An “Old Right” Circus, Starring Kang Jeong-Koo

Perhaps I need to adjust my perceptions of the Korean justice system, whose idea of prosecutorial discretion apparently makes no room for Korea’s equivalent of the attorney general to direct who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t. Because our own system protects the independence of the judiciary but tolerates political influence over the prosecution, I’m not able to work myself into a lather over reports that the Uri Justice Minister intervened to quash to prosecution–for something similar to sedition–of the manure-spreading Stalinist media whore known as Kang Jeong-Koo. What gives me more pause is this:

Article 21

(1) All citizens shall enjoy freedom of speech and the press, and freedom of assembly and association.

(2) Licensing or censorship of speech and the press, and licensing of assembly and association shall not be recognized.

(3) The standards of news service and broadcast facilities and matters necessary to ensure the functions of newspapers shall be determined by law.

(4) Neither speech nor the press shall violate the honor or rights of other persons nor undermine public morals or social ethics. Should speech or the press violate the honor or rights of other persons, claims may be made for the damage resulting therefrom.

By now, you’re saying that an American lawyer has no business trying to interpret Korea’s Constitution for it. Well, maybe. But I can claim a small stake in the interpretation of rights I once (actually, make that three times) offered up my life to defend. Naively, perhaps, I believed that the principles in that document mirrored similar guarantees in my own country’s Constitution. The concept of free speech is of little force when it only protects the views that don’t offend us too much. And as I have pointed out, this South Korean government has also gotten into the business of suppressing views with which I passionately agree.

Now, you may be asking about section (4), to which I’d say, it looks like a specific provision meant to cover cases like slander, libel, conspiracy, discrimination, and the famous example of shouting fire in a crowded theater. These are kinds of speech that all free civil societies control. And make no mistake–the things Kang says may be meant for me, but until he urges someone to physically attack me, he hasn’t violated my rights. I set up this blog for the express purpose of inviting Mr. Kang and his ilk to demonstrate the sincerity of their views by renting a flatbed, boxing up their trendy CD’s and Chomsky translations, and taking a one-way drive across the DMZ to Paradise on Earth.

For the GNP, my questions are these: Just what the fuck are you people thinking? Could there possibly be a more effective way to portray yourselves as stodgy authoritarians, and Kang–a man whose intellectual rigor qualifies him to sell eggs from the back of a Bongo–as a free-speech martyr? Whatever happened to the spirit of Kim Moon-Soo? Is authoritarianism the only alternative you can offer to Uri’s surrender to totalitarianism? It is when your party is led by a weather vane rather than a compass.

You may think that using law as a weapon against evil ideas will make your country free, but you’re wrong. The only way to do that is to join–and win–the ideological war that you’re currently losing against baby-killing Stalinists with gas chambers who worship the only uneaten carcass between Sokcho and Dandong. What a pity that that the GNP can’t make more traction against that, even when armed with causes as just as life, liberty, and reunification.

Update 10/16: The head of the prosecution has resigned, but the short-term victory is a bright spotlight that will only attract more insects that carry the same disease. Wouldn’t a better answer be to expect some intellectual rigor from those who teach in universities, or to discredit the ideology of mass murder through public debate?