[EDITORIALS]Inappropriatte protestsAnybody is entitled to express his opinion freely in a democratic society. But the means of doing that ought to be peaceful and legal. That would ensure legitimacy for the opinion expressed. But the protests against the war in Iraq in many parts of the nation go beyond what is justified under the freedom of expression, and in many cases are truly alarming.
Student councils at schools like Ewha Womans University and Pusan National University have set Friday as the day of action for 3 million university students and have pledged to boycott classes. The Seoul National University’s student council has failed to get the needed 50 percent to join the boycott and has extended the voting by an extra day. Nobody can stop university students from expressing their conscience on the Iraqi war, and nobody should. But when students say they will engage in a show of force by boycotting classes, it becomes a different matter altogether. It then becomes an unintelligent way to express views because it infringes on the rights of other students who agree with the plan to send our troops to Iraq and want to attend classes.
There is a genuinely egregious aspect to the Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corp. labor union to stage collective action against the proposed dispatching of troops. The union says it is acting on behalf of average citizens who oppose the dispatching of troops but have no way of putting their views into action. The union is free to oppose any war, but its argument about representing the public is a ludicrous disguise intended to make its own point. Who in his right mind would be willing to accept a subway stoppage to oppose the war? The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy’s imploring military engineers and their families to refuse assignments in Iraq is also completely inappropriate in interfering with the legitimate military chain of command.
No matter how good or right a view is, it must be expressed in acceptable and legal ways. Nobody will be willing to accept a labor strike or a class boycott as an expression of anti-war beliefs. Whether you are for or against the dispatch of troops, the view must be expressed within the bounds of the law and with the maturity of a society of order.