Rampant foul languageThe type of words being used in discussions and demonstrations as well as on Web sites is deteriorating.
We no longer expect to see high-brow language, such as sophisticated satire or wit, in any of these forums. It still exists, it has just gone missing.
Furthermore, there are worrying signs that we are seeing the complete collapse of an important social norm, particularly when the language is directed at national leaders.
There are numerous examples.
A cartoonist skillfully concealed swear words into publicity materials published by the Wonju city government.
In the vicinity of Deoksu Palace, people hung black banners criticizing the current administration at sites where people were mourning for and paying their respects to the late former President Roh Moo-hyun. The banners essentially place the blame for Roh’s suicide squarely on the shoulders of the country’s leaders.
The head of a fan club for a conservative politician recently wrote on a Web site that “Kim Dae-jung should end his life like the late President Roh.” It is appalling.
Such reckless use of language is a huge problem, and our society is ailing.
It also threatens to undermine democratic development. Being able to express various opinions on different topics is one of democracy’s major principles. In this context, it is truly regretful that some forces essentially commit indescribable verbal violence against their opponents, even as they advocate “democracy” and “human rights.” A judge overseeing a case involving progressive civic groups that are threatening companies that advertise in conservative newspapers even warned that swearing and curse words are becoming a civic movement.
There are various reasons behind this trend. Younger Koreans aren’t learning about or practicing manners anymore. Rather, they’re studying for university entrance exams. The Internet also lacks the appropriate controls to stop such speech, while violence and foul language are rampant on television.
But now is not the time for a discourse on the reasons behind the increasing use of inappropriate language. Instead, it’s high time that we start a campaign for the use of decent words and behavior.
The type of language used reflects on the decency of a society. The use of bad language hurts our reputation. We must not allow it to seep even further into society. If it continues to escalate, the reasons and logic behind arguments will disappear, and conflicts will grow. This disease of the community will become more severe, and everyone will have to live with the results.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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