Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Rise of Unfounded Toxicity: Lacruiser P. Relativo, Leni Robredo, and Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird"

During an interview by a Rappler reporter, Leni Robredo was asked "what is your favorite book of all time". Robredo said it's To Kill a Mockingbird, the classic 1960 novel by Harper Lee. She then expounded why she chose the book. It was a great question and Robredo had a great answer for it. She even provided some context by explaining her choice. She effectively used her positions (as a lawyer and a public servant) as background for her explanation. Anyone who has read the book by Harper Lee can see her point. Even if you have not read the book, Robredo's answer still sounds rational and completely on point.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a huge number of people who think her answer is "tanga, bobo, lutang, etc." A person by the name of Lacruiser P. Relativo, a Marcos supporter, posted a clip of the interview on Facebook. As I write this, the video clip has been shared more than 30 thousand times and garnered more than 50 thousand "laugh" reactions. Basically, they are laughing and making fun of Robredo's answer.

So the obvious question is this: What is wrong with Robredo's answer to the question? None. Absolutely none. There is nothing wrong with it. She was asked a question and she answered it well. She went further by providing context for her choice. And she chose a great book. This is a book that won the Pulitzer Prize. This is a book that's widely considered as one of the greatest books ever written. This is a book that tackles humanistic themes like prejudice, family values, courage, justice, and the never-ending battle between good and evil.

So we need to ask follow-up questions to the people who think Robredo's answer is "bobo".

1. Anong mali doon sa sagot ni Robredo?
2. Anong nakakatawa doon sa sagot ni Robredo?

I watched the clip several times. I still don't see what's the issue there. She was asked a question and she answered appropriately. In conclusion, the problem is not in Robredo's answer. The problem is in the people laughing at her answer.

I went through the comments of the people sharing the video. And it's crystal clear that the problem is that many of them don't know about To Kill a Mockingbird or they didn't hear Robredo mention it. Robredo literally mentions the title of the book in the video.

So yes, these people are mocking Robredo not because Robredo said something wrong but because of their own ignorance. She literally named the book in her answer. But because these people are not aware that a book called To Kill a Mockingbird exists, they make fun of her. They are basically laughing at a person who is more well-read than them. This proves that the more ignorant you are, the more arrogant you become.

Hindi mo alam yung libro na To Kill a Mockingbird kaya hindi nagregister sa utak mo nung na-mention ni Robredo. At dahil wala kang alam sa libro na ito, hindi ka maka-relate sa pinagsasabi niya. Ang mas masaklap, hindi mo nga naintindihan, tinawanan mo pa. Tinawag mo pa siyang "lutang". Parang kasalanan pa niya na hindi mo alam o hindi mo nabasa yung libro.

See the irony here?

There's one last question to the people laughing at Robredo's response. Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee? If yes, then what is your issue with Robredo's answer? If no, you should find a copy and read it. It's an awesome book. And then maybe you'll understand why Robredo named it as one of her favorite books.

The lesson here is this:  

If you are going to criticize something or laugh at someone, make sure that your criticism/reaction is founded on facts, reason, and truth.

Last but not the least, here's a quote from Atticus Finch, a character from the book:

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." 

Really, everyone should read the book. It's fantastic.

That is all. Thank you for listening to my lazy Wednesday afternoon TED talk. Hindi ako nang-aaway. But we really need to push back against the rampant misinformation and toxicity online.

Image source - Crosscut