[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Misguided terror analysisYour article in “The Fountain,”(July 29) “Terror, fear and brutality are linked,” suggests that effective classroom proctoring is that which utilizes the “invisible surveillance technique” as defined by 18th-century British philosopher Jeremy Bentham, in Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. The author of the article makes the tacit claim that this method of proctoring students is beneficial in preventing academic dishonesty. Additionally, the writer argues the invisible surveillance technique is effective in teaching self restraint to prison inmates.
Then the author goes on to make sweeping stereotypes regarding terrorism, and the United States’ people’s reaction to said terrorism. The article then compounds the unconscionable act of stereotyping by saying that it is a well-known fact that “American police are known for their prejudiced treatment of non-whites...” Here are my objections to this unfortunate piece of writing:
First, I have been living and teaching in South Korea for more than two years in a public school. I have witnessed corporal punishment administered to my students that would be considered against international law, as defined by the Geneva Convention. When I have objected, I have been told that it is “Korean culture” and that, as an American, I simply do not understand. I consider this to be much more of an influential factor in linking “terror, fear, and brutality” than where a proctor sits while the students take exams. If one is to discuss terror, fear, and brutality, proctoring styles are not comparable to the “discipline” I witnessed.
Second, for the author to condone and promote a measure of surveillance that is used in both a penal system and a public school is simply absurd. The two institutions have entirely different functions. How anyone could draw a link between them, suggesting that students be treated in a like manner as criminals is, well, honestly, criminal.
Third, for the author to suggest that the “invisible surveillance method” is good for both public school and penal institution because it results in some form of behavior modification with regard to those it is imposed upon, and then condemn Americans for responding in a like fashion, makes no sense at all. And to compound this mistake in logic by throwing in emotionally laden, and irrelevant, “proof,” i.e. that U.S. police officers are prejudiced, makes this person’s mistake in logic all that more heinous.
I agree “terror, fear, and brutality” are linked. But the missing link is ignorance. The article’s author appears to exemplify this.
by Kathryn R McNeil,