Manny Pacquiao dug himself a big old hole last week when he cited his own beliefs. (To say he cited them very badly is the understatement of the year.) The backlash was swift, one of his major sponsors dropped him like a hot potato, and he issued an apology for saying what he said. He really should’ve phrased things with more tact, but we all know Manny is at his most eloquent when he uses his fists and nothing else.
I do not understand why people were surprised. All the gasping, the shock, the vitriol, the clutching of the rosary beads. The Philippines is a nation that reviles its government for pushing birth control on the citizenry because it’s “against God’s will.” If we’re really going to front like everyone in our country is a progressive liberal, we are deluding ourselves.
So he’s bigoted. This is a man raised with stridently traditional values and a slavish adherence to the Bible and whatever parts of it may fit his world view. We all know how he started out – high school drop-out, hard-knock life, boxing as a way out. Is it any wonder he thinks the way he does? Why is that such a surprise? Because he holds public office? Because he’s rich? Have we really forgotten how he became successful and why he became a congressman? He didn’t win a seat in Congress on the basis of his intelligence. He won it because we put him there, because money talks and national sentiment fuels stupid voters and bad decisions.
Like it or not, Manny caused a furore and all sorts of drama has exploded online. People taking sides, throwing random Bible verses at each other. Deuteronomy chapter three, verse eight! Matthew chapter two verse fifteen! First Corinthians… you get the idea. Unfriend-ing, unfollowing, the whole shebang.
I think social media gives us all a hair-trigger temper, and when one is allowed to react in the blink of an eye, that’s not always a good thing. What really gets to me are the ones who say they won’t like you or be friends with you anymore because you have the gall to have a certain opinion about something.
These days people seem to take it as an affront if you don’t share the same world view. Is there anything worse than people who advocate for a cause and take offence if you don’t share the same outlook? That’s just as bigoted as someone who thinks gay people are worse than animals.
I think what we’ve forgotten is that everyone’s got a right to believe in whatever we want to believe in. If I want to believe big purple aliens with three eyes and sixty tentacles are coming in twenty years to cull the earth, then who’s to stop me? What Manny believes in is one thing. How he said it is another.
Whether or not you think he is in the wrong is also something else entirely. Browbeating each other into taking the same stance is not the way to go. While I’m all for people having the right to an opinion, I disagree with a status quo that says we must automatically bend to the most vocally vociferous of the lot, for or against. I don’t think you get to do that.