Monday, June 09, 2008

Korean Student Criticizes Corrupt Western Culture

Western Culture
"Corrupting the Globe since 1492"
In the tradition of Oswald Spengler...
(Image from Wikipedia)

I've received a student's late essay -- about three weeks late -- and have just finished marking it with corrections, advice, and an "F" . . . for being so late if for no other reason, but there were other reasons. For instance, what might this title mean?
Elenchus of Using Electric Bracelets for Sex Offenders
Baffled to the bone, I asked for the meaning from the student, who couldn't explain at all, ever an unfavorable sign of disastrous implications.

The online Free Dictionary defines elenchus as "a syllogistic argument that refutes a proposition by proving the direct opposite of its conclusion," so assuming that elenchus hasn't been mistaken for "ankles," I conclude that the student intended to refute the view that such electric bracelets work to reduce the rate of sexual offenses. Perhaps the title should have read:
Refutation of Using Electric Bracelets for Sex Offenders
However, the student's arguments against using electric bracelets are rather broader than a refutation of their effectiveness, for the grammatically challenged thesis statement reads:
Even though a electronic bracelet give some mental stability to many parents of a person under age or women doing guard sex offender, that bracelet should not carry out because it has many problems (like matter of basis materials, over-punishment and double punishment, human right problem, legal propriety and so on) as much as it's benefits.
As I came to understand from the essay's first body paragraph, the expression "like matter of basis materials" refers somewhat obliquely to the ineffectiveness of electronic bracelets in reducing repeated sexual crimes because, claims the student, repeat offenders are rare for this sort of crime. Whether this claim is accurate or not, I have no idea, but it doesn't really address the issue of effectiveness in cutting recidivism.

The other points listed in the thesis statement -- "over-punishment and double punishment, human right[s] problem[s], legal propriety" -- all refer to concepts developed in the Western legal tradition that the student is applying to the Korean criminal code, which itself is derived from the German legal tradition (hence 'Western'), thereby making extremely interesting a claim that appears in the essay's conclusion:
The problem is that as the west culture which is corrupted has overflowed at our societies, sex offends has increased.
Well, that's partly my fault, I suppose, since I'm a Westerner and have 'overflowed' like sewage into Korea's otherwise pristine culture. Or perhaps much like a mad cow, I've stumbled through the open gate of globalization and brought the bad prions of faulty Western thought to infect the minds of my students.

Maybe those thousands of Korean students protesting nightly in Seoul's city streets against importing 'degenerate' American beef are merely acting out a metaphor signifying the rejection of all things Western:
"Don't corrupt our minds!" they're demanding.
But given the mad rumors circulating through Korean society concerning the dangers posed by American beef, I think that the protests are years too late. The collective mind has already been poisoned.

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At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First vivisection and now this? And both receive "F's?!!!"

Oh my Professor, just what are you doing over there?

I fear to keep up with the headlines in my bookmarked "Korean Herald."

"Western (insert adjective here) Professor Visiting Is Subjected to Deserved (insert verb/noun here)."

Perhaps becoming hillbillies might actually be a good idea?


At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't take it personally. You're just one of a slew of Westerners who have been overflowing at Korean society for years now.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I'm not too worried about repercussions . . . just concussions.

But I'm headstrong, so I'll survive.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Charles, it undoubtedly never occurred to the student that I might take it personally, for the 'truth' about Westerners is so patently obvious to such students.

But I didn't take it personally.

By the way, when are we going to get together with Sperwer . . . and Gord?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Western Culture
"Corrupting the Globe since 1492"

Hehehe. May I borrow that phrase when appropriate or is there a copyright?

At 8:03 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Borrow but cite. It's only fair . . . fair use, that is.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:46 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

thank goodness I only audit this class, just from curiosity:
do you ever want to come back to this corruption!?

At 11:00 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

is Charles from the liminality?

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, Jeanie, Charles is yet another corrupter of the youth of Korea, much as Socrates was corrupter of the youth of Athens.

The liminal Charles and I will both soon be sharing cups of hemlock.

Return to the corruption? No, I'm reproducing it well enough here in Korea. With Milton's Satan, I can state: "Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell" (PL 4.75)

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:01 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...


How depressing. How on earth do you carry on?

You must have students who make it worthwhile for you, or you would have twisted your own head off in frustration by now. Could you share some of their work with us sometime?

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm, I've lived through anti-Americanism everwhere that I've lived -- except for my hillbilly days in the Ozarks (aside from a few diehard Confederates).

For the most part, the anti-Americanism in Korea is often expressed with such naivté that I almost smile.

Possibly, this latest anti-Western (i.e., anti-American) expression might have had a slightly different nuance if the student had been better at English. Perhaps was meant:

"The problem is that as the Western culture that is corrupt has overflowed our societies, sex offences have increased."

The criticism might not have been a fullthroated critique of the West as a whole but only of the corrupted part, and given the West's free expression, I can't fully disagree that Western pornography is a problem, nor maintain that it has had no effect on other cultures.

Pornography and sexual abuse, however, are endemic everywhere, and one doesn't need the West as an explanation for it. But that's a different post.

As for good papers by students, I've occasionally posted some passages . . . but that's like reporting good news, kind of lame, whereas bad news sells.

Not that I'm selling anything.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Doom,

We definitely need to get together at some point. It's kind of embarrassing to be right next door and not get together.

It's probably going to have to wait until the semester ends, though, right? I'll be taking a brief trip once the smoke clears, and when I get back (end of June/beginning of July), we'll have to set a solid date.

If the lads are not too averse to Itaewon, I know a place with some fine beers and decent grub.

(Jeanie, yes, it is I, the liminal one. It's a bit unnerving to be recognized as such, though. I may have to start using a pseudonym...)

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Charles, yeah, a meeting will have to wait until your return. I've got a terrible sore throat these days, and it's in no hurry to go away, so I won't be going many places myself for a while.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:27 AM, Blogger Million said...

I somewhat agree with the student Western culture is dualistisc. Corrupt to no end but at the same time westerners vigouresly holds on to some very admirable ideals which they find true

western culture is too dualistic two opposites one reality the other one ideals. This causes in my opinion lack of valid moral ground in which western culture attempt to stand upon

thus the critizism

At 4:30 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the comment, Million.

An inability to fully realize ideals is true of every culture and, indeed, of every individual. This is not therefore not unique to the West, nor does it necessarily imply corruption.

At any rate, I don't think that this is clearly what the student meant.

Jeffery Hodges

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