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Lesson learned

Lesson learned. I hope that’s what Thai national Prasertsri Kosin, aka Koko Narak, is telling himself as he leaves our shores after being deported by the Bureau of Immigration for his “racist” remarks.

Kosin earned the ire of the BI and of netizens after a series of Facebook posts where he called Filipinos “pignoys,” “low-class slaves,” “wriggling cockroaches,” and fit only for “licking toilets.” Radio commentators wondered by what entitlement Kosin had earned the right to disparage Filipinos, since photos of him showed that he looks like an average “pignoy”—that is, so ordinary and nondescript one would mistake him for a sidecar driver (no offense to sidecar drivers, mind).

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And, judging from his published apologies to the Filipino public, he’s no grammarian (in English) either. So by what right does this Thai employee in a call center feel he can freely insult his hosts and not reap the consequences?

In addition, Kosin was fired from his job at the business process outsourcing company where he was employed, although he earned a free trip back home for his troubles.

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In his explanation, Kosin said he was simply being “playful” when he issued those hurtful remarks. My take on his chutzpah was that, in a desire to stand out from the forest of personalities on social media, the call center employee chose to earn some attention by offending as many individuals as he could.

And that’s precisely the problem with social media and the anonymity it allows. Hiding behind a nom de keyboard, “Koko Narak” chose offense as the best way to call attention to himself, to highlight his identity and earn as many “likes”—or rather, “unlikes”—as he could.

For that’s how social media works. Blogs, posts, tweets are measured for impact by how many “hits” they generate, how many “eyeballs” they manage to capture and, as a consequence, how much attention they win.

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In much the same way, that’s how advertisers measure “reach.” A newspaper or magazine is adjudged worthy of ad placements by circulation and readership. Broadcasts are rated according to “ratings,” the number of listeners and viewers that is determined by a complicated system of monitoring listenership or viewership.

If Kosin is able to teach us anything, it’s that even “naughty” posts on social media can have consequences, with deportation being one of them. “Freedom of expression” may be enshrined in the Constitution, but even that is reined in by laws on libel and on offending social norms.

Journalists should be the first to rush to the defense of quasi-journalists, for after all we all deal with words and free expression in pursuit of our trade and avocation. But even as we adhere to the cheeky admonition to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” we do so knowing the limits of the affliction we can impose on others. We are all too aware of our targets’ ability—and right—to hit back and claim payback.

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We hope it will take the form of a libel suit, at worst. But also in the back of our minds is the possibility of inviting harsher retaliation, like a bullet to the back of the head in the middle of a busy street.

So goodbye, Koko Narak. May you learn to temper your words and your impulse to offend the next time you’re tempted to share your thoughts and feelings online. And please, some lessons on English grammar would not hurt.

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Bettors the world over are said to be hurting at the alleged “deception” foisted on the boxing-loving public by Manny Pacquiao for not disclosing a shoulder injury before his historic match-up with Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

Foremost among the disappointed is Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who said he was not inclined to make good his losing bet on Pacquiao given news of the Pacman’s ailment. But I heard that actor Mark Wahlberg had such faith in the Filipino boxer that he put up $250,000 (about P12 million) on Pacquiao.

But neither Hun Sen nor Wahlberg have gone to court over the controversy stirred by Pacquiao’s claim that a “tear” in his shoulder prevented him from giving his all in the May 2 (May 3 here) bout.

Plaintiffs Stephane Vanel and Kami Rahbaran, claimed in court that Pacquiao and his camp (named in the suit are his promoter Top Rank and Top Rank chair Bob Arum, president Todd DuBoef and manager Michael Koncz) had known about the injury a month before the fight and should have canceled the bout or else disclosed the state of Pacquiao’s health before he entered the ring.

Reports have it that Koncz, who allegedly filled out the disclosure form during the weigh-in days before the fight, checked the “No” box beside the question of whether the fighter had a shoulder injury.

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Pacquiao’s lawyer is said to have pooh-poohed the charges, saying the boxer had been cleared by his doctors before the fight, but that the injury recurred in the course of the match. He expressed confidence that the suit would be dismissed.

I don’t know how the legal rigmarole will sort itself out, but I don’t think those who placed bets on the Pacman, not even Hun Sen or Wahlberg, have much to stand on if they claim they were “cheated” by Pacquiao. Nobody forces anybody to bet on any side of a game, be it basketball, golf or boxing. A bettor does so knowing full well the risk of losing. Indeed, the risk of losing one’s shirt is what gives gambling the “edge,” the thrill, the suspense.

So if you should lose, you should know full well that it’s part of the game, and that losing your money is the counterpart to raking it in. In gambling, as in boxing, there is no sure thing.

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TAGS: Boxing, Bureau of Immigration, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Koko Narak, Manny Pacquiao, Prasertsri Kosin, racists, social media
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