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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mocha?

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mocha?
Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos for Scout x Globe

Local social media had been abuzz for the past few days over its new cause célèbre, the attempt to shutter the world-famous infamous Mocha Uson Blog on Facebook. There’s a petition some people put up on Change.org, that notorious site where anyone can just ask for anything as long as you can get enough signatures, although no one’s ever seem to have won anything by doing so.

At first glance, it’s not a hard petition to get behind. Mocha Uson has been a toxic presence on the internet, no doubt about it, regularly professing her undying devotion to our president, twisting and spinning facts to support the administration, and consistently showing a ridiculous lack of self-awareness in the process.

On the other hand, however, trying to get a page shut down simply because a lot of people don’t like what she has to say is more than a little contentious, for obvious reasons. Despite it being an issue that’s just not cut and dry, some of us can’t help but think that there’s something inherently wrong with the idea.

All that in mind, allow us a moment to look at two sides of the issue right here.

If you’re thinking about agreeing, c/o Leiron Martija:

There’s nothing wrong with signing the online petition for Mocha Uson’s Facebook page to be removed.

The immediate accusation is that this is a form of censorship that goes against everyone’s right to free speech. But censorship, at least in a strictly legal sense, is an imposition against government. What we mean by censorship is really the kind of actions that governments take in order to silence its people, such as silencing, imprisoning, torturing, or executing people for publicly declaring an opinion. But this petition isn’t censorship—it comes from ordinary people coming together to say there should be a fine line between political parody and peddling misinformation online.

That might be a lot to digest, and the difference might be just a legal one, but it is an important distinction. So if someone were to disagree with what I just said above, that person doesn’t need to fear being sanctioned or arrested for holding an opinion. Which leads me to my next point: that the right to free speech is not absolute.

[pull_quote]But this petition isn’t censorship—it comes from ordinary people coming together to say there should be a fine line between political parody and peddling misinformation online.[/pull_quote]

Often missing in these diatribes for free speech is the second half that defines that right—the responsibility for the effects of what is said. Certainly people are free enough to be racist, or sexist, or to even believe that Adolf Hitler was a saint. But when your fellow citizens disagree with you, and act upon their disagreement, these very same actions are covered by the same right to free speech that you enjoy. Mocha Uson can inveigle and deceive her followers with photoshopped pictures and syndicated headlines all she wants, but when people take notice and petition for the lies to stop, it is in absolutely no way a form of censorship—it is accountability.

That very same accountability that often gets mistaken for censorship is what protects the substance of free speech. It means we believe that words matter, that facts matter, and that the right to freedom of speech holds everyone who enjoys it accountable by what is said. Signing the petition isn’t being a hypocrite—it’s standing up to one.

If this leaves a sour taste in your mouth, c/o Pepi Moran:

For all the good reasons why we either should or shouldn’t torpedo the Mocha Uson Blog, the two biggest reasons are: 1) it’ll turn us into the monsters this administration wants us to be, and 2) it’s just not a good tactical move in the war of hearts and minds.

Mocha having the right to say whatever she wants to say is a given, no questions asked. I assume that anyone who doesn’t like what she has to say is on the side of truth, justice, and fair play (because there is no Filipino way). We’re all dreading the possibility that maybe one day, the government finally gets its way and takes all our important freedoms from us—and I feel like the least we can do is fight for the smaller freedoms in more private spaces, even though the Bill of Rights only protects against government action.

Let me put it this way: we already hate the mob that’s staring us down on the other side of the fence, so what good will it really do us if we unilaterally shut them down? You’ll become no worse than those who wantto boycott media outlets just because they don’t like the news that’s being reported, and that’s not a good look for anyone. This has to be fought the right way, so everyone—everyone—finally appreciates what they have and hopefully the idea that people are free to say things they can disagree with.

[pull_quote]You’ll become no worse than those who want to boycott media outlets just because they don’t like the news that’s being reported, and that’s not a good look for anyone.[/pull_quote]

That’s also why it’s not a good strategy. Should you ever manage to get rid of the Mocha Uson Blog this way, the divide people accuse her of fueling is only gonna get worse. Those on her side are just going to cry elitism harder, they’ll listen to reason less than they do now, and harassment of people just doing their jobs will most likely get even more toxic.

I get that these are a bunch of people you want to punch in the face more often now sometimes, and this sounds like futile neutrality, but the only way to really get to them is to keep talking to them. If this is really a war, then it has to be won the right way. These are people who just need to be talked to and treated like they actually are human, too. No matter how much they get on our nerves.

*****

And because you have the right to an opinion, feel free to let us know what yours is.


With Leiron Martija

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Romeo Moran
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