WARNING: If the mere mention of Mocha Uson’s name makes your stomach turn and makes you want to strangle the person nearest to you, please do not read on, for your own safety and for those around you.
The hot topic for this week in social media seems to be Mocha Uson and the petition to shut down her Facebook page, Mocha Uson Blog.
A certain Paul Quilet started a petition at Change.org, a website that gathers electronic signatures from people and sends a formal petition to a key decision or policy maker. In this case, Mr. Quilet’s plea was directed to Facebook Inc., asking them to suspend the Mocha Uson Blog page, for the following reason:
Mocha Uson, a Filipino entertainer-turned-Duterte die-hard supporter uses her Facebook page to spread fictitious/unsupported claims, fake news, and false information about pressing issues in the Philippines, from the role the Usaid plays in the country to news concerning government officials and other personalities, eliciting unwarranted hate from the public. The said Facebook page widens the rift between those who support the current administration and those who are critical of it.
The first reaction I felt was amusement. People critical of the president’s “dictatorial” regime now want to shut someone up and muzzle her. The irony is apparently lost on them.
The issue has then sparked an online debate on rights versus responsibilities and on freedom of speech, and has resulted in another round of name-calling, unfriending, and blocking. Isn’t social media a wonderful tool for venting and for making you feel more significant than you really are?
I found some time to revisit the Mocha Uson Blog and found that I had “liked” the page, probably during the election period. I rarely followed it though and would just get the occasional update on my feed. I went through the wall that supposedly spreads misinformation and elicits hatred. I found little to warrant this extravagant claim.
Sure, she posts from informal websites and non-mainstream news sources, usually with the statement, “Eto ang sabi nila...ano sa tingin niyo, ka-DDS?” (This is what they say...what do you think, fellow DDS or Duterte-Diehard-Supporters?).
But she also posts from mainstream sources as well, and not everything she shares is fake or untrue or illogical or worthy of derision (which is the impression you get when you listen to her critics -- and yes, I have a lot of them on my feed).
In fact, some of those who are criticizing her of “hate speech” and of “widening the rift” between administration supporters and critics would do well to examine their own posts about her and her followers. Isn’t calling people stupid, bobo, tanga, or mindless zombies also hate speech? How exactly are they helping to narrow the rift by doing that?
A few months ago, I got into a heated discussion with someone I didn’t know who was criticizing a friend of mine on his wall. Instead of just sticking to the arguments, that person combed through my wall and made fun of what was there, even mocking my glorious bald head.
Another person made a snide comment about my support for the president on what I thought was a totally unpolitical joke, and even called me a genocide apologist. Not content with that, she posted on her own page that I was a genocide apologist par excellence.
Wow! If someone manages to find this piece that makes me deserving of such an honor, please tell me where I can read it. I feel like I’ve won a Palanca award for literature without having to write anything.
Anyway, do I write a petition to have Facebook remove their pages? Do I report them for hate speech? No, I just leave them be. I understand that it is easier to despise others if you stereotype and dehumanize them. I understand that some people are not yet mature enough to handle freedom, or that they are too blinded by their own bloodlust at pointing out others’ shortcomings to see the three fingers pointing back at them.
But that’s ok. I am, in essence, a hopeful person and I believe that humanity will one day wake up and see the overpowering force of love over hate, of joy over despair, and of acceptance over derision.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 28, 2016.
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