniwala kayo, gago kayo,” he said.
Joking about using drugs after having incited the killings of “drug personas” is just too distasteful for a public official, even more so for a president.
What is even more appalling is that it is as if we are just to accept him for who he is because that is his “style.” That may be true, but you cannot argue that your faults define you just to avoid criticisms and calls for improvement. If we all did that, then we would get away with every mistake we commit.
But Duterte doesn’t really see these as faults, right? He has talked about wanting to be the first to rape an Australian missionary. He also told the military that it is okay to rape women, and that he will take care of them if they do as long as they do their jobs—all as a joke, of course.
I guess he was also joking when he said he would protect our islands in the West Philippine Sea, end drug problems in three to six months, be a more “prim and proper” president, and disregard patronage in politics. Maybe it is timely to ask who is “gago,” in the words of the president, amid all the controversies surrounding the country.