Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The worst of people

The brutal rape and murder of Eun Kang [left], who was four months pregnant, should be enough to anger and disgust anybody no matter what affiliation they may or may not have to Korea or the Korean-American community.

But since there is a connection to Korea and/or kyopo, it was natural for The Marmot's Hole to post on this notorious crime that has people I know in Southern California feeling incensed.

But what follows in The Marmot's comments section is just adding stupid insult to unimaginable injury. I'm not even talking about the reference to "that low-IQ melanin-enhanced fellow" who was seen committing this atrocity, since that comment at least is aimed (perhaps misguidedly) at addressing what may have a preventable crime.

Rather, I'm talking about the deterioration, starting murkily somewhere before this point (and my apologies for singling cmm out, since he is not the primary or sole culprit) of the thread into a Korean-versus-non-Korean bitching contest, followed by Mizar5 trolling yet again.

A woman died. Brutally. And on the blog that is the face of the English-language K-blogosphere, this is what's happening in the comments section. Disgusting.

Back in the mid-1990s, it was a somewhat disturbing thing that the OJ Simpson trial had become a daily spectacle that seemed to dominate even august news networks. What was truly disgusting was the dehumanizing way in which people like Jay Leno turned the trial in a violent and bloody murder of two innocent people into an absurd circus of attempts at humor. It went beyond the jokes in the monologue, the infection spreading to daily gags that weren't even funny the first time, things like the Dancing Itos — Asian men with real or fake beards coming out in judicial robes. A mockery of a murder trial where almost everyone forgot that it was all about two people having been sliced to death.


Yeah, I'm writing this from a bit of pent-up anger. It's not toward The Marmot himself, who is a good guy and who (as best as I can tell) feels some dismay for the peanut gallery his commentary section can be at times but is too busy to police it himself (and who may feel a bit unnerved about the idea of censoring it). I'm directing this at the participants themselves, who just don't know when to realize they've done enough. Mizar5, a gallingly hypocritical race-baiter no matter what the topic, has shown himself to be nothing other than a disgustingly soulless troll, but he's no doubt having a good laugh.

Yeah, I can be a bit of an arse on my own blog and other's sometimes. I've been called out on my own bad behavior sometimes and I've apologized. I learn from it and apply that lesson in the future. And I realize the irony of writing this on a day when I poked fun at the death of a withered old nonagenarian. But I would be loath to equate the hapless Eun Kang and her unborn twins with a 91-year-old charlatan televangelist who bilked tens of millions of dollars out of gullible people living from check to check. No, I don't think it's hypocrisy.

Surely it's not a given that the K-blogs have to become like this. I have barely one-tenth the traffic of TMH, but Brian in Chŏllanam-do has pretty high numbers and his is not. Korea Beat, another of my favorite blogs, can see deterioration in the comments section. Nothing is on the order of Dave's ESL, yet.

What is the solution? The Marmot has "open threads" where people can let loose (within very broad parameters), so why isn't that enough? Or maybe I should just shut up and keep my opinions to myself. While I read all these sites regularly, I don't own any of them. If they — especially TMH — are the face of Korea's blogosphere in English, that doesn't mean they have to cater to my sense of what's okay and what's not in a blog.

But still... a woman and her unborn children died, and it's greeted with this.

UPDATE:
I see that people are seconding and thirding abcdefg's call for Mizar5 to be banned. Let me be a fourth.

The esteemed Won Joon Choe makes a valid point, however, that "if Mizar5 is worthy of a ban, then half the people on this comment forum shouldn’t last either," but the difference is that the others are not trolls; while their behavior may get out of hand sometimes, they can be brought back into line. Mizar5, by his own admission (though anyone can see it for themselves), is only there to troll.

UPDATE 2:
And ban Yokohamaet while you're at. As reprehensible as I find Mizar5 to be, this kind of "outing" thing is utterly uncalled-for.

UPDATE 3:
Wow. Just wow. Really, it's time to shut it down.

Even in a "regular" post, even in an open thread, this might have gone into "unacceptable" territory, but on this particular post, given the subject matter, just shut it down.

UPDATE 4:
It's closed. Mizar5 and Yokohamaet are banned. Now people just leave Mizar5 alone. It's over.

UPDATE 5:
The Marmot lays down the law and explains himself doing so at the same time. Kudos to a class act.

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9 comments:

  1. Yip. A real mess... as the Marmot said. And it's still going...

    As for the issue itself, I stayed out of it because I knew emotions would be running high.

    Still, I didn't expect the comments to turn into that.

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  2. Crikey, TMH comments section is looking remarkably like the Korea Times comments section these days. No wonder I stopped reading both...

    I never read what was on many K-blogs about this story as I suspected the resident trolls would be unable to stay on topic & this story is just to sad for that kind of cr*p.

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  3. Nothing is nearly as bad as the comments section of the KT. Nothing written at TMH even comes close to the KT. The ignorance and racism allowed to occur at the KT is appalling.

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  4. Aside from the comment circus at TMH, I wanted to make a comment about this actual story: Did anybody hear or see anything about this on the local TV news (for those who live in southern Cali)?? I know it was in the papers, but I watch the morning news every day and didn't catch anything about this. The first time I even heard about it was at TMH.

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  5. Kushibo writes:

    "Mizar5, by his own admission (though anyone can see it for themselves), is only there to troll."

    To begin with: As others in the now-closed thread have already mentioned, there were some extraordinarily thoughtful, razor-sharp analyses among Mizar5's voluminous posts.

    Next, to repeat myself somewhat: I would classify at least a substantial minority of the regular commenters on Mr. Koehler's Blog as "trolls"--whether they be of the knee-jerk, lunatic Korean nationalist variety or of the ugly foreigner variety who never imbibed Spinoza's dictum that one must understand before criticizing.

    Now, don't get me wrong: I am all for vigorous moderation on online fora, and I think too many Americans/Westerners plain over-value freedom of speech over other competing rights and values that are trampled by anonymous, gutless online saboteurs. So censorship per se isn't the issue for me. Instead, the choice to censor Mizar5 seems to me to have been at least partly arbitrary.

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  6. LastnameKim, I did not see it except in the papers, but I've been in Hawaii all this time. I'll ask some relatives.

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  7. Dancing Bear and Matt, I don't even both with the KT comments section. The Korea Times must have no clue how bad that makes their paper look.

    If I weren't so busy, I'd carve a job out for myself by offering to be the moderator for that forum.

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  8. Won Joon Choe wrote:
    To begin with: As others in the now-closed thread have already mentioned, there were some extraordinarily thoughtful, razor-sharp analyses among Mizar5's voluminous posts.

    True, sometimes. But he didn't get banned for the thoughtful posts. And I don't think he was all that razor-sharp. He was always just throwing out mindless criticism after mindless criticism, and occasionally he would touch on something bad that, well, just about everyone knows is true about Korea in general.

    But reading through all the other utter bullshit that he wrote wasn't worth it to find a "gem" that pretty much everyone knew already anyway.

    Next, to repeat myself somewhat: I would classify at least a substantial minority of the regular commenters on Mr. Koehler's Blog as "trolls"

    Yes and no. Yes, there are some people who like to get under someone else's skin on occasion, and there are those who just spew anger and animosity, sometimes directed at the same people over and over again, but the difference was that for most of what he was writing, Mizar's goal was to stir up shit. That is the very definition of a troll, and maybe he hung himself by his own rope by admitting that's what he was doing.

    Now to be fair, there are others who, if I were comments sheriff or something, I'd rein in. There's no need for the superfluous "as usual, you're full of shit" comments when you disagree with someone, but that's second nature for some commenters. Indeed, if this were a company, we'd have lawsuits for creating a hostile work environment. The question is whether Marmot thinks that's tolerable in the interest of free speech. I don't think he feels it's necessarily desirable.

    Frankly, I'm surprised that Marmot didn't ban a few other people, considering the mood he was in. Indeed, it looked like some people (e.g., here and here) were deliberately testing his whatever-pisses-me-off-in-the-morning policy.

    --whether they be of the knee-jerk, lunatic Korean nationalist variety or of the ugly foreigner variety who never imbibed Spinoza's dictum that one must understand before criticizing.

    Someone could be wrong about stuff, and people can set them straight. But that's different from being a troll. Or a stalker.

    Frankly, I'm glad yokohamaet got axed. That was beyond the pale.

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  9. Continued...

    Now, don't get me wrong: I am all for vigorous moderation on online fora, and I think too many Americans/Westerners plain over-value freedom of speech over other competing rights and values that are trampled by anonymous, gutless online saboteurs.

    True that.

    So censorship per se isn't the issue for me. Instead, the choice to censor Mizar5 seems to me to have been at least partly arbitrary.

    Not arbitrary. It has been a long time coming and it was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back, methinks. He essentially agreed with cmm here and here that his role at the Hole is to get a rise out of people. That's the definition of a troll.

    Playing troll role at the Hole makes one an arsehole.

    Anyway, I myself have only banned two people. One was Peter Kim, who accused me of being a paid mouthpiece for right-wing Japanese apologists. The other was "Emily," who was apparently the sock of someone, quite possibly the DL Barch, who likes to chide people for writing anonymously. If I'm wrong about that, I apologize to Mr Barch, as it would seem this Emily person has been trying to allude to him. But with comments like this one a few days ago which seem very much in reference to this post from two weeks ago — too much to be a coincidence given the unusual subject matter — it seems Mr Barch is suggesting I'm an anti-Semite and/or someone secretly writing on The Marmot's Hole. I am neither.

    Anyhoo... however this turned out, I think it needs to be laid to rest. In all seriousness, I think the next step someone will do is try to make a serious effort to discern Mizar's real-world identity and try to smear him with this. That, above all else, is beyond the pale. No one deserves to have their livelihood destroyed or their person injured over stuff they write on blogs.

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