In the heavy backlash that followed Toni Gonzaga and her interview with Bongbong Marcos, supporters of both personalities have come out to defend their idols, all arguing the same thing: ‘Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.’
These supporters argue that the criticism surrounding ‘Toni Talks’ is proof of a skewed version of democracy. They accuse critics of becoming dictators themselves, policing only a specific point of view (‘the interview was in bad taste’) while canceling others.
They then circle back to their main argument, ‘Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.’
Opinions are not absolute
In an article from The Conversationist, philosophy professor Patrick Stokes cites that ‘everybody has an opinion’ is an argument often used to defend a belief that should have been long since abandoned.
Stokes, who teaches at Deakin University in Australia, says that people who use this statement often use it to justify saying whatever they like. In some ways, they guilt trip those who continue to argue as somehow being disrespectful.
Depending on the context, ‘everybody has an opinion’ can be harmless. Stokes uses ice cream flavors as an example. It would be silly to label someone as ‘wrong’ if they prefer strawberry over chocolate.
But opinions exist in all forms, from your preferred taste of ice cream, to your stances on technology, science, and in this case, politics. In the case of the last three, opinions are given more weight and meaning.
These opinions are open to discourse because they will answer to well-established facts. It would be sillier to think that ‘strawberry is better than chocolate’ deserves to be as disputed as ‘vaccines are a scam’, ‘COVID-19 is not real’, or that ‘Marcos did nothing wrong’.
The rights of BBM and Toni
BBM is free to shout to the high heavens that his father was a saint, that the well-documented Martial Law victims were wrong, and that the billions of ill-gotten wealth, portions of which have since been recovered, were nothing more than imaginary figures.
The same goes for Toni and ‘Toni Talks’. Toni is free to guest whoever she wants on her show, a decision she has publicly made. It’s her channel, after all.
So if their supporters’ argument of ‘everybody has an opinion’ means that the two are free to say whatever they want to say, then yes, they are correct on a surface level.
But to ask the general public, those who still possess some common sense, to readily accept and respect the historical revisionism that was spewed during the interview for the sake of ‘democracy’, then that is not possible.
This is because, in the face of facts backed by reputable journalists, historians, and other fact-checking bodies, BBM’s glamorization of the Marcos regime does not hold up. There is extensive proof that Marcos Sr. was a plunderer, a dictator, who in no way deserves to be pictured as an adorable teddy bear by his son.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, maybe, but not to their own truths. And if your opinion falters in the face of facts, and yet you still persist, your opinion then becomes a delusion.
To argue against this romanticization is not being disrespectful, or ironically, being a dictator. It’s about being an empathetic human being, who recognizes that all of the sacrifices made years ago shouldn’t be devalued and forgotten.
You also need not have been born in a specific era to know that lying is bad. That is basic common sense.
With great power comes great responsibility
The concept of absolute opinions is something we hope Toni will realize someday.
Her ‘platform for all’ sentiment is admirable. But for a celebrity who enjoys the power of influence, there needs to be a sense of responsibility. Her platform sets itself up as an exploration of human stories, but it shrinks in asking the real questions when it comes to politicians. After all, being ‘human’ is not just about our triumphs, but also our flaws and shortcomings.
Without the desire to go deeper, ‘Toni Talks’ becomes less of a legitimate tell-all experience and more of a glorified, shiny mouthpiece for lies, free to mislead people as the guests see fit.