Quite a Character

Guess what, Philippine Daily Inquirer? Funny faces are only funny when they’re made on purpose, and not when they’re the uncontrollable result of a debilitating cerebrovascular accident.

With all the elegance of a national broadsheet stooping to unethical levels that would make a tabloid blush, today’s PDI published incredibly tasteful photographs of witness Demetrio Vicente grimacing his way through a testimony. On the front page, even.

This isn't the picture we're talking about.

The photos have been called “unflattering,” “tasteless,” and “mean.” We don’t mince words. The decision to publish those particular photographs of the septuagenarian stroke survivor was downright cruel.

Inquirer’s instant statement amidst the backlash was the exact opposite of their usual coverage of the impeachment trial: on the defense. Their claim that the four-frame collage of Mr. Vicente’s facial expressions contained “the only photos available” is shut down by the fact that there are actually only two photos, with the other half of the quadrant being zoomed-in versions of the first two. What did you think that editorial call was, PDI? A stroke of genius?

As if the photographs weren’t funny enough — and by “funny” we mean “insulting to Mr. Vicente and stroke survivors and people with basic human values everywhere” — PDI couldn’t resist digging their elbow a little deeper into the side of ethical journalism. Which, by the way, isn’t ticklish.

Their caption:
“‘CHARACTER’ WITNESS The many faces of Demetrio Vicente on the witness stand. He’s no ordinary witness after all. He’s the cousin of the Chief Justice whose wife sold him seven parcels of land in 1990, where he now grows bonsai.”

Oh, I get it! He’s a “character” because he can’t control his facial muscles! Also, he is a witness! So witty, Inquirer. “Character” is properly ascribed to vintage furniture and James Earl Jones’ voice, not disabilities. People who come up with quips like these are the same people who Photoshop Mickey Mouse ears onto pictures of hydrocephalic babies.

(Thx, Indolent contributor Lady Dada!)