Sunday, November 12, 2006

postal scrotum: Gord on police violence

Gord writes re: my previous post:

Hey, I've seen the haggling too. Then again:

Korean Police Violence (YouTube)

I know, most of the people banged up were annoying protestors who don't get that protest doesn't need to be insane and violent and all, but...


True enough. Someone should write a post on the excesses of authority. But in the case of the Cardenas video I wrote about earlier, I'm not entirely convinced that Cardenas didn't deserve what he was getting.

I say that in contrast to my feelings about the Rodney King video. That, to me, was a clear-cut case of police abuse. King was on the ground, already half-senseless from whatever intoxicant he was on, and while he, too, was resisting arrest, he was so obviously outmatched by the police around him (one of whom gave the command to break his arms) that it's hard to justify what the police were doing. I was as scandalized as the black community when I heard that the officers in the video were to be acquitted, though I certainly didn't condone the stupid riots that followed the acquittal.

Back to the Korean vid: it shows that Korean police don't always take things lying down, but I'd submit that they act this way almost exclusively in crowd situations, when there's a greater diffusion of personal responsibility. That doesn't speak well of the police, either, and reinforces the stereotype (voiced even by one of the YouTube commenters) that Korean police are a joke.

I don't envy the average Korean cop. The job carries little respect. The police mascot is, as one blogger described it, "emasculating." I can't imagine that these guys receive much pay, and the larger community doesn't appear to support them, either. The fact that many of the riot police are simply serving out their military obligations doesn't help matters: many of these kids probably don't want to be cracking the skulls of their fellows.

The culture as a whole hasn't really internalized the notion of "rule of law," which is, as ideas go, a Western transplant. I wonder what things would be like if a more organic, Confucianistic social ordering principle were in place. Of course, such speculation is academic, but I tend to think we'd see a much, much different Korea. Better than what we see now? Worse? I have no idea.


No comments: