Tuesday, June 29, 2004

BigHo's adorable hypocrisy and the question of his ethnicity


In my letter, I wrote:

The best and quickest way to persuade the South Korean government to back down from its current position is to make it lose face in the eyes of the world. This can only happen through a determined (and civilized!) campaign to expose the government's hypocrisy and to cause Korean citizens to rethink their own narrow-mindedness.

Heh. I said "civilized," but I know some puritans are going to jump all over the fact that the word FUCK appears all over this blog. "Civilized? Are you kidding me?" they'll screech.

The assumption is that "FUCK" makes the blog, and my approach to this censorship problem, uncivilized-- i.e., I'm not engaging in civil discourse.

Alas, this is a problem, but something has to give. Suffice it to say that, in person, I'm actually pretty polite, and would remain so in a confrontation with, oh, an irate MIC official or an Angry Korean Netizen. So in that sense, I'd live up to the ideal of civil discourse.

But if I'm going to remain polite in tone on this blog, that, to me, is tantamount to doing nothing. No-- the blog needs to draw fire, attract attention, provide some laughs, and maybe get my fat ass deported. My deepest hope is that my letter (and the letters of others) will spiral upward until we reach all the blogospheric titans, and they then spend five minutes chattering about it. That's all I want, really. And to clarify: I don't hold any other bloggers to this standard. If you choose not to make waves, that's a valid response. I won't think you're going to hell, locked in a cave with an overworked minor demon who'll spend eternity stuffing hell-gerbils up your ass.

So, like I said, something has to give, and I'm afraid it's the civil tone of the blog that gets chucked (as if this blog had a civil tone to begin with!). Plus, I repeat: I'm more amused than angry about all this. Consider my "fuck you"s to be uttered with something approaching a haughty upper-class British sneer, a Severus Snape-like curl of the lip.

But let's take a different tack: What is "civilized"? Are not irony, sarcasm, the use of words instead of brute violence, and a list of foundational principles (see previous post) the very marks of civilization? I think that, even when things are at their basest on this blog, we're quite civilized, thank you.


One commenter at Justin's blog asked how I can be "ethnically half-Korean." It was a good question, so I'm reprinting my reply here:

My Dad's Causasian (the scientific term is White Cracker) and my Mom's Korean (the epithet found in Clavell novels is Cowardly Garlic-eater).

This doesn't translate to zero ethnicity, so I say I'm ethnically half-Korean. There're a lot of us. I'd say there IS a such thing as half-Korean ethnicity, though I suppose one could argue the point. It'd be a wider, vaguer ethnic grouping than more distinct ones, but even when you start parsing the distinct ones, you see how much diversity they already include.

Having just looked up "ethnic" in the online Webster, I can say with assurance that people often use the terms "race" and "ethnicity" interchangeably because the terms' semantic fields contain a lot of overlap. They're not exactly synonymous, of course, but I'm well within bounds to say "ethnically half-Korean" instead of "racially half-Korean." But again, it depends on how picky one wants to be about terminology. If I were an ethnographer, I might bridle at "sloppy" usage of terms, but I'm just your average hominid, so it's no skin off my balls.

To head off an issue for the oversensitive contingent: James Clavell novels are just novels, people. Many Japanese take them with a grain of salt, and even if the epithet about Koreans is historically accurate (in the sense that people actually used the epithet), it's not as though Koreans don't have their own extensive library of nasty labels for Japanese people, white people, etc.

I hope that clears a few things up.


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