[EDITORIALS]The Decorum of DiscussionDebate between the novelist Lee Moon-youl and Internet users about Mr. Lee's contribution to a major daily newspaper has escalated. As a reader who claimed he had returned books written by Mr. Lee, the writer said he would provide refunds with interest, worsening the conflict. After Mr. Lee made a public apology, the incident was concluded for the time being.
Yet, groups of writers who support or disagree with Mr. Lee's opinion joined the debate, triggering the entire literature arena to join the battle. Men are political animals. Regardless of occupation, gender and age, no one can live apart from politics. In a democratic society, everyone is free to express his own opinion and others can provide supports on or disagreement with the opinion.
Therefore, it is natural that various opinions are presented and discussions prevail about the recent press crisis, caused by the media tax probes. Yet, the problem is that our immature discussion culture have made debates extremely unproductive, further deteriorating our society. Today's circumstance, in which an entire society is divided into two groups by applying different standards of ideology, regionalism, progressivism and conservatism, is seriously worrisome. Most deploring are writers who are supposed to have a mature consciousness attacking each other with radical words such as "cultural power" and "the Red Guards."
The discussions held in cyberspace are even more serious. The Internet, referred to as an electronic democracy of the 21st century, has an advantage that anyone can express opinion freely because it is easy to approach the Net.
Yet, participants of the Internet discussions abused anonymity and insults and abusive languages were often employed. Internet debaters were occupied by a simple logic of black and white: They often name everyone "my side" or "my enemy" and using all sorts of emotional expressions, bite off those who have different opinions.
In a democratic society, discussion is highly valued because a conclusion can be drawn while exchanging opinions and persuading others or being persuaded. Discussions to insist one argument is better than another, without listening to others' opinions, are worse than no discussions.