[FOUNTAIN]Terror, fear and brutality are linked

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[FOUNTAIN]Terror, fear and brutality are linked

There are several types of examination proctors. Some stand in front of the room and watch the students, while some constantly walk around the classroom. There also are teachers who retreat to the back of the classroom and do not show their faces to the students throughout the examination.
The most effective proctor is the third, the person who does not have a face. Even if a student had no intention of cheating, he would feel uncomfortable and nervous just thinking about the proctor staring at the back of his head. Just by staying out of the student’s field of vision, the proctor can effectively prevent any academic dishonesty.
Proctoring an examination is similar to the Panopticon, a circular prison in Michel Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.” Originally proposed by the 18th-century British philosopher Jeremy Bentham, Panopticon was a prison model that made it easy for wardens to keep watch on the inmates. While the warden’s room is dark, the surrounding cells are lighted. Because of the invisible eyes, the inmates not only are afraid of violating the rules but also become self-restrained and eventually keep watch over each other. Unseen surveillance is the true menace that amplifies unease and fear.
In the controversial documentary film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” one sequence shows how Americans are frightened by potential terror threats these days. Even those living in rural areas say that they suspect just about anyone, even their friends, of being terrorists. When the filmmaker asks what was the point of attacking such a small town, they say a local Wal-Mart or an Italian restaurant could be a target.
Once the internal fear finds a way out, it can bring an extreme outrage. A Chinese tourist who happened to witness the arrest of a man for marijuana possession was mistaken as an accomplice and was handcuffed. The police treated her roughly, and she was covered with bruises. American police are known for their prejudiced treatment of non-whites, as in the Rodney King police brutality case, which led to the 1991 L.A. riots. But the terror attack seems to have made them even more extreme.
Friedrich Nietzsche said that three-fourth of the evil in the world comes from fear. America is eroded by the germ called fear that the faceless terrorists have spread.

by Lee Young-ki

The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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