[FOUNTAIN] Time to Adopt a No-Abuse Rule

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[FOUNTAIN] Time to Adopt a No-Abuse Rule

Koreans are unusually stingy with compliments to others. Even when our children come back from school with a test mark of 100, we have nothing more to say than "Good job," or "Good boy."

On the other hand, Germans use every possible expression to compliment their children in the same situation. Sometimes it sounds like making much ado about nothing, but the child listening to the compliment would feel very satisfied. Not only Germany, but most of the countries in Europe and America are similar.

Although complimentary words are well developed in Germany, insults and abuse are less so. Abusive and insulting remarks in German are nothing more than references to body wastes or animals. Even those words are not spoken aloud - not because everyone is so polite, but because they are afraid of paying fines.

Some may wonder, "Do Germans pay fines for using abusive language?" They do, and the fines are, in fact, very heavy. Article 185 of the German criminal law states that someone committing a crime of disrespect must pay a fine equivalent to 600 German marks ($275) or be sentenced to up to one year in prison. Anyone guilty of disrespectful action is to be fined up to 1,500 marks or serve up to two years imprisonment. The most common form of criminal disrespect is the use of abusive language, and the punishment in real life is, in fact, more strict than what is written in law. It is on record that someone was fined 8,000 marks for raising a middle finger.

Bystanders on the street sometimes see Germans counting on their fingers while arguing with each other. They are tallying how many times the other party uses insulting language, because the fine goes up as more abuse is spoken.

Let us think of our situation. Although we are very stingy with praising others, we probably are the world champions for insulting others. All kinds of biological and anatomical terms are flying around. Since words too embarrassing to be recorded are frequently spoken even on the public platform of the National Assembly, we hardly need to mention the condition in everyday life.

Korean politicians reportedly agreed to establish a "no shouting" rule to ban abuse, hooting and jeering at the National Assembly, as if that would make them mature. It seems a good idea.

Yet we wonder if our politicians would actually get over their perennial ill behavior by establishing such a rule. How about taking this opportunity to launch a national campaign against abuse? It may be a good idea to impose fines for using insults and abusive language, as in Germany. Who knows? Speaking and hearing fewer insults would be a small relief in this difficult world.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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