ACTUALLY, Maria Ressa did not say that she received 90 rape threats within a minute. This is what Ressa said:
“You look at anyone who says anything against the killings, against the drug war, especially if they are women, they will get clobbered in social media. … They are threatened with death, with rape. You name it, it’s happened. … An average of 90 hate messages an hour … that’s what I dealt with in a month.”
Hence, Ressa did not say she received rape threats, but only hate messages. And she did not receive 90 of those in a minute, but in an hour.
But she was pilloried nevertheless in social media by pro-Duterte cyber-warriors of all social classes. The factual inaccuracy took a life of its own, and for them truth was no longer the issue, but simply to punish Ressa. The cruelest of all was when Ressa’s physical appearance became the ground upon which insults were made, painting her as a delusional woman making up an unbelievable story of 90 men threatening to rape here very minute.
It was indeed cruel to turn Ressa into a caricature of rape, for rape is a serious matter not to be trivialized, and the physical appearance of a woman is not a justification for rape, as if only beautiful women can raise the horrifying victimization that a rape survivor has to endure. Rape is rape. It is not about sex, but about power. Women of all ages, races and ethnicities, shapes and sizes, and perceived beauty are raped. Even men are also raped.
I could relate to the point made by Ressa, of how the pro-Duterte social media base can erupt in disdain and descend with passion and without surrender on anyone perceived to be attacking him. I experienced this during the campaign when I criticized the candidate Digong. And even now that I am supportive of the President, while the attacks are not as virulent, I still get hostile reactions when I oppose the death penalty, criticize Gina Lopez, and recently when I pushed for the decriminalization of drug use. While some are more overt in accusing me of being a traitor, or a mole, others just express their outrage by not liking my posts. Some even tried to campaign for people to unfollow me in Facebook to punish me for my criticisms of Lopez.
But Ressa and her cabal should understand the behavior of the pro-Duterte social media base. As a veteran journalist, she should have easily understood the pent-up resentment of a people who have had enough of elite rule, and has found a voice and symbol to rally around in the person of the President.
But instead of considering this as necessary in democratic politics, a view which I uphold in dealing with criticisms in social media, Ressa maligned it as anti-democratic. She had the audacity to claim that “Democracy is dead. … What you’re seeing is exponential growth of propaganda networks that hijack what used to be called democracy.”
And she blamed the pro-Duterte social media networks for causing that death, through coordinated attacks that launched and supported Duterte’s candidacy, and has since then trained their guns members of traditional media like her who, as Ressa would like to make it appear, are just doing their job.
This is patently hypocritical. If I were to accuse Ressa of being delusional, it will not be because of a claim she did not make of receiving 90 rape threats in a minute, but on the above claim that she actually and boldly made.
Ressa should be reminded that she and her media outfit Rappler, which is in fact registered as an investment firm, is the one guilty of being a major part of a propaganda network. The behavior of Rappler has gone beyond doing media work in the spirit of bringing factual news. It has churned factual misrepresentations, all masquerading as investigative pieces or objective news. It was solely responsible for institutionalizing the lie of the 7,000 extra-judicial deaths, which has since become almost like bible truth.
Indeed, social media may have its faults, shortcomings and excesses. But Ressa should also wake up to the realization that in these times of cyber-politics, social media warriors become essential parts of the democratic political landscape.
In fact, the reason why social media has become more prominently relied upon by people is because of journalists like Ressa and her ilk who have failed to do their jobs. They behave as if they are the sole bearers of truth, and they have a monopoly over fact-reporting. Armed with hubris and arrogance, and with an undeserved dose of self-entitlement, it is in fact traditional media that has hijacked the democratic discourse, more so when they took on their own partisan agendas.
Karma is really a witch.
Ressa has been demonized and cruelly demeaned for something that she did not even say.
Justice is now served, for she is just reaping the bitter fruits of twisting truth and misrepresenting facts that she and her kind have done to diminish a President they dislike, and then have the audacity to make us believe that they are just doing their jobs.