Are You Offended That I’m Not That Offended?

1:13 am PHT

In the latest controversy spreading across the global Filipino community, much (and maybe too much) has been said about the Desperate Housewives fictional character Susan Mayer’s neurotic comment about the state of medical education in the Philippines. And yes, I’m adding to the cacophony by blogging about the issue but my opinion is that while the controversial line is quite disparaging to the thousands of doctors, nurses, and med tech representatives that have graduated from reputable schools and provide more than competent health service to Americans (even at the cost of dwindling service to the Philippines), I’m not offended enough that I feel the need to support the call for a boycott or sign a online petition.

Another opinion of mine that I expressed in a comment elsewhere is that Filipinos are too sensitive. Yes, I understand the outrage and I respect your right to express that outrage, but I feel that the collective anger is way out of proportion to the actual impact of the disparaging remark.

Connie nails this issue perfectly: “The whole world can call Filipinos all sorts of names and it wouldn’t make me less, nor make me feel less, as a person.” Well said. Jon also asks a pertinent question: “Honestly, tell me, are you offended that I am not offended?” People may call Connie, Jon, and me insensitive for calling them oversensitive but Jon correctly points out that this oversensitivity issue is a problem of context.

Let’s face it, the comment was thrown in a moment of panic by a ditzy fictional character. Susan Mayer is your stereotypical ignorant American, and such a remark from her is totally in character. It’s not meant to be taken seriously even if the element of “racism” is rooted in truth. Yes, TV as a medium is still a powerful force for disseminating cultural values, but as I said the reaction is way out of proportion.

Now if the same comment was made by a U.S. Senator, I certainly won’t hesitate to support the calls for impeachment or to demand for a public apology. Again, context, people, context.

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Comment times are in Philippine time (+0800).


On 2:20 a.m., 6 Oct 2007, titopao wrote:

Heheheh…I thought I was the only one on my contacts list who felt the same way as you do  ;-)


On 3:09 a.m., 6 Oct 2007, Joni wrote:

I was definitely surprised when I first learned about it. I was offended, yes, which I think is just a natural reaction. But, I wouldn’t go to all the trouble of demanding an apology and turning it into a controversy. And I certainly am not happy about the far worse racial comebacks of some Filipinos posted in other blogs and on this youtube page: Just shows how we can be racists ourselves.

But I also think I’m somewhat not in the right position to comment. Which is why I was glad to read Dra Tess’ post about it. It’s also too bad because Susan Mayer happens to be my favorite character in DH. But that’s beside the point. hehe.

To sum up my incoherent comment on your post, I have “no comment”. lolz. labo. haha.


On 3:15 a.m., 6 Oct 2007, Joni wrote:

Hey, where did my comment go? Aba discrimination ito! Eugene, your akismet is a racist! LOL


On 4:28 a.m., 6 Oct 2007, Mike wrote:

I wish people would calm down.


On 12:51 p.m., 7 Oct 2007, Jon Limjap wrote:

Amen, Eugene, amen!


I also hope that too. It appears that some people went to great lengths to insult other bloggers even.

Nagsasawa na ako sa away sa blogosphere, and it’s definitely not worth fighting over a TV show!


On 3:51 p.m., 7 Oct 2007, Prudence wrote:

I share your sentiments and Jon’s. Hay, nakakasakit ng ulo ang mga away na ganito. Sana lang umayos na ang lahat. Let’s move on, people!


On 7:36 p.m., 7 Oct 2007, MDUSA wrote:

e complained because we are Filipino Doctors in the U.S. who were offended. It questioned our credibility and pride. If the producers/writers of the show did think it was referring to the NURSING exam fiasco last year then they are mistaken. Not Doctors. Hence the need to Correct it, lest we further propagate it (not based on facts or even fiction). I am happy with thee ABC apology. That it. No further. Other issues and racial slurs regarding the Philippines…might have some historical context…But MD is a noble profession, for it to be tainted by careless remarks..needs to be challenged and corrected. I am for free speech…but this was clearly a mistake on the writer. Now if you guys think that the petition was wrong. Then you do not understand us. If its regarding what was requested afterwards ex Donation…then i agree with you that it sounds too much. I praise all the Doctors who supported us. Also the non-doctors who helped. But let us keep it regarding Filipino MD and their schools. The rest(non-MD—who are opposed to the petition) cannot understand us anyway, so whats the use convincing them.


On 3:58 p.m., 8 Oct 2007, seav wrote:

@Titopao, well, there are many of us actually.  ;)

@Joni, don’t say that you’re not in the right position to comment. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion no matter how uninformed you are of the matter. Just humbly append that you don’t know much and would be glad to hear feedback from the more enlightened. And, yes, my anti-spam measure is a little strict with regards to URLs. Actually, any comment with a URL is flagged for moderation. I guess I need to add a message that the comment is under moderation so people don’t get confused.  :)

@Mike, Jon, and Prudence, ditto!  :D

@MDUSA, yes, I understand that people in your position are the most offended among the Filipinos. You’ve gone through so much and have to prove yourself many times more just to get to work in the U.S. But realize that not all in your profession would feel indignated and I just hope that some others would also respect that not everyone would or should feel offended.


On 4:28 p.m., 8 Oct 2007, Joni wrote:

Eugene: I was only kidding about the anti-spam. I knew it was just awaiting moderation since there’s a URL included. Sorry. I shouldn’t have joked about that.  :D


On 1:57 a.m., 9 Oct 2007, Rico wrote:

Does it offend you that I’m not offended that you’re not offended?

Ok, I’m dizzy now.  :)


On 7:32 a.m., 9 Oct 2007, DJB Rizalist wrote:

Yeah! Aren’t all Filipinas, sluts anyway?


On 11:09 a.m., 9 Oct 2007, seav wrote:

@Joni, nah it’s ok. I’m a little slow on certain types of jokes.  :)

@Rico, I’m not offended, and I guess you’re not offended that I’m not offended that you’re not offended that I’m not offended by the DH remark.  ;)

@DJB, is that remark meant to troll?


On 5:27 p.m., 9 Oct 2007, Rico wrote:

<blockquote>is that remark meant to troll?</blockquote>

Perhaps traffic bait? Bait bait bait!


On 5:29 p.m., 9 Oct 2007, Rico wrote:

Whoops, no work, that HTML.


On 4:52 p.m., 11 Oct 2007, Jaywalker wrote:

It’s disturbing how people are attacking people who are not offended. It got really personal in some blogs. Some of them are probably in the medical field… and these are the people who are supposed to be products of our fine education system


On 5:00 p.m., 11 Oct 2007, Benj wrote:

Who exactly has been doing that, Jaywalker? Last time I checked it has been the opposite side who has been on Bluepanjeet’s case. The other side is more condescending and a lot more aggressive in terms of insulting those who feel aggrieved. From an Atheist a fellow Atheist: that last sentence was a really glaring <i>non sequitur</i>.

Eugene, I don’t understand the spin here. The people who think that this not a ’big deal’ have been the ones bullying the other side. It’s very evident on Twitter.

Here’s the case that you’re forwarding, it’s ok to have references to racist and discriminatory behavior as long as it is reflective of the status quo. So basically, as long as it’s in the status quo, it’s ok to perpetuate it?

Yes, there’s context. It’s also a context of 20 million people being influenced directly or indirectly.

I’d rather be in a race of ’oversensitive’ people as opposed to be in a crowd of pushovers.


On 6:54 p.m., 11 Oct 2007, seav wrote:

@Benj, status quo? What status quo have I been talking about? The two points I have ever said in my blog post is about context and about the statement that insults, especially false ones, should never be a cause for us to think less of ourselves.

You’re saying that a widely-viewed show has the power to directly or indirectly influence people. While that’s true to some extent, I just don’t believe that the possible effect (e.g., patients rejecting Filipino doctors) would increase dramatically as a result of a soap opera, so much so that onerous demands to ABC above and beyond an apology is warranted.

As for being in the oversensitive or pushover camp, I think that’s dichotomizing too much. There are slights worth fighting for and others to be left alone instead. You seem to imply that being a pushover is such a bad thing, and that not being offended in this particular incident is being a pushover. That’s quite a stretch of opinion. As I said, this is a problem of context. Going back to my example above, if a U.S. Senator exclaimed that he does not want Filipino doctors treating him, then I’d gladly join the “oversensitive” camp, to use your label, and demand for a public apology and possible impeachment.


On 9:43 p.m., 11 Oct 2007, Rick wrote:

I know, it’s weird that these people are being too sensitive about it. May petition pa silang nalalaman. Eh bakit, tayo rin naman pag may mga lines on TV na pinagtatawanan mga itim or Indian nakikitawa tayo.


On 9:54 p.m., 11 Oct 2007, benj wrote:

Here Eugene

Let’s face it, the comment was thrown in a moment of panic by a ditzy fictional character. Susan Mayer is your stereotypical ignorant American, and such a remark from her is totally in character. It’s not meant to be taken seriously even if the element of “racism” is rooted in truth.

Rick, I don’t think being “racist” forfeits one’s right to cry foul.


On 10:09 p.m., 11 Oct 2007, seav wrote:

@Benj, I knew that you were going to cite that passage. But take note of the “if” in the last sentence. It means that I don’t care if the slur is completely false or completely true; in that context of non-serious fiction, it should not be taken seriously to the extent that people are crying out for blood.

Also, you’re putting words into my mouth. That “status quo” paragraph does not imply that I subscribe to the notion that negative current perceptions should be perpetuated. C’mon, Benj, you are capable of thinking more logically than that!

Moreover, we’re now steering into the question of whether fictional TV should be prescriptive instead of descriptive. That’s another debate and is outside the scope of this immediate issue.

@Rick, I agree with Benj that just because we ourselves spout “racist” remarks does not in any way invalidate our cry of foul. It may mean that we are hypocritical but it still does not invalidate the sense of hurt.


On 10:37 a.m., 12 Oct 2007, benj wrote:

You did.

If it’s ok for characters in TV shows to say things that are consistent with the ignorant and stereotypical nature of the role they play, then it goes without saying that you’re ok with its perpetuation since you are not doing anything proactive.

And oh, I’ve kept myself from making condescending remarks. You’re veering closer to this irritating stance that most people on your side of the fence have fallen into. This obnoxious crowd of course includes Connie (oh, the non sequiturs and below the belt attacks!) and a number of The Man Blog (those who ganged up on Bluepanjeet). I was expecting the same amount of respect.

It makes perfect sense.

Your argument is that the people didn’t take it seriously. What if they did? Therefore, all contingencies should be explored on the worst case scenario that they did. Your stand is too optimistic and panders to much to the side of Hollywood.


On 10:50 a.m., 12 Oct 2007, benj wrote:

If people didn’t react the way they did, ABC wouldn’t have apologized and removed copies of the offensive line from future airings and DVD copies. What you guys are espousing is a laissez-fair type of system wherein we are mere pushovers.

Again, it is a dichotomy. It’s either you allow yourself to be discriminated or be proactive and show the other party that you will not take such matters sitting down.

<blockquote>Connie nails this issue perfectly: “The whole world can call Filipinos all sorts of names and it wouldn’t make me less, nor make me feel less, as a person.”</blockquote>

Boohoo. Whatever. Sige, magpakamartir. But why be a punching bag? Why be a WILLING punching bag at that? That “well said” line only sounds good in Little Miss Philippines. We should also PROTECT our reputation to the best of our ability.

Let’s face it, THE PERCEPTIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE ALSO MATTER! And things that perpetuate NEGATIVE (and untrue/ unsubstantiated) impressions do nothing but erode our reputation.


On 1:16 p.m., 12 Oct 2007, seav wrote:

@Benj, I don’t subscribe to your notion of dichotomy that just because I was not proactive in this particular issue then I’m automatically a pushover or a martyr. It does not follow. You cannot generalize about my being a pushover just because I did not proactively campaign against ABC in this incident. If you see me dismissing every slight and slur directed my way, then and only then can you have reason to label me a pushover.

If I sounded condescending to you, then I’m very sorry it came out that way. I was not being condescending, I’m just intrigued that you’re reading too much into my words and interpreting the dichotomy too intently.

You’re saying that by believing Connie’s statement it means that we’re martyrs already? That assumes that just because I should not feel any less of a person means that I should not do anything about it. I don’t believe that argument. Feeling that we are somehow less a person because of a slight is not mutually exclusive to retaliating against that slight. Conversely, retaliating against an aggressor does not automatically make us feel better about ourselves.

Yes, other people’s perception do matter. I don’t argue with that. After all, “no man is an island.” But I don’t think that means that each and every person’s perception matters.

I said before that I’m an optimist and that I believe in people’s innate good nature. Hence my belief that the show’s remark will not dramatically alter the American public’s perception against Filipino doctors. Filipino doctors are already discriminated against in the U.S. even without the DH remark and I don’t think that that situation will change much for the worse just because of some fictional show’s offhand statement.

Yes, I’ll admit that the initial outrage did spur ABC to issue an apology (and maybe even excise the offending remark from later publications). But you don’t need me to sign an online petition demanding an apology. The Filipino medical community in America is more than capable of fighting their own fights.

While I personally say that the offending comment should not be taken seriously (because of context), I did not say that you should not be outraged. As I stated in my post, my oversensitive remark is meant for those people that are becoming overzealous in their reaction: getting angry at Filipinos “who don’t get it”, demanding a collective boycott, asking the DH staff to undergo cultural sensitivity and diversity trainings, etc.

Lastly, if other people’s perception is really that important to you, what about the some people’s perception, upon hearing this incident, that Filipinos are too thin-skinned? Some choice American comments on online American news articles:

  • “Some people need to thicken their skin, for goodness sake!”

  • “When will people realize that someone on a tv show saying disparaging things about entire ethnic groups or racial minorities doesn’t mean that the broadcaster shares those views, rather, it demonstrates the shallow, bigotedness of that character!”

  • “My god people have such thin skins about everythign these days. GET A LIFE it friggin TV!”

  • “Oh Gawd, Filipinos—go fight for other things than a silly entertainment comment! […] stop being Stupid Asian Drama Queens!”

You can read even more comments at Michelle Malkin’s follow-up DH post.

Yes, a few of these types of comments are as stupid as the comments that say that Filipino doctors are substandard and deserve the DH remark, but the point here is that I don’t think that fighting each and every wrong perception is worth the effort, or if we do fight it, that we should wring each and every last concession to be made.


On 2:48 p.m., 12 Oct 2007, benj wrote:

As a med student as some med school in the Philippines, I think it was just right for me to show support for those in the US who are fighting for their careers and practices. If you want to divorce yourself from that, have it your way.


On 3:07 p.m., 12 Oct 2007, benj wrote:

Just to be clear, AGGRESSION is more apparent with the people sharing your opinion.

I also don’t support the idea of a boycott and online petition. But I fully support the class action suit.


On 4:54 p.m., 12 Oct 2007, seav wrote:

@Benj, well, I won’t argue with your choice of supporting our doctors in the U.S. That’s your prerogative.


On 6:49 p.m., 12 Oct 2007, jaywalker wrote:

@Benj I don’t use twitter so if there’s any bullying done there by either side, i’m not aware of it.

I didn’t name names. I didn’t have bluepanjeet in mind when i posted the comment. I was talking about the comments in some blogs that, in my opinion, crossed the line between humor and below the belt insult. I don’t think that saying someone is oversensitive is of the same magnitude as saying that someone’s mother is a slut or that someone’s girlfriend looks like she just had a sex change

Because they were so offended, i assumed that they were connected to the medical field somehow. But of course that is a poorly grounded assumption. «.» If there are people from “our camp” who are insulting people on your side on a personal level by insulting their relatives or personal acquaintances, then I’d like to address my previous comment/rant to them as well.

If you’ve read my entry about issue, I said that the implications could affect the professional careers of a lot of people and therefore, those people have the right to ask for reparations that are proportionate to the offence that they were dealt. Maybe a public apology is called for… but we already had our public apology.

I guess the question here is what do we expect to achieve by asking for more than a public apology. If what’s at stake here is the international community’s opinion of us, then we must ask ourselves if our actions are actually improving their opinion of us. As the quotes that Eugene posted might suggest, this crusade against an issue that a lot of outsiders think is “trivial” probably isn’t painting us in a very good light.

Anyway, my gripe is with people who are becoming too zealous to the point of personally attacking those who are not offended. I know you as an objective and rational thinker and I respect your opinions on the matter. I guess we just have different opinions on what is a “proportionate response”

I must disagree with your assertion though that we are “pushovers” because we are not offended. As I said, we have different opinions on what is a proportionate response. If it came as a comment from a respected figure or a serious documentary, then I say that’s worthy of a serious rebuttal. If it came as a humorous comment, from a hysterical character, from a show that nobody with a brain really takes seriously, then I’d rather not take it seriously as well. Like in any scientific debate, there are issues that are worthy of a serious response and there are issues that are so stupid that if you take them seriously, you risk falling in the same rut.

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